I haven’t been to a show downstairs at The Middle East since 2014 when Septicflesh and Fleshgod Apocalypse tour together for the Conquerors of the World Tour, so needless to say, this was both an exciting and nostalgic night. Dragon plated shoulder armor, Dungeons and Dragons lore discussions, and a theory about a giant tortoise God that will take over the universe alongside Cthulhu fill the air with anticipation for the first band to take the stage.
Iceland is not the first location you think of when considering the legacy of traditional or melodic metal, and would probably not be amongst the first (hundred) places you would go if you were searching for the next great Heavy Metal band. Indeed, brooding, expansive post-Rock; emotive, atmospheric Black Metal; twisted traditional folk are all styles that you’d more instantly connect with the volcanic, expansive, open landscapes of the western-most point of Scandinavia. So, I think it is fair to say that you would have got fairly long odds on the first release for the metal industry-shaking new label giants Atomic Fire being the debut album of a brand new Power Metal band from Iceland.
Landmvrks is relatively a new band. Hailing from Marseille, France the quartet that consists of Florent Salfati, Nicolas Exposito, Rudy Purkart, and Nicolas Soriano only have one album under their belt, Hollow that was released in 2016. The debut earned them a set at last year’s Hellfest. The quartet signed a deal with Arising Empire and crafted their new album Fantasy.Continue reading →
Last time around, 2015’s The Color Before The Sun (300) saw New York progressive rockers Coheed and Cambria abandon the lavish story arc of their previous seven albums and move away from the polished and heroic approach they had made their own, ploughing a more straightforward alternative rock furrow. Whether it was an attempt to attain new fans, a one-off experiment, or simply a stylistic change that didn’t quite work, nonetheless, long-time supporters of the band will be pleased to hear that the fantasy conceptualists have returned to what they know best.Continue reading →
2017 will be seen as a monumental year for both Arjen Anthony Lucassen and for Ayreon; the band and its fanatical fan base. Significantly it will mark the first live performances by Ayreon (and a very rare live appearance by the infamously shy and reclusive Lucassen), but also sees a brand new album that revisits the conceptual narrative of one of the band’s most beloved albums, 01011001 (InsideOut). Showing a return to the sci-fi storyline of said album, The Source (Mascot) in fact acts as a prequel piece, and is the most refined and strongest album they have released for some time.Continue reading →
Formed in 2004 by Zach Gammis and Andy Gentile, An Endless Sporadic have endured a somewhat strange and unique existence thus far. Their brand of vividly obscure instrumental progressive rock has already been featured in high-profile video games, most notably the inclusion of the mind-boggling noodling of “Impulse” on Guitar Hero 3 garnering them some notoriety.Continue reading →
Playing epic, classic heavy metal is not a road to travel if fame, glory and success is your goal. Visigoth front man Jake Rogers showed his warrior spirit by talking to Ghost Cult and defending the honour not just of his tribe, or their new album, The Revenant King (Metal Blade), but also their place in the metal world.
It’s been 25 – 30 years since most of your influences were at their peak, and while there is a lot of love and respect for bands like Manilla Road et al, but what makes Visigoth relevant at a time when heavy metal in that form has long moved on in style and sound?
We aren’t concerned with ‘relevance’, we are simply concerned with heavy metal music. True fans of heavy metal don’t care what is “hip” or “cool” or “in”, they simply enjoy what they enjoy and that’s that. I love all sorts of metal music, be it heavy metal, black metal, black thrash, death metal, doom metal, USPM, speed metal, thrash metal, etc.; if it’s real, I dig it! And of course we love plenty of non-metal music as well, because we’re music obsessives! But the type of music we wanted to do with Visigoth was powerful fist-raising, sword-weilding heavy metal, no more, no less.
Playing such a traditional style could be said to have its limitations. What can you do with Visigoth going forward that you haven’t already, or that metal in general hasn’t already done before?
We won’t be doing anything that hasn’t been done before. We are not interested in experimentation or progressive elements or trying to be “genre-defying” in any way. We are not a special snowflake band whatsoever, we are simply a heavy metal band. Some people will scoff at the notion, calling it quaint and regressive, and that’s fine – those aren’t the type of people we would want to talk music with anyway! We’re just a heavy metal band playing heavy metal music for people who love heavy metal music.
How do you balance the irony vs the seriousness with the band? I mean, at what point, (such as say during the writing of ‘Dungeon Master’?) do you think “Ah, this may be a bit close to the line”? I know these are tropes that have been prominent in traditional metal for years, but what’s the thinking around subjects, image, song titles, live presentation and balancing that with being concerned about being too cheesy?
Nothing we do is ironic. This band is passionately from the heart and 100% serious. I am completely against irony in heavy metal. If you think metal is a joke, you have no business playing it. Of course, there are some great bands that have a sense of humour about their music (take Metalucifer, for example), but their humour isn’t ironic, it is a humour born of affection and love for the genre, and they still take the music seriously.
The distinction is a very important one, in my opinion. Sure, some people will think a song like ‘Dungeon Master’ is “cheesy”, but I honestly wrote those lyrics because my experiences playing those table-top roleplaying games and computer games throughout my formative years were really important to what would later become my appreciation for heavy metal aesthetics. A lot of people who are into heavy metal music can relate to this – those who can’t, will call it cheesy and move on. That’s fine, because it’s not for them.
When writing lyrics, coming up with song titles, or devising concepts for artwork or general presentation, I never concern myself with whether or not some toughbro or cool-dude beardo on the internet is going to think it’s cheesy – they can look elsewhere for bands with the modern, up-to-date, hip, cool image that they’re interested in.
Actual metal people tend to understand and unironically enjoy fantasy/barbarian aesthetics and classic heavy metal imagery, and that’s our target audience.
What will make Visigoth stand tall for years to come?
Our dedication to heavy metal music, our passion for playing live gigs, and our drive to improve – we know we aren’t a great band yet, but we’ll keep trying until we get there!
Despite not being one of Prog’s most celebrated acts, Kaipa have magnificent legacy that spans near 40 years (18 years of which spent on a hiatus in fairness, but still not to be taken lightly) with a branch of prog that encompasses symphonic music, Swedish traditional folk and explorative, tangent minded melodies. Since their reunion in 2000 there has been a plethora of rich additions to their history, with Sattyg (InsideOut/Century Media) the band’s latest.
Their tendency for colouful, fantasy based atmosphere remains present on Sattyg, and musically it doesn’t venture from their previous sound, which in itself is a cauldron of diverse influences, and here even including hints of medieval-like instrumentation married with an overall classic prog warmth, all producing an eclectic sound that transmits an impression that is neither dated nor current, with slight shades of a metallic feel in part.
One of Sattyg’s real strengths is the vocal combinations of Patrik Lundstrom and Aleena Gibson, both in their own displays, Gibson in particular a unique and vocally free spirit, who excel as a combined force who wed their harmonies and interplay together, proving as adventurous at times as the accompanying musical shifts.
An aural swirl that indulges the senses for nigh on 70 minutes across 7 reflective, meditative and eccentric musical passages, the sextet casually unfurl their folky and progressive indulgences, unhurried and unpressured, allowing each track to expand and develop as if in its’ own microcosm. Yes, it may sit too much on the side of whimsy, for some but most will find an album with a multitude of layers, styles and nuances drawn from a palette of rich colours.
One of Progressive music’s underrated gems have added another jewel to their underplayed legacy.