To date, we have conducted 1617 interviews. If your band is available for an interview, feel free to contact us and we'll see what we can do. Here are our latest:
Over the past eight years, German musicians Hanno Klänhard and Erinç Sakarya, collectively known as Mantar, have wreaked aural havoc. So far, the band has released three studio albums, an EP and an eight song covers record entitled, "Grungetown Hooligans II" (so called because the original recordings were erased,) but next week, on July 15th, the duo will unleash their fourth full length album, "Pain Is Forever And This Is The End," an extraordinary ten song journey into not only the minds of the creators, but the depths of humanity and Earth itself.
To find out more about this incredible album, how it nearly led to their dissolution, signing with Metal Blade Records, music videos, lyrics and so much more, Metal Underground caught up with Hanno Klänhard for a deep conversation. You can check it out below.
This past April, Norwegian hard rock supergroup Audrey Horne unleashed, "Devil's Bell," their first album in four years, through Napalm Records. Not only this, but 2022 also marks the twentieth anniversary of the band's formation and what better way to mark this milestone than with one of the strongest albums in their catalogue to date?
To find out more about the record, the meaning behind the title, artwork and much more, Metal Underground spoke with vocalist Torkjell Rød, who discussed all manner of things pertaining to the album and the band. You can check it out below.
Black metal is a genre which will forever be closely associated with Norway, much like death metal is often paired with Sweden. But just like death metal, black metal was spreading across Europe quite some time before the likes of Darkthrone and Immortal hit the scene. There were bands from England, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden, as well as a healthy scene in Greece before the Black Circle was conceived and naturally, it would make its way far west to Ireland, where one band took it upon themselves to be their country's ambassadors of extreme music; namely Primordial.
Beginning life thirty five years ago, the quintet from Skerries has achieved their goal of being Ireland's answer to Bathory and even more, becoming one of the most beloved extreme metal bands in the world and even being credited as one the founders of the Celtic metal sub-genre. Now with nine albums under their belt, the band recently finished a headlining run across Europe, supported by Swallow The Sun and Rome, which delighted fans everywhere with fierce music and inimitable stage presence.
Before the tour kicked off, Metal Underground was fortunate enough to speak with Alan Averill, aka Nemtheanga, about returning to the road, if fans can expect a new album any time soon, Ireland, heritage, religion and even football. You can watch the interview in full below.
England has something of a funny relationship with metal music. While many will point to certain bands as the fathers of the genre, or of certain sub-genres such as Venom and black metal, it often seems that bands in other countries overtake the island in terms of the music's popularity or roster of bands. The aforementioned black metal is of particular note and it's quite strange because English history is every bit as savage and brutal as countries like Norway, Greece or Poland, who have all produced some truly legendary bands in the field.
That's not to say that the English black metal scene is barren however. There's always been underground bands keeping the music alive, though very few have broken into what could charitably be called the "black metal mainstream." Nevertheless, one band which has got people talking in recent years would be Sacred Son, who only two weeks ago, released "The Foul Deth Of Engelond," their fourth album and first with a full band since "Arthurtian Catacombs" three years ago. To find out more about the album, including how to pronounce the title, as well as the themes, history, politics behind it and much more, Metal Underground spoke with vocalist and bassist Dane Cross. You read the interview in full or watch it in full below.
Diamond Oz: First of all, let's get clear on the title. I imagine it's pronounced "The foul death of England," though it looks like it could be pronounced differently.
Dane Cross: Right. You're absolutely correct, it's pronounced "the foul death of England" but it's written in middle Scottish. It derives from just after the black death came to these shores and the Scots at the time believed that it was the wrath of God, specifically reigning down to kill off the English, but obviously a few months later, the plague arrived in Scotland and they realised that it wasn't exclusively affecting the English. I suppose it's up for interpretation as to what it means in terms of the context of this album. It could still refer to the black death itself, because it played such a part in the socio-economics of the fourteenth century, which gave way to the rise of the revolt, which is the theme of the album. It could also refer to the revolt itself I suppose or it could, and this is my personal take, refer to the corruption, malice and ineptitude of the ruling figures at the time.
Friday is always a good day. The working week is over, AEW Rampage is on TV and most importantly, it's new release day! Among the many exciting albums out today, there's one that really stands out for offering different facets of metal music and philosophical viewpoints all rolled into one. Of course, I'm referring to "Colour The Soul," the latest full length from Canadian heavyweights Unbowed and their first in five years.
Five years is of course a long wait for a new album, even with two singles interspersed in between and one might assume that the COVID pandemic played a bit role in the wait, but you know what they say about assuming things.... To find out more about this audible beast, Metal Underground caught up with the band's vocalist Ioan Tetlow and guitarist Alex Snape to discuss all things related to "Colour The Soul," the inspirations and ideas behind it, healthcare, imagery and more. You can read a transcript of the interview below, or watch it in full at the bottom of the page.
Oz: The new album, "Colour The Soul" is out on May 20th. It's an interesting title, it's quite vibrant for such a heavy band.
Ioan Tetlow: It's based off of Carl Jung's philosophies and psychologies sort of thing, so it's like heavily endorsing a vibrant nature, so that was the right wording you used there for sure.
Oz: Obviously it's been five years since your previous album. One would imagine that COVID played a big role in delaying the release and that kind of thing. Was that the only factor in there being such a long gap in between albums?
Ioan: I would say it's probably the least defining factor just because at the time Alex was studying in London, England, so a lot of us were moving back and forth, recording there and then he came back, we recorded here, so there was actually a few different factors. I'm sure Alex has a few more.
Alex Snape: We wrote the album in 2018 and then our drummer ended up leaving shortly after that, so then we kind of had to find a new drummer and finish recording the new record. That was the initial thing, because our drummer left due to a health issue in his hand which is obviously very important when you're a drummer. We were kind of figuring out what to do, because you know, you don't want to kick someone out just because they have a health issue, that's not the kind of people we are. But then, the entire world had a health issue, so it was a little convenient in that regard because people stopped asking us what was taking so long.
Ioan: In reality that was the least defining thing. Eventually we just realised that this is more or less a sign for everyone. I think a lot of people, if there is a silver lining from the pandemic, assessed their situation in life in general and so it was good for that because we were able to sit there and go, "We have a lineup change, we have a sound change relatively." Like, halfway in between we were thinking more along the lines of our own sound I guess. We've always been searching for it but it just kind of found us. Some of the riffs we gutted from the original singles, so the singles "Home" and "The Anthem Of I" came out back in 2019 and we had completely different riffs for both of those songs for a while and then they became what they were. Even now on the re-release, they're completely mixed different as well.
Alex: Yeah everything's kind of evolved really nicely. I think with our previous releases, even different sections of the album kind of have different flavours or sounds, so I think this is the first album where it grew into a cohesive, this is what Unbowed sounds like.
Even in its heyday, nu metal was controversial genre. On the one hand, metal purists saw the influx of rapping, turntables, trackie pants and lyrical themes which were often far removed from what had come before and saw everything despised coming into their home like an welcome brother in-law. In fairness though, until this point, the mainstream was convinced that metal was dead and grunge killed it and so to even have the word "metal" back in mainstream consciousness again was something of a miracle. Add to that that these bands were still name dropping icons like Black Sabbath, Suicidal Tendencies and Slayer, providing a gateway and introduction to heavier music for kids of the day, as well as the fact that almost everything gets appreciated more with age and one has to wonder if it was all that bad.
Little wonder then that in the 2020s, the world is seeing a small revival of the sub-genre and in the latest example of this, we turn to two known vocalists and a trio of Canadian musicians, collectively known as Sicksense. Featuring The Agonist singer Vicky Psarakis and Stuck Mojo frontman Robby Fonts, the quintet released their first EP, "Kings Today" just shy of a month ago and the response so far has been positive. Those who were nu metal fans back in the day tend to agree that they do a perfect job of capturing the fun and the spirit of the era and even some detractors have to agree that the music they offer is highly enjoyable. To find out more about the band, the EP, live plans and more, Metal Underground caught up with Robby and Vicky, in an interview which you can watch in full below.
Diamond Oz: I've been listening to the new EP and having grown up as a nu metal kid, I can say that it does a really good job of capturing the feeling of the nu metal era. Was that always the goal of Sicksense, not to emulate but to recapture the spirit of back then?
Robby Fonts: Yeah, I think so. Sicksense was actually started by our members Bran and Cody. They were in this other band called Keychain who were doing this unabashedly nu metal style and then they ended up parting ways with their previous singer. So they were looking to replace that person and I ended up auditioning for them, I worked on three demo songs that Brain had sent me and Brain really liked what I was doing on a lyrical and vocal level, but he was like, "Hey I would like to incorporate singing in this band as well, would you be OK with having another vocalist in the band?"
Vicky was already working on the demos with me, doing backing vocals on them, so for the third song, before I started working on the third demo that he'd sent me, I was like, "OK, well now that I know there's going to be a second vocalist, let's write this one with Vicky in mind" and that song ended up becoming "Make Believe." We went forward from there and so that's how we came to be working with Vicky and I think she did magic with the song and the music.
The word "legend" is thrown around a lot these days. It seems that anyone who has been a musician for longer than two years can be tagged with the label. However, there are still those out there who truly deserve to be called a legend. Such is the case for the unmistakable voice that is Udo Dirkschneider.
Udo Dirkschneider's career began in the seventies with Accept, one of the most popular and influential bands in the history of German metal music, responsible in part for making the country one of the most welcoming places for the genre in the world today. He would leave the band in 1987, forming a new group, U.D.O. the same year. Since then, U.D.O. has gone on to become another staple name in German metal and the vocalist remains a touring machine.
Last month, Udo released an album under the name Udo Dirkschneider for the first time. It was a collection of covers entitled, "My Way," an appropriate name for someone who's stood the test of time and touches on everything from fellow metal icons to overlooked rockers to Frank Sinatra. To find out more about this album, Metal Underground caught up with the man himself, who revealed why these songs were chosen, what it was like to sing in German for the first time and what his plans for the road are. You can watch the interview in full at the bottom of the page.
Diamond Oz: The album, "My Way" was released on April 22nd. It's a very interesting album. Obviously it's the first one you've done just with your own name, why did you decide to release it under your name rather than U.D.O.?
Udo Dirkschneider: It is definitely a solo album. It's songs that I like, that I listened to when I was young in the end of the sixties, the seventies and beginning of the eighties. It's songs I like but not ones that I'm influenced by as a musician or a vocal wise. These were songs that in the old days when we had the BBC, I would sit there with a cassette recorder and record them, so it was important to put all these songs together on a cover album. The album wasn't really planned in the beginning, it was more for myself in the studio.
I was working with Stefan Kaufman from my old band Accept and of course we had some time during the pandemic. The first song that we did was "Faith Healer" by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, which is one of my favourite songs and it's still played at rock clubs and that in Germany and it turned out very well. We were talking with the record company who suggested a cover album and the producer said to make a list of what kind of songs you'd like to do and... Here we go!
As devastating as the pandemic has been generally, it must have had that extra bitterness to bands who released their debut albums just before it kicked off. Finally realising your dream of putting out your first record together only to be unable to perform it to people could only have been a metaphorical kick in the balls. Such was the case for Imonolith, the band featuring former Devin Townsend Project members Ryan van Porderooyen and Brian Wadell, whose debut full length "State Of Being" was released at the end of March 2020, just as things got really bad the world over.
Two years later and the band are gearing up to release their sophomore album, "Progressions," which had a small scope to begin with, but gradually grew to become it's own beast and in a way, a compilation of everything Imonolith is all about. Before it hits the shelves on May 20th, Metal Underground caught up with van Porderooyen to discuss the record, the importance of including demos, covering Bjork and more. You can watch the interview in full below.
Diamond Oz: The new album, "Progressions" is set to be released on May 20th. It's obviously a fitting title given that it's moved on from the debut, "State Of Being." In what way do you feel that Imonolith has progressed since the first album?
Ryan van Porderooyen: Well the thing is, just the songwriting, Brian Waddell and I wrote all of "State Of Being," or the majority of it, between 2015 and 2018, so it was an ongoing process while we were playing with the Devin Townsend Project, we were writing music. It's no secret that when Devin starts something, whether it be Strapping Young Lad or Devin Townsend Project, it always has a bit of a shelf life. It's never going to be an ongoing thing, so we were surprised how long the Devin Townsend Project lasted, which was pretty much a good ten years, which is the longest thing he's ever done and the biggest, most successful thing he's ever done and he's doing great now. So we were kind of expecting it so around 2015 we said, "Let's write just in case this goes." I didn't really have any interest in joining another band or being a hired gun, I'd rather take a shot at something that was our own.
So with that precursor, we wrote all this music that was "State Of Being," but it was during the time that we were with Devin so we kept it on the side until 2018 when the inevitable happened. It was all good, Devin's awesome, I'm still friends with him and there's no hard feelings whatsoever, it's just now we can move on and do this. So that was the start of Imonolith and the writing back then, but it progressed so much getting Jon Howard in the band. Brian Waddell isn't in the band anymore, basically he never liked touring with Devin Townsend Project either and he just wanted to stop doing it altogether. So Jon Howard and I took over the writing process from when Beav and I were doing it.
When Jon came in, the whole of "State Of Being" was already written. He contributed to "We Never Forget" and "Instinct" but other than that, it was Beav and I. So that progression alone was huge because how Jon and I write is definitely more progressive and heavier, I'd say. I love the "State Of Being" record to this day but it's just a natural progression and there's a little more samples, more keyboards, the production's different, it's more progressive even in song writing. So that's how the band has progressed and the other guys will put in riffs too, it's just that Jon and I are the head guys that take everything, mold it and create the music.
As mentioned recently when introducing the interview with Wolf, the love for and the spirit of traditional heavy metal never went away. It may have been sidelined by its more extreme successors or mocked by the trends that followed it in the nineties, but it remained as defiant as ever. There's no shortage of bands keeping this style and sound alive today and without a doubt, one of the most successful at keeping the fire burning bright would be Canada's own, Skull Fist.
Last month, Skull Fist unleashed their latest album, "Paid In Full," an eight track collection of some of the finest traditional heavy metal music this decade, although the road to its release had its fair share of bumps along the way. Indeed, the record itself is older than some people may realise but with an ever growing fan base and the power of Atomic Fire Records behind them, it seems that Skull Fist are poised to lead a charge for their genre and contemporaries. To find out more about the album, Metal Underground caught up with frontman Zach "Slaughter" Schottler, who revealed just how long the band has been sitting on the record, where they've been recording videos, why he prefers demos and much more. You can watch the interview in full below.
Diamond Oz: The new album, "Paid In Full" is out now. What can you tell me about the title of the album? Where does that come from?
Zach Slaughter: Well, I couldn't call it "Powerslave," because that was taken. "Rust In Peace" was taken too. No, you just get old and disgruntled and it's just where you end up. I think it's more about not wanting to deal with people's shit anymore, I guess.
Oz: And what makes this a different album from "Way Of The Road"?
Zach: Ummm... It's got different riffs! Although I realise that the picking for the song, "Long Live The Fist" in "You're Gonna Pay," so I feel like at this point I'm ripping off myself. It's heavier. "Way Of The Road" was a lot mellower I think, almost a little bit whiny at some points. I think this one's a bit more disgruntled, which I guess is my theme word for the day. The sound is a bit better too, especially the vocals.
Doom metal has a wonderful way of painting the darkest mental landscapes there could be. Sometimes, just the sound can conjure up thoughts of harsh terrain, oppressive surroundings and even make one's skin feel cold. Such is the case with "The Buried Storm," the latest offering from English dark doom outfit Darkher.
A one woman band led by Jayn Maiven, it was in 2016 that the first album, "Realms" was released and six years later, the sophomore effort, "The Buried Storm" is available. To find out more about the record, the gap in between releases and more, Metal Underground was fortunate enough to put some questions to Jayn Maiven, who had the following to say:
Diamond Oz: Congratulations on your new album, "The Buried Storm." It's been six years since your debut full length "Realms" was released. Why was there such a long gap in between albums?
Jayn Maiven: Thank you . For many reasons, for the first couple of years following ‘Realms’ release, I was focused on playing live and touring. Following that I had some ill health and collectively we had the pandemic which slowed things down, but i think for the most part an album can take time to be complete, especially when doing the writing, production, recording and mixing alone- it can be a very slow process.
Oz: Musically, what would you say makes "The Buried Storm" different from “Realms"?
Jayn: I think there is more emphasis and focus on the orchestral instruments and the harmonies on this album. It felt more cinematic and visual when i was creating it.
Oz: What's the meaning behind the album title?
Jayn: The storm relates to dark emotions and The Buried Storm refers to leaving those emotions behind and finding a sense of peace.
Though it may not be immediately obvious, Wales has always been there presenting great rock and metal music for as long as the genres have been around. Whether it be the proto metal of Budgie, the NWOBHM excitement of Persian Risk, the bombastic beats of Skindred or the extremity of Hecate Enthroned, Welsh musicians have always been proudly flying Y Ddraig Goch in heavy music. Indeed, one of the most exciting bands to emerge from Britain in recent years hails from the town of Wrexham, in the form of MWWB.
Formerly known as Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, the band now going just by those initials recently released, "The Harvest," an amazing blend of doom metal, space rock and psychedelia, which is already a contender for album of the year among those who've heard it. To find out more about this record, along with the name change, the health scares which delayed the album and more, Metal Underground was fortunate enough to put some questions to bass player Stuart Sinclair.
Diamond Oz: Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me today. Congratulations on your new album, "The Harvest." I suppose the first thing to ask is about your name change. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard was a very memorable name, so did you have any apprehension about shortening it?
Stuart Sinclair: First off, Thank you for the kind words. No, there's no apprehension over the name, people called us by both before and still by both after, people are definitely putting way to much stock in it, again before and after. I know for a fact that some people who listen to doom metal and like adjacent sub genres of metal avoided us because of the name, which is stupid in my opinion. But also sometimes when we trying to promote ourselves in Internet world we couldn't easily because of the words WEED and BASTARD, so now maybe it's just less fuss in some respect but everyone knows what it is still. People used to ask us about the name all the time and it got really old and now we change it and they still ask us. *laughs*
Folk metal has come a long way since it was first recognised as a genre in the 1990s. While bands like Led Zeppelin were experimenting with folk music, it was the likes of Skyclad and Cruachan who established it as a true sub-genre and over the past ten years or so, its popularity has sky rocketed. As mentioned, Skyclad were arguably the first folk metal band and so it's unsurprising that one of the year's most excited albums in the genre would come from a member of its lineup, as frontman Kevin Ridley introduces the world to Theigns And Thralls.
It was only two weeks ago today that the band released their debut album, an eponymous trek which finds so many instances and events from history that the modern world has barely learned from, if at all. Joining Ridley on this journey are current and ex members of Irish legends Waylander and Cruachan, while an enormous amount of guest musicians from the likes of Korpiklaani, Ensiferum and Celtibeerian were also involved. To find out more about the record, Metal Underground spoke with Kevin Ridley himself, in an interview which you can watch in full below.
Diamond Oz: Obviously people know you from your work with Skyclad. What would you say it is about Theigns And Thralls that gives you more freedom of expression, if at all?
Kevin Ridley: Well, that's one of the things. Most of the songs that I write with Skyclad are co-written of course but obviously on the Theigns And Thralls album, I've written them all. Having said that, some of the songs are adaptations of poems and things like that from the past, which again is one of the things that Theigns And Thralls allows me to do because I have this penchant for history and historical fiction, so I can combine those things to create these new songs, so I'm not trying to fit in with what Skyclad's doing, I've got a free hand to do what I want. I've got to say, one of the things to remember is that when I started Theigns And Thralls, I didn't have a plan or anything, it was the kind of thing that just evolved because of the pandemic.
As you're well aware, we were will sitting with time on our hands in a lockdown situation and I had a few songs, because I'd done a solo album before and I wanted to do another one, because as a musician, you never really stop writing. Some things are suitable for Skyclad and some songs aren't so you end up with some stuff. It was a gradual thing where I said, "I've got this time on my hands, I've got a few songs, what can we do with this?" and kind of built it up from there. Once I got into it, it evolved quite quickly and I kind of found a little niche or a certain area that I thought was productive, so I followed it and got in touch with some friends who I felt could add things to it and then it built up to friends of friends and grew into this project, so I started taking it a bit more seriously once I realised it could turn into an album. We couldn't do anything with Skyclad anyway because I live in another country.
Traditional heavy metal music may have been overshadowed by its more extreme offshoots over the decades but the popularity and spirit is still plain for all to see, with the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne still headlining festivals and selling out venues the world over. Its also being kept alive and well by younger bands performing the tried and true classic sound, with more recent examples being bands such as Toledo Steel, Skull Fist and Night Demon, who have all found degrees of success and praise. One of the most notable bands to play traditional heavy metal at a time when heavier styles were all the rage is Wolf, the Örebro quartet who began life in 1995 and have been continuing to keep the flame burning since.
Recently, Wolf unleashed their ninth studio album, "Shadowland," released by long time label Century Media and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. To find out more about this follow up to "Feeding The Machine," how the pandemic affected the band and much more, Metal Underground caught up with frontman Niklas Stålvind, who revealed all about the record and more. You can watch it in full below.
Diamond Oz: The new album, "Shadowland" is out now. It was only two years ago that you released "Feeding The Machine," was the pandemic a factor in being able to release two albums close together?
Niklas Stålvind: Yeah it was. It was really bad for "Feeding The Machine" but really good for "Shadowland" because it meant that we could focus on writing and recording. I'd started writing before we went on tour for "Feeding The Machine" but then the pandemic came and we aborted the tour and went home. So there was a couple of songs already but then we decided to just focus on making a new record and forget about everything else.
Oz: I was lucky enough to see you on the "Feeding The Machine" tour with Grand Magus and the songs from that album sounded great live. The "Shadowland" material sounds like "Feeding The Machine" turned way up and with a bit of a darker edge to it. Would you say that's a fair assessment?
Niklas: You're not the only one who has made that assessment but personally, I feel that "Feeding The Machine" was the darkest album I've ever recorded, though that's just my opinion and I think that this one is a lot more positive. I feel that this album is so much more positive and enjoyable. I know that the themes can seem pretty dark and nihilistic but I don't interpret them that way. There was such a pure joy of writing songs with a new lineup and making music. This time I wasn't writing as a kind of therapy like I did with "Feeding The Machine," and digging up all kind of weird and dark things from the past that I needed to come to the surface in order to cope with them. This time it was quite the opposite and also the new members brought in such a positive energy and it's fantastic to write music and hear them do their thing because it's even better than what I imagined as I wrote it.
It's the most obvious thing in the world to say that the COVID-19 pandemic ground the world to a halt two years ago. From the viewpoint of the music industry, albums were delayed, tours were cancelled and plans were up in the air. Imagine then that you've created a band which is difficult to define, has some amazing music to offer but you face it being over before it even began. That's exactly the situation Russian outfit Saphath faced.
Despite all the setbacks, Saphath has risen with full force and this month, released their debut album, "Ascension Of The Dark Prophet," a multi faceted story of contrasts, darkness and beauty in the strangest places. To find out more about the record, Metal Underground caught up with the band's vocalist Alexey Duraev and bassist Alexander Klimkov. You can read it in full below.
Diamond Oz: Congratulations on your debut album, "Ascension of the Dark Prophet." What is the meaning behind the title?
Alexey Duraev: The Dark Prophet is a character of harsh fate, an outsider in his world, rejected by society, but possessing indomitable willpower and independence. Since his youth, he hears a voice of Darkness in his head and the Darkness is personalized, she is not just a universal power, she is a lady of forbidden knowledge and defiance. You may look at him as Antichrist or Cain and perceive her as Lilith or Mara (Slavic goddess of death), but it is more to them than the known mythological characters.
The Prophet aims for reaching the city he sees in his dreams, and this would be the story of his ascension. On his lonely path, he travels around the world seeking knowledge of half-mad wizards, he falls in love and loses his beloved, he gets sentenced and kills, he becomes a ruler and a demigod god and finally reaches his goal, falling into the arms of Darkness in the land of his dreams. All the album lyrics are written from the Prophet’s standpoint, but if you look closer at the character, many people in the world can relate to him. I just meant to tell that everyone can ascend from dust to the sky, even so it is unbelievably hard.
Oz: What kind of topics are covered in the lyrics on the album?
Alexey: As I said, many people could relate to the Dark Prophet at something. The music and lyrics are filled with a poetic combination of loneliness, despair, pain, anxiety, passion, rage, judgment and questioning of what is believed to be truth. A couple of songs of how love hurts. Summarizing that, every song expresses a particular emotion a person like that would feel. It is very personal to me, I lived through every hardness expressed, so everything described is a sincere thing in Byronish style bars.
Death metal has never been afraid to push the boundaries. From grizzly murder to Satan and everything in between (and between his legs,) there's always been something to offend, disgust and amuse when it comes to the sub-genre. The human body itself can be a pretty disgusting thing at times and why not use one of its more.... intimate parts for inspiration? Enter Atoll and their new EP, "Prepuce."
Atoll began in 2014 and to date have released three full length albums, the latest being "Zoopocalypse" in 2019 and most recently, a six song EP named "Prepuce." Before Googling what the title means, you'll probably want to read on or watch the video, especially if it's a shared computer you're using! Regardless, the EP itself is a brutal display of Arizona slam showcasing fearsome vocals, pounding rhythms and a wicked sense of humour. To find out more about this release, Metal Underground caught up with Atoll vocalist Wade Taylor, guitar players Christopher Nick & Spencer Ferguson and bassist Cameron Broomfield. You can watch the interview in full below, where you can also find a transcript of the chat.
Diamond Oz: The new EP, "Prepuce" is out now. I looked up the title and then I regretted it.
Wade Taylor: That's what we did too. We did that song, "The Circumcisor" and then thought, "What's another word for foreskin?" and it was "prepuce" and I was like, "That's it!" It was one of those unanimous decisions that happens really fast.
Oz: Yeah, as long as you search normally instead of image searching, you're OK. So I guess the first question is... Why? Why name an EP after the foreskin?
Wade: I guess I'll answer this one. I guess a lot of our other stuff had kind of a serious tone to it. Our first two or three albums did and this one, we just wanted something silly but sounded serious and I wanted people to look up that word. It also just goes with the "Circumcisor" thing and that's pretty much it. It has nothing else to do with any of the other songs on the album, it's just a cool word and I wanted people to look it up and see a wiener.
Christopher Nick: "Prepuce" is kind of like a weird encapsulation of our personalities. We want to give off this serious mantra and play brutal music but at the end of the day, we're just a bunch of immature boys. We kind of just leaned into it a little bit more.
Metal music and Scandinavia go together like bread and butter, or peanut butter and jelly. The incredible mythology, the ice cold landscapes, the colourful history, it all combines so well to create the perfect breeding ground for metal. While every Scandinavian scene will likely think of themselves as having the most to offer, today we focus on Sweden and one the most eclectic bands to come from the nation, Månegarm.
Månegarm has been active for nearly thirty years, having formed in 1995 and releasing their first album three years later. Their mesh of black metal, folk and Viking metal crafts something truly astounding and many will argue that they've not let their audience down yet. So it is with their new album, "Ynglingaättens Öde," set for release next week via Napalm Records, which tells the amazing stories of nine Swedish kings from over a thousand years ago. It's sure to go down a treat and to discover more about the album, Metal Underground caught up with vocalist and bassist Erik Grawsiö. You can watch the interview in full at the bottom of the page or read a transcript below.
Diamond Oz: The new album, "Ynglingaättens Öde" is out on April 15th. Where does the title come from?
Erik Grawsiö: The title is about a royal family, or dynasty you might say and they were called the Ynglinga. It's a concept album and it's about in the 900s or so there was a poem called Ynglingatal, which details this royal kin and the lives and deeds of a lot of kings. The poem consists of fifty four verses I think and details the lives of twenty Swedish kings. So we built the album around these stories, so each song is about the life of one king.
Oz: Is this a subject you'd been wanting to discuss for a long time?
Erik: Yeah. Jacob the drummer is the one who writes the lyrics and today he's a history teacher at university. When he started to become a teacher, he had a class with a professor named Sundquist about the Ynglingatal, which is where Jacob got the idea that he wanted to do a concept album, but at that time we were working on our previous album, "Fornaldarsagor," which is also a tricky name! But he kept the idea and when I showed him some songs and some riffs for the new album, he told me about this idea and he really thought that the concept and the lyrics he had in mind would fit the new songs perfectly. So for a couple of years, it's grown.
As we near another Friday, which is to say another release day, there's one album hitting the shelves this week which really stands out as one to watch, or rather listen to, namely "Wake Up Dead," the sixth full length album from Arizona groove metallers Incite. Spearheaded by frontman Richie Cavalera and with new guitarist Eli Santana on board, as well a new label behind them, Incite has never been at a more exciting point in their career and the record certainly reflects this.
With old school art, visually arresting videos and a guest appearance from Soulfly's Max Cavalera to boot, "Wake Up Dead" promises to be the fiercest release from Incite yet. To find out more about the album, Richie Cavalera spoke with Metal Underground and revealed all about the creative process, the changes the band has gone through, how the pandemic affected them and much more. You can watch the interview in full below.
Diamond Oz: The new album, "Wake Up Dead" is out soon, I believe on April 8th.
Richie Cavalera: Yeah, that's correct. We're super pumped on it. Everybody's talking about it and it's getting a lot of attention. We're super hyped.
Oz: I'm not surprised that it is because the two singles that have been released so far, "Deadbeat" and "War Soup" are really good and while they both have a groove to them, they're very different from each other, so it's a good display of the variety of the album.
Richie: Yeah I think that's one of the feelings with this new record. Each song kind of pushes a new realm for us. Keeping the main structure of what we are and who we are but just taking it a bit further with the talent we have, how long we've all been together. It was fun. It was a fun time to make these songs and feel what we could do. You know, acoustic guitar intros and ripping solos. It's a dope album.
Over the past decade, maybe more, the metal world has seen a sharp rise in the number of all female metal bands and bands emerging from Denmark. A mere two years ago, we were treated to a wonderful combination of both when Copenhagen quartet Konvent unleashed their debut album, "Puritan Masochism" through Napalm Records. Now the time has come for a sophomore effort and the group are blowing minds with their second release, "Call Down The Sun."
Released on March 11th, "Call Down The Sun" builds perfectly on the foundations laid by "Puritan Masochism," adding greater depth and variation. It's been receiving rave reviews from the press and fans of death/doom have a new band to add to their list of essentials. To find out more about "Call Down The Sun," Metal Underground spoke with vocalist Rikke Emilie List, who shared plenty of information about the album, lyrical themes, shooting music videos in the freezing cold and much more. You can watch the interview in full at the bottom of the page.
Diamond Oz: Let's talk about the new album, "Call Down The Sun." How do you feel the band has grown since "Puritan Masochism?"
Rikke List: I think we've grown a lot. When we started writing "Call Down The Sun," we started almost immediately after we left the studio when we finished recording "Puritan Masochism." We were so inspired by the whole studio experience and we realised how many options and possibilities you have as a band in the studio, like working with a producer who has a lot of ideas. I think we'd already decided then that we really wanted to challenge ourselves for the next record. For example, Sarah said she wanted to write a guitar solo, which is tricky when you're in a band with only one guitar, so we still need to figure out how we're going to do that live! We had really high expectations for ourselves on this record and all the positive feedback for "Puritan Masochism" blew us away, so we thought, "We're going to at least have to try and top that."
Only yesterday, during the introduction to our interview with Tygers Of Pan Tang, we mentioned how important the North East of England was to the British metal scene of the 1980s. There's no need to go through another list, but the eagle eyed among you may have noticed that there was one very important band left out of the introduction when it comes to metal in Tyne and Wear and that would be Satan.
Having formed in 1979, Satan would go on to release one of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal's greatest albums, "Court In The Act" four years later, before laying the name to rest soon after and changing their moniker to Blind Fury. After another album as Satan, "Suspended Sentence," they would once again rechristen themselves, this time to Pariah, before going their separate ways. As always, Satan returned to Earth, first as a one off in 2004 and then again in 2011 and since then, the band with the devilish tag has been on something of a roll, releasing a further three albums.
Tomorrow, the fourth album since their return, "Earth Infernal," will be unleashed via Metal Blade Records and it seems to be the darkest and most gritty offering from the Geordie legends yet. To find out more about what went into this record, we caught up with guitarist Steve Ramsey, who divulged all the info about the themes, art, touring plans and more, as well as what's happening with Skyclad, the folk metal pioneers which he also co-founded. You can read the interview below or listen to it in full at the bottom of the screen.
Diamond Oz: The new album, "Earth Infernal" is out on April 1st. What can you tell me about the title of this record?
Steve Ramsey: The title is about the planet burning, basically. There's no title track but a couple of songs refer to the title. We've observed over the past couple of years, especially in this country, that people were becoming so obsessed with the pandemic and the politics, that they forgot that the planet is on fire, we just thought we'd remind them.
Oz: Yeah, it's not something to ignore. It's cool though, it's like an umbrella term when it comes to the actual songs on this album. Like you said, there's a few tracks that relate to the title.
Steve: Yeah, there's a couple of tracks that relate to it. "Earth We Bequeath" is kind of like a time capsule message for future generations, sort of apologising for what we've done. There's another one, "Twelve Infernal Lords," which is kind of like a horror story but the idea is like this supreme court made up of twelve demon judges, including the guy on our artwork. They're hellbent on destroying the environment by using laws, bending laws, to plant seeds of mistrust and chaos and fucking the planet up.
The North East of England is truly a special place, being the hotbed of association football and home to some of the friendliest people the country has to offer (as well as some of the toughest!) During the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement, it was also where one could find some of the absolute best in British metal music, with bands such as Venom, Raven and Atomkraft, as well as the massively influental Neat Records. A mere ten miles from Newcastle, lies the seaside town of Whitley Bay and within it, one of the most beloved bands of the NWOBHM, Tygers Of Pan Tang.
Tygers Of Pan Tang began life towards the end of the seventies and initially found themselves signed to Neat before agreeing a deal with major label MCA. The group would release three of the best albums of the NWOBHM era ("Wild Cat," "Spellbound" and "Crazy Nights") before disputes with MCA would force them to close up shop briefly and a different version of the band returned to the scene for two albums before going their separate ways. In 1999, the Tygers officially returned at Wacken Open Air and have remained on the scene ever since, releasing a further six full length studio albums, as well as EPs, live records and compilations
Recently, the group released, "A New Heartbeat," a four track tease of things to come, featuring two new songs (the title track and "Red Mist," as well as re-recordings of "Fireclown" and "Killers." The EP has been getting rave reviews and to find out more about this gem, Metal Underground caught up with guitarist and co-founder Robb Weir. You read a transcript or watch the interview in full below.
Diamond Oz: The new EP, "A New Heartbeat" is out now. Why was the decision made to record an EP rather than a full album?
Robb Weir: It was always intended as a taster, to introduce our new guitar player Francesco Marras. In 2020, our old guitar player decided he wanted to go his own way so advertised internationally and we got offers from all over the world: A guy from Australia, a guy from San Francisco who messaged me constantly saying that distance wasn't a problem, but really it was because America was in quite a heavy lockdown and it was just a little bit too far, though his credentials were fantastic.
But rising like a phoenix above everybody else was Francesco. He was recommended to us by a mutual friend and it's just proved to be a tremendous association, although I've never met him or sat in the same room and jammed with him. We've tried on numerous occasions to fly him over from Germany, where he lives, he's Italian, comes from Sardinia, so we have two Italians in the band now. We've managed to write the new album together but I had a track, "Red Mist," and Francesco obviously talks to Jack (Meille, vocalist) in their native Italian tongue and they wrote a song together, which was "A New Heartbeat" and it was perfect for the whole project. It's a great title and perfect for the new blood in the band, new hearts beating, all that kind of association.
We recorded it all in our own studios. I've probably got the most old fashioned studio because I'm old fashioned! Gav Gray, our last bassist who left last year, he's got a great studio so I went to his studio and recorded my tracks with him. He also played bass on the EP and he was very gracious about it, he asked, "Do you want me to play on the EP?" Then Huw (Holding) joined and he asked if I wanted Huw to replace the tracks and I said, "No, it's done now and it can be your legacy." We're still great friends. There was no, "I'm leaving because you get more lollipops than me." I recruited him all those years ago. In fact he played in the Tygers in 1999 when we headlined Wacken, which was a one off show to celebrate twenty years of the Tygers and at the time it was only Jess and I who was available to do it from the original band, so we recruited three local, Tyneside musicians and he was one of them, so, I've known him since then.
So yeah, we recorded our parts there and it was sent across to Marco Angioni, who mixed it for us. He has a studio in Copenhagen which is where our record company headquarters are. It was then sent off to Harry Hess in Germany, who mastered the last two albums and he mastered the tracks and his input was tremendous as well. We came out with a great sounding EP. It was originally going to be a three track, but I had another brainstorm and rang the management asking if it could be four tracks. I've always had a burning desire to re-record "Fireclown" because we've never played it live, or we probably did in the early eighties, but not in the last twenty years, since the band has come back, as it were. So we recorded that as a four track, because "Killers" was Francesco's choice. I said to him, "What's your favourite track out of the old stuff?" and he said, "Oh, 'Killers.'" so that was always the number three track and "Fireclown" came in at number four.
The benefit of recording older songs today is that you have forty years worth of advanced technology. I know purists will say, "But it sounded great back then" and yeah, it probably did, but from an artist's point of view, I think it's always nice just to refresh and get a bit of today into an old track without changing it too much.
In recent years, the metal world has seen Denmark weigh in strongly on the music scene and join their Scandinavian neighbours as a true force in heaviness. From the blackened folk of Myrkur, the brutality of Baest and the grizzly doom of Konvent, there's an explosion in Danish metal and so much of it is good! Joining the ranks of the aforementioned are Slaegt, formed initially as a black metal band but over time, incorporating more elements of traditional and classic heavy metal.
Nowhere is this style more evidenced than with "Goddess," the band's fourth full length album and first since the 2018 release, "The Wheel." Unleashed only nine days ago, their Century Media debut showcases six examples of superb musicianship, well crafted lyrics and fascinating themes. To find out more about this latest opus, Metal Underground caught up with the band's vocalist and guitarist Asrok, who revealed all about the record. You can read or watch the interview below.
Diamond Oz: Congratulations on the new album. What can you tell me about the title?
Asrok: Well, the thing about me and titles is that I usually have a long list of song titles. Usually we have a title track on an album, which begins musically, then I pick the title and then come the lyrics and vocals. I had this title for a very long time and I thought it would be very cool for an album. For a long time, I've been fascinated by this Gnostic creation myth. I'm not an expert on it or anything, but originally there's the one that everything comes from and then you have lower levels, like archangels who are separate but all part of The One.
One of them is called Sophia and one day she, by mistake, veers too far from the original One and creates the material world and then realising that she messed up creates the Demiurge, or "God," to keep an eye on everything. So I thought, even though Sofia is not a goddess, tackling this theme would be good for that title.
Switzerland has a long history of experimenting when it comes to metal music. Be it the original avant-garde metal pioneers Celtic Frost, the mainland Celt inspired tunes of Eluveitie or more recent progressive bands such as Dreamshade, there's always been interesting music coming out of central European nation. Another example of Swiss musical ingenuity comes in the form of Sum Of R, a project originally conceived by Reto Mäder who released their self-titled debut album in 2009.
Only yesterday, Sum Of R released their fourth full lenfth opus, "Lahbryce," which brought in even more elements to the band's sound. Perhaps the most notable was the addition of vocalist Marko Neuman, in what had previously been a mostly instrumental affair. To find out more about the record, Metal Underground was fortunate enough to put some questions to Reto Mäder and Marko Neuman, who told us all about the album's meaning, soundscapes, visuals and more.
Diamond Oz: Congratulations on your new album, "Lahbryce." What can you tell us about the meaning behind the album's title?
Marko Neuman: Thank you. The title means ”breach of the law”. To find solutions we have to make mistakes. Sometimes ”a mistake” is committing a crime. For example, with murder, an individual can find a “better” self, meaning of life. Of course by bearing the consequences.
Oz: Why did you decide that now was the time to introduce vocals into what was previously an instrumental band?
Reto Mäder: Various factors played a role. After 10 years of working with Sum Of R as a solo project with different guest musicians it was time to transform the project into a band. This started in summer 2019 after a session in Switzerland with Jukka as drummer. In the same year, Marko, the singer of Dark Buddha Rising and me, revived Ural Umbo and recorded "Roomer" – dedicated to our common love for horror movie soundtracks. When Sum Of R was then booked for the Roadburn Festival 2020 as a two-piece instrumental band, Jukka and me thought about having a guest singer for that particular performance, Marko.
When Roadburn was cancelled due to the pandemic, I did not want to give up on the project and booked the first possible flight after the first shutdown in Switzerland to travel to Finland for three weeks of studio recording with the trio line-up that never was. During the recordings it quickly became clear that Marko is more than just a guest singer. So it was not a decision against an instrumental band, but a natural development around different factors that guided us towards each other.
Crossover thrash is a term which can be easily applied to some bands, but it's still perhaps a bit of a loose term. After all, thrash metal itself was inspired by hardcore punk to begin with, so to try and label a portion of it as being more hardcore influenced is perhaps a little strange. Nonetheless, it's a fond tag and one that assures the listener of what they're in for. It may have reached it's zenith with bands like Suicidal Tendencies and Cryptic Slaughter, but the sub-genre is still going strong today, with one of the strongest examples being Long Island's, Extinction A.D.
Having been formed by members of This Is Hell last decade, Extinction A.D. released their first EP, "Plague Prophecy" (a somewhat eerie title in the modern world) in 2014, with their debut full length, "Faithkiller" following the next year. While their next album, "Decimation Treaty" would hit the shelves in 2018, the group were always hard at work on material and looking well past the next album, honing their craft and becoming one of the hardest working bands in the game.
Perhaps it's easy to forget just how hard some bands do work, but when catching up with frontman Ricky Jimenez to discuss their latest opus, "Culture Of Violence," it became very clear, very fast, just how diligent the quartet are. "Culture Of Violence" is out now and after reading (or watching) the story of how it came to be, you'll surely want to give it a spin yourself.
Diamond Oz: The new album, "Culture Of Violence" is out now. What can you tell me about the title of the album?
Rick Jimenez: The title of the album was almost the last thing that we settled on. The only thing done after the title was the artwork, which was a result of the title. It was the last song that we wrote lyrically. It kind of ties in everything the band has always spoken about, especially on this album and over the last couple of years. Everything's been crazy. We've all lived through kind of the same stuff, we just have different perspectives on it.
It was almost by the time the final song was being written, instead of focusing on one specific occurence or my reaction to one specific topic, it was like a summation of everything the band and the album had been about. By the time I had that in my mind that was the direction I was going lyrically, the song kind of wrote itself and the first line in the song, "Unending culture of violence...", that's what we've been living in for thousands of years.
I should maybe only speak for my own existence, that's forty one years. "How is everything resolved?" A power play that results in violence, whether that's physical, mental or otherwise. Then, you know, I don't want to say "simplify" things but you write things in, I guess in my style, a pseudo philosophical way, maybe sometimes in a hip hop approach to a metal album. We had a different album for probably about two years, but once that song was written, everybody was just like, "Yo, that's cool," so that's the way that we went.
Since the 1990s when death metal exploded in popularity, Sweden has been revered for producing so many bands and has become known as one of the homes of metal music. Not only did the likes of At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity help put the country on the map musically, but so did preceding legends like Candlemass and Bathory. To this day, Sweden is still giving the world amazing heavy music and with such a long history of music, it's only natural that some of the superb groups of the past return, as is the case of The Defaced.
The Defaced began life in 1995, initially going by the name Rehab until changing it to their more familiar moniker in 1999. Their debut album, "Domination Commence" followed two years later, with a sophomore full length, "Karma In Black" arriving two years after that. After some lineup changes, the band released their third album, "Anomaly" in 2008, but also split up that same year. Fourteen years later, the quartet are back with "Charlatans," a vicious ten song release which is sure to evoke fond memories from fans, as well as bring in new ones.
To find out more about the record, Metal Underground spoke with vocalist Jens Broman and guitarist Mattias Svensson, who revealed all about how the band came back to life three years ago, the music and meanings behind the new album and much more. You can watch the interview in full below.
Diamond Oz: Well, first of all, welcome back! It's been a long time since there's been a new Defaced album. When you reunited three years ago, did you always intend to release a new album?
Mattias Svensson: That was the intention, to record a new album and pick things up from there. I'd written some songs that I felt I needed to do and I felt that the songs were in the line of where we left off in 2008. Me and Jens, we hadn't talked for a while. We kept a sort of slow contact on and off and I got in touch with Jens and you kind of agreed.
Jens Broman: Yeah, I did! I hadn't done music for quite a long time. I was actually at home with my newborn kid and I was like, "How about doing some more creative stuff?" I was missing doing music and if you have kids/will have kids, I'm sure that you feel that something is missing in your life. You need something more creative. Mattias had contacted me before but we were in different stages in our lives, people in bands are always going through different stages, so it's really hard to re-align and feel that and this was perfect timing.
Mattias: I kind of felt that you were a bit surprised that I made that call and that I was thinking along those lines, but it was sort of a short discussion really. "Send me the songs," you said and I did and we just picked things up from there.
Jens: Yeah, exactly. I was really surprised that you called me. I mean, we talked maybe once a year and met at music festivals or whatever. But it was perfect timing and life is about perfect timing. I think that was the story, actually.
Black metal has a following all across the globe, but it's roots and biggest names all hail from Europe. From Venom in England, to Celtic Frost in Switzerland to the infamous Norwegian scene, black metal is truly a European phenomenon. Of course, being one of the chief exporters of metal music, Germany has more than its fair share of black metal groups too, with one of the most beloved coming in the form of Mainz founded Agathodaimon.
Agathodaimon began life in 1995, reportedly intending to be more of a melodic death metal band, but soon found themselves performing their own brand of symphonic black metal. As time went on, their music became more Gothic than symphonic but remained suitably dark and heavy and established themselves as a premier German black metal band alongside the likes of Dark Fortress.
Their last album, "In Darkness" was released in 2012 but in less than a week, the band will unleash their first new album in nine years, "The Seven," granting the wishes of fans everywhere in what is sure to be a triumphant return. To find out more about the album, its themes, guest appearances and much more, band leader Sathonys spoke with Metal Underground. You can watch the interview in full below.
Diamond Oz: It's a very exciting time as the new album, "The Seven" is right around the corner. It's the first studio album from Agathodaimon in nine years. What was the reason for such a long gap in between albums?
Sathonys: I wasn't really comfortable with this question in the beginning, because we're doing black metal stuff. I was thinking, "Should I say that I had to serve a prison sentence or whatever just to make it a bit more 'true black metal'" but the reason was quite simple: getting married and having two kids. My daughter was born in 2013 and I was 100% sure that it wouldn't work out, trying to fit both the band and the family together. I know Agathodaimon is a job that's time intense and of course I didn't want to compromise on either side. I want to be there for my family, my kids and of course the band, so I thought, "Let's make a hard cut here, put the band on ice and then pick it back up when the worst developments, kid wise are through." Our vocalist Ashtrael was in a similar position, he'd also become a daddy, so in 2018 we decided, "Now we can focus on the band again."
Oz: To be fair, I don't think anyone's going to give you shit for being a good dad.
Sathonys: I was wondering if we heard many reasons like that.