Tag Archives: 2012

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.