Thursday, June 18, 2020

Velkhanos Interview

1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?

Velkhanos is a band established in 2018 and is set apart by a broad fusion of styles within metal. It is made of Miriam on vocals, Fernando and Pablo on the guitars, Ángel on bass guitar and Jose Antonio on the drums.

2.Recently you have released your first album, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical style you went for on the recording?

The style we chose was not to choose any style. We wanted to do whatever we felt like, taking bits and pieces from here and there and knock something different in to shape. We thought: “I like Death, Heavy, Black, Power… Why should I have a different band for each style? So we started working on each track while letting ourselves get carried away, experimenting, looking for a connection between styles… In the end we are very pleased with the album, with rythms from Melodic Death and Black, solos from Heavy and choruses from Power. This might have many dectractors, we are aware of that. The next album will be very different and we think that’s the beauty of it, being able to change (within certain limits) and set labels aside.

3.Some of your lyrics touch on mythological themes, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this subject?

This album in particular is centered on religion, that’s why there is some mythology in there, although we have tried to steer clear of clichés, avoiding names of gods or beings. The idea was to talk about the relationship between God and human beings. Who created who? Do we try to justify our actions in the name of a greater good? Are our successes or failures the favour or punishment of some deity? Fernando has always been really into literature, history and philosophy.

Our lyrics are based on these concepts, beginning with Bring Me The Fire which is about afterlife, the struggle amongst religions to add another soul to their list; about the Inquisition (The Eye Of God), the search of a god’s compassion through sacrifice (Moloch) or simply telling a tale such as Dagon, H. P. Lovecraft’s work, which also fits the album theme.

4.What are some of the other lyrical topics and subjects the band has explored so far with the music?

For our new álbum we are doing a lot of reading and researching material of historical character, even though we are going to embellish it with rituals and witchcraft. We have a good baseline story to write a great album. We cannot give up much more, but, in general, we have very diverse interests.

5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Velkhanos'?

Velkhanos was the god of fire and nature according to Cretan mythology. We are really passionate about Mediterranean culture and all the blend of civilizations it entailed. Velkhanos, the god, has been present in the great Greek and Roman civilizations, which are precisely the maximum representative of Mediterranean cultural symbiosis. Velkhanos, the band, is a symbiosis of styles within the Metal. This made us relate and also lead us to center our first album on religion.

6.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?

The Cover is the work of Fátima Ruiz, photographer and a great artist. Fernando and Fátima worked for a few days on the concept and the idea materialized. Our cover has the four horsemen of the apocalypse as its context, along with the central figure, the Wrath. This character ends up being a combination of the other four and it’s the liaison between the human being and the gods. The Wrath is both divine and mortal at the same time, ones feel it for the other, reciprocally. Some feel love and some feel hate, but the Wrath is inherent to both. To be honest, we are very happy with the job done.

7.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?

The best shows are the ones yet to come. For “The Wrath”’s tour we are working on a good stage production, with an important visual impact. We want for the audience to dive into the songs and enjoy it as much as they can.

8.The new album was released on 'Art Gates Records', can you tell us a little bit more about this label?

Art Gates Records is a label with years of experience who works with some of the leading bands currently on our country, such as Noctem, In Mute, Irdorath, Leo Jiménez, Morphium, Injector… We are very happy to be able to work with them and they do make things easier for us.

9.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of melodic black and death metal?

We have come across all sorts of reactions, some very good and some not so much. There is people who love changes, blends, growing in the musical sphere and experimenting. On the other hand there is people who are more of a purist who feel this mixtures are almost sacrilege. You cannot please everybody and we would rather do what we enjoy, mix as many styles as we like or elements we like from each of them.

10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

We are going to keep working on the path we are currently taking, polishing the mistakes we have made and that we now see from afar. We will do a new album more complex and contundent, with room for experimentation. We will no longer be driven by the wish to release material so it will be and advantage for doing a well rounded job. We already have some tracks and they sound impressive.

11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

We like many bands of many different styles, and our favorites don’t even come sound close to what we do, so we would not say we have any models. Which is to say, we don’t plan for the band to sound like the bands we like, we aim to sound in a way we ourselves like in a given moment. It is something hard to explain, but we basically try to stay away from influences. Bands we listen can be as diverse as Iron Maiden, Metallica, Helloween, Gojira, Vhäldemar, Soulitude, Grimah, Amon Amarth, Nightwish, Mgla, Fleshgod, Death… The list is never-ending.

12.What are some of your non musical interests?

We love cinema, literature, food and drink. We often do barbeques to strengthen the bonds between band members. We also like sports such as mountain climbing, horse riding, cycling…

13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

We would like for everyone to give the full album a chance, you might not enjoy one track but you will like some other, and for the listener to enjoy all of the work we have put into it. We are looking forward to going out on the road to present our album and giving the audience the best we have.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Cult Of Frey/By The Blood Of Odin: Part 1 - Midgard/UKEM Records/2020 Full Length Review

  Cult  Of  Frey  are  a  duo  from  the  United  Kingdom  that  plays  an  epic  mixture  of  viking  and  folk  metal  and  this  is  a  review  of  their  2020  album  "By  The  Blood  Of  Odin:  Part  1  -  Midgard"which  was  released  by  UKEM  Records.

  Clean  pagan  vocals  and  acoustic  guitars  start  off  the  album  while  the  songs  also  add  in  a decent  amount  of  keyboards  which  also  mixes  in  with  the  heavier  sections  of  the  music.  Most  of  the  tracks  are  very  long  and  epic  in  length  while t he  songs  also  add  in  a  decent  amount  of  folk  elements.

  When  the  music  speeds  up  a  decent  amount  of  tremolo  picking  and  blast  beats  can  be  heard  which  also  adds  a  black  metal  influence  onto  the  recording.  At  times  the  vocals  also  get  rough  sounding  while  the  riffs  also  add  in a   great  amount  of  melody  along  with  the  guitar  solos  and  leads  being  done  in  a  very  melodic  style.

  Throughout  the  recording  you  can  also  hear  a  decent  mixture  of  slow,  mid  paced  and  fast  parts  along  with  some  tracks  also  adding  in  a  small  amount of  nature,  battle  and  ocean  sounds,  all  of  the  musical  instruments  also  have  a  very  powerful  sound  ti  them  ans  as  the  album  progresses  spoken  word  parts  are  also  added  into  the  music.  The  production  sounds  very  professional  while  the  lyrics  cover  Vikings  and  Norse  Paganism  themes.

  In  my  opinion  Cult  Of  Frey  are  a  very  great  sounding  epic  mixture  of  viking  and  folk  metal  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  those  musical  genres,  you  should  check  out  this  band.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  "We  Were  Born  of  Odin  (Once  We  Where  Kings  Part  3)"  "Northwind  (Carry  Him  Home)"  and  "Death  In  The  Shield  Wall  (Song  Of  The  Ravens)".  8  out  of  10.   

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Bryan Eckermann Interview

1.Can you give us an update on what is going on with the solo project these days?

Yes, things have been quite busy as of late. At the beginning of 2020 I decided to start to put a more direct focus towards this project, as in years prior I had always been juggling this as well as several other bands. I started off the process for this album in just February, so at this point it has been 4 months of intense, recording, artwork designing, video making etc. For this new album I did something brand new in designing an artwork for each song, as well as a lyric or stream video to coincide for each. I did a fan vote here a few weeks ago to let them choose which cover art they liked best and the winner became the art I had designed for the last single "Succubus" which also I think is the best video I made as well, release for that last single is June 19th. The full new album will be out July 10th, with all the 6 singles I have released over these 4 months as well as some bonus cover songs at the end (Mercyful Fate, Illnath, Pain, Judas Priest) I did 3 of those last year more or less for fun and inspiration and just released on Youtube only. The newest cover song I did was Pain for a contest Peter Tagtgren had posted online, and i figured why not add it to the album as well.

2.In July you have a new album coming out, musically how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?

The new album "The 7th Sin" I believe is the most diverse of all my albums I have released to this point. The fact being that 3 songs were written 10 years ago, 3 songs are brand new, and then 4 cover songs of various genres in metal, it is in a way a kind of compilation album. The 3 old songs actually have a completely different style then I play now, but when re-recorded and revamped they sounded amazing! The new songs I wrote I would say are a more direct follow up to last years "Zychodia" album style wise, very brutal and technical, I also had alot of pent up anger from some recent events in my life that led to those being extremely aggressive. And as for the cover songs, it was fun to bring my style into stuff that originally is very different than what I sound like. It was a challenge to bridge the gap in style and find my sound within those songs.

3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects you explored with your newer music and also how would you describe your progress as a songwriter over the years?

Lyrical topics on this CD are varied, but I would say they all kind of relate in some ways, the opener "Succubus" is a result of something that happened to me recently, a theft, that left me feeling empty inside. So I had this idea from the artwork I was designing, to make the succubus character an actual grim reaper character. So in a sense she is awakened by your sins and comes to take your soul to hell, and some of what is explored lyrically is that it is a deserved fate. Track 2, Morbid Beauty, was actually written by my good friend and musical cohort Kobey Lange (Cerebral Desecration, Scars of the Flesh, Wings of Abaddon) and we duet the vocals, in case anyone doesn't know, he actually wrote all of the lyrics to my last album "Zychodia". We have this magical way of collaborating that it works so seemlessly. The song itself I had the artwork before any music or lyrics, so i gave him that as an inspiration to write about. It in turn became about humanity's morbid obsession with the idea they aren't good enough the way they are, without makeup, plastic surgery etc etc. The song is a more gruesome take on that topic, but so much of what is said in the lyrics rings completely true in our society these days. The 3rd song Tales of the Past, is one of the old songs, this song is a personal one to me. It is basically me talking to myself and how I deal with regrets and many times in my life I have made decisions i regret and wish i could change. It makes for even a bit stranger to have written it in the past about the past, and recording it again in the future haha. It was kind of my way of correcting a past mistake and being able to record the song in such a better quality nowadays. Track 4 Graveyard Hymn is basically a funeral kind of song lyrically, the thought of dying and what's left behind and what is beyond. Are we just food for the worms at that point, is my tombstone just a perch for the crows? Track 5 Pain or Death goes back to 2010 again, this song is a deep one, and written for a friend of mine who was diagnosed with cancer. That night when i went home after she told me, i was devastated for her, but at the same time I had thoughts of what would I do if it was me? If you were given the option of a probable death, would you fight through pain, chemotherapy etc to live? It can be transferred to many scenarios, would you rather live in pain, or just decide that death is an easier solution. A bit morbid yes, but very real thought and scenario. Track 6 Flesh and Steel the 3rd old song and final of the the originals on the album is another that is very personal to me. This song is basically me at my most suicidal moment in life, but instead of doing something final/fatal, I decided to write a song and vent those emotions into a positive. And in doing so the music helped me get through something I wouldv'e regretted. I hope in some way that song and its lyrics can help someone else who might be feeling the same way.

4.Some of your older lyrics covered science fiction and horror themes, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in those topics?

2016's album "The Haunting at Helmbrook" to many fans is still my best, it was my first take at a full concept album. I have always been very inspired by King Diamond, and his horror stories are some of the best. So for my take on that album I can't even put into words how it all came into my mind, I also did a bit of a weird writing process on that one, and didn't even have a full concept to start, I had the visual in my mind of some scenarios and I literally wrote the story plot as I went through track by track, not knowing how it would end until i got to the end. This album was the first time Kobey Lange had a hand in writing lyrics for one of my albums, I wrote the entire concept up until the last song, and after about 6 months of work I was drained. I gave him the full album, lyrics, and music to the last song and said, sum it up for me, give me a finale. And he knocked that song out of the park. It really helped bring everything together. Fast forward to 2019 and Zychodia was a similar scenario on what started our collaboration on that album. I had been working on the music for the album since right after Haunting was finished, so Zychodia had been about 2 and a half years of writing music, I had what i knew was my best album to date, and I had a concept idea, sci-fi story, I had song names but just a mostly general idea, I have always been fascinated with aliens and sci-fi stuff. And I could not pull myself to get it done, I was at the breaking point and almost about to scrap the album, Kobey stepped in and asked me to let him have a go at it. What ensued was magical to say the least, he took my basic idea and turned it into a novel worthy sci-fi tale, that is so in depth it would take quite a while to explain. If anyone reading is interested I'm sure the lyrics can be found online and you should have a go at just reading it as a story, I hope one day Kobey will turn it into a full on book. With these two albums serving as my concept albums, for the future which topic would i consider doing again? probably something along the Haunting at Helmbrook lines is possible to come up again at some point, we will just have to wait and see what inspires me in the future.

5.With this project you record everything by yourself but also play in a few bands, how would you compare the 2?

Doing my solo project is obviously the most demanding of the 2 because besides occasionally having outside help on lyrics, everything is done by only me, and being the producer, artwork designer (lately). I do the job of about 6 people all myself, it does tend to take its toll on me mentally haha.
I do miss the feel of having a full band when i do things like this all the time, but with Scars of the Flesh my other main band, we started as just a studio project, but this past January we finally pulled together a full band and played a live show, I hope to continue to build that up to be constant thing for the future of that band. Writing music by myself and with others is definitely what I would say defines the two as different. When I am alone writing for my project I am my own critic, and only my opinion matters. With Scars and other previous projects I always like to have the other members put in as much say as I have, so it's not just another BE song under a different name. I still typically grind the studio/producer side of things about the same in all projects I'm associated with, as I have a certain standard of quality of sound I want to achieve, so therefore, you can in fact hear similarities in everything I've been a part of. I guess you can call that my personal stamp on things.

6.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?

Yes, the artwork process for this new album was actually very exciting and new for me. Before this I had designed only two albums covers on projects myself, 2018's Winters Plague (The Final Eclipse), and the new Scars of the Flesh (Reaching into the Void) CD we just released in January. Both of those came out cool, but to say I am experienced in that process, I would say no. So when I started this new album, I designed an art for the song Pain or Death first back in February, and I had this random idea of doing an artwork for each song, it was quite a challenge to pull it off in the end. But as a matter of fact I got ahead of myself on the artwork creating and had several of them before the music, so I would say the arts actually helped shape the music. I held a contest like i said previously and let the fans decide which of the 6 arts they like best. I announced the last and final song art for "Succubus" and gave a 3 day voting window online. The fans absolutely loved that art and the Graveyard Hymn art. The voting came down to the wire on those 2, but in the end the Succubus art won out. I did end up changing the full album title to "The 7th Sin' and made a slightly alternate succubus art for the single. That artwork was by far the one i worked the most on, so I can say I am happy it is the one that won in the end. For the physical albums, all 6 artworks will be featured in a full 16 page booklet plus lyrics, as well as a cool art panel for the cover songs.

7.On the new album you also have done a good amount of covers, can you tell us a little bit more about your choices for the cover songs?

The covers featured on this album are personal favorites of mine, I am always really picky with what songs if any I will do covers of, it has to be something that I think will blend with my style nicely. The first one i did was the Mercyful Fate song, I said earlier about how much I love King Diamond, and Mercyful is no exception to that. I remember when the 9 album came out in '99, its always been a personal favorite of mine because it was also the first time i saw him on tour that year. I wasn't sure how good it would come out when i started, but when it was finished it was better then i couldve imagined. The Illnath song is probably one that very few people will recognize, because even if they know of the band, that song was an unreleased version. Their 3rd album was supposed to be "Three nights in the sewers of sodom" but things happened within the band and the singer Bjorn "Narrenschiff" Holter ended up leaving the band. You can only hear the original version on a Youtube stream which i believe there is a download link too. I absolutely love that album even in demo form, the one that did finally come out with a different singer years later is just lackluster to me. So no offense to the band but i wanted to hear a great finished recording of that song and Bjorn has also become a friend of mine over the years and it was cool to give him a dedication through my cover of him. The Judas Priest song is a pretty random one for fans of them, but for me its always been one of my favorite Priest tunes and I knew it would translate very cool with some heavier vocals. The last cover I added was Pain, and like i said earlier, it was a last minute addition, for a contest Peter Tagtgren had posted, I recorded it in one night and did vocals the next day, and with how great it came out I just had to add it to the album too.

8.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?

I had tried for years and years earlier on 2014-2019 I sent out hundreds and hundreds of submissions, emails, mailing press kits etc etc. to bigger labels, to no response. I got interest from a few small labels over the years, but the things they have offered are things I already do myself. So there would be no positive to signing a deal. At this point in my musical career, I am just to the point where if it happens it happens kind of thing, I doubt I will be seeking it out as I have in the past, as nowadays being on a big label doesn't necessarily define your success anyway. The labels will come chomping when the success has already arrived. I'm just trying to enjoy what I do and if i was making music for money I guess i would've quit a long time ago haha. It's the creation process that I truly enjoy.

9.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of melodic black and death metal?

I definitely have fans all around the globe, I get messages from many people from countries all around. Since I ship all physical merch orders myself, I see where they come from and its nice to see how far the music has spread. I honestly believe I have more fans globally than in the U.S. where I am from. I guess that's attributed the style of music I play and how much bigger it is outside the U.S. I hope with each new album I put out that it can reach some new ears, that is always the goal.

10.What is going on with your other bands these days?

Well, Wings of Abaddon had been my main band for years, but we decided to call it quits in 2018, about a year before that we had started Scars of the Flesh which remains as my only active other band currently. We have brought that from just a studio project into a full live band and played our first show this past January for our new CD release. I had joined Cerebral Desecration last year, but more as a fill in. That band features Kobey Lange who was in Wings and is still in Scars too, also Joe Muniz who was in Wings, so it was easy to step into a band with members I had jammed with for years and years. But i decided in 2020 that I would just focus on my project and Scars of the Flesh moving forward, I guess it has become a bit harder to do as much as I had in years previous as I get older. I tend to be a workaholic when it comes to music haha. And if anyone is curious on Winters Plague, that is actually just a solo album I released under a different name, being that it was my original solo project name long ago. I've been asked many times if i will do another album under that name, and right now I can only say I'm not sure. Time will tell, but for now you can look forward to new BE stuff regularly and Scars of the Flesh.

11.Where do you see yourself heading into as a musician during the future?

The future is always wide open for me, there are a few nostalgic projects I want to get out here in the next year or two, more or less studio stuff, re-recordings. We had a project in 2007-2011 called Desert Beast that has a killer album just sitting on my computer that I plan on revamping and getting out to the world, just to at least have one out under that name. It was some killer tunes forsure. This year also marks the 20 year anniversary of my original first band Blessed Agony, we have been talking about doing a few one off tunes in memory of that band, not a resurrection of it, just a tribute kinda thing. Scars of the Flesh is going to be picking back up on writing and jamming for shows soon as the COVID stuff put a damper on our progress when it hit right after our first gig, we had to cancel plans for now, but soon that machine will start rolling again. For now I'm going to stay active in the studio and be productive, I actually have the whole next BE album written musically, as The 7th Sin kinda came in suddenly and got done first, but i was working on a whole different album that is going to be a BIG endeavor. I plan on it being a 2 disc concept album, I am just needing some years to make that one happen. Anyways, fans can expect alot of new tunes in many forms coming in the future. If people are starting to understand something about me is that I put out alot of music hahaha, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

12.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Oh man, there is just too many to name! When it comes to what bands i would say influence my sound the most, I would say, Hypocrisy, Old Man's Child, Arch Enemy, At the Gates, Amon Amarth, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Death, King Diamond. But I could go on and on and on. What I tend to listen more on a daily/weekly basis might surprise people a bit, I tend to have this unquenchable thirst for power metal lol. I absolutely love bands, like Primal Fear, Stratovarius, Gloryhammer, Gamma Ray, Helloween etc etc. One that has me hooked lately, is Allen/Olzon that CD is magnificent, been on a constant rotation here.

13.What are some of your non musical interests?

I have been getting in deep with artwork/design stuff as of late, I have a bit of a side thing going making flyers for bands and shows. I recently did a shirt design for a buddy. I have had a few bands starting to inquire to me about album artwork, and other shirt designs. So its seeming when I'm not doing music itself, I'm getting more into the artwork/design side of music. Another thing i want to grow into doing more fully is lyric video design. I actually went pretty deep into the creation of the Morbid Beauty and Succubus videos for this new album. I need to upgrade my computer to handle a bit more, but its something I could see doing as a side business and still helping the music scene in another way.

14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

I hope everyone who reads this will check out the new CD when it drops July 10th, I put my heart and soul into all the music I create. I want to thank all the people who have supported me for years and years now, as well as any new fans that come about. If you guys want to dive into my world there is alot to be found (Bryan Eckermann, Scars of the Flesh, Winters Plague, Wings of Abaddon, Cerebral Desecration, Blessed Agony)
A big cheers to you out there reading this! And stay tuned for the next endeavors, there will always be more to come.

Flesh And Steel Video

Morbid Beauty Lyric Video

Graveyard Hymn

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Skylord/Frostcraft/Soundage Productions/2019 CD Review

  Skylord  are  a  band  from  Russia  that  plays  a  very  melodic  and  symphonic  mixture  of  viking,  black  and  death  metal  and  this  is  a  review  of  their  2019  album  "Frostcraft" which  was  released  by  Soundage  Productions.

  Keyboards  start  off  the  album  while  also  using  a  variety  of  many  different  sounding  keys  and  also  mixes  in  with  the  heavier  sections  of  the  music  at  times.  The  riffs  also  bring  in  a  great  amount  of  melody  along  with  the  vocals  being  mostly  high  pitched  black  metal  screams  and  when  the  music  speeds  up a   great  amount  of  blast  beats  can  also  be  heard.

  At  times  the  music  also  gets  very  symphonic  sounding  while  death  metal  growls  and  clean  pagan  vocals  are  also  added  into  some  parts  of  the  recording.  The  music  also  has  a  lot  of  90's  influences  as  well  as  sounding  very  modern  at  the  same  time  and  all  of  the  musical  instruments  also  have  a  very  powerful  sound  to  them.

  Throughout  the  recording  you  can  also  hear  a  decent  mixture  of  slow,  mid  paced  and  fast  parts  along  with  the  guitar  solos  and  leads  also  being  done  in  a  very  melodic  style.  Tremolo  picking  can  also  be  heard  in  some  of  the  faster  riffing  along  as  well  as  some  of  the  clean  vocals  also  adding  in  a  touch  of  power  metal.

 Some  of  the  tracks  also  mix  in  elements  of  folk  metal  as  well  as  the  slower  sections  of  the  songs  also showing  some  influences  of  goth  and  doom  metal  and  as  the  album  progresses  whispered  vocals  can  also  be  heard  briefly.  The  production  sounds  very  professional  while  the  lyrics  cover  Nature,  Fantasy,  Paganism  and  Russian  History  themes.

  In  my  opinion  Skylord  are  a  very  great  sounding  melodic  and  symphonic  mixture  of  black,  viking  and  death  metal  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  those  musical  genres,  you  should  check  out  this  band.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  "Drained(Emberdreams)"  "Enchanted  Forest"  "Scarlet  Winter"  and  "Wintertears".  8  out  of  10.


Bryan Eckermann/The 7th Sin/2020 CD Review

  Bryan  Eckerman  is  a  solo  artist  from  San  Antonio,  Texas  that  plays  a  melodic  mixture  of  black  and  death  metal  and  this  is  a  review  of  his  self  released  2020  album  "The  7th  Sin"  which  will  be  released  in  July.

  Clean  playing  starts  off  the  album  while  the  vocals  are  mostly  grim  sounding  black  emtal  screams  while  synths  also  mix  in  with  the  heavier  sections  of  the  songs  at  times.  The  riffs  also  add  in  a  great  amount  of  melody  along  with  the  faster  sections  of  the  songs  also  adding  in  a  lot  of  blast  beats  and  tremolo  picking.

  Melodies  are  also  added  in  a  lot  of  the  guitar  riffing  while  the  songs  also  add  in  a  decent  mixture  of  slow.  mid  paced  and  fast  parts.  Death  metal  growls  are  also  added  into  certain  sections  of  the  recording  along  with  the  guitar  solos  and  leads  also  being  done  in  a  very  melodic  style.

  A  great  portion  of  the  tracks  are  also  very  long  and  epic  in  length  along  with  clean  playing  also  making  a  return  on  some  of  the  later  songs. Spoken  word  parts  can  also  be  heard  briefly  and  as  the  album  progresses  a  brief  use  of  classical  guitars  and  clean  vocals  can  also  be  heard  and  the  recording  closes  with  some  Mercyful  Fate,  Illnath,  Pain  and  Judas  Priest  covers.  The  production  sounds  very  professional  while  the  lyrics  cover  Horror  and  Mystery  themes.

  In  my  opinion  Bryan  Eckerman  is  a  very  great  sounding  melodic  mixture  of  black  and  death  metal  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  those  musical  genres,  you  should  check  out  this  solo  project.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  "Succubus"  "Graveyard  Hymn"  "Sold  my  Soul"  and  "Night  Comes  Down".  8  out  of  10.

Store Frontier  

N + [BOLT]/Play 15 Amps/Midira Records/2020 Full Length Review

  Germany's  N+  and  [BOLT]  team  up  once  again to  create  a  recording  that  mixes  experimental,  ambient,  improv,  black,  sludge,  doom  metal  and  drone  and  this  is  a  review  of  their  2020  collaboration  album  "Play  15  Amps"  which  was  released  by  Midira  Records.

  Atmospheric  sounding  drones  start  off  the  album  while  all  of  the  tracks  are  also  very  long  and  epic  in  length.  When  synths  are  utilized  they  also  bring  elements  of  ambient  onto  the  recording  along  with  some  clean  playing  also  being  added  into  the  background  in  certain  sections  of  the  recording.

  As  the  album  progresses  the  music  also  starts  getting  more  diverse  sounding  while  guitar  orientated  drones  are  also  utilized  at  times.  All  of  the  tracks  are  also  instrumentals  along  with  the  guitar  sounds  also  mixing  in  elements  of  black,  sludge  and  doom  metal  into  the  heavier  sections  as  well  as  the  music  also  having  its  repetitive  moments,  stringed  instruments  are  also  a  very  huge  part  of  the  recording  and  the  whole  album  also  sticks  to  a  slower  direction  and  the  re-mix  track  also  shows  more  of  an  avant  garde  side. 

  On  this  recording  N+  and  [BOLT]  team  up  and  create  a  recording  that  mostly  focuses  on  the  experimental,  ambient  and  drone  side  of  the  spectrum  as  well  as  having  some  touches  of  black,  sludge  and  doom  metal  as  well  as  keeping  everything  instrumental  and  the  production  also  sounds  very  dark.

  In  my  opinion  this  is  another  great  sounding  recording  from  N+  and  [BOLT]  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  experimental,  ambient,  improv,  black,  sludge,  doom  metal  and  drone.  you  should  check  out  this  collaboration.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Varus Interview

Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording of the new album?

Hi there! We’ve been working quite a lot in the background to create material and content for the upcoming release. So that might be some making of video clips, promotion material and even some new music! However, rehearsals are sadly not possible.

2. You have a new album coming out during the end of June, musically how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?

It might be very different, especially when it comes to the vocals. They’re lower, not as high pitched and more in-your-face. Apart from that, the guitar tuning is now Dropped D, whereas it’s been Dropped B on the first album. We strived for a more folky, epic sound and even introduced acoustic instruments which haven’t been there on Till The Sun Rises. The song length has also increased but it’s fewer songs therefore.

3. This is also your first release since 2014, can you tell us a little bit more about what has been going on during that time frame?

Our line up has changed a few times, most noticeable on lead vocals and drums. Also, we strived for getting a unique band image that should be indistinguishable, almost a Corporate Identity if you like. I’d say we’re now stronger than ever and it just feels like a strong bond between us.
On top, we’ve had some amazing concert opportunities over the years and worked hard on our live performances.

4. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores on the newer album?

Our biggest theme is liberty. That’s the main topic but every song stands on its own. So we explore some drinking stories of our hometown, mourn the passing of a close friend, experience the apocalypse itself and remember how our surroundings have changed over time.

5. Originally the band was called 'Banjaxed' what was the cause of the name change?

When starting out, we played half cover, half original songs. The name Banjaxed was heavily related to that and restricted us to an all party band. As we were growing up, we strived to bring only our own material to the people. Varus was more universal and there is actually not one single metal group with that name. From that point we didn’t do covers anymore. So it wasn’t only a name change but also an image change.

8. I know that the bands name is a reference to 'Publius Quinctillus Varus', can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this historical character?

I’ve been interested in history generally and somehow I stumbled across the Battle In The Teutoburg Forest. It hooked me from the first moment on until today. One reason for Varus was that the Germanic opponent Arminius just didn’t sound good as a band name. Image people trying to remember the name or yelling it at a concert. On the other hand, the character Varus as well as his story are just more tragic and not as heroic. This makes him a very interesting subject. Be sure that there willl be music about him at some point.

9. What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?

A highlight for us has been the performance at Wolfszeit Open Air 2019. We’ve shared stage with huge established bands that could be named idols of us. Unfortunately, it was at short notice and we couldn’t rehearse that much, so some songs could have been a bit tighter. Feedback has been great though.
Our on stage performances have become very energetic and wild. There’s now a lot of movement on stage and it seems to have a good impact on people.

10. Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?

No, there’s no plans like that at the moment. We’re not actively searching for a label but if the right one comes around the corner – why not? However, we’d like to keep full control over music and image.

11. On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of symphonic, melodic, folk and extreme metal?

It has been good so far! Actually, the more epic and folky aspects are well received and seem to be the favourite themes of our fans. There’s even die hard fans in South America and a following in France. People tend to fall in love with the large choir and orchestra arrangements.

12. Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

I guess, we’ll be exploring the folk instruments a bit more but also looking for a more atmospheric approach. Moreover, there’s plans to not overdo it with lengthy songs. I’m already writing new songs and try to keep a strong songwriting, yet not to get lost in too many different parts.

13. What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

You can certainly hear some non-metal influences on the latest material, like Irish Folk or even Jethro Tull. Also, the metal side is inspired by other bands like those in the past. There’s fewer Alestorm-ish themes but rather hints of Ensiferum or Turisas.
At the moment, I’m listening to some Månegarm, Svartsot and again Jethro Tull.

14. Does Paganism play any role in the music?

Not really, to be honest. I know we get labelled as Pagan metal a lot of times and we’re fine with that. Musically, there might be Pagan metal in our style but lyrically, there’s not one single Pagan song in our repertoire. Nature romanticism is part of our music/lyrics but not worshiping the old gods.

15. Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
I want to thank you guys for these well researched questions and your support!
We’re glad to get a lot of positive feedback on our music and are grateful for it. That’s what fuels our inspiration and motivation. So we’re really looking forward to the release of our second album, even during the ongoing crisis. This is what unites us – music.
Thank you all for reading! Stay safe and healthy!