METAL MADE MUSICIANS: INTERVIEW WITH ABYSMAL DAWN

There are a lot of bands who put image over substance in the metal scene, going more the route of fitting people’s stereotype about metal bands from way back. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But thankfully there are bands who give zero fucks about fitting a certain image, and just plug in and melt your face with technical majesty. Abysmal Dawn is one of those groups.

First getting the chance to be exposed to them several years ago opening for All Shall Perish and Conducting From the Grave, Abysmal Dawn got up on stage, put one foot on a monitor and shredded the crap out of their instruments in one of the most professional, no-bullshit death metal sets I’ve ever witnessed. With lead man axe-slinger Charles Elliot effortlessly owning his guitar along with growls galore, Abysmal Dawn won the crowd over. And they’ve been doing this all over the metal world since. Putting themselves on the map with Programmed To Consume and the technically brilliant Leveling The Plane of Existence in 2010 along with a slew of festivals and tours worldwide, the band is a part of new surge of groups emerging out of the United States, keeping the metal as real as steel.

And with the latest release Obsolescence being hailed by critics as the next crushing step in the band’s progression, Abysmal Dawn is looking to the future with laser focus. We caught up with frontman Charles Elliot to talk shop about metal, expanding their recording techniques and the latest news in the AD camp.

MMF: It’s summer festival season and I know a lot of bands are out on the road. Have you been taking part in various festivals or big shows overseas? And how’s the reaction been from the crowds to the newer tracks?

Charles: We haven’t been doing any shows since March actually. We had that huge festival in the US in October, Knotfest, but that’s about it unless we confirm something later this year. We did play the new songs live on our past three tours though and they weren’t over really well. We try to write our songs for the live setting so it’s not that big of a surprise.

MMF: Of course the touring has been to support the latest album, which I have to say sounds twice a huge as “Leveling”…. working with Mike Bear and John Haddad for a few albums now, do you feel that helps the sound of Abysmal Dawn get tighter, keeping that studio relationship intact?

Charles: Definitely. Mike Bear is a stickler for tight performances and this record is hands down the tightest album we’ve ever recorded. John was very meticulous with recording the drums this time around, even more than ever. Every time we get together to record an album everyone is a bit more experienced and even better at what they do. We’ve all known each other for a long time and I think that helps us get through our studio mental breakdowns here and there too (laughs). With every album we do together we continue you make it better in some way and that’s the point!

MMF: Give your fans a bit of a good studio story working on the last album? Any “happy accidents” end up used in a song, or moments where everyone looks at each other trying something new and an eyebrow gets raised?

Charles: I wrote a lot of my solos in the studio but I can’t think of any happy accidents really. This album was very mapped out and demoed beforehand for the most part. We tracked the drums for the cover of Dissection’s “Night’s Blood” last minute, and ended up recording the full thing as time went on. That was as about as close as a happy accident as it got and I’m very proud with how that track turned out.

MMF: On new album, vocally, it seems you really go for a new level of aggression with screaming, whether it be overall tone or length of screams. More of a set game plan or a spur of the moment thing, rolling with the vibe of the tracks in the studio?

Charles: I did look up some new vocal techniques, which helped with my screams especially. I tried to sing a little higher too maybe. I sang a little higher on that first Death to All tour and I thought it was a bit more aggressive and in your face sounding. I love super low vocals but sometimes you don’t get that super pissed off feeling or sound of pain and insanity from them. Overall I think they sound a bit more raw and aggressive somehow.

MMF: It’s cliche to ask if other music influences your writing. Where did Abysmal Dawn draw influence from on the new record, whether from books or movies or situations in the world?

Charles: I was watching a lot of documentaries and trying to get inspired at the time. A lot of inspiration comes from my day to day life as well. Sometimes I wonder if I put too much of myself in my lyrics, but I think you make the best art when you’re honest. Musically, I don’t really think about it, it just happens at this point.

MMF: On “Laborem Morte Liberat Te” there is a really cool choir like chant towards the 4 minute mark. Sounds like a new idea I haven’t heard on an AB track, but it rules! Is this a result of just continuing to grow as songwriters, and pushing your own envelope? What influenced this idea?

Charles: I first tried something like this with my doom band Bereft and I thought I’d expand upon the idea. I was bascially just trying to do something that we hadn’t done before. Each record we try and do something a little outside the death metal spectrum here and there, for the last few albums now.

MMF: Now I’ve seen you guys play a few times here in Seattle. One of the things I like about AB is there isn’t a gimmick or makeup or anything like that. No frills, rip your face off metal. Do you think in modern metal it’s necessary for theatrics like Ghost to be out there representing metal, or in your opinion should it just stay about 4 or 5 people kicking ass without all the bells and whistles?

Charles: I mean I get it, gimmicks sell music. If you aren’t reinventing the wheel, which who really is these days, band try and sell themselves with a “look”. We might experiment here and there because to be honest, we’ve been wearing the same shit on stage for the past 10 years and we’re sort of bored with that. We want to put on a show but I think it’s important that the theatrics don’t get in the way of your sound, or the honestly of your music. We aren’t going to get up there with pentagrams and shit on stage because we aren’t satanists, and I’m not going to dumb things down just to sell some kids some shock and rebellion. Maybe it’s because I grew up with bands initially that sort of rejected all that. We’re playing honest and true extreme metal and think that should be the main focus.

Follow Abysmal Dawn on Facebook here!

METAL MADE MUSICIANS: INTERVIEW WITH SULPHUR AEON

Sulphur Aeon is your new favorite band. No really, we’re just going to decide that for you right now. It’ll make your life a lot easier, trust us. We figure every few years in metal, bands come along taking the influence of bands before them and their own original vibe and blow the doors off a multitude of groups in the stratosphere. Pantera taking the torch from Metallica. Fear Factory grabbing the cyber thrash title from Ministry. Strapping Young Lad taking the torch from Fear Factory. So on and so forth. So when Sulphur Aeon came across our desk, we popped it in without knowing much about them. Needless to say, we were floored from track one of their latest album “Gateway To The Antisphere” all the way to the end. Taking influence from past greats as Hypocrisy, Emperor and Immolation, Germany’s Sulphur Aeon has forged these influences into a wonderful symphony of chaos with a fresh, modern feel. It’s brutal, huge and complex as a maze. Nearly suffocating in the best way.

We caught up with the band recently for a bit more insight into how they construct their madness and their response to the acclaim they are receiving thus far in their five years as a group.

MMF: So one of the first things we should ask is the decision to keep the names of the members to single letters. Was this done in order to keep the focus on the music or….?

T: Exactly! I don’t think that names are relevant since the focus should be on music and concept.


 
MMF: Upon listening to “Oceans…” and then “Gateway…” there is a level up in the production and overall vibe, we felt at least. Did you feel as a band you almost had to “one up” yourselves on “Gateway…” after the positive response “Oceans…” received?

T: I am still very satisfied with the sound on “Swallowed…” and there is no note on it that i would like to change, but the songs on “gateway…” simply demanded a more open sound. We did not intend to top our debut, but we wanted to create something that would at least be equally appealing. So there was no pressure from the outside, it was just the next natural step for us as a band.

MMF: So here is a fun one…on both records the artwork is awesome. Somehow matching the album sounds. For both did you pick the art after writing it or as you wrote the album, having a giant framed picture in the studio to stare at for inspiration? A lot of our friends were astounded at how well the music and art fit together…..

M/T: Well, when the artworks were created, the songs were already written but not yet recorded in their entirety. It was a parallel process of recording/mixing and conducting the artwork. The conceptual art is a very vital aspect of the being called Sulphur Aeon. We have given Ola Larsson a quite detailed description of what we wanted to depict, which was a lot tougher with the second album. The cover for “swallowed…” may be more iconic and focused, but that also makes it easier to describe. It’s easier to say: Paint Cthulhu in his temple in R’lyeh, than: Please paint the unholy and perverse communion of Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth which ignites the rise of the great old ones and, ultimately, the extinction of mankind. But that man managed to nail it once again!


 
MMF: As a band do you feel pretty locked in on your writing process to where you know you’re aware of your influences but not to where they effect what you write? Such as “this is what we’re going for on these songs as a theme” not as “we want to sound as huge as [insert band here]”

T: I’m always quite aware of my main influences and they are nothing i try to hide, but neither do i try emulate them. There are always parts where the influences clearly shine through, but i think it is the combination of different elements that define the sound of Sulphur Aeon. Of course, M’s vocals are of major importance for the overall sound. Our main focus lies on creating atmospheric and memorable songs.

MMF: Currently the band consists of three members? Am I right on that? And you have a few live members helping out? If correct, is the plan to keep the core of the group small during the writing process so the vibe of the group remains focused or could we see Sulphur Aeon expanding its permanent camp?

T: The songwriting will also in the future be handled by me while M. writes the lyrics and D. develops his drumparts. This is the creative Sulphur Aeon. With S. and A. joining us on stage, Sulphur Aeon evolves into its second incarnation which is of equal importance. 2 different line-ups, so to say. They are not just session musicians, they are part of the band but simply not involved in the songwriting process.


 
MMF: Speaking of live, knowing you still haven’t been to the States yet (MAKE THAT HAPPEN PLEASE haha) we’re starting the Summer festival season. Since we have quite a few readers from the European market, are shows getting lined up or any slots on some of the metal festivals?

T: This summer we only played one show on a small but exclusive festival called “Chaos Descends”. Of course we had offers, but we are simply quite picky when it comes to playing gigs. It just has to feel right and it must be interesting for us, like who’s on the lineup and such. Concerning gigs in the States, there have been no offers yet, so let’s see what the future holds.

MMF: Last question! We know you like to explore a lot of Lovecraft-esq themes in your songs, but are there other forms of influence lyrically you explore that the listen might not see outright? Such as the world you see around you or the state the planet with all its political non-sense, using your themes as metaphors for what you see? (If that makes any sense as a question?)

M: As boring as it may sound….No. I focus entirely on the lovecraftian universe and its pantheon. Of course there is always a kind of artistic aspiration when i write lyrics. I simply don’t want to ennoble any daily news crap by writing about it. I don’t want to get political in what i do, it does not fit my personality and my musical ambition. I simply want to transport murky, dark atmosphere, eventually erupting in violent rage and back.

Make sure to follow Sulphur Aeon on Facebook!

METAL MADE MUSICIANS: INTERVIEW WITH HACRIDE

As we have documented on several of our social media plugs and articles, we have a thing for French Rock and Metal. Why? Well there are several reasons. If you were like us and lucky to have grown up as a teenager in what many refer to (or no one but us) as the best period in music ever (1988-1998) then you would know how many interesting, unique and never-able-to-be-duplicated bands emerged during this time. Two of the most important happen to be French. Treponem Pal, which could be argued only released one memorable album “Excess and Overdrive”, and The Young Gods, who changed the entire perception of what a “rock” band was. If anything came out of this, it was that people took notice that France could produce quality heavy music. Let’s face it: before you heard of Gojira you probably weren’t aware any metal bands even came out of France unless you were a underground metal hound like yours truly. And now you’re probably going “wait, Gojira is French?”

Yes they are. And more so than just the mighty Gojira, there have been a lot of bands to emerge from France over the last several years, all ridiculously heavy, creative and extremely good. Hord, Scarve, Anorexia Nervousa and Hacride. And while the aforementioned bands are either disbanded or on a really long break, Hacride has persevered. When most bands tend to fall off when a vocalist is replaced, Hacride actually got better, if that was possible after the epic “Lazarus” release, when our new friend Luiss Roux took over for the departed Samuel Bourreau. After cutting his teeth in group such as Havarax and Sinscale, Luiss found a new home suited to his vocal skill set and creative talents with the French quartet, by stepping in and absolutely crushing he vocal duties on their last release “Back To Where You’ve Never Been”. By keeping a similar vibe laid down by Bourreau, Roux attacked the new tracks like “Introversion” and “Outcome” with enough melody to hook Cthulu out of the water and plenty of aggression in his screams to please the most die-hard of Steve Von Till fans. Indeed it seems that Hacride is poised to take that next step in catching the eyes of every international metal fan as they work on their next release. Luiss was cool enough to chat with us on the history of Hacride and how he has fused with the band since joining.

MMF: So I guess we should start with how everything is going in the Hacride camp and how the new record is coming along?

Luiss: We recorded “Back To Where You’ve Never Been” in 2013, so it’s been a while since it came out and we toured a lot and played 80 shows for a year straight, which is a lot for us. It’s not a lot for big big bands but for us, French standards, it’s a lot because we still have to work and have our daily lives. Adrian is a guitar teacher, I work for a company so it’s a bit complicated trying to get a record done. We’ve been working on new songs since last Christmas and Adrian started back last Summer.

MMF: So is the new album going to be on Listenable Records?

Luiss: We signed a two album contract with Indie Recordings, which is the same label that “Back…” was released on.

MMF: I haven’t heard much about Indie Recordings. Are they a French label?

Luiss: No they are based in Norway actually. It’s a fairly famous label but it’s more known for black metal. They have Enslaved and Gorgoroth and such. A lot of black metal bands but they’re starting to get into progressive bands which is why they were interested in Hacride. Cool guys with an international name. So it’s going well so far.

MMF: So going back a bit…before you joined Hacride you have a black metal background. Can you give us a bit of how you came to meet up with the band?

Luiss: Sure! Of course….I guess I started playing metal a long time ago. I was around 11, I’m 32 now so it’s been a while. I started with guitar and started messing around with friends and jamming metal. And then I started making my own black metal band called Havarax around 2004 or so. So I’ve always been involved with the genre. But also on the side I had a project Food for Worms. We’ve only released a demo, and we do have an album in the works. It’s taken a while to record. Very horror movie inspired, punk rock type stuff….it’s a cool mix of the two. And there was another band before that called Sinscale, with the guitarist from Klone who we’re good friends with…so when Hacride lost their singer we just had a lot of common friends that suggested “you should try Louis from Sinscale”. We tried out and that is pretty much it….I was in the band.

MMF: Florent was also in Klone with you at the time right?

Luiss: Yes, but he joined Hacride around a year or so before me. All these bands in France, we’re all different but we’re very close friend wise. We live nearby so it’s worked out that we’re all from bands with each other.

MMF: Havarax was a solo project? Did you use computers or keyboards for that?

Luiss:I guess I worked on my craft with that band. I always played all the instruments, programmed the drums and such. It was all very raw and low budget, didn’t sound very good. Year after year it got better and better. But it was a way to get ready for something more professional. It was DIY for sure.

MMF: We call that punk! (Laughs) So in having that background working with samplers and electronics, I noticed on the last album, it had almost an “industrial” vibe, more keyboard work…was that something you brought in joining the group? Was that your influence?

Luiss: When I joined the band actually the album was recorded. I just had to write the lyrics and sing. But Adrian is really into industrial types of music, bands like Strapping Young Lad and such. He’s really the one who wanted some keyboards on that album. You’re right though where “Back…” has that industrial vibe to it. It’s something we’d like to pursue a bit more in the future.

MMF: The band has progressed from album to album, bringing a new vibe on each album. Lazaurs had a big, epic but doomy feel, where “Back …” had, not maybe a “positive” vibe but a different energy to it…

Luiss: I think you’re right. It was a more positive album in a sense. Some songs were a bit glum but the overall album wasn’t maybe as “sad”. It’s more of an in-your-face album. We did try to have a bit more catchy things than “Lazarus” and a bit more groovy. Maybe a little Klone influence because of our drummer. He added some groove into it. That’s probably why you’d get that impression. The next album we’d like to go a little darker. That’s what I like about Hacride. I like the slow and dark vibe.

MMF: As a fan of both albums, I think “Back…” had that melodic feel. I first heard the song, “Introversion” and I didn’t know you joined the group, and I wasn’t sure it was a new singer.(laugh) So when it kicked in I’m like “that can’t be Samuel there” so I had to look it up that you had joined. But your voice really fit the newer sound he band went with. It reminded me of a Steve Von Till (Neurosis)…it was heavy but a little more optimistic?

Luiss: Yes, I think it’s hard to be in your face and hopeful sounding and combine those two elements. I haven’t really talked about “Back…” much but it’s very much a transitional album for us. It’s unique. Hacride will never be able to make an album with so much going on…Adrian had a son around then and he had a frame of mind. There was in him dealing with becoming a father. Then Samuel left…so everything was chaotic for us. So it made the album what it was, then I came in, and though I didn’t have any musicial input…it’s not a pefect album but I consider it transitional, necessary for us to go to something more personal. It takes time for a band to come together and we’re still getting there for the next album. I think the next one will be our “next” sound as a band. But it was a a great transition. After you play a ton of shows though, even if you enjoy the album, we’re excited to make the next songs.

MMF: I’d imagine since it’ll be the first full length as a band with all the new members. As far as the lyrical content, as a vocalist, what were some of the topics you touched on on “Back…” and lyrically do you have themes for the next songs you’re inspired by?

Luiss: On Back, I guess I was more feeling out of place in a way. I felt I was not finding my purpose in life. I was a little confused in a personal way…especially with work and music…the fact we’re adults and accept we’ll probably never be able to fully live on JUST music. It’s our passion and it always will be. But at the same time, trying to follow your dreams and have a “normal” adult life….you start losing your dreams because of that reality. The album has that theme…losing your childhood dreams in a sense. It could be seen as sad I suppose. But at the same time, I tried to have a positive outlook on it. Like “Overcome” it’s about accepting the fact that you won’t be the exact way you imagined, but you still manage to make the best of it. And out of life. And compromise on the two.

MMF: Yes, like the lyrics on Introversion, puts that concept into perspective. I think everyone in this 30’s get that seed of doubt. “Can I still have this dream but survive by being an adult? Should I ditch my passions?” I think we all go through that as adults.

Luiss: Definately. I’ll always write about personal experiences. I don’t write about anything cartoonish or, you know, horror metal lyrics. Other bands maybe but with Hacride, I didn’t want those fantasy themes. I wanted all personal experiences. So for the next album I’ll be touch on my father’s death, which was back when I was 11. But I wanted to draw from that process of mourning and grieving. And the hardships of losing someone close to you. In the end it will have a positive theme, just darker in a way. The topic of death isn’t the most original subject right? But doing it from a personal view but it’s a topic so many people can relate to. And for me, the best way to write is to keep it in a way that can touch a lot of people. Singing is such an emotional process and the content has to be strong and real. Taking something from your own background is how you do it.

MMF: The stages of grief and loss, for sure, we’ve all dealt with. Music always connects more than talking about “Satan” like is expected from metal bands sometimes, but talking about heartache is more real for sure….

Luiss: I’ve even been listening to country lately because of that vibe. Some might look at it as cheesy but it’s amazing how much emotion country singers put into their songs.

MMF: Have you been listening to older country, like Cash or Merle?

Luiss: Yes, and like Hank Williams, even Hank 3 who is more modern….Conway Twitty, things like that. I also have been influenced by some Hawaiian type music, that twangy stuff..or Jerry Burn and 1960’s stuff like Grand Parsons….I draw inspiration from a lot right.

MMF: I always got the Roy Orbison “sad Elvis’ thing from my family. (Laughs) But that is good you’re open to drawing from non-metal sources to inspire your creativity.

Luiss: Yes, I don’t like limiting what I listen to, I like having eclectic tastes. I think some people are so into metal they miss out on some great music otherwise. When you like music, it’s hard to restrain yourself from keeping an open mind. Though I’ve had a hard time getting into techno or electronic dance. I like some hip hop even if it has a good feel to it. Most of the time I listen to doom, grindcore and punk of course. But I need to take breaks, just depends on my mood.

MMF: So when I was younger I got into the French Rock scene, and they really stuck out to me like Treponem Pal and Young Gods…for a lot of American Metal people those were the bands that got us exposed to the “French” sound I guess..and with the success that Gojira has had, is the metal and rock scene taking off the last few years….

Luiss: Well I guess you could say Gojira is the top of that mountain right now because they’re so good and well known. But their success for being a French band is unique because their the only one. And I’m not talking about quality, just success. The scene itself overall, it is growing a little bigger because of bands like ourselves, Dagoba and such. It’s not like people over here are going crazy over here for metal. It takes a lot to get French folks to come out to shows. The scene isn’t giant by any means. Even if there are really good bands. From an outsider perspective you might think there are a lot shows but it’s more about festivals in Europe sometimes. It seems like there are a lot of bands just not as many places for shows. But I thikn the French sound is pretty special. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s because there aren’t a lot of shows so a lot of musicians stay in and work on more songs and finding new songs. It probably pushes people to make the sound more original.

MMF: So is there a time frame for the next record, or when you’re going to get it done?

Luiss: We’re hoping by the end of the year, that we’ll get into the studio. By the end of the summer the album will be pretty much done with composition and lyrics, maybe earlier. We are definately looking for a spring 2016 release. And when we stopped touring last year we said “ok this is the last show until the next album” because of our various things we’re doing. Our drummer is still in Klone, and we wanted to take a break and have a new album to offer a new album to fans.

MMF: Well when you tour again try and get to the states. We would use a few new bands from overseas like Hacride to get over here…

Luiss: Oh we would love to of course, and we would love to go there. We’ve been all over Europe and India but we would love to, it’s something we’ve always wanted to do.

Hacride on Indie Recordings

METAL MADE MUSICIANS: FORGING FORWARD WITH ULCERATE

Few bands really manage to overwhelm you with their sound. Sure, you can get a band that down-tunes their guitars and does a few layers, but we’re not talking so much about production here, we’re taking about a vibe. Remember when you first heard post-“Word As Law” Neurosis? I do. “Souls At Zero” while wasn’t the chuggy-chug heaviest thing put to record, vibe wise, it shattered concrete. Bands like that showed you can do a lot with just the members involved, and re-create it on a live level to make it drown you just as much.

New Zealand’s Ulcerate is one of those groups. Through their career, they’ve keep the vibe of the band intact and progressing to new and great places. Their last release, the overwhelming and crushing “Vermis”, is one of those records that is rare in vibe. Imagine standing in the middle of a city while it’s collapsing on you in a rainstorm, and you’re in the ballpark. Blending reverberated dischord feedback and guitars with a bottom end that could pulverize all life off the face of the planet, Ulcerate firmly planted their foot in the international metal scene with this release. And though busy working on new material and touring, we managed to catch up with them for a quick Q&A on the latest from the Ulcerate camp.

MMF: There are many groups, such as yourselves, The Amenta and others that are from
your two countries down under where there seems to be a very distinct
approach and mood to the metal you guys all write (though unique in each
band’s way of course) that separates you from say, American metal. Does the
location of where you guys are help fuel the vibe and sound?

ULCERATE: Not consciously, but obviously you’re influenced by your peers in close
proximity more-so than abroad, particularly within such an isolated
environment such as NZ. Bands that share this very specific aesthetic
are also extremely incestuous in terms of members playing in each
other’s bands, and we’re no exception (particularly in our early days).

MMF: Currently Ulcerate are writing the next record. Vermis was met with critical
acclaim as your best yet. How are you working on taking your sound to the
next level to keep expanding your sound?

ULCERATE: We’re aiming to move a little sideways with regard to the use of
dissonance in our sound, injecting more melody etc (or our style of it at
least). So far we’re 4 tracks in and things are sounding really good.
We’re discovering more and more weapons at our disposal the more
we’re opening up the melodic palette, but everything is still entirely
oppressive and bleak, there’s no room for movement on that issue.
Production-wise we’re going to keep pushing for a more denser and
organic sound and as expansive as we can get it. Definitely distancing
ourselves more and more from the clinical ProTools sample-fests that are
so prevalent
.

MMF: This will be your second release coming up with Relapse (when the next
album comes out). How has the relationship been with them thus far?

ULCERATE: Perfect for us so far – they’re more than happy to let us do our own thing
and provide support and help where we need it. We’ve hung out on a
couple of occasions with everyone at Relapse HQ on tour and we’re
definitely all talking the same language, which is great.

MMF: A few years back when Ulcerate switched vocalists. A lot of times when bands
switch vocalists it can alter the sound, and the fan perception of the group as
well. With where Ulcerate was at the time was Paul the obvious choice to take
over vocal duties?

ULCERATE: To be honest the vocalist switches happened 7 years ago, so
it’s just not really even an issue worth discussing. Paul was undoubtedly
the right choice both stylistically and thematically.

MMF: Some of the central themes of Vermis were oppression of the helpless and
various forms of oppression. Is there a game plan for new subject matter and
topics on the new record?

ULCERATE: Not as of yet as we’re still formulating the overall shape of the material
we have, which as mentioned earlier is 4 songs-worth so far.

MMF: It’s not often indie bands from New Zealand are able to get to the states,
though you’ve done several tours up here so far. Aside from the New York
issue in 2012 with the gear, how have Ulcerate been received up here?

ULCERATE: I think it’s safe to say that North America has been consistently our best
audience, even surpassing Europe which is typically great for us. Cities
like San Francisco, New York City, Montreal have all proved to be some
of the best shows we’ve ever done, so we’re definitely looking to get
back sooner rather than later.

You can check out the band at Relapse Records or on their Facebook for updates on the new record.

Metal Made Musicians: German Metal Giants Heaven Shall Burn

Normally when you think of metal from Germany, you think of Rammstein or Scorpions and probably not much else. I could say a name like the fantastic group The Ocean, and you’d look at me sideways like I just asked you the square root of something. I could pull an old school name like Kreator out of the hat and you’d still maybe be a bit unsure, unless your metal awareness is not limited to new school deathcore (yes kids, there are more bands to metal than modern deathcore…try and keep up). What if I told you that one of the biggest and most important names in German metal was a band that was formed in the mid 90’s called Heaven Shall Burn? Does that ring a bell?

For many people in Europe, obvious by their following, Heaven Shall Burn has a large army of fans backing them. From festival to festival, tour to tour, Heaven Shall Burn has amassed a worldwide network of fans that have boosted them all the way to #2 on the German charts with their last studio album Veto (which also entered the US Heatseekers at #14, which is astounding for a band virtually unknown to the cliche Mayhemfest crowds). With rave reviews of past albums Deaf To Our Prayers, and the Iconoclast trilogy, Heaven Shall Burn have solidified themselves as one of the top metal bands on a global scale to infuse social and political injustice into their songs. It’s not just smoke and mirrors either, as the band fully stands by the fight against the corrupt and being the voice of the voiceless. If you know the band, you know it’s their calling card. And if you’re just now reading this and looking for a band that is concrete in their beliefs in the battle against the broken system that has it’s claws on the world, you just found your new favorite group.

We recently had a conversation with longtime drummer and original member Matthias Voigt, who though is currently on a break with touring with the group to attend to personal and family business, still is very much into helping the band out with public relations and being a voice for the group to underground media outlets such as our fantastic blog here. He informed us that soon he’ll work his way back to live situations, but was more than happy to represent the band in our interview. It was our pleasure to dive into the background and the inner workings of the group with him, to get insight into what we at Metal Made Fitness consider the top name in heavy German music.

MMF: The other day when piecing together ideas for questions for this interview, I went back and listened to “In Battle There Is No Law” and it’s cool to hear the general vibe and foundation for the music for Heaven Shall Burn has always been intact. But the early stuff definitely had more of a classic death metal feel. What were some of the early influences that helped create the Heaven Shall Burn sound?

Matthias: When we released “In Battle…“ our guitar player Maik and me had been playing together for more than 3 years already. So we basically started playing our instruments together and, especially in the beginning, there was no real songwriting, so to say. We really took our time until there was something that you could call “a song“.

We just played whatever sounded good in our ears and whatever we could master. So it’s been a wild mix of Metal, Hardcore and Punk since day one. But we all got a bit better and since Maik came more from a Death Metal background, his riffs and ideas definitely made it sounding that way. I guess we were influenced by Death Metal bands like Dismember or Bolt Thrower at that time, but we didn’t sound 100% their way.
In the mid-90ies we had many bands that really mixed hardcore and Metal in a way that we liked. I’m talking about Belgian bands like Liar, Congress or Sektor, but also American bands like All Out War, Abnegation or Earth Crisis. They all had an huge impact on us….Actually everything we listened to, found a way into our music. Since we’ve always been a band or a group of people that also took a stand on issues like animal and human rights or anti-fascism, we felt that the Hardcore-scene was more like a home to us, but musicwise the sky was the limit. Not all of those influences were audible, but we’ve been hungry to play something aggressive and we took whatever idea or influence we could get. There is only good and bad music anyway.

MMF: With the band growing up in Europe and seeing a different kind of political tension and revolt than what we see up close here in the States…did being around a lot of that stuff influence the band early on to help shape the band’s message and political stance?

Matthias: Yeah, we all grew up in East Germany and we witnessed how a political system broke down and was just being replaced by the next one. Basically everything changed within months. Many people had problems to adapt to this “new world“ and we could see that. Even for us, who had been between 10 and 14 years old around that time, it’s been disturbing. It’s been much worse for people who spent half of their lives in this East German system.

First there was excitement and happiness about the new “freedom“. Later on, people had to realize that it wouldn’t be that easy. I guess I’m not the right person to make an analysis, but the whole situation definitely made us aware of politics in a very early stage of our lives.

After the Wall broke down, there was an immense problem with neo-fascist movements, mainly in East Germany. I guess we had to chose sides and that made us aware of some issues. If you tried to stay away from the boneheads, you naturally got in touch with people that came from a Punk or Hardcore background and even the Metal scene used to be something more leftist or, at least, anti-racist and anti-fascist. So we definitely knew where we belong to and the deeper we got into all this, the more we got in touch with animal rights and human rights. It’s been a process and, in the end, it was clear to us that we wouldn’t waste our band to talk about gore or dragons and knights.

We simply wanted to talk about issues that’d been relevant to us.


(photo by Michael Grein)

MMF: On the last album, Veto, the band continued experimenting with ideas such as the covering the anthemic song from Blind Guardian, or the very melodic start to “Godiva”. It seems each record HSB tries out something new. How does the creative process work when you guys are writing together, bringing up song concepts or sounds?

Matthias: It has changed over the years. When we started to play together, we used to hang out almost every day or, at least 3 or 4 times a week. We would hang out, listen to music and play sometimes if we had an idea and wanted to try out. Then we took lots of time to arrange the songs. Now, they still try out ideas during practice, but the songwriting process itself is much more focused and only our guitar players, Maik and Alex, put the ideas all together and record a demo on the computer. Then the ideas grow and the new elements just appear during this process. Maik is also the one who comes up with all the lyrics and the concept. Basically he is the head of the creative process. I guess that also the best way to work for HSB.

So the band does not really jam that much. It’s a really focused work and it also became quite effective, I would say.

MMF: Actually speaking of the Bling Guardian song, I’ve noticed a cover song seems to make it’s way on to HSB albums. How is it determined which favorite song of the band gets covered?

Matthias: I guess we always have an open ear and sometimes we just think that a song would be interesting to cover. Then we tell each other like “One day we’ll do this…” Well, there are still so many songs that we like. I guess we won’t do all of them (laughs)

It always depends on the mood in the studio and also which kind of song would fit between the other songs. We thought it’s a good way to make the own stuff more interesting, something that breaks in and makes the difference. I guess a song like “Valhalla“ is a good example. When you play aggressive music, there is a risk that things are getting a bit boring, if everything goes into the “same direction“ for 40 or 45 minutes. It still is an aggressive song, but it sound different somehow.

We made the same experience with “Black Tears“. It can make the difference and let it breath a bit, so to say. I don’t know if we would like these albums less without these tracks, but we have the feeling that it’s better this way.

MMF: One of the reasons I wanted to interview the group was that I know the members are Vegan, as I am as well. Have the members always been vegan or was it an eventual choice to go stop supporting animal cruelty?

Matthias: I am vegan. Chris, who is playing drums now, is vegan and so are Maik and Alex. Marcus and Eric had been vegan for around 15 years too, but I guess they’re more like vegetarians now. It’s convenience, but I think it’s rare that they eat non-vegan stuff. They just aren’t that strict anymore and so they don’t call themselves “vegan“. At some point, all the members of HSB were vegan, but we didn’t start like that. That’s also been a process. I can only speak for myself. I’m vegan for 18 years now and stopped eating meat 21 years ago. In the beginning I was just curious, if I could survive as a vegetarian…(laughs). It was 1994 and most people thought I’d be dead within 2 months…(laughs). Just later I realized that I also don’t wanna support this whole industry. Today people are bombarding you with books about that and about the environmental damage that is done, due to the meat and dairy industry, but for me it just so simple.

Of course, I read some of the flyers or articles about animal rights, but I actually it’s just because some people need answers and I wanna be able to give them. I never needed that for myself. I always knew that I have the choice what I wanna eat. So I simply cut all animal products from my diet and I’ve never looked back.

MMF: I know some bands find it hard to be on the road and stick with a plant based diet. How do you guys on the road manage this?

Matthias: I think it’s very different in Europe, especially as a band with the size that HSB has here, there is no problem at all. You get good food at every venue you play. It just got better during the last years. I think you actually get better and more diverse food than back home…(laughs). I can’t say that much about smaller bands, but, especially in the Punk and Hardcore scene here, you get vegan food at many venues too. Animal rights have always been an issue within that scene and it shouldn’t be a problem.

It just keeps getting better and there is always a supermarket where you can stop and get something. If people make the choice to not live vegan, it’s convenience, nothing else. It’s never been as easy as it’s now. If you toured countries like Japan, it’s a different story, but there is always a way.

MMF: It’s been about 2 years since Veto. Is a new album in the works for HSB? Any news on that you can share?

Matthias: I think Maik and Alex already started to share some ideas with each other, but it’s still far from being recorded. This year won’t be that busy anyway, but they also all need time for their regular jobs and for their families. The last couple of years had been quite demanding. HSB is no band that tours very much, but it’s important to keep it fresh and to keep the enthusiasm about it. That’s why things are just happening, without a real schedule. Only if things become more concrete, they set themselves something like a deadline. But then things can happen very fast…(laughs)

MMF: Ok last one…I was fortunate to see you guys play Seattle a few years ago for the first time and it was a stellar show. It’s been a while since we’ve seen HSB tour the States. Is there a plan to come back here in the future for your fans here?

Matthias: True, it’s been a long time since 2008. Also Maik and me didn’t make it for this tour. Maik’s father just passed a few weeks before and I just came back from a 6-month stay in Brazil, where I did an internship. So, HSB needs to return…(laughs). Maik toured the US once in 2001 as a bass player for Caliban. They only played a couple of shows and then there was 9/11 and the rest of the tour got cancelled. It always seems to be bad timing for both of us.

I think there is no plan at the moment, but always some ideas for another tour. Until today, nothing really worked for us, but I’d say “Stay tuned!“. We always got a strong support from the States and we still get lots of messages all the time. I hope we’ll make it!

Find Heaven Shall Burn online at
http://www.heavenshallburn.com/
http://instagram.com/heavenshallburnofficial
http://www.youtube.com/heavenshallburntv
http://twitter.com/officialhsb
http://bit.ly/spotify_officialhsb

NOISE MAKERS: INTERVIEW WITH GRINDCORE LEGENDS LOOKING FOR AN ANSWER

Few bands manage to last a few years, let alone 16. In the underground of metal and hardcore, bands will often dissolve after a few albums or shows, regroup and reform under new names. But the evolution of Spain’s Looking For An Answer is rooted in a universal cause that keeps it pushing forward: animal liberation. The band has a purpose: to be a very loud and brutal voice of the voiceless. And to create as much awareness a possible in doing so. Thankfully they’ve collected a very rabid and loyal following amongs grindcore and punk fans worldwide for this, and Felix and the guys don’t look to be stopping anytime soon.

MMF: Now I could start the questioning about what’s new in the Looking For An Answer world, but for new listeners and readers of this interview, tell us the what original idea was to start this band as a one man project 15 years ago:

FELIX: The band started in 1999 when i decided to create a musical project focus on animal liberation and veganism, i got the chance to participate in a Split 7” with the almighty AGATHOCLES so i make some songs and included it as a Split, after that Ramón at bass and Iñaki at vocals join the Project and it became in a three members real band, we used to play shows around with drum machine until Moya join the band with it and then we change our logo to the actual one.

MMF: Being a vegan as well, I know the important of being the ‘voice of the voiceless’ in choosing this lifestyle. Tell us when and how you first became vegan?

FELIX: I am vegan from 1998 when a good friend of mine show me some videos from slaughterhouse footage, that day i decided to not participate anymore on that oppression and murder, after that i began to read and learn more and more about the dairy industry and how we kill the baby cows and steal their milk.

MMF: With veganism and animal cruelty being a primary message you wanted to address with this band, did you seek out members who were vegetarian on purpose when expanding into a full band?

FELIX: I really did not have to seek any members because they just were close friend who knew the message that the band was trying to spread so in their own coherence they were interested about the band music and message.

MMF: Being a vegan musician with a solid underground following, do you speak out or participate in any groups in Spain or work with any groups for benefit shows for the cause?

FELIX: Sure, i am involve in the animal rights movement and collaborate actively with some animal sanctuaries here in Spain who care animals rescued from the meat and dairy industry.

MMF: You mentioned you used to practice full contact combat sports. With a healthy vegan lifestyle, do you still do this also for fitness or other things to keep you in shape for the stage or tour?

FELIX: Yeah i used to do, normally full contact, last week i was looking for a Muay Thai school and some people have opened one in my own neighborhood so it is great. For sure it is a good way to feel better and get fitness but the honest thing is that i began to practice combat sports after suffered an attack of two guys with knives many years ago, i promised myself that i will learn to protect mine and me.

MMF: Though the “Kraken EP” was released last year, it’s been a few years since a full release. Is a new full-length album in the works for you guys?

FELIX: Yes were playing around with the last record so we are making new stuff right now for a new full lenght Lp/Cd on Relapse Records, the “Kraken” you told is a kind of single ep before the full album, we are old school way of doing things.

MMF: The last album was released on Living Dead Society and Under The Knife records, yes? Are you still releasing anything on Under the Knife, with other projects or bands? I wasn’t able to find much on both labels online, so any news on Under The Knife you have, fill us in!

FELIX: Nope, officially the last one is “Eterno Treblinka” and it was release by Relapse Records on Cd and was relased in 12”Lp by Deepsix in USA and Power it up in Europe. Living Dead Society in the Ramón´s bass player label and Under the Knife was my own label, we used to released some LFAA stuff, Under the Knife is anymore but Living Dead Society is still active and he released LFAA “Kraken” 12”ep

NOISE MAKERS: TO ASHES

No one could have predicted when the Straight Edge ethics and mindset became known in the punk scene back in the 1980’s that it could have such a far reaching effect. But yet, the directives of Straight Edge (no drugs, no drinking, no smoking as a basic foundation) are one of the most punk ideas out possible. In a society dominated by beer ads and smoking billboards, going against the grain of a substance drenched culture is about as rebellious as you can get. Add in the anti-farming and anti-animal cruelty stance of Veganism and you have total base of self discipline and compassion. With the ever increasing tension in the world with the banking industries and governments trying to run over the common man, Vegan Straight Edge bands and scenes popping up worldwide might make more sense than anything (commonly known as xvx). Much like Italy’s To Ashes. Taking influence from the bands that developed the worldwide scene, they look to make an impact and provoke thoughts from any and all listeners with their lyrics and no-nonsense heavy hardcore sounds.

MMF – So tell the readers about a bit of the history of the band and how To
Ashes came together.

To Ashes started in the end of 2013 by Katto (guitar) and Luca (drums) and with the
early entry of Emy (bass) and Ivan (voice) few months later. The different
backgrounds of all of us gave a lot of ideas and new inspiration to the initial project.
We decided to record our first work in the summer of 2014, after some live shows,
at Toxic Basement Studio by our friend Carlo. The EP went out on tapes by Bound
By Modern Age label and soon it will be available also on 7” (out with BBMA and
Black Fire Rec). In the end of 2014 Marco (second guitar) joined the band and we
strengthened our sound. Now we are working for new songs and playing lives in
Italy.

MMF – From listening to the material it sounds like To Ashes has a wide range
of influences. Who are some of the bands that got you inspired to write the
brand of hardcore you guys do?

We come from different musical backgrounds, but all with the same roots and
attitudes: DIY, antifascism and activism. The main influence are hardcore and
metalcore bands of ’90s like Chokehold, Earth Crisis, Gather, Culture..but in
general we compose without thinking about a specific kind of sound. We are
however inspired by the idea that hardcore is more than a musical genre, so we are
very interested in writing lyrics about social complaint and injustices, anarchism and
experience of resistance, animal and earth liberation, sexual freedom and straight
edge, so we were influenced by all the bands that used their voice to spread those
kind of messages.

MMF – In Italy, especially with the political state of a lot of Europe, from what
I’ve read the hardcore scene has been doing really well. Do you feel a lot of
the kids are drawn to the music and message because of the way of life over
there?

Honestly we think that the hardcore scene is doing pretty bad in Italy. We can’t
deny that there are still bands that label themselves as “hardcore”, but for the vast
majority of them hardcore is nothing but another musical genre and this is very sad.
We always thought of hardcore as a space for sharing ideas of freedom,
compassion, equality and against any form of exploitation and discrimination. We’re
not saying that you must make political speeches between one song and another or
you’re “kicked out of hardcore” but hearing about how drunk you were or how hard
you partied last night (from a personal experience) just isn’t our thing.
Fortunately there are also bands (and spaces) that have something to say and put
great effort into bringing forward something real.

MMF – Tell us a bit about how Veganism ties into your band. Have all
members always been Vegan or was this a choice that formed over time? Or
better yet, what led to you going the Vegan route?

Of course veganism was a choice that formed over time, we think nobody can be
born with the main concepts of veganism in his head. However it is a fundamental choice for us, because it is one of the most influential way of affecting the market
based on the animal exploitation and the devastation of the earth. We think also
that veganism is just one side of the wider movement for earth liberation, so it must
go hand in hand with direct action, auto-production and anti-capitalism.

MMF – Do you as a band partake in any activism, charities for causes and
such outside of the music and shows?

We think that activism is very important, because ideas are just words without direct
action. There’s great need of doing something, especially in an age and a place
where most of the people only think about themselves with no regard for what’s
happening right next to them. That’s one of the reasons why we, both as a band
and individually, take part in demonstrations, pickets, protests for social, political
(as anarchists), and animal freedom causes, and charities for legal fees, animal
rights prisoners and so..

MMF – Any big news or shows coming up you want to plug here? Where can
folks buy the new album?

If everything goes well we’re gonna do a couple weeks tour of Europe this summer!
As for the rest, we have some shows here in Italy during this winter/spring:
– Feb. 21
st Imola @ Brigata 36
– Feb. 28
th Genova @ Terra di Nessuno
– Mar. 28th Cremona @ CSA Kavarna
Now you can buy the tape directly from us (message
http://www.facebook.com/toashes) or via Bound By Modern Age Records
(http://boundxbyxmodernxage.bigcartel.com/); here’s also the link for the digital
download: (https://toashes.bandcamp.com/)

NOISE MAKERS: TYRANT’S KALL

Today’s band spotlight we travel all way to Belgium to catch up with U.J Niggurath, member of the band Tyrant’s Kall. In an age where many flock to the newest sound to imitate, Tyrant’s Kall favors to give a nod to their influences from the past such as Celtic Frost, Dismember and Trouble, to name a few. After giving their 2011 album “Dagon” a listen, while doing things the old school way, they have a sound that is still fresh and modern as well. Blending guttural down-tuned guitars and thunderous drums without the modern-era “squash” compression, and raw in-your-face vocals, Tyrant’s Kall has a crushing vibe from top to bottom.

MMF: Tell us about the background of how Tyrant’s Kall came to be:

Tyrant’s Kall started in the the beginning of the previous century. One of my grandfathers had written all of these songs down on paper, those were kept safe in the family until I thought it was time to take a look at it. It quickly became my obsession, because all the notes were transcribed on these weird looking tentacles. Because the notes were often mistaken for suction cups, it took me a while to figure them out. Once I got it, it was easy with today’s gear to make it even more evil and threatening.

MMF: Do you see any big differences in how metal is looked at in Belgium as apposed to say, how America views metal? Whether it be on a commercial level or the style?

Well for one thing, in Belgium no band will ever be able to live from it, so that’s a big difference. We have some successful bands, but most members of these bands have jobs otherwise they wouldn’t be able to live from it. If a band comes from the US and tour Europe they will always get meals, sleeping places, make even some money, or sell merchandise. And have enthusiastic crowds. If a US band plays in Europe they usually get a crowd, while if a smaller band from Belgium plays, it’s hard to get shows or get crowds. The difference is, I think in America you have to have a certain image to get known while here we prefer more letting the music speak for itself. Commercially, it’s harder to get airplay here because we don’t have big radio stations that play metal (or even Hard Rock), or if it does it usually has a program late in the evening like Sunday night Orso.

MMF: Your influences give a nod to some of the more classic underground sounds. How do some of your favorite authors, such as Lovecraft, influence what Tyrant’s Kill does?

In the band we have our own influences,but a love for the 80’s DM/Doom/HM style and that’s what we’re trying to bring. Even in artwork,shirts. No full colour or allover prints. HP Lovecraft is a big influence on the band, when we start out we were with 3 members that just jammed and played instrumental. We tried a few singers, none worked out, but we had the idea to only write Cthulhu and Lovecraft inspired lyrics. So no one could give us shit if we wrote antisocial, anti system lyrics. When we found Esmee as our singer, she loved the concept and has done a tremendous job on writing lyrics that fit our sounds, the music is be the soundtrack for the coming of our Lord and ancient One and her lyrics are a praise to him. I’m not saying there won’t be other lyrics in the future but it will definitely be involved with the Cult of Cthulhu.

MMF: When we first talked, you said all members are vegetarian, and yourself being vegan. When did you become vegan and what were the deciding factors for your choice?

Correction! I said one vegan, three vegetarians and one meat eater. But when we play somewhere it’s usually is a vegan meal for everyone. In fact our guitar player is practically vegan (he does have chickens at home and eat eggs,but not the chickens themselves)

I became vegan, after being vegetarian for a 4 years (due the influence of YOT, when they toured Europe, they had quite an impact on me) but reading more about the horror that’s going on to deliver our “daily” meat/cheese/milk and the slaughter of innocent animals just to please us humans, I decided to take a step further and become vegan, it was quite easy! I thought it would be difficult to let cheese go but actually no problems. If one reads about veganism and talks to other vegans, you can learn so much from them. It’s forced upon us from basic school on, meat is one of the basic food groups one needs to grow and become strong. The meat industry is nothing more than the mob and out to get as many profit they can. It’s all about educate the people to let them see it can be done differently and not kill innocent creatures.

MMF: Is a new album in the works to be recorded? New material on it’s way?

Last year the label Witches Brew brought out our self released CD “Dagon”(released in 2012) out on vinyl(with an extra song on it) and this year will be the release of the upcoming album “Gla’aki”, also on Witches Brew records. We recorded it in September 2014 and laying the last hand on the album (mixing,mastering). It should be out late feb/March. The new material is better constructed and our singer has grown a lot as a singer. Artwork is from Paolo Girardi.

Tyrant’s Kall myspace

I DECLARE WAR

Seattle has a metal scene. I know, for you out of towners you think we’re all Nirvana and Soundgarden and that’s it. Little do you people know, the metal is strong in the Emerald City. Dating back to the early days of Metal Church to Forced Entry to Bitter End along the way to Nevermore and the latest slew of underground acts like Wolves in the Throne Room and Black Breath.

Leading that charge are the ultra heavy I Declare War. Bridging a ridiculous amount of guttural metal with borderline illegal grindcore energy (if you wanna call it “Deathcore” fine, I won’t though…sub-genres just weird me out) the guys in I Declare War have toured the globe and gathered quite the following and reputation. Before getting on a jet plane for their European Winter Tour with Within The Ruins, bassist Gordon McPherson and I did a quick Q&A on the hard hitting topics.

MMF: So I Declare War has had some lineup changes over the years. How did the current lineup come together?

IDW: We have indeed but the core line up we have now has been playing together for a while now. Some of the older members got us in to play for some tours and we have stuck with it ever since. This line up has a great vibe.

MMF: Have you guys found it hard to keep the original vibe of the band with the lineup changes or has the sound been a natural evolution because of it?

IDW: It hasn’t been a problem actually. I’ve noticed a lot of reviews of our new record “We Are Violent People By Nature” kids have mentioned how the new line up as kept the I Declare War sound but still can add more and something new. We are definitely maturing and adding our own twist to the heavy sound.

MMF: Crazy tour story time. What’s the craziest shit you guys have done on tour?

IDW: This one is a hard one cause there is so many stories and crazy adventures we have gone on. Ill do one of my personal ones. We were finishing off our last few days in Australia, played a killer show in Brisben. After we got a bottle of whiskey and enjoyed the after show festivities. come the end of the night i left with some locals. i guess i partied way to hard cause i woke up on a park bench in a random park. Being over seas our phones only work with wi-fi so that was scary. long story short i found my way back thanks to some locals and a friendly cab driver. Don’t drink to much in Australia and leave with strangers!!

MMF: As far as weights, we’ve talked a bit about hitting the weights before tour. How did you get into weight training? Is this something you try to keep up while touring or on the road?

IDW: Me personally I’ve been into it ever since middle school but with the bands i was in and the traveling i was doing i couldn’t really do it. Joining I Declare War I had guys wo enjoyed lifting so been back ever since. While on tour we used to bring our own weights, straight bar, curl bar, then a set of 25lb, 45lb and 10lb, as well as two 40lb dumbbells. this last year we had been using LA fitness. So yes we try to keep up on tour (laughs)

MMF: Know you guys are wrestling fans. If I Declare War could rework any wrestlers theme song in their own style, who’s would you pick?

IDW: I’m not speaking for the band on this one cause we sure have different favorite wrestlers, even our merch guy Charlie could name one. I personally would do Stone Cold. Disturbed did one i know but a super heavy version would be needed. Him or the Undertaker.

NOISE MAKERS: SMIRKING REVENGE

We at Metal Made Fitness are of course about two things: Fitness and Metal. That shouldn’t have surprised you at all. If it did, I really have to wonder about you. It was right there, in our name. Jeez…you people…

So with that, we will be featuring bands that are heavy and have members who are fitness savvy, vegan, healthy or all of the above. Hopefully this not only shows people that musicians are dedicated to their craft, but to live long and strong so they can make the heavy stuff for a long, long time.

Today we’re highlighting Montreal death metal band Smirking Revenge. Roxane and I managed to cross paths from a vegan group on Facebook, and after a quick band-and-forth and a listen, it seems like a great fit for this blog to give her band a spotlight. And no, if you’re asking, it’s not just because they’re Canadian (who if you’re new here you know I love Canada more than anywhere else in the world). The four women in Smirking Revenge are a cohesive unit, with plenty of metal know-how to switch from blazing fast to down trodden and slow at the drop of a dime.

MMF: Tell us about how Smirking Revenge came together.
Roxane: Joannie (drum) and me (guitar) had a band from 2007 to 2012 called Aenygmist, which was a 5-piece all female black metal band. We decided to continue when the band broke up in 2012. So we jammed and had some new ideas for songs. In 2013 we found Charlotte (voice) and Gabrielle (bass) and that was it! They were a perfect match. Even if we are 4 very different girls, it’s that chemistry that makes us who we are. We made our first show on Women’s day 8 march 2014 and it was so much fun! We made some shows here and there in our province this year, before and after the EP was released.

MMF: On a personal level, who in metal influenced you to want to follow your dreams of being in a band? What musicians inspired your playing and songwriting?
Roxane: 13 years ago I discovered punk-rock, and it was Good Charlotte who actually made me want to pick up a guitar (eh!! dont’ laugh at me :p ). I was obsessed with their ”Young and Hopeless” CD and thought, what if I learn the guitar? So that was the first spark.
I also listened a lot of the nu-metal wave when I was in elementary and high school, like Korn, Slipknot, Kittie, Mudvayne, Limp Bizkit, etc. Wes Borland is a great artist I admire, he was the first guitarist I really loved. I still follow all he does, his band Black Light Burns is so awesome. He’s a very authentic player, he’s not trying to play fast and ”technical” and all, his music is full of different feelings and that’s what is important. I also loved Korn for the same reasons.
Kittie also influenced me a lot and made me want to reunite women that share the same passion. It was the proof a women’s band could make really great music that ”have balls” and have great success! When I started out with Joannie in 2005 we mainly did Kittie covers.
Mudvayne’s Greg Tribett was a major factor in the development of my playing style. Also, Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad, DTP)… This man has an unreal voice! He’s not from the Earth… And very good guitar player too, with his brutal riffs! Gojira also inspired and still inspire me, I like how their songs are catchy and full of emotions, and their lyrics are meaningful (environmental causes and spirituality). I listen to Cattle Decapitation these days and absolutely love what they do. I find their music concise, and very well-balanced, with melodic parts and face-melting riffing.

MMF: The EP, Mind Uploading, has a general theme of the record is “technology: Savior or Doombringer?” How do you think we can best keep our humanity while embracing progression in technology?
Roxane: It’s a take it or leave it situation. I mean, all inventions aren’t intelligent (like realistic robot sex-dolls for example). But some are (like artificial limbs or prosthetics), and we must focus on those who enrich our lives, those who are necessary to us. We must not fall into vanity. But again, it’s different for each person, necessity does not mean the same thing to everyone… We have to really deeply think about all those new things and the impacts they’ll have on our lives. We must also refuse the advertising and brainwashing that is shoved down our throats in this era of over-consumerism.

MMF: As far as your Veganism, what helped you decide to make the choice to not eat animal products and not contribute to their suffering?
Roxane: In 2012 I saw a life-changing documentary called Food Inc. on Netflix… While seeing these horrible images of the meat industry, I made a promise to myself and the universe I would never be part of this again. So I went vegetarian for a couple of months and that wasn’t enough for me, I still felt bad eating cheese, eggs and all – so one day I decided to do it all the way and become vegan. It wasn’t a hard change for me because my opinion was very strong and I wasn’t a big meat-eater anyways. I discovered lot of great food ideas, and cooked more at home. I have a better health since my eating habits changed, so that’s cool but that’s not the main reason why I do this – I do it to because of ethical reasons. We have so much alternatives, why not go directly to the source, plants, instead of slaughtering mass-produced living beings?

MMF: Fantasy question: Smirking Revenge could open for any band together or broken up. Who would that dream show have headlining?
Roxane: That would be the bands in the 2nd question… but it’s very hard to choose only one band! It would be an impossible and bizarre line-up, but Good Charlotte would be my choice, because this band gave birth to me, back in my early teenage years.

MMF: From what I’ve read, it was a good productive year for Smirking Revenge. What big plans does 2015 hold for you? Can we expect a full length release?
Roxane: Oh yeah, definitely. We are already working on it and have 2 songs completed, and a 2 other ones in composition. We are thinking about new ideas/concepts for this one. And we expect to make a lot of shows to make ourselves known.

Check out a recent live performance from Smirking Revenge: