Album Review: Arctic Monkeys – AM

I actually really wanted to hate this album before if came out last year. I’ve never been a fan of the band or anything from the modern indie/pop-punk genres and having been raised on ‘proper’ music from the 60s, 70s and 80s, I saw Arctic Monkeys as being a bit of a joke. Despite my efforts I was sold on this before its release after hearing the first 3 singles ‘R U Mine’, the monstrously anthemic ‘Do I Wanna Know’ and ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’.
I wasn’t expecting the retro rock/soul sound and production and found the guitar tones and vocals both fascinating and satisfying. The band have completely reinvented their sound and image, something that has been evolving steadily over their past two albums ‘Humbug’ and ‘Suck It And See’. From the blistering rock assaults of ‘R U Mine?’ and ‘Arabella'; the infectious rhythmic grooves of ‘Fireside’ and ‘Knee Socks'; the beauty of ballads ‘No.1 Party Anthem’ and ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ and the downright catchy ‘Snap Out Of It’, AM proves to be a very diverse bag of tunes.

Something has to be said for Alex Turner’s talent as a lyricist too. This album, although perhaps more so on earlier albums, contains some excellent lyric writing. Really poetic and clever stuff that is worth checking out. The last song on this album, ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ is essentially the John Cooper Clarke poem of the same name re-worked into a song. A successful rendition.

Anyway, this album is worth a spin and might take you by surprise. I spent a lot of time last summer gathered around with friends just listening to this, discussing each track and truly appreciating the album as a whole. Hopefully bands such as Arctic Monkeys can keep the art of the album alive for future generations.

There was also a great deal of clever marketing with this record, both with its artwork, the band’s image and the music videos that gave it a unique identity. Perhaps similar to the unmistakable pulses and prisms of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon? Admittedly, the pulsating radio waves of AM that wrap around the record’s gatefold sleeve are probably lifted from Dark Side, and the band’s logo is equally lifted from Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality sleeve. However, Arctic Monkeys don’t deny their influences. ‘Arabella’ does contain essences of ‘War Pigs’ and the band have been performing a fusion of the two songs on their current tour.

I used to sneer at Arctic Monkeys and their growing popularity, sitting smugly with my vintage record collection and dismissing them as being some fad that would eventually die off. Now here I am with all their albums in my collection and a ticket to go and see them perform later this year! Ultimately a fan of band that are, in my generation, riding the success and popularity that the classic bands in my collection rode in their own time. I suppose there’s a bit of irony there somewhere.

Arctic-Monkeys-AM

Restaurant Review: Zizzi Ristorante, Falmouth

The Zizzi Ristorante in Falmouth is fast becoming one of my favourite places to eat. Located next to the National Maritime Museum, it overlooks the harbour, creating some stellar picturesque window views from within the restaurant. Whilst not the only Italian in town with Pizza Express on its toes right next door, the international pizza chain falls far short in comparison. The real competition is a couple of doors down with Rick Stein’s Fish and Seafood Bar. Albeit offering a different culinary experience, it’s certainly a strong candidate for your evening meal and I must confess that my first experience at Zizzi’s was very much by default. I had initially intended to visit Rick Stein’s and arrived only to find it closed!

Inside the restaurant is spacious, fresh and a lot larger than outside would have you imagine. One of the advantages of going out in November and out of season is that everywhere is generally quiet and there are plenty of tables to choose from, not to mention a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. The staff are very efficient and personable and you’re not left hanging around awkwardly upon entering. Given the choice it can be hard to decide where to sit with comfortable ring sofas on one side and intimate high tables by the windows on the other. Either way, with a candle-lit table beside the sea it’s now only down to the food to seal the deal for a perfect all-round package.

I have been three times over the past month and only on my third visit did I actually succeed in ordering a pizza! It sounds bizarre but for some reason the menu has proven itself to be a little misleading on my part. There are slim pizzas listed side by side with salads and calzone pizzas with rustic pizzas. Admittedly, my misreading of the menu may partly at least be down to my own personal incompetence and perhaps I shouldn’t have been too surprised to see a roasted duck salad appear from the kitchen instead of duck pizza during my first visit. It would be nice to have some guidance for Italian dining newbies such as myself on what certain things listed actually are. I was more than a little shocked to see a large pasty coming my way after ordering what I thought was a spicy meat pizza, but there can be no denying that the calzone carne piccante was a pleasant surprise and possibly all the more nicer for it. My recommended dish however is the rustica mare e monti, a pizza that impresses both with its size and taste. One half a refreshingly cool landscape of tender king prawns, mozzarella, courgette and crème fraiche; the other a sensational affair of spicy sausage, tomato, hot chillies and rocket. At last I had successfully ordered a pizza, and what a monster of a pizza it was, almost taking me aback as much as the previous two surprise orders! It was a perfect combination. When the heat of the chillies roared a little too hot for my liking I could switch to the cool tang of freshly squeezed lemon over prawns and crème fraiche.

If you’re looking for a classy dinner out that delivers on quality of food, value for money and great hospitality then the Zizzi Ristorante is a great place to go. Whether you’re a young couple seeking a romantic meal with a sea view by candlelight or a family taking a break from the home kitchen, you will not be disappointed. If it’s something new to tantalise your taste buds that you’re after and you’re anything like me, fear not as the menu offers plenty more than just margherita and spag bol!

Zizzi Ristorante

Novel Opening: A Quiet Night (working title…)

Quite a strange one, not sure where it’s going at the moment but it was fun to write! Enjoy…

 

Chapter One

Quiet nights always came as a blessing. A cool, soft breeze whispered through the air. Faintly illuminated by a vibrant moon alone in the sky, ever jubilant to be free from the tangling webs of the clouds. The silence of the winter’s evening was pure and delicate, almost unnerving to the solitary traveller. All creatures were hidden away and even the crickets and bats were nowhere to be seen or heard.

Little Lucy May was on her way home. Her footsteps lightly tapped along the concrete leading up the hill to her estate. Clip clap clip clap she went, occasionally silenced by soft turf as her feet took her from pavements to grass patches and back again. Her breath was soft despite the determination of her pace. The sharpness of the air cut away at the back of her nose, raw against the cold she gritted her teeth and kept her head down; intent on keeping her journey as short and precise as it needed to be. Her small silhouette flitted between the occasional streetlamp, street cats gazed at her from beneath parked cars, completely indifferent to her passing presence. Like the cats she knew the terrain well, barely having to raise her eyes from the ground as she twisted and turned through the dark. Before long she had reached the destination she knew as home. A terrace house just like the rest. The front door clicked open and she slipped inside.

Little Lucy May, hear us as we pray, we’re longing for your pardon, Little Lucy May…

A young girl all of eighteen years. Some said she had a pretty face, a kind girl all the same. A quiet girl all the same. She was very neat about her ways. Being very sure not to bring dirt into the house she cautiously removed her shoes after rubbing them against the doormat, then proceeded to remove her coat and hang it in its proper place in the cupboard under the stairs. Satisfied that everything was in check, she wandered into the kitchen where the clanging together of plates was heard.

They came crashing to the floor. Shards of china glistened invitingly upwards. Stacked incorrectly again, it seemed. Stacked carelessly to dry, teetering precariously against one another until a flutter of something-or-other brought them tumbling down. She sighed deeply. Her soft chocolate eyes tightened, darkened and thickened. Without pretence, her body swished round and took her to the stairs. Creak they went under the almost weightless pressure of her leather boots, creak they went all the same.

Upstairs. A closed door. An opened door. Standing in the doorway, Little Lucy May’s silhouette cast its shadow once more. A body squirmed in the blackened room, squirmed in her shadow. “Lucy, please! I’ll be more careful next time, one promises!” it babbled. The shadow entered the room and the door closed behind it. Case closed.

On the seventh day she cried for all her work was done, on the seventh day she lied for the sins she had become…

On the walls of the main room were shelves containing jars. In the jars was an assortment of creatures, each housing a unique resident. One contained a spider, a rather large one at that. It lay there all day; its long slender legs resting against the glass cage. Occasionally it would be fed. An unfortunate insect from the back garden perhaps, sometimes even one of the other residents if they hadn’t been behaving quite the right way. Maybe one day the spider would escape. Perhaps the spider would one day take a trip into one of its neighbours’ jars. There was a slip of paper stuck underneath the spider’s jar. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you!

The following morning Lucy was up and ready for college. She ensured that she was dressed neatly and that everything was in check before she left the house. The contents of her bag were in check and with a level conscience she went outside. An overcast sky, cool and dry. Perfect weather. The journey to campus involved a short walk to the closest bus stop and a twenty-minute bus journey that dropped her right outside. There were others whom she came across on this journey day after day, and day after day she would ignore them just as they ignored her. The monotonous morning rituals were mundane for everyone and small talk was not something that would apparently lead to any liberty from that fact.

 

Copyright Daniel Aston 2013

Short Story: ‘The River’ by Daniel Aston

She hadn’t wanted him to go with her. Instead he stayed at home, waiting. Pacing around endlessly in quiet desperation as to what would unfold within the next few hours. Into the living room his feet took him, eyes glued to the floor, hands clasped behind his back. The world outside gleamed into the room. The sun was dominating the rich blue sky; the weather had not been this pleased with itself for weeks if not months.

‘Why?’ he kept asking himself ‘Why!’ did she not want him to go with her, why was any of this happening at all? Inside a voice reassured him, reassured him that everything was going to be just fine, after all, they’d look back on this day and laugh. A brief, rather forced smile dissolved within due time as his eyes landed upon a photo that sat peacefully on the mantelpiece. It was their wedding photo. Captured forever in that image was a moment of euphoria. Gazing upon her face he saw how happy she was, how free they both were from the dangers of the real world; he saw how foolish they were back then.

He removed a tear from his eye and moved on. Inside, his stomach had turned to dust, his heart was pumping fast and he began to feel a little faint. Back into the kitchen his feet went, and where his feet went he would surely follow. A mug of lukewarm tea rested beside a plate of half-eaten toast. Pinned to the fridge door was a list of possible baby names. They had been trying for a baby for a few weeks now, the whole thing was exciting for everyone. In their excitement came a frenzy of pre-preparation.  The names had already been shrunken to a final group of five, the many others crossed and scribbled out. His mind settled slightly as he pictured his future child, the three of them standing together as a family, living and enjoying life together. All the joys of parenthood awaited him, but his fantasy was rudely interrupted – by a knock at the door.

His heart lurched into his throat as he made his way for the front door. Everything slowed down, thoughts were no longer being processed, feelings ceased to function. Numb. All that mattered was the door. His sweaty hands gripped the handle and with one last forceful break, it swung open.

There she stood. Tears trickling down her face as her eyes stared softly into his. His heart remained wedged as he tried to speak, but try as he might words would not muster. In that moment he saw how beautiful she was. Her hair rested gently against her shoulders, her face pretty as ever. This was the woman he loved more than anything in the world. And then she said it. From her lips came the words he thought he would never hear. ‘It’s cancer’.

‘No, it can’t be.’ he muttered.

‘It’s terminal.’ she said. With that another steak was thrust into her husband’s chest.

‘Please to God, no!’

‘I love you.’ she cried as their bodies came together.

The man cradled his lover in his arms. He felt her body shake uncontrollably as his crumbled in unison. Outside the weather was in fine form. The best they’d seen in weeks.

***

THUMP! The football crashed against the garage door. The collision sent shockwaves through the house. An elderly gentleman struggled to his feet. He had been enjoying what he could of an afternoon nap in his recliner. Slowly and steadily, the old man made his way to the front door. The fury was churning up inside, but at the same time, so was the fear. The task of trying to appear menacing before a group of rebellious youths was something a man of his age could do without. One last deep breath and the door was open.

‘You damn kids clear off! If you put one dent in my garage I’ll put a dent in your reputation by calling the police!’ his lungs didn’t thank him for that burst of aggression, neither did his heart nor the rest of his body for that matter. Typically, by the time he’d got to the doorstep the majority of the ‘goons’ as he called them had dispersed.

‘Piss off, granddad!’ snarled the chief goon, who had stayed behind to collect his ball that was slowly rolling down the lawn. ‘You don’t have the guts!’ it snapped before returning to the rest of the pack.

The man was left beaten. Looking around he saw he was alone, nobody else had witnessed the incident. Upon checking the garage for any sign of damage it became clear there was none. No evidence. ‘Damn goons.’ he muttered, and stumbled back into the house.

That night he enjoyed a bowl of pasta alone. An old 70s hit was rambling on in the background. He gave up half way through – lost his appetite. His eyes gazed forward to an old mounted photo on the mantelpiece. It made him smile. It made him shed a tear. It was slightly faded, yet it still held its magic after all these years. ‘Damn goons.’ he spoke softly ‘They’ll never give me any peace.’ He spoke to the picture ‘Never mind, I’ll not be long now, dear.’

In the kitchen the clinking of cutlery and china sounded as they came together in perfect harmony. The man cleared away his meal and went to bed. As he lay there in the night he noticed that the wind was not howling and the rain was not tapping at the window. A silent night for once. He felt his eyes grow heavy and he soon drifted to sleep.

A bright light beamed. His eyes strained to open. The adjustment in vision was made and he couldn’t believe the sight he saw. It was as though an angel was floating at the end of the bed, smiling at him. He felt his heart stop. It was his wife before him. She was definitely there, he could see her. She was as beautiful as in the photo downstairs, no, even more beautiful. Her arm stretched out to meet his. Their hands touched. He noticed a small child beside her whom he didn’t recognise yet the child seemed to recognise him.

‘We’re free now.’

 

‘The River’ copyright Daniel Aston 2013

Interview: Oscar Carlquist – RAM

Swedish extreme metal band RAM return to the spotlight with their third full length album, Death, this year and it has already been met with much critical acclaim. The band creates a high-octane blend of heavy metal whilst still being conscious of their classic roots, something vocalist Oscar Carlquist passionately believes should remain in today’s metal scene. I interview the frontman to uncover more on the background of the new record and where they aim to take their music.

 

Daniel Aston: Are you pleased with the reception that the new album ‘Death’ has received so far?

Oscar Carlquist: Yeah sure, you prefer good reviews over bad of course, the fans seem to like the new stuff very much as well. So it’s all good, but I try to keep my head cool, I don’t want to have a ghost in my head when it’s time to make a new album.

 

DA: How did the creation of this album differ from previous releases?

OC: We had more fun making it, we put ourselves in a more relaxed state, and we worked the songs out really fast so suddenly we had songs for an album without really trying to write one. We wrote a lot of the material for Death in our rehearsal space mainly we will work in a quieter environment have a cup of coffee but this one was written with the adrenaline pumping.

 

 DA: What inspired the lyrical content of this album?

OC: Mainly the weakness of western man from a philosophical point of view, we have eradicated the threat of death in our environment and prolonged life to the extent that western man is acting as if death does not exist at all, this hypocrisy taints everything she does and through generations it has created a black hole, a philosophical void, the opens up for more lies and corruption.

 

DA: The artwork for the new record is very striking, what’s the story behind that?

OC: Well it is a modern take on the apocalypse, as I see it when the world does end even the laws of physics will be dissolved , this was what I was aiming to depict.

 

DA: For those out there who aren’t familiar with your music is there a particular track on the new release that stands out from the rest that they should check out?

OC: The album should be experienced in its full glory, it is a quite diverse and schizoid piece of work, one track is there to be in contrast to the other so I really do believe that it should be heard from first track till last.

 

DA:  What are the plans for touring this year?

OC: They are in the planning stages, too early to say anything yet.

 

DA: Who would you cite as RAM’s main musical influences?

OC: Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Old Scorpions, MSG, Accept it goes on and but mainly stuff recorded in the 70s and 80s.

 

DA: How do you think the current metal scene compares with previous generations?

OC: It has its strength and weaknesses, for a band like us who are very influenced with the Old-School stuff it’s really nice to have a perspective and overall vision of what was really going on back then, we can go back and concentrate on what we feel was the strongest aspects of our influences. But a big problem with today’s scene is the aspect of decay, metal has been around for a really long time now and decay is creeping in, bands and fans have to be aware of and defend the original fundaments that metal stand upon, to curate the virus of mainstream contamination in how music is written and images are being handled. Metal has to stay subversive or it will die.

 

DA: What’s next for the band?

OC: Reaping the strange fruits of Death

 

Interview: Zuberoa Aznárez – Diabulus In Musica

Spanish symphonic outfit Diabulus In Musica are producing some of the most intriguing sound waves in today’s metal scene. More than just a metal band, the group takes their gothic and classical influences to a new level with their second album The Wanderer. Their debut album Secrets was met with much appraisal with each band member bringing together their own musical styles to create a unique sound along with some special collaborations from renowned musicians. I interview vocalist Zuberoa Aznárez to find out more about the new release and delve into what lies behind the construction of their material.

 

Daniel Aston: What can fans expect from your upcoming album The Wanderer?

Zuberoa Aznárez:  An eclectic album, with big orchestra and choirs, hard guitars, new instruments such as the lute, different flutes, percussions, acoustic guitars… It’s an album that reflects many different feelings, emotions and sounds.

DA: How has the new material developed since your debut album Secrets?

ZA: I think The Wanderer it’s a big step forward. We kept our main influences: classical music and metal, but the arrangements are more ambitious and there is space for more ‘mystic’ sounds as well. I’d say this second album reflects a clear and natural evolution and maturity.

The main difference between Secrets and The Wanderer is the concept, as the new album is a conceptual one. We first thought about what we wanted to tell and then start to work on the songs, having a very clear idea about how they should sound. We maybe were searching for something more like a ‘soundtrack’. Music had to fit what we wanted to tell in each song, it had to recreate the atmosphere we had in mind in each ‘scene’.

I would say that The Wanderer is a very passionate album. All the feelings are perfectly captured. It’s also denser, more bombastic… but also more refined than Secrets.

DA: Your debut featured contributions from a number of respected artists, can we expect any on the new record?

ZA: Yes! We were honored to have Mark Jansen from EPICA grunting and screaming in the track ‘Blazing a Trail’. We invited again our friend and great soprano Maite Itoiz (for the choir, for a duet and to play the lute in one song) and her husband John Kelly (Elfenthal) who is singing in the beautiful ballad ‘Sentenced to Life’.

We also invited some great classical soloists for the big choirs, most of them colleagues from classical ensembles I sing in. And well, I invited myself too hehe to play the baroque and traverse flute as well as some Celtic whistles.

DA: What has been the inspiration for the lyrical side of the new material?

ZA: The World itself. I usually write about my personal worries, which are mostly related with nature, freedom, spirituality and social problems.

In the case of The Wanderer, it talks about a girl who has something ‘special’, ‘different’ and somehow feels isolated. She wanders searching for a place where she can finally be accepted.
The whole concept is an allegory of Mother Earth, the future of humanity and human corruption and the shock among people who stays ‘pure’ or linked with Nature and modern society. It is not easy to reconcile this way of being with all the changes that society is suffering, and above all, with human corruption in all its sides. All these ‘special’ people are unfortunately starting to disappear and in my view, they are the last hope to change the World. It is so sad that human beings are forgetting where we come from!

It is also kind of odd that after thinking about the concept, I’ve seen many artists talking about something similar in their works. It seems that many people perceive that society is not walking towards the right way… It is clear that some of us have this kind of ‘apocalyptic’ thoughts… Maybe that’s a good sign and we can still change?

DA: The band has many musical influences and that is expressed through your music, who would you cite as your main influences?

ZA: Our influences are mainly classical music and metal, although each one has a different musical background. Anyway, not all of these styles have to necessarily influence the music we write.

In my case, what I like the most in the classical field is Early Music, from medieval to baroque. In rock, I started listening to hard rock bands of the 80’s when I was a child. After that I was introduced into power metal and now maybe what I like the most is symphonic and folk metal. I also love ethnic or World music.

In short we don’t have only a musical influence, we like different stuff and we have no boundaries in creating music. In our music it can be found a lot of classical stuff, but also sometimes a folk-ethnic touch, electronic sounds… You can expect anything from us!  ;)

DA: How would you describe your music?

ZA: I would say we make ‘passionate’ symphonic metal surrounded by a magic mystic halo…

DA: Do you think it’s important now more than ever for a band to have a unique sound?

ZA: What it is necessary is to stay true, no matter where. If you are searching for something totally different only because you think you have to, you’ll never give the best of yourself. If you are a true artistic spirit, your inspiration will guide you towards the right place, evolution is a natural thing. You need to follow your musical instincts, trying to do your best, of course.

Anyway I think people should focus more on enjoying the music when they like it and when not, forget about it. I listen to the music I like, so the more bands I find of the style I like, the better for me! It’s not a matter of style, but a matter of quality and musical taste. I’m not going to like or not a band only because it is totally different from others or because it cannot be tagged.

DA: How did Diabulus In Musica form originally?

ZA: We all are from Pamplona, which is a small city, so almost all the metalheads here know each other. We were friends since years. I played with Gorka in a local band and Gorka played with Adrián in another one. Xabi and were also involved in the local music scene.

I decided to start the project with Gorka after our previous band disappeared. We immediately thought about Adrián and he accepted immediately. Xabi and Álex joined us later.

DA: What is your opinion on the current music scene with the opportunities and obstacles that appear for bands compared with previous generations?

ZA: Obviously the music scene has changed a lot recently. We couldn’t say if it’s for the better or not… On the one hand, thanks to the Internet you can listen to whatever you want, before we were more limited. Also, it is easier to spread your music, but it’s more difficult to grow and also to get some money to make better albums, gigs, etc… I think there are not going to be ‘icons‘ as Metallica or AC/DC anymore… To make this possible, the music industry needs to earn a lot of money to invest in only a few bands, but as I said, there’s no money and there are many bands nowadays…

DA: Are there any plans for touring once the album has been released?

ZA: We are working on it. At the moment we can only confirm some gigs in Benelux and Spain. We will open for Tarja in Brussels the 27th February and for Leaves Eyes in Spain the same week.
We hope we can visit more countries in Europe this year.

Interview: Allen Tvedebrink – The Kandidate

Danish thrash-metallers The Kandidate ready the release of their highly anticipated second album Facing the Immanent Prospect of Death and it promises to be another dose of high octane heavy metal! The band have worked hard on developing their sound, incorporating a ‘more diverse and powerful’ approach from the new line up. I talked to guitarist Allen Tvedebrink about the band’s transition from their debut release, their musical influences that have helped define this album and his take on the current musical climate.

 

Daniel Aston: What can fans expect from your upcoming second album Facing the Imminent Prospect of Death?

Allen Tvedebrink: An energetic, sombre and intense album. Those familiar with our debut will hear that a few things have happened since then. Until We Are Outnumbered was a half hour furious kick in the balls, which really got this band fired up. On the new album you will experience a more diverse and powerful band and a dark malicious atmosphere.

DA: Did the writing process and creation of this new record differ from your debut?

AT: Yeah, but not much. KB and I still write the majority of the material. The really big difference is that NP and Jacob care more than the previous members of the bands, that they’ve replaced. They are actively involved in the arrangements and in that effort and in their playing/singing style, they have a great impact in how and what KB and I are writing.

DA: Where did you gather inspiration for the new material?

AT: Hmm… Inspiration. A hard thing to pinpoint to certain things or artists. We dig and love the same bands and of course we get a lot of inspiration from them, but I think that also everyday life and the stuff you think about and reflect on have a great impact on you as a human being and therefore also the creativity. As I kinda mentioned before, the qualities and talent of the band members has also been a major contributor as a creative unit.

DA: Is there a moment or song on the album that the band are particularly proud of?

AT: Well, that kinda changes day by day. But the overall thing that I’m most proud of on this recording is the correlation of the music, the sound and the lyrics, which for me have resulted in a very special atmosphere.

DA: Give Up All Hope from your debut record was released as the band’s first official music video, can we expect a follow up from the new album?

AT: We are actually working on that as we speak. We have been a bit back and forth with the guys producing it and as it seems right now, it will be something pretty special. But it’s all too early to say anything really, as we haven’t decided on the concept and that might change, and so might the song we picked…

DA: What is your opinion on today’s metal scene and how do you feel The Kandidate fits into that?

AT: I think the metal scene is strong. The diversity and availability have never been greater than now. That speaks to me as a proof of the great demand and amount of fans and followers. The industry may not be as good as it used to be in the term of profit, but to me that was never what music is all about, it’s about artists wanting to express themselves and the audience seeking that.
I love that there are so many talented bands out there. Of course there are a lot of really crappy bands if you ask me, but luckily we all have different preferences and with all the bands around it’s just exiting to go hunting for those special gems. I love that a lot of them has their own expression and that they are serious about their music and touring and playing live.
I believe that we have our own expression and sound and that we are doing our own thing adding to the diversity I’m talking about, and we have the quality to stand out as one of the stronger bands despite we are an underground act.

DA: When would you say was the ‘golden era’ of metal?

AT: I think that there are a lot of different golden eras of metal. As you can probably imagine, I’d like to believe we are in one right now. There were other eras that were golden for the record companies and the bands earning good money on what they do. The bigger bands still do that, but the golden aspect of present time is the availability of the art. Lots and lots of bands are touring and this is where the bands are earning their money nowadays, where you can just download or stream whatever you like. The golden thing about present time is that metal is more recognised be the society and that the fan base is growing and supporting the bands at concerts instead of spending their money on albums.

DA: Do you think new bands struggle in today’s music scene with the current state of the music industry?

AT: I don’t think that bands are struggling more today than earlier. It’s a different struggle but also with a lot of tools that we didn’t have 20 years ago. Modern technology and the especially the internet have made it possible for even the most crappy bands to produce and distribute their offer to the whole world. I guess you can say that bands competed and struggled to earn the favour of record companies where today we compete and struggle to earn the favour of the fans, which to me seem more right.

DA: What advice would you give to bands starting out?

AT: To believe in what you are doing and earn the respect of the fans and other musicians. Grow your network and your relations, and also – and maybe most important – be your own biggest critic! It takes effort and hard work to grow as an artist, but it also takes a great amount of self awareness to succeed. Be yourself and dare to make a difference.

DA: Who would you cite as the band’s main musical influences?

AT: We all listen to many different styles and artists, but of course we also share the same preferences in metal, which combines in our sound. For me, it’s everything from Foreigner over Dream Theater to Autopsy, but I guess that the common denominator for all of us is bands like Entombed, Disfear, Trap Them.

DA: Are there plans for a tour this year, if so where are you going to be playing?

AT: We are going to tour a bit in our home country Denmark, and we are going to China in April. We are working on summer festivals at the moment and we are hopefully going to tour Europe in the fall, and I believe it’s going to happen, but I have no clue where it will take us… Hopefully also UK! We had a blast when we went there with Rotten Sound last year.

DA: If you could only take three albums to a desert island, what would they be and why?

AT: Oh shit, that is a tough one… It would definitely be an Entombed album. If I had to choose, I guess it would be Morning Star, it’s gotta be my favourite all round album by them. I listen to Entombed every week, and I’d hate to live without them. Another classic of mine – and maybe my favourite album that I just keep coming back to – is Slaughter of the Soul by At The Gates. I’ll never get tired of hearing that. It’s got the perfect mix of melody and aggression and fucking brilliant song writing. Last one would be an old hard rock classic of AC/DC, Thin Lizzy or Black Sabbath. Hmm, today I’d probably go with Back in Black.

 

Interview: Kirk Backarach – Iron Fire

Danish metal band Iron Fire prepare to release their seventh studio album on January 27th (Europe) and February 7th (USA) and it will be the third consecutive release for the present line up. The band has seen its fair share of ups and downs over the years with shifting line-ups and clashes with record companies testing the strength of the group’s foundations. However, they now set themselves up to release what is their most anticipated album to date, Voyage of the Damned, via Metal Blade Records. I spoke to guitarist Kirk Backarach to find out more about the upcoming record and discover more behind the roots of the band and what the future holds for their fans.

 

Daniel Aston:  What can fans expect from your forthcoming album, Voyage of the Damned?

Kirk Backarach: With “Voyage of the Damned” You can expect an album like no other Iron Fire album before it. It’s an epic space adventure, with a horror twist, it is also the most eary and symphonic album we’ve done so far, as well as it’s the most well written, I think. And to top it all off we have guest appearances from legendary vocalists such as Nils K. Rue from Pagan’s Mind and Dave Ingram from Benediction.

DA: You’ve fought hard to get where you are today and have overcome many hurdles including consistent line-up changes, how did you find the making of this record compared to the ones previous?

KB: To me this have been one of the most calm and easy going albums, production wise, we’ve done so far, because for the first time we had a good amount of time on our hands to finish things before the different deadlines. Of course… Like always we did some arrangements and some rearrangements in the studio, in the last minute, but this is however how it always is.

DA: This is the current line-up of the band’s third consecutive record together, how does this line-up compare with previous ones?

KB: The current line-up is by far the most effective, when it comes to arranging. With the ones before we tended to choose the easy way out, or just to play it safe instead of going into long arguments about how we each would like it to be. With this line-up I’m sure you will hear on the new album, that we’ve spend a lot of time in rehearsals, to get a little extra detail in the arrangements and variations.

DA: Is there a particular song or moment on this record that the band is particularly proud of?

KB: As a band we are very proud of what we’ve achieved with the new album in its entirety. For my own personal part I’d like to mention the title track Voyage of the Damned. That track in particular have exceeded all of my expectations, because of its structure and the grandeur of the extensive arrangement / orchestral score. Very epic.

DA: You know how hard it can be for a band to get a record deal, with the state of the music industry
today how do you think new bands will be able to cope and achieve their dreams?

KB: Maybe they should try to think a little more out of the box… And I think that in this day and age you have to be extremely persistent and devoted to achieving your goals. This is where the most bands nowadays fail. Otherwise the possibilities of exposure are almost limitless, with the help of the social medias and networks we have today you really can achieve a lot.

DA: What are your plans to tour the new album?

KB: Currently we don’t have any decisive plans, but something will happen, that’s for sure.

DA: There’s no disputing Iron Fire’s dedication and hard work ethic with your string of consecutive releases over the past few years, when and where does the band find time to write new material?

KB: At the moment we are two songwriters in the band, Steene and me (Kirk), I don’t know what Steene does to make things happen.
For me in the early days music was always like an addiction, so I didn’t have any second thoughts about spending a lot of time writing or practising. Nowadays we set a time frame… Let’s say one month, then we both agree that when this month has passed, we both will have to bring two new songs to the table each.

DA: What is your view on today’s metal scene?

KB: I find it more exciting than ever. Never have there been such big variety of different bands and styles like there is today. Any thing you can think of is available. I think that’s very exciting and inspiring.

DA: Has the band ever contemplated a live release?

KB: This is something we’ve never discussed and we have no plans about doing it at the moment.

DA: We look forward to hearing the new album, is there anything you’d like to say to the metal masses?

KB: Look out for the new album, it will really be worth wile, otherwise I’ll be looking forward to seeing you all out there, hopefully within the next year we’ll be playing a venue near you.

Cheers
Kirk Backarach