Return Of The Light- An Interview With Finnr’s Cane

FinnrsCane-APortraitPaintedByTheSunMusic has an almost preternatural ability to convey emotions so perfectly, that sometimes we take for granted the source of those feelings, and how deep they run. Humankind is in a constant struggle with itself, and the our rejection of nature and its pull on us. All the while we must reconcile the soil in which we came from is the same one we eventually return to. One band which understands this balance is Finnr’s Cane. Their music cuts through to your soul, especially their post-black metal masterpiece A Portrait Painted By The Sun (Prophecy Productions). Raymond Westland caught up with the “The Bard” to get the inside story of their new album.

 
Congrats on releasing such a great album as A Portrait Painted By The Sun. Are you happy the way it came out?

Thank you very much! They say an artist’s piece is never actually finished, but rather it simply reaches a point where the artist is happy and stops working on it. It was a long process but finally, we are truly happy with how it sounds.

The artwork of the new album is a stunning piece of art. Who made it and what does it represent?

The artwork was created by Benjamin König of Sperber Illustrationen. To us, it represents the beauty and occasional serene tranquility of the forest, the rebirth of the soil and the return of the light after a cold and dark season, and the uplifting promise of happiness and warmth.
From what I’ve read the themes on the album are about endless natural cycles. What does it mean to you personally? What do you find so inspiring about this theme?

I suppose what I find so inspiring about the cycles of nature is that it’s something so real and close to us, and yet so enormously cosmic and unknown to us at the same time. Sometimes I will think, what should I write about? Love? Hate? So many songs have been written about these human emotions, which seem so small and insignificant to me when compared to the entirety of the universe. I suppose that’s why I always tend to come back to nature as a central theme. That feeling of pondering something that is so much larger than ourselves is always so strangely wonderful to me.

Can you take through the motions of writing and recording  A Portrait Painted By The Sun? What were you guys aiming for?

We really were not aiming to do anything except create an album that we would enjoy. We don’t usually start off with much of a goal in mind. We simply get together and play music, record it, and through months and months of piecing these recordings together and refining them, the end result becomes our album!
A lot of the music within Finnr’s Cane comes together through improvisation. What do you find so liberating about this approach compared to more traditional ways of creating and writing music?

For one thing, it’s more fun and exciting to get together with the band without any pre-conceived ideas, and say, “Okay! Hit record, lets play!” It’s like opening a wrapped gift, you never know what’s going to come out, and it’s extremely satisfying when it comes out sounding great. Another thing is, I think that through this method, you can capture little “accidental” bits of music that simply could have never been written in a more pre-conceived way. I think that gives our music more originality and less predictability.
Canada is a country known for long winters and large forests. How did this influence Finnr’s Cane music?

Winter has always been an inspiration for Finnr’s Cane. The Peasant lives quite far from us, and Winter is often the season which affords us the most time to get together and play music. In general though, it is not just winter and forests which are inspiring to us. In Canada, we have four very different seasons with distinct qualities and sensations. Also, Canada has a wide variety of inspiring natural elements such as many great lakes, rivers, valleys and mountains which reveal to us the diversity of life on Earth as well as the cycles which govern it.

In this digital day and age how important/vital is for you to stay in communion with nature? Can you explain this urge?Finnr's Cane 2013

One of the reasons I find it so important to stay connected to nature is because inevitably, we can’t escape its influence. As an example, the weather can have an effect on everything from our mood, to our day-to-day plans or even one’s medical condition. The sensitivity of ecosystems, the way the moon pulls the tide, even the way our own bodies work is a result of thousands of years of unbridled nature. I think the more I realize this and work in harmony with nature rather than try to fight it, the better I feel and the better my life becomes.

 

This is your second album for Prophecy Productions. What makes it such an exceptional label to be signed to?

It has been a pleasure thus far to work with Prophecy. We really appreciate that they are able to strike a good balance between professionalism and artistic expression. We feel that we are well represented and that our artistic vision is always well respected.
Prophecy is a relative small label with all pros and cons that come with it. Would you consider moving on to a bigger label if they come up with a good enough offer?

As with any major decision in life, I think we would need to carefully consider the individual circumstances at hand. We don’t have anything against being part of a larger label, however we would not want our artistic vision and/or processes to be compromised in any way.

What touring plans do you have in support of the new album?

As of right now, Finnr’s Cane remains a studio project, however, we would like to do live performance someday if circumstance should foster this possibility. Thank you very much for the interview, it is much appreciated!!

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Finnr’s Cane on Facebook

Finnr’s Cane on the web www.finnrscane.ca

 

Raymond Westland

Abstract, Surreal, And Visceral – An Interview With Ephel Duath

ed hbtsbdDavide Tiso makes for one of the most fascinating characters to study in the entire realm of heavy music. Through the entity that is Ephel Duath, Tiso has been blending the very best of experimental music, harsh contrasting styles, and deft philosophical lyrics for over a decade now. He has always had a singular purpose, but now he is fully in control of his destiny via a fruitful partnership with Agonia Records. Plus, he has cohorts who can match his talent and vision, such as Karyn Crisis, Marco Minnemann, and Bryan Beller, and he can fulfill his artistic vision. Chief Editor Raymond Westland interviewed Tiso about a range of topics, yielding some surprising answers.

 

 

 

Congrats on releasing such a strong and convincing album as Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness. Are you happy the way it turned out?

I’m very, very proud of Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness. I did my best to put together some meaningful pieces of music, I got an exceptional line up performing the songs and one of the best extreme metal producers out there working at my side. The album’s artwork is absolutely gorgeous and so are the formats and packaging available: yes, I’m happy for the way everything turned out.

 

The album has a rather enigmatic title. What’s the meaning behind it?

 

Ephel Duath has always been a band that feeds itself with opposites: lightness and heaviness, empty and full spaces, colors and darkness. The new album pushes this dichotomy even more, and I felt like marking the title itself with it.

 

There’s a constant search for dark sounds in my songs but there’s no real darkness without light. My music often diverge towards softer melodic parts just to create more tension, this way the release gain a much more dramatic effect. Lightness plays an important role in Ephel Duath just because it is in direct function and symbiotic correlation with heaviness. My lyrics and Karyn’s raw, lacerating way of singing my words, mark even more clearly how important are contrasts for this band: the harsh juxtaposition between this abstract and surreal music with these visceral, painful words create an odd balance that perfectly represent myself and Ephel Duath in 2013.

 

Can you take us through the motions of writing and recording the album?

 

I started working on these new songs right after we recorded 2012 EP On Death and Cosmos. From the second half of 2011 and the whole 2012 I did nothing but writing new music for Ephel Duath.

Drums for Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness were recorded by Marco Minnemann in the 2012 summer. Bass was recorded by Bryan Beller in September/October 2012. In February 2013 Karyn Crisis and I flew to Mana Recording Studios in St. Petersburg, FL, to record guitars and vocals with Erik Rutan. We finally mixed and mastered the album this past July and August.

Working on the album spanned in almost a two years period. Composing the music was overall a pretty smooth process, I experienced a burst of creativity and inspiration that let me nail one song after the other in a relative short amount of time. It took me more time to write the lyrics, I wanted to heavily dig inward in my head this time around and I took all the time I needed to make any words count. Recording, mixing and mastering the album has been a long and fragmented process. I’m glad we opted to book some extra weeks to mix and master because we badly needed more time. Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness reaches over 50 minutes and being the music so layered and structurally complex we didn’t feel like rushing anything just because we were passing the deadline. Both the studio and the label have been accommodating and understanding through all this process and now the album sounds like it should.

As writer and composer what are things you’re aiming for when working on Ephel Duath material?

When I work on new material for Ephel Duath I aim to use music notes to walk myself and the occasional listener to the place I hide in my head. This band might be the most truthful tool I found to open up and reveal my inner self. Being this course of action so intimate, I often feel I should not even share Ephel Duath’s music with people. Not every listener out there feels like entering in someone else troubled mindset just for the purpose of listening a piece of music. Some people just want to listen music to be entertained, not to be challenged and how can I really blame them? I am so protective of Ephel Duath because I frankly don’t see its music like a way of communicate with people but my own personal vehicle to come to terms with myself.

Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness is the album where I most successfully shut down that wall that protects me from the external. This is the album where I blindly immersed myself in my head the most, without even try to filter my words and my music for fear of revealing too much. This music will now be dissected by reviews and people’s comments: I’m not looking forward for that. With each new album, I’m not trying to gain a wider public, I’m trying to express myself more and more but to do so truly, I cannot afford to worry about what people’s reaction to my music might be.

 

Ephel Duath is signed with Agonia Records nowadays. How is it like to work with them compared to Earache records?

The main difference to underline is straight and simple: Ephel Duath is one of Agonia’s priorities; we never had the same status at Earache. I can’t stretch enough the importance to be in this position: after so many years playing this music, I’m very glad to have found a label that blindly supports the band. Agonia is doing an excellent job promoting Ephel Duath. They believe in my music, they are betting on my music and they are going way overboard to offer me the very best they can. Our new album is coming out in a limited double gold vinyl edition, how awesome is that? I’m very grateful for having such dedicated people working for my Ephel Duath. Another difference between the two labels to underline is that I’m in a position of total control with Agonia. Everything concerning Ephel Duath is discussed together, every decision we make needs my final approval.

 

Two years ago you decided to turn Ephel Duath basically into a one man project with a revolving cast of musicians in order to execute your musical ideas. What prompted this decision and how do you see things in regards of this nowadays?

This band is my own personal trip since many years, not just two. I composed every song and lyrics for Ephel Duath since 2001. Recently I just opted to work with exceptional session musicians as rhythmic section to make the whole process smoother and faster. Since I live in the US I never found a full line up for Ephel Duath, plus now I have a regular full time job: I can’t keep dedicating much time looking for musicians to jam, I prefer to spend my energy composing the best songs I can and hire professionals to record for me. This specific choice is making each release more economically demanding but in terms of musicianship, well, these new songs are reaching so much dynamic, expression and character. This is so rewarding for me, I’m investing all I have in this band and I want the best for this band. I aim to keep putting out albums that are strong statements and will stand the test of time. I feel very grateful for the opportunity I have to share and perform my music with such talented musicians.

 

With Bryan Beller and Marco Minnemann in the band you have one of the most talented and coveted rhythmic section within (experimental) rock and metal. How is it like to work with them for you as bandleader and composer?

As a songwriter, it is extremely refreshing and liberating to have such strong collaborators at my side. When I send the pre-production of my songs to Marco Minnemann, I know that he will promptly send me back the files with his parts to listen to. It is incredible how professional, fast and efficient Marco is. I feel that he’s able to adapt his drumming to my guitar style in such an elegant and eclectic way. Every guitar’s accent is interpreted and enchanted by the drums and there is definitely a good, magic at times, alchemy between us two.

 

Working with Bryan Beller for the bass parts has been absolutely great too. His parts are literally locking guitars and drums to each other and they add power, attack and heaviness to each and every riff. Bryan’s bass lines are very rock music oriented and his tone is so warm, rounded and well balanced: it perfectly complements my guitar ones.

 

Hemmed By Light is recorded with Erik Rutan. What did he bring to the table as far as ideas go?

Structuring, recording and mixing this album was pretty challenging. There’s really a lot going on in each song, Erik and I tried our very best to make any instrument, any part, any detail shine on its own and cohesively work together. Dealing with my guitars’ panning was particularly difficult. My parts resemble the shape of a spider web more than a typical metal rhythmic + solo guitar structure: every riff has different layers and harmonization’s that come in and, sometime, abruptly go out. Mixing wise, my guitars cannot be easily separated in left and right: Erik was extremely helpful adapting his way of working to this album’s special needs and he worked so very hard to make these songs dynamic and crushing. After few days of working together in studio we realized that nailing the right guitar panning was crucial for this specific album, especially for what concerned the heaviness of the music itself. We opted recording every guitar part twice and panning everything in stereo with different spectrums’ opening percentages; the result is a pretty odd and unique listening experience that grows and slowly reveal itself at every spin.

 

 

Rutan is mostly known for his work with death metal bands. Why did you choose to work with him?davide tiso promo shot

Since I live in the US I keep choosing Erik Rutan for my productions because of his talent, dedication and military work ethic. Erik expects nothing but the best in terms of performances by the musicians he chooses to work with and he’s not that shy to let you know when you are playing sloppy. His perfect pitch hears and his attention for details is absolutely out of the ordinary and the results of such hard work pay back profusely. My music needs a producer that is ready to commit 100% to the songs and it’s ready to take the music to the next level: Rutan is giving me that, plus the drive of an extra band member and the support of a great friend.

 

What touring plans do you have in support of Hemmed By Light?

We just started booking an April 2014 European tour with Nero di Marte as main support. For updates and more info about ED please check facebook.com/ephelduathofficial. Thank you for the interview and support!

 

Ephel Duath on Facebook

 

Raymond Westland

 

Rough Around The Edges – An Interview With Doomriders

doomriders.03.hi_-675x450Nate Newton is a busy man. Besides playing bass in Converge and being a guitarist in Old Man Gloom he also fronts his own band, called Doomriders. Ghost Cult caught up with him to discuss Grand Blood (Deathwish), the new Doomriders album. He was also keen to tell more about the personal nature of some of the songs, working with producer Kurt Ballou and the upcoming tour schedule. Continue reading

Caught Between Purity And Conservatism – An Interview With Pestilence

Pestilence 1Pestilence mainman Patrick Mameli isn’t the type of guy who minces words. Ever since he reformed his band back in 2008 it’s been an uphill battle. While Mameli likes to stay in the present many long time Pestilence fans prefer to stick with the band’s classic early 90s material. Obsideo (Candlelight Records), the band’s latest album, is a particularly solid release. Ghost Cult caught up with Patrick and talked with him about the new album, staying true to your musical vision and discussed the rampant conservatism within death metal as a whole. Continue reading

Divinations At Night – An Interview With Code

Code 1Forward thinking Black Metal outfit Code suffered from a series of crippling line-up changes, which made the band disappear below the radar for a couple of years. With a brilliant new album, entitled Augur Nox (Agonia Records), in tow, the band is back with a vengeance. Guitarist Aort is more than willing to put in his two cents on Code’s past and present, the new record and the struggle for musicians to make ends meet with their craft. Continue reading

Mediating Between Passion And The Heart – An Interview With Sepultura

Sepultura+2013

Like many long time running bands Sepultura had their fair share of misfortunes and many people are openly questioning whether they have any right to continue without the Cavalera brothers. However, The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart (Nuclear Blast), the band latest musical offering, is their most spirited release in years and it shows there’s still plenty of kick left. Ghost Cult caught up with frontman Derrick Green to pride his mind about the new album, working with producer Ross Robinson and the background of his lyrics.

Mediator is very spirited and dark album. How come?

I don’t know really. The album was recorded in Venice Beach, California. A lot of the material was written in Sao Paulo. There were a lot of things going on at the time in the world. There was a new pope elected and there was a lot of social upheaval about the upcoming World Cup and Olympic Games, especially about all the corruption going. A lot of the money is invested in stadiums, while the populace are clamouring for hospitals and schools. A lot of it was coming from the things happening around us. Another major factor is our drummer, Eloy Casagrande. Writing music with him changed a lot. He really likes to play metal and he’s really passionate about it. He’s very young and the energy he brought with him pushed the rest of us to step up our game. He really wanted to leave his mark and that makes the new album very different from the previous one I think. It was his dream to play in Sepultura and we really needed that type of kick and he really brought that.

Ross Robinson produced the new album. He has quite a reputation of bringing bands to the edge mentally in order to capture the best performance possible. How did he go about with Sepultura?

He had a free pass with Andreas and Paulo. He already recorded with them during the Roots album, so he was already familiar with the inner workings of Sepultura. He talked with them how Roots changed his life and how it opened a lot of doors for him as a producer. With the second time around he really wanted to make an album that was different from Roots, but with that same type of energy. He already knew what we’re capable of. He was there with us in the room while we recorded our instruments literally pushing us physically. He constantly asked why certain parts are there in a song and why certain words are there. We went through the lyrics together with everyone present in the room. This was something we never really did. I wrote the lyrics and I was done, just like that. He asked Eloy or Paulo what a certain lyric meant to them and whether they could identify themselves with it. Before we went in he would go and tell that he didn’t feel the emotion behind a certain piece or lyric. He was like give it your all or don’t go in at all. We’re living in special times. The album is all about freedom and a lot of different energies and a lot of people are relying on our music to get through the day and help them cope with daily life. He urged us to really think about what we are doing, because we’re an inspiration to alot of people. By creating that feeling and vibe he really got us to go as deep as we could. It really united the band in such a way that we didn’t even know we could be capable of. It was a beautiful experience.

I do think Mediator combines all the best elements from the best Sepultura albums. It has the thrash metal elements from Beneath The Remains and Arise, the groove from Chaos A.D and Roots and the punk attitude of the later albums…

I think so too. We wrote those songs and we got down to the studio. When Ross heard the songs he was really stupefied. He said that a lot of the things were already in place and that we only needed to take out the energy and capture that on tape. I really think that the new album has all those elements you just mentioned. We went through all the songs and we really wanted to feel that vibe and energy of each individual song in a natural way and have fun with it. Mediator does have all the elements from the history of Sepultura.

The last few Sepultura albums are inspired by famous books and movies, like Dante’s Inferno, A Clockwork Orange and Metropolis by Fritz Lang. What do you found so inspiring to use them as a concept for Sepultura albums?

Andreas and I like to read a lot when we are touring. When I grew up my sister worked at a publishing company, so I was surrounded by books as a kid. Those books were really inspirational and made me wanting to travel the world and see all those amazing places described in those books. Andreas and I really like to discussing certain issues and books that he and I read are often at the root of our discussions. In a weird way those things happen for a reason. The Fritz Lang movie was the main inspiration for Mediator. It’s a metaphor for the times we’re living in. A lot of people are very robotic in their way of life. It’s basically thinking and then action. A lot of the heart and the passion are essentially missing. Nowadays, most people are robotically typing things on their smartphone and they really don’t care about the world and the people around them. Sadly, I’m one of those people as well. On the new album I really wanted to write about the things I don’t like about myself and the times that we live in. It just ridiculous that I’m looking at this stupid phone. When you go a gig you see kids not paying attention to the show, they’re looking at their phones instead. What the hell is wrong with them?!

Sepultura has always been a socially-conscious band with a strong message, especially from Chaos AD on. Where does it come from?

Each person in the band has his own personal background and interests. I’m coming from the States and my mother was a music teacher and my parents actually met in church of all places. It was really an old fashioned style of growing up. Andreas’ parents are of German descent and his mother is from Slovenia living in Brazil. All these mixing of different cultures add to the band, you know and it really shapes our beliefs and ideas.

What is your ultimate goal with your lyrics? Are you an observer or do you want to make people think or do you want to raise a certain level of awareness for the things you believe strongly in?

It’s all about communicating a certain idea. Change will be up to the individual. I’m not trying to change anyone or anybody. I just want to communicate how I’m thinking about certain subjects, so people can relate to that or relate to it in perhaps a different way. It’s all about their own interpretation of my lyrics. For me it’s important to be responsible for what I’m writing because of the impact it can have on people. I know music can have really strong impact on people’s life. At the same time my lyrics have this positivity and raw emotion about whatever I’m trying the communicate. I really can’t get behind writing about wizards, castles and crystal balls (laughs). That stuff isn’t real to me, so I’d rather write about social and political topics, because they are more feasible to me and I think those topics are easier for people to get into, because they’re real. It’s coming from the heart and that’s why people are relating a lot to our lyrics and it’s something they’ve come to expect from Sepultura.

Finally, the band it’s celebrating its 30th anniversary. Do you guys plans to do anything special, like putting a rarities box set or releasing a special DVD?

We’re actually going to record a DVD at Rock In Rio with a French percussion group and when we have finished the current touring cycle for the new album with Eloy, we can sit down and put something special together, like people from the past of Sepultura showing up and perform at some great location. That’s something we’ve been brainstorming about for quite some time. But like I said, we need to finish the current touring cycle for the new album, because I feel our new album is really worth it. We really need to get out and play these new songs. We wrote these songs and recorded them in the studio, but playing them live on stage is quite something different. We really need to experience that first and I think a lot of these new songs will be included on the upcoming DVD. But yeah, celebrating 30 years of Sepultura would include a beautiful location and a lot of special guests (laughs).

Raymond Westland

Sepultura – Facebook

 

Korn – The Paradigm Shift

Korn_TheParadigmShift_Cover3A paradigm shift can be described as a change in a believe system or a general view of how a large group of people perceive things, often in a scientific, social or philosophical context. It’s also the title of the upcoming Korn album, which marks the return of guitarist Brian ‘Head’ Welch. The new record is being marketed, or hyped if you will, as a return to the band’s original sound, so let’s see whether this claim holds any water. Continue reading

Stripped Down And Naked – An Interview With Katatonia

katatonia_band_photoWith Dead End Kings (Peaceville) being released last year it came as quite surprised that another Katatonia album saw the light last month. However, Dethroned And Uncrowned (Kscope) isn’t just an “another” record. It features stripped down and reworked versions of the Dead End Kings material. Ghost Cult talked with Katatonia guitarist and main composer Anders Nystrom about this remarkable release, the potential of crowdfunding and touring in America. Continue reading

Dream Theater – Dream Theater

Dream-Theater-Dream-TheaterNow the dust has settled on the departure of Mike Portnoy and the rest of Dream Theater proved to capable to deliver a fine record without him, the band moved on to greener pastures with newcomer Mike Mangini. This time around he’s fully integrated in the writing process, so let’s see if his contributions brings the new self titled album (Roadrunner) to the next level. Continue reading