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Gig Review by Marcy Bell
It’s clear: Epica and Italy are entwined. The concert at the Alcatraz in Milan on the 27th October was a huge success for Simone Simons and her fellows. Stage B was almost full, there were more fans and friends than in the previous tour. As in 2008 Epica were supported by the Finnish Amberian Dawn and in this new tour also by the brand-new German band: Sons of Seasons lead by Oliver Palotai. The Dutch band presented live some songs of the new album “Design Your Universe” but most of the show was made with hits from the past such as “Black Infinity”, “Cry for the Moon”, “The Phantom Agony” and “Consign to Oblivion”. The gig started with the new “Resign To Surrender” and then it went into the old mood with “Sensorium”, hands up with Simone and the whole band with the beginning of “Quietus” and then the Oriental style of “Fools of Damnation”. It was time for “Design Your Universe” and the first single “Unleashed”, the beat of Ariën on drums started very loud running through “Martyrs of the Free World”. Epica’s classic “Obsessive Devotion” led the central part of the show, as it’s always a pleasure listen live this song with Mark on growl and Simone running back and forth the stage in a seven minutes Epica-old-style-vibes. “Tides of Time” showed all the deep and sweet part of Epica with Simone solo in all her vocal talent and Coen on piano: a moment that gave you shivers on your spine. The band went again on stage with the last three songs: “Black Infinity”, “Mother of Light” and the techno-version of “Phantom Agony”. The latter was an enjoyable surprise for the crowd that started dancing with color lights as in a dance floor. Good point for Epica indeed. The encore was with “Cry for the Moon”, “Sancta Terra” and the final “Consign to Oblivion”. The show was good, the crowd really enjoyed it and finally we can say that Epica are improving themselves live in every tour.
Gig Review & Photos by Erwin van Dijk
Epica has released their new album and this evening is more or less the release party. And because Epica is sponsored by Jägermeister the first 200 visitors will get an Epic USB stick full of exclusive, rare and previously unreleased Epica stuff. Also, the band will play the entire “Design Your Universe” album at this gig. Like Kamelot and Megadeth last year the venue was indeed sold out and this resulted once again in a queue from the doors of the Paradiso to the Leidseplein (Leiden Square) The last time for me at the Paradiso was for CHIC and Jello Biafra. Jello Biafra is the legendary singer of the Dead Kennedys and CHIC is a funk/disco/rock band from the seventies. Two cool bands but the opposite of Epica so to say. This was the second time for Epica at the Paradiso. The first time was supposed to be released on DVD but all we got was a book: “The Road to Paradiso”. This was years ago and the band has grown since then. Kingfisher Sky is a nice band who had the honour to be the opener tonight. Every band in Holland will sell thesouls to the devil to do a Paradiso gig so this was for Kingfisher Sky the opportunity of a life time. The Paradiso might be one of the most prestigious venues in the Netherlands, it does not have the biggest stage and with seven band members and your own drum kit and keyboards next to all the gear Epica uses the stage was very cramped. But Kingfisher Sky managed to squeeze six songs in the little time they had. Kingfisher Sky had barely 30 minutes. To save the Polar bears there was no light on stage - good for environment but not for us. But there were no budget cuts concerning the use of smoke machines and this gave the gig a mysterious feeling which suited the music. Kingfisher did a good gig but personally I would not be in their shoes this night. Epica is way out of their league and even a band like Within Temptation should be worried right now with this new incarnation of Epica. In short, Kingfisher Sky is an ‘art house movie’ while Epica is popcorn entertainment for the masses.
Maaike, who plays the cello said about this gig: “Supporting Epica in a Sold Out Paradiso really was one of the best things happening in 2009, we had a blast and in our opinion it was over far too soon. Thanks Epica and Epica Fans”. From the first notes it was clear that this gig would contain the usual ingredients: smoke pillars, firework, flamethrowers, etc - enough to start World War III Visually it was a very entertaining show to see but, more important, the songs from Epica’s latest album are strong enough to keep their own against all that visual violence. Not many bands dare to play their entire album live (and if they do, like Iron Maiden, there is a lot of critic and / or negative response) but Epica got away with it. And Medusa, who the true Epica fans will remember from the 2008 autumn gigs, says : “We had a great time, it was very crowded and hot, but of course we added some heath as well :)”. Medusa would also show up at Metal Female Voices Fest, together with Floor Jansen. Like Jello Biafra a month earlier Mark did a crowd surf but while Jello did the full round from stage to bar and back again Mark vanished somewhere midway into the crowd. And the Jägermeister girls also had a small appearance on stage with an air pressure cannon designed to shoot t shirts into the audience. Funny enough a lot of those shirts ended up on stage again. Poor marksmanship I guess. A word about the album: Like the latest Leaves’Eyes I would say it is a save buy for the fans. It has all the ingredients for an Epica album and the fresh blood from the God Dethroned boys makes it more metal. Epica did not reinvent themselves with this album. They took the best parts of their music and improved them even more. And, if I am really honest, this gig was better than the one at Metal Female Voices Fest.
Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
An interview with Mark Jansen from Epica. The band Epica does not really need an introduction. 2009 was a busy year for the band. Epica did a festival tour this summer and released a live album,“The Classical Conspiracy - Live in Miskolc, Hungary”. Even better is the news that Epica will also release a new studio album in October. This interview is with Mark Jansen, the mastermind behind Epica.
Did you always wanted to become a guitar player and singer?
No, I wanted to become a cyclist and I also have a master degree in psychology but none of these made it to a profession. When I was 15 years old I went to a show of the Dutch death metal band Gorefest and from that moment on I knew I wanted to be on the stage as well. By then I didn’t have the intention to become a singer. I started playing guitar and that was fun enough but when the male singer of my previous band After Forever left I started singing as well.
And did you have any other bands before After Forever?
No, After Forever was my very first band and Epica my 2nd. I never played in any other band.
How do you see yourself, as a guitar player that can do some grunts or as a singer who also can play the guitar?
As a guitar player that does some grunts as well. But above all I see myself as a composer who plays the guitar (… and do some grunts as well haha).
And did you follow any singing/grunt lessons?
No, it was more or less trial and error, grunts should not hurt your throat but everybody who tries to grunt for the first time won’t feel comfortable doing it, you just need to find the right way and there you go ;-)
What kind of guitars and amplifiers do you use?
We just signed an artist deal with V-empire guitar amps, it’s a Polish company and they make damn good amps. We were using Mesa Boogies before and they were good as well but when you have the possibility to sign a deal and get all these great amps for free you just have to grasp that chance with both hands :)
To what kind of music do you listen yourself and what are your favorite bands?
I often listen to bands which I liked when I was a teenager: Dream Theater, Megadeth, Guns N’ Roses etc, it brings back nice memories. A band that I discovered 5 years ago and listen to a lot is Opeth. Besides that I also like to listen to film scores and classical music.
Is it difficult to combine Epica with your personal life?
It’s a challenge and I need challenges in my life. My girlfriend lives in the US, so you can imagine it’s not easy to combine, but nothing is impossible. At the moment we are 1 year and 8 months together and we see each other quite a lot in spite of the distance. Besides making music, we also manage the band ourselves, we don’t want to throw money in the pocket of a lousy manager. The disadvantage is that there’s a lot of extra work. But I still manage to have some free time and during this free time I like to enjoy the beauty of nature, sport and watch football ;-)
What are your favorite Epica songs?
It’s hard to choose as I like many of them. But if I’m forced to make a selection with a shotgun pointed on my forehead I would say: “Cry for the Moon” (“The Phantom Agony” - 2003); “Consign to Oblivion” (“Consign to Oblivion” - 2005); “Fools of Damnation” (“The Divine Conspiracy” - 2007); “Kingdom of Heaven” (“Design Your Universe” - 2009)
I think that the trouble with Transmission Records was without doubt a negative experience for Epica. But what are the highlights so far?
There are many highlights, to name a few: - Lowlands and Pinkpop, playing these great festivals in the Netherlands were highlights; Wacken Open Air (2009) Germany, for me a dream come true to finally play the biggest metal festival of Europe; - “The Classical Conspiracy” and the show itself with orchestra and choir, the biggest highlight so far; Signing with Nuclear Blast, the record company I always wanted to be on since I started playing guitar; Being the first metal band from abroad to play in Tunisia, people were crying of joy, I will never forget that.
And do you have any updates about the Transmission Records situation?
Yes, the label owner signed a deal with Nuclear Blast to re-release the old albums and the previously unreleased “Live in Paradiso DVD”.
Epica has two new band members now, both from God Dethroned. The God Dethroned music is very different from the style Epica has. Will the new blood in the band have much influence on the new songs? This is because I’ve noticed at live gigs (like Wâldrock) Epica has far more energy on stage.
You’re right, since these two guys joined us we are a way more energetic band, not only music wise but also the stage performance has become more energetic. The guys have also an influence on the songs as everybody in the band influences the songs so some differences are due to them. But I like it this way, new blood means also the chance to integrate new elements (like solo’s) and we did :)
Where do you get the inspiration for the music and lyrics?
Inspiration is a fantastic thing, you don’t know where it comes from and what causes it, it’s a mystery ;-)
What is the idea behind the name of the album?
“Design Your Universe” basically refers to the capacity to take control over your own life and create your universe. Many people don’t live their dreams as they think it’s unrealistic and out of reach. I am one of the many prooves that you can succeed, don’t fear the unknown and take risks :)
And can you tell us something about the songs on “Design Your Universe”?
We went quite deep into the details this time. We want to make improvements on every album and as “The Divine Conspiracy” got great critics by press and fans we had to come up with something better this time and that’s quite a job! haha. So we worked our asses off to try to make an even better album. My favorite song is “Kingdom of Heaven” a very long song but we managed to keep it interesting, long songs can easily get boring but I think we finally found the perfect ingredients for the longest song of Epica ‘till now.
Three songs on “Design Your Universe” are a part of the “A New Age Dawns” saga. This saga has now six chapters. What is the relation between the “Design” chapters and the “Oblivion” chapters?
The relation is that we need to make a change, we lost contact with nature, each other and the earth. We need to get rid to some of our addictions which will destroy us in the end. Like our addiction to earn more money than our neighbour, money is the “antichrist” of our civilization..
You have also recorded a song with Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica. How was it to work together with him?
Great, we toured with Sonata in Europe and asked him one of these days if he would be interested to record a song with us. Fortunately he was and with his very unique voice he lifts the “White Waters” song to a next level.
There are plans to record DVD at the Metal Female Voices Fest in October. What can we expect?
We will record DVD material, so whatever turns out great will reach a future DVD but if we’re not satisfied nothing will happen. The facts are that we are gonna do a big show there, probably the biggest we have ever done. So probably you’ll find at least some of this footage on a future DVD together with other concerts. MFVF made advertisements with the message that we will record a DVD there but we don’t want to disappoint our fans as long as we’re not sure.
Besides the upcoming tour, what else can we expect from Epica in the future?
We don’t look to much ahead of us, so I don’t know but until the summer of 2010 the whole schedule is fixed already so for like 1 year we know already what to do haha.
And the last question, is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked?
Erwin, you covered it all :) Thanks a lot!
Interview by Eetu Niskanen
Echoes of Eternity is an progressive metal band based in Los Angeles. Their debut album “The Forgotten Goddess”, was released in February 2007 via Nuclear Blast Records. The band’s follow up album, “As Shadows Burn”, is set to be released on September 25, 2009 via Massacre Records in Europe and Nuclear Blast in the US.
You are going to release your second album, “As Shadows Burn”, follow up to your great debut album “The Forgotten Goddess” on September, how much work did it take to get it finished?
We worked on the album over the course of 2008, writing music comes easy to us, it’s finding the time that is difficult because we have jobs and responsibilities, unless you’re established it’s hard to make enough money to survive solely as a musician.
How big is the improvement between these albums?
I’d say its like night & day, where “The Forgotten Goddess” is more ethereal and dreamy, “As Shadows Burns” is heavier, darker and more powerful. The production is more in your face.
How would you describe your voice?
I don’t know, I guess you’ll just have to listen for yourself!
Could you tell us something about your fellow bandmates?
Duane the bass player is the quiet one, but rocks the hardest on stage! Brandon, lead guitarist is mysterious, talented and very smart but he’s a hard cat to figure out sometimes. Bryan, rhythm guitars, is the one who will help you if you ever need it, and is fun to party with. Kirk, drums, is the cantankerous one, he’s a whirlwind of energy he’s also the mediator and the backbone of the band. We all get on each others nerves from time to time but overall were all like family.
How would you describe your music to people who have never head it?
It’s technical, melodic and unexpected.
Have you ever had any vocal training?
Not really, I’m shower trained. I decided to take lessons a couple years back to learn how to sing properly so as to not hurt my voice. I took a couple weeks but I found I was thinking about it too much, when I’m singing I rather just let it flow rather than analyzing it. I did get some good warm up techniques out of it though.
“Ten of Swords”, new song from the upcoming album has been posted on your MySpace page, what is it about, any concept or story behind it?
The “Ten of Swords” is the grimmest card in the tarot deck, it’s about hitting rock bottom but picking yourself back up and living your life even in the face of obstacles.
What is your favourite tune from the new album?? “Twilight Fires”, it’s a song about the night, it has great atmosphere.
“Twilight Fires”, it’s a song about the night, it has great atmosphere.
Is it hard to be the only female on band full of males?
Not really, I’m sort of a tomboy, I get along really well with guys besides at the end of the day, humans are humans regardless of gender.
What kind of music do you listen yourself and how often?
Metal, Rock, Jazz, Country, Electronica, Classical, Middle Eastern, whatever! Pretty much almost anything. I like to keep an open mind.
Who are your biggest influences?
I don’t have any in particular, I’ve been influenced by every kind of music I’ve been in contact with.
What are your plans for the future?
Become a mad scientist, invent something, live on my yacht in the mediterranean and have a party every night! You’re all invited!
Are you planning or having any side-projects?
At the moment no, I don’t have the time. Perhaps in the future.
The final question, there are tons of female fronted bands out there, how do you keep unique?
By combining elements not commonly used together and by avoiding generic sounds typically used in the genre.
Interview by Si Smith
Crucified Barbara will stomp across your skull and leave skidmarks, such is the impression they are having all over the world. Their style is balls-to-the-wall hard rock, no holds barred. Third album “The Midnight Chase” hits the streets soon so Femme Metal caught up with bass player Ida Evileye for a quick word.
First of all thank you for taking the time for this interview, and a warm welcome from all at Femme Metal Webzine. For those who are presently unfamiliar with the band, would you like to introduce the different members to us?
Yeah. We’re a four piece band and I (Ida) play the bass, Mia sings and plays lead guitar, Klara plays rhythm guitar and Nicki plays the drums.
Almost 15 years since your humble beginnings you are back with another powerful album. From the outset it is clear that you mean business, with opener “The Crucifier” giving it large 100%. For this listener it is a remarkable trip back into the early Motorhead days and punk-influenced heavy metal. Do you think the band in 2012 still reflects those kind of influences?
Absolutely, we love that type of music. We listen to a lot of different music (Mainly old school for me) and of course that shines through in our songwriting.
You certainly have a memorable band name – could you enlighten us as to where it originates from?
Actually “Barbara” in Sweden is the name for a blowup doll (a sextoy). We were at the Roskilde festival many years ago and we saw that somebody had pinned a barbara on a cross and it looked really evil and cool so that’s where it comes from.
You guys look great in all the promo shots we see and have a very distinct look that reflects your music style – how important is image to the band?
The music is of course the most important thing without a doubt but image is important too. I love to go to concerts and it’s always more fun when the band wants to entertain the audience. So that what we’re trying to do with clothes and makeup!
It has been a remarkable journey across three albums. What are the highlights of the journey for the band?
Oooohhh, there are soo many. The Motörhead tour, the Nuclear Blast deal, the Russian tour, playing at the Download festival, the Australian tour. Meeting Brian May, having a drink with Lemmy……the list goes on!
Throughout the band’s life your lyrics have touched on all the usual hard rock topics. Does this reflect your lifestyle? Who is the biggest party animal?
Hahaha, of course! I am the party animal. You can always count on me and Nicki!
Three years on from “‘Till Death…” , you seem to have a tradition of working a long time on your albums, what is it you are looking for in the final product?
We don’t want it to take so long time but we’ve toured a lot and there has also been business things that’s prolonging the releases. And of course that we don’t wanna release something that we aren’t 100 percent happy with!
“The Midnight Chase” has 11 well-crafted anthems. How does the song-writing process work for you as a band?
It’s different with every song. Some of the songs has been written by one person only and then we’ve worked on the arrangements together (“Kid for the Upperclass” in on example, Mia wrote that song). Other songs we’ve done based on a riff or a melody and we’re written it together (“The Crucifier”, “Shut Your Mouth”). So it’s different with every song really!
By the time this interview gets to you, the band will have just played the Sweden Rock Festival. How did it go?
Greaaaaat! It was fantastic, so many people and a really good crowd! We had a great time, I love that festival!
In July you are heading to Italy alongside Elvenking. That should be some good shows! How have you found the band’s reception in different countries? Have you a favourite?
Italy is really good for us and France is very good too. It’s been good from the beginning and it’s always so nice to come back, you feel like home!
You have also recently been booked for the Getaway Rock Festival in Sweden alongside bands such as Manowar, Saxon and Nightwish. What are your hopes for the festivals this year?
I really like that festival, it’s a bit smaller than Sweden Rock but a lot of cool bands are playing. So we’re gonna have a great show and then drink some beers and watch the other band, so it’ll be a fun night!!!
Finally, what is the next stage for the band? After all the touring this year is there a plan?
More touring, another album etc! This is what we love to do and we’ve just got started so you won’t get rid of us anytime soon!
Thanks for your time, we at Femme Metal wsih the band all the best for the rest of 2012.
Thank you! I wish you the same!!!!!!!
Interview by Ary R.
With an upcoming album that will be released for Nuclear Blast, Finnish metal band Battle Beast is ready to bring its music around Europe. Femme Metal had the honor to exchange some words with front woman Nitte Valo, who revealed to us something about the new album and she also spoke of her own impressions about the amazing tour that will see the Finnish guys with one of the most famous Finnish band around: Nightwish.
Hi Nitte and welcome to Femme Metal.net First of all, let me thank you for having stopped here and giving us a chance to have a chat with us. How are you doing?
Hi! I’m doing great! I’m preparing for Christmas in cold and rainy, but not so snowy Finland.
You’re the lead singer of the Finnish heavy metal band Battle Beast. Would you like to introduce yourself to those people who still don’t know you and/or your band?
Battle Beast are Anton Kabanen (Guitar, lead and backing vocals), Juuso Soinio (Guitar), Pyry Vikki (Drums), Eero Sipilä (Bass and backing vocals), Janne Björkroth (Keyboards and backing vocals) and then there is me, Nitte Valo (Lead vocals) .Recently you’ve signed to one of the biggest companies ever: Nuclear Blast. How did this happen?
Well… It happened so fast.. Nuclear Blast contacted us. Then sooner than we even realized the fact we got signed to them… And that was really good thing.Your debut album is called “Steel” and it will be released on January 27th 2012 for Nuclear Blast but it was previously released in April with another company. Why did you decide to reissue again the album?
Because it wasn’t released anywhere else than in Finland and so many people from around the world was very willing to get that album. So why to make a new one yet, if we can release a good ‘old’ one for Nuclear Blast.
Why have you chosen this title for the album? And what could you tell me about the artwork? It’s a very curious one
We are hard as steel! And of course it’s the one of the songs in the album. Roman Ismailov does our artwork. He is a good friend of Anton and he’s been working with the band since the official foundation which occurred in 2008.
How did the process of the song-writing happen?
Anton does all the songs with every detail in his home alone. And when a song is composed and arranged he’ll presents it to us and then we start rehearsing it.
What is the most beautiful part in recording an album?
Most beautiful part…well.. maybe the most beautiful part is when you get your ‘baby’ in your hands
Let’s talk about lyrics: where does the inspiration to write music and lyrics come from?
Because Anton is the guy wo does all the lyrics and writes music for Battle Beast by himself, he could be the right person to answer this question.. but he gets his ideas from cyberpunk related movies, literature and pictures. Also he get’s inpirations from the Japanese dark fantasy manga and anime series called “Berserk” by Kentarou Miura. Of course some of the older action and sci-fi movies inspires him too. Personally I’m not so huge fan of all those inspirations what Anton has but most important thing is that I can still reveal those feelings and moods what Anton wants to tell to people with his lyrics and songs.And about the arrangement and music?
Again I have to answer that Anton is the guy who does all the magic!How much of yourself do you put in the writing/recording an album?
Even if I’m not participating writing or song making process I put my whole soul in it. I give my everything to album with my voice and my feelings.
Talking about your voice skills, someone has said that you are like the female version of Fabio Lione (with much more vocal extension) which meets a little part of Manowar. Do you agree with this statement?
I don’t feel that it’s necessary to compare my voice with someone else voice(s). Every singer, female or male has their own voice to sing. For me, it’s more important that I have my own sound and style to sing. I can’t, or I don’t even want, to have same kind of singing style or voice than someone else has already. I just want to sing with my own style.
Vocally speaking I’ve also noticed that you use “a little” vibrato. Is that the result of some innate talent or have you done some study to use it?
It has to be somekind of innate talent because I haven’t taken much singing lessons.When did you start to sing?
I’ve started to sing before I started to talk… But first time when I was singing with the band was when I was twelve or thirteen years old.Did you ever think, even when you were a child, that this passion for music would have lead you to these levels? Carrying you with your own band touring Europe with bands that have a great reputation worldwide, like, for example, Nightwish…
Of course it has been my dream for a long time. So I guess that nowadays I have to be careful what I’m dreaming because now I’ve seen that my dreams can really come true! I”ve listened to “Steel” and I”ve noticed that your voice is quite versatile, as I”ve heard for “Savage and Saint” or “Iron Hand”, where there’s also some classical singing (albeit slightly). I like these two songs so much and your voice shows off a great ability in fitting perfectly the songs and the music itself. What could you tell about this?
Like I said before, I just try to reveal those feelings and moods what Anton wants to tell to people with his lyrics and songs. If some part of song needs to be sung with classical or operatic style then I’ll just do it. And of course I have somekind of sense in myself how I should sing in different parts in different songs.As I”ve mentioned, there’s a track, called “Savage and Saint”, that there is a ballad, actually. Why have you decided to put a ballad in this album? Was it previously decided or was it decided randomly?
“Savage and Saint” fits just perfectly in our first album. And I think that “Savage and Saint” is great warrior-ballad. It’s not so soft and cry-baby ballad, it get’s heavier from the middle of that song. Actually I don’t even think that song as a ballad.What kind of music has inspired you and your way of singing? Is there anyone who influenced you, musically speaking?
I’ve always liked and listened the bands like W.A.S.P, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Manowar.. etcetc. I know that I can’t sing like those guys are singing and actually I don’t even want to. I want to be me with my own voice. Strangely I haven’t listen so many female singers. Except Angela from Arch Enemy. But I have to say that Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot) inspires me a lot with his style of singing.As I”ve mentioned a few lines above, you’ll join Nightwish in this upcoming tour. What do you think of this great experience you’ll start with these guys?
This was one of the greatest things what has happened! We are waiting eagerly to get on tour with them. This is so great opportunity for us and we are grateful to Nightwish that they wanted to take us with them on tour.How did you react when you discovered that Battle Beast would have toured with Nightwish?
First I thought that somebody is joking with me but then after a while I realized that tour with Nightwish is really true. Maybe I ran around screaming for happiness and excitement for a while but I bet some of you have done the same thing too.What is your own opinion about female fronted metal bands?
Some of female fronted metal bands are so similar with each others… same kind of clothes, same kind of way to sing… I’m not saying that it’s bad thing, but in my opinion you always have to have something how you stand out from the mass.Is there a particular band you would like to cooperate with in future? Maybe for a studio project or why not a tour?
I can’t say any specific band. I think that each band with whom we are cooperating in the future will teach us something.What’s new now for Battle Beast?
To make a killer second album in some point in the future and to get more tours abroad. And all the while having a blast doing it!Ok, thank you so much Nitte for the great chat. Is there something you would like to tell to your own fans and Femme Metal readers?
Thank you very much! Thanks for reading this interview. I hope you guys and girls come to our shows and become Battle Beast fans! Remember to buy our album “Steel” as well if you don’t own it yet! And a big thanks to our fans who listen to our music, come to the shows and keep spreading the word about us.
Interview by Ed MacLaren
OK. Time to go over the standard metal band check list: Throat tearing vocalist? Check. Guitars? Check. Bass? Check. Drums? Check? Hurdy gurdy? Well, maybe not for most metal bands but for Switzerland folk metalists, Eluveitie, hurdy gurdist Anna Murphy gets a big checkmark all her own. On the eve of Eluveitie’s April North American tour with Amon Amarth and Holy Grail, Femme Metal got a chance to chat with Anna about their outstanding new album, “Everything Remains (As It Never Was)”.
Congratulations on your excellent new album, “Everything Remains (As It Never Was)”! The fan response must be fantastic.
Thanks! Yes, so far the responses from both fans and press have been really good… It’s good to know they like the album as much as we do.
Celtic folk music and death metal seem diametrically opposed to each other musically and lyrically. What is it about these two genres that work well together?
To be honest, I have no idea – it just seems to work! I mean, it’s mainly the minor tunes we use with our music… so I guess this Celtic “melancholy” goes well with the rather rough metal around it. As for the lyrics, I wouldn’t say they’re opposed. As far as I know you can sing about anything you want in metal music…
Your music ties the traditional and the modern together in a unique manner. How did the idea evolve to combine folk and metal music?
That was Chrigel’s idea. Eluveitie actually started out as a mere studio project of his where he wanted to combine the two styles of music he likes best; Celtic folk music and melodic death metal.
Folk music is very acoustic and metal focuses on brute power. How do you balance the rhythms and melodies between the two?
That’s a business secret. ;-)
Lyrically, your music has a heavy historical influence – it draws heavily from ancient battles and early civilizations. This comes from the folk tradition of preserving the past. What traditions or stories are Eluveitie trying to preserve?
We’re not really trying to preserve anything, what we do is mere story-telling, you could say. We do sing about Gaulish wars and tribes but we either just do that from a neutral standpoint (how the legend/myth/occurrence has been passed down through time) or we look at these topics with a critical eye because in the end you never really know how it was back then.
Eluveitie has had a long history of members but now seems to have settled into a cohesive line-up. What were the reasons for the line-up changes and what is it about this line-up that is so unique?
Yes, there have been but now I guess and hope this line-up will continue for a few years. The reasons for those changes were always of personal nature. The people who left the band either didn’t want to continue or couldn’t fit the band in with their other plans in life. What’s unique about the line-up we have now? You tell me! :-)
When you learned to play the hurdy gurdy did you ever think you’d be playing in a death metal band? With that said, how did you get involved with the band?
Actually, I would have never thought that! I was actually listening to metal at the time which made it even weirder for me to join a metal band with such an instrument. I had been playing the hurdy-gurdy for three months when a friend of mine told me about Eluveitie and that they’re searching for a new hurdy-gurdist. I of course sent Chrigel an e-mail right away… so you could also say I learned to play the instrument with the band.
Your vocals bring an engaging contrast to Chrigel’s screams. You also provide some beautiful solo performances. How do you balance the vocals within the band? Do you ever try to push Chrigel for more microphone time? ;)
No, I don’t do that. Whenever I sing it just happens because it fits. Sometimes it’s my idea; sometimes it’s Chrigel’s idea… I always try out new stuff with my vocals, especially since I don’t really have a technique or sing professionally, I’m still trying to find the right style a bit.
The reviews of “Everything Remains (As It Never Was)” are overwhelmingly excellent. Musically, where do you go from here?
Wherever we want to. We’re not planning what to do next… we’ll just write songs and release albums. There’s definitely going to be one more acoustic album, “Evocation II”. But even when and how we’re going to do that is not planned yet.
Judging from the increasing number of bands playing folk metal these days, the scene is getting a little crowded. How does Eluveitie try to differentiate itself from other bands in the genre?
We play better music! ;-) No, I guess the fact that we use so many traditional instruments instead of keyboards is one thing. The other is that we balance our music – neither the metal nor the folk takes over. And I guess that’s why so many people like our music but we don’t differentiate ourselves by trying really hard to and having that in mind, we just somehow do that automatically with our music.
What is it about the folk metal genre that makes it so popular?
I have no idea. I’m actually not a big fan of folk metal… I don’t listen to anything except for our music (of course). I guess there are many people who search for “softer” metal and find a lot of bands they like in that scene. And it may be possible that people like the traditional aspects of it… singing about your heritage and using old folkloristic elements in the music can have a “homely” effect one can connect with.
You returned from a tour of the United States in 2009 with Heathenfest. How did you find the American response to your music? How do the American fans compare to their European counterparts?
The response was really good! I like American audiences – they’re very enthusiastic and sympathetic crowds. There’s not a huge difference to European crowds though… The only thing I noticed was that Americans are more into taking pictures with band members and having things signed.
With eight band members it must get pretty crowded on that stage… How would you describe Eluveitie’s live performances?
Yes, small stages are always a challenge for us. I think our live performances are getting better and better. We feel more confident on stage and the sound is getting much better due to having a crew that is familiar with us. We like to interact with the audience a lot and have a blast on stage.
What are your tour plans for 2010? Will you be performing internationally as well as returning to the United States?
Yes, we’ll be touring the States soon again with Amon Amarth actually! Apart from that we want to tour as much as possible and promote the new album. I really hope we get to go to places we’ve never been before, like South America for instance.
Label : Nuclear Blast Records
Review by Stina
Hot on the heels of last year’s “Triumph : Tragedy : Transcendence - Live at the Hammers of Doom” comes While Heaven Wept’s fourth studio album, “Fear of Infinity”. It was never unusual for these by now legendary Virginia Epic Doomsters to go several years between full-lengths, so two of them (and a live album) in the span of two years is a pretty big deal for loyal fans. But after impressing audience and press alike with 2009’s “Vast Oceans Lachrymose”, things were bound to change. Fresh off a record deal with perhaps the most famous rock and metal label in the world – that is to say, Nuclear Blast, While Heaven Wept took an exceptionally short time in crafting a follow up, and, after announcing the signing in November, they rushed into the studio to have the album ready before this April – which could make our alarm bells ring as for the quality of the product, especially considering the high standards set by a band that has been around for twenty years and at the top of their league for at least half of them. And, while whatever they could put together in a few months is still a lot more than what an average band could put together in a career, “Fear of Infinity” is not quite on par with said standards: sure, it’s a While Heaven Wept album, and thus possesses all the trademarks and signature elements of their latest style – epic cavalcades, twin guitar melodic scale progressions, Michelle Schrotz’s chilling but elegant synth work, her vocal duels with Tom Phillips, melancholic melodies and overall technical proficiency. But this ultimately turns out a double edge sword: “Fear of Infinity” is on the verge of falling short in the sense that it’s often difficult to spot the differences between it and its predecessor; at times it’s like the album sounds as though it could easily have been spawned during the same recording session – which is, actually, something not far removed from the truth, since the majority of “Fear of Infinity” was rehearsed alongside the “Vast Oceans Lachrymose” material. Therefore, is no surprise that this latest effort neither pushes any envelopes nor changes any games, much in its seven tracks only sounding as a slight variation (albeit a surely enjoyable one) of something else done before by the same band – which is to say, dangerously close to stagnating and dull. An off-putting thing for fans of female vocals (which is saying a lot of you readers, or else you wouldn’t be browsing Femme Metal reviews!), is the scarce prominence given to Michelle as a singer: as said before, she mostly harmonizes with Tom without benefiting of much exposure, therefore only the most fervent WHW fans among you will want to get their hands on this album. To me, it felt too much of a genre exercise to maintain album-length interest – even though a mild effort by While Heaven Wept is still a nice slab of melancholic, doomy epicness and therefore quite the pleasure for our metallic ears.
Rating - 72/100