Review of Lacuna Coil’s ‘Black Anima’

Track-by-Track Review by Joshua Becker | September 19th 2019

Before beginning the review, I want to preface, listening to the tracks and paying close attention to the lyrics, this is an extremely personal album for the band, maybe even more so than their previous records, and as such, it commands the utmost respect. So often, we, the media forget these albums are very personal for the artists, and extremely negative reviews truly hurt someone who puts their heart and soul, quite literally into their works. You can say something isn’t good in a way that is both honest but also respectful. So often, I have seen some absolutely awful and despicable album reviews. This will NOT be one of them, I promise you that.

At any rate, I want to start by saying your favorite Italian metal band is back, swinging right out of the gate, that dark, heavy metal vibe you all have been asking for is here, complete with more growls from Andrea, more introspection from Cristina, some really high notes from her as well, a lot heavier drums and guitar, and yes, yes, dear fans there are some Italian words in there, which I know many have requested. 🙂 

Lacuna Coil’s sound has darkened so much over the years, and especially in this album, it most definitely has a very heavy vibe to it, heavier than any album they have released. When Cristina said in an interview this album would be much darker than previous records, she really meant it. 

Each track you listen to, even if it is a “ballad” of some sort, you can still feel that darkness, that heavy-sounding  metal-type of vibe, especially with how many times Andrea has deep, low growls in the tracks.

I can only guess the band went through some extremely dark times during the recording and composition of this album to make the sound as dark as it has become. The analyses you are about to read are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the meanings to the band.

Music is one of those things where even if you cannot fully understand what an artist means in their work, you can still apply it to your life, and as Cristina put it to me in the interview on “Dark Adrenaline”, “it’s a cool thing about music that everyone can give a different interpretation according to the moments they’re going through.”

“Anima Nera” (Prologue)

This is the first track on the album, and can be seen as a precursor for what is to follow. An interesting thing to note is that it is the only song on the album that is completely a ballad, with no heavy guitars or drums in the background.

Even though it is not a heavy guitar, bass, and drum track, it still has a darker metal feel to it, unlike any ballad Lacuna Coil has ever done.

The track opens with some sounds in the background that sound very rapid, and the tone of them seems like it may be Cristina running from someone or something.

With a soft-toned piano in the background, and towards the end of the track sounds a bit like a siren in the background, which further may prove my theory about the running.

The first words Cristina sings are “I like to bury myself in pain, you know what I mean,” This is a very powerful statement as it suggests she is used to experiencing the pains of being human, and she has decided, even if it causes a delirious state of mind, she is going to embrace the pains and use them to their full advantage.

One might even say she sounds possessed or under the influence of some dark entity or force she is struggling to deal with, especially because while she is singing, it sounds like her voice has a higher pitch to it. 

Ending the track she gets lower-pitched saying in Italian “what remains of my black soul“, signifying this experience she went through has her question how much of her soul, which is already black from the pains of the past, is left. Perhaps the pain she felt has overtaken her, she no longer feels alive anymore.

“Sword of Anger”

As the name would suggest, this track comes right out with a heaviness; conveying anger, the guitars, the drums, such a powerful, thrashing beginning. Andrea being the first on the track, growling with such force you can really sense the emotion he is trying to convey. 

The first words out, “We are the Anima“, which may convey the band are the soul, the driving force of their lyrics, and going through not only this song, but all the songs on the album, you can feel that driving force that keeps them going.

As we know, without soul in music, you cannot get your point across as a band or musician, and you may even come across as disingenuous. No matter what song you listen to by Lacuna Coil, (and as a fan of over 10 years, I have heard every song, including bonus tracks), I can honestly say they pride themselves on their work, and they put every bit of heart and soul they can into their music.

After all, Cristina told me they don’t write about fantasy stuff, this is therapeutic for them, a day-to-day diary of their lives, what they experience in life, and how they are handling it.

With that being said, we get to the chorus “we don’t heed you, the sword of anger will cut in the deep.” What is the sword about, and could it be a metaphor for an ending to something that angered them? We will get back to that in just a second.

When you near the end of the song, Cristina says a line which gave me goose bumps: “There’s more to us that you will never see. What is meant by what she said? Who’s to say? Just like the meaning of 1.19, the band will always hold the most personal moments in life to themselves.

Right before we get back to the chorus, Cristina is vocalizing and the notes are so high and they remind me of a fight, and perhaps, this “sword of anger” is destroying their enemies or the dark and painful memories they have experienced.

“Reckless”

The second single, released on Friday, the 13th of September, called “Reckless” begins with what sounds like a Güiro, (which, if you don’t know is a Latin American musical instrument with a stick and ridges which creates a “ratchet” sound). In addition, you hear what sounds like guitar strings being plucked in a low tone. Then the thrashing of the drums and guitar come in.

You can hear a very haunting sound in the background, almost paranormal in nature. Cristina enters, “tonight, it’s going down, to hell with all the innocence…” 

Tonight, it’s going down” could mean no holds barred, they are going all in. “To hell with all the innocence” could mean maintaining an innocence could be holding them back, and they will do whatever it takes to get what they want.

Later on the chorus kicks in “you make me, make me reckless“, which means to me someone or something makes them act on impulse without thinking of the consequences, taking that pain they were caused and turning it into something. After all, they say the greatest inspiration comes from pain and agony we face in our daily lives.

The best thing to do with pain is channel it into something artful, whether it be a song, poetry, or even a drawing, just let it out. It is completely human to express your feelings, in any way that you relate to, and in any way that makes you feel comfortable and sheltered.

“Layers of Time”

This is the very first single released by the band on July 26th.

The song begins with what sounds like a clock ticking in the background, suggesting the concept of time, and how it cannot be changed, there are no time machines to get back what was stolen from us.

Next, you hear an electronic sound in the background getting closer and closer until you hear Andrea belting out the words “layers of time“. All the while, heavy guitars and drums can be heard in the background.

Cristina sings the chorus: “victims of time, we take our chance again, our road is paved with pain, the past we can’t rewind.” This seems to be another example of what I mentioned earlier about the concept of time fleeting, and never being able to change the past, and mistakes we may have made. Especially the line “the past we can’t rewind.” Even though time has been stolen from us, we will not relent, we will never surrender.

The bridge leading up to the chorus loses the heavy guitars and drums and has a ballad-like feel to it with much softer guitar tones in the background.

Cristina starts singing “twisting, turning, through the baptism of fire, burning, angels, falling, through the spiral of time“. Almost like being trapped somewhere, like a maze with fire all around, angels falling and being lost to time. 

Finally, she says “Through layers of time, we’ll live again, forget the past, we’ll be alright.” Whatever dark place she was in, it seems she made it out, for now at least, as we get back to the chorus and the end of the song.

“Apocalypse”

The next track “Apocalypse” begins with vocalising in the background and what sounds like a very ominous piano organ in the background. You think it is going to be a ballad, as the song starts off slow, but surprise, it’s not.

The guitar and drums play heavy while the vocalisation continues in the background. Andrea says “while you pray, we don’t care.” This could be about death, praying for someone to be saved, hoping and wishing they will be okay, and death comes.

Death doesn’t care about prayer as it is inevitable, just like time, you can never change either one, unfortunately, and we all have experienced loss, and we wish we could have saved our loved ones, or at the very least spent more time with them before we lost them. If only we had more time.

A different interpretation could be against an enemy. “While you pray, we don’t care” could mean “saving yourself will not work and it is a waste of time trying because we will destroy you and nothing will save you.”

Next you hear: “Apocalypse it’s going down, this time, and I’m surprisingly alive.” This may signify something has already happened and they are surprised they’ve made it through the flames, while scathed, they still made it.

Going through the lyrics of this track, I can’t help but feel there may be a guilt that is felt for being alive while someone else is not.

Towards the end of the song, you hear Cristina sing “looking through the hourglass“, further in “let the fate decide, right here“. 

Could this mean the hourglass is relating back to “Layers of Time” where time is fleeting once again, and they are staring into what time is left, then just say “to hell with it, what is meant to be will be, we cannot change that?”

Even though it pains us, we have to keep living, even those long gone, we can still mourn them, but we cannot stop the inevitable.

“Now or Never”

“Now or Never” starts off with a very melancholic violin, and you hear crackling in the background, though the crackling is very subtle. The heaviness rolls in, with Andrea growling “walk me out of here, take me away.” This suggests to me, there are moments they do not want to deal with, take them away from the pain, of the hurt they have experienced.

It could also be a metaphor for “the beast” since that is mentioned in the song. It could go back to a previous track in which like Cristina, maybe someone else is also self-blaming and appears to be their own worst enemy.

This song is very fast-paced, with the heavy riffs and drums, but there are also moments when the song slows down a bit.

Cristina sings “now or never, the time is right, out of your shelter“. This could be seen as a metaphor that they need to face what has been haunting them, and keeping them sheltered. If they don’t do it soon, it suggests that it could be too late and there will be more pain, more agony, it’s time to get back to the life they once lived. Forget the pains of the past, because as unfortunate as it is, we all have to move on, or at least try to at some point in our lives.

There is a part in the song when Cristina and Andrea collaborate, they are exuding a powerful moment together where it sounds like Cristina is essentially screaming and Andrea is growling, both with such force it almost seems like a war cry while in battle.

There’s no mercy for the innocent“. This could suggest just like in a battle or war, the innocent, if they are in the way, they will be hurt and nothing can be done about it.

They have not, and will not ever give up the fight, no matter how much pain, and how many tears they have shed, and whoever has wronged them will pay, even if an innocent person gets in the way.

“Under the Surface”

This track is very fast, to the point it signifies a passion burning deep inside. Heavy guitars, drums, this is an overall very heavy, fast-paced track.

There’s a line at the end of the track’s beginning: “but the smile is fake, there’s much more that hides behind, all your senses are compelled to lie“. This means, to me, someone has lied to them, or deceived them in some way, but they know that smile is fake, the person’s actions or feelings are fake, they can see right through them.

There is another line in the track “everything feels perfect when you’re spinning lies.” This seems to go together with what I mentioned earlier about deception, lies, a facade of someone or something that has wrong them.

It continues “but deep under the surface the battle comes alive“. Is this “battle” a metaphor for the fight that is about to ensue between they and the person or thing that wronged them? Does “under the surface” mean deep within their soul? 

They feel the anger building, they feel that they are so pained, so much aggression is coming to a point where they are ready to go in swinging, ready to go in with everything they have to teach the wrongdoer a lesson? 

As you progress more into the song, it seems that they don’t want to put up a fight, they want to be sheltered, they just want it all to go away, and they will fight only if they have absolutely no other choice.

The last lines of the song are “you never stood a chance, so keep on burying your head in the sand“. Perhaps this means the wrongdoer cannot hide anymore, and everything around that person or thing is collapsing, so bury your head in the sand because now everyone can see what you truly are.

You are naked in the eyes of others, no more hiding, everything about you has been revealed and you will suffer, with nothing, and no one to help you as you live the rest of your days in loneliness and isolation.

“Veneficium” (Poisoning or sorcery in English)

This was a very interesting track to listen to, not only because of Latin sung in the beginning, but because it sounds very symphonic, slightly operatic, which I have definitely never heard from Lacuna Coil- this track was a huge surprise to me. It kind of reminded me of something Tarja or Within Temptation would do. (Speaking of, if you have not heard the duet between Cristina & Tarja on Tarja’s new album ‘In the Raw’ do so now. The song is ‘Goodbye Stranger’.)

I can only assume the operatic vocals are indicative of their native Italy, as Italy, as we all know is extremely famous for opera. In fact, a little history lesson: the first known opera was in Florence, Italy in 1598.

We start with the operatic-feel in the background, followed by Latin, some of what is said is “nova vis ad diem novum nascitur“, which, when translated, loosely means “a new day is born”. I can only guess this means a follow-up of sorts to “Save Me”, wherein we heard Cristina’s monologue and how no matter what, no matter the pain and grief and fear, she will revolt with everything she has.

The opera still continues in the background, but the heaviness creeps its way in slowly, with the guitars and drums, as the operatic Latin is still heard in the background.

A line right after, “I’m unmoving like a stone, this silence screams so cold, I wish I was so far from here” stuck with me. Could this be an unwillingness to move because of fear, and the fact of wanting to be gone, to be somewhere else physically or mentally?

This song seems like a breakup of sorts, either mentally or a relationship ending. There is an overwhelming sense of pain to be had either way. In fact, the lyrics of the entire song suggest that: pain, the ending of something that was once held so dear.

Progressing through the song, you hear a line “here I come, to show you all the wounds inside my heart“. This seems like someone’s heart has been crushed, destroyed, shattered.

Another line that stuck with me heavily was “I would destroy my own life to consume your soul“, this suggests a readiness no matter what, even if it kills them, to take that person’s soul, so they won’t be around anymore to cause more pain.

There was a time we looked down from the clouds, we climbed sky high, thought that we would never fall, how come you didn’t even try.” This line suggests that they went so high, enough to reach the clouds, feeling on top of the world, suggesting nothing could bring them down, and when one of them fell down, the other person did not even try to save them.

They damn sure put up no fight, it was easier to let it go, even though the other person wanted at least some kind of fight to be put up. So often, when breakups happen, we feel this way, and we feel the person who broke up with us did not even try to work things out. It was just easier to let go than to fight for what is right. After this line, the song goes back to the bridge leading into the chorus. First, a very nice guitar solo seeming to convey almost sorrow, symbolic of tears being shed. Afterward, we get back to the chorus.

After the chorus we hear “Here I want to start again, keep learning day by day.” Suggesting that they want so badly to move on, to forget the pain and start anew.

I’m afraid to see what I became, I know it will never be the same“. The suggestion here is right now, a fear that they have been changed, they have been corrupted in a way by what happened.

A short line “here I come, I know I will never be the same,” suggests to me “I am ready to greet a new day, and to heal, even if this experienced changed me, I have not given up the will to live, I will not keep my heart cold”. Back to the chorus again a few times, then the song gets softer and fades out.

“The End Is All I Can See”

In the beginning of the song you hear what appears to be electronic sounds, with sort of a distortion that is being felt. Soon after, you hear what sounds like knocking at a door. Then the guitar and drums kick in, but not so heavy, rather milder.

The first line “I am just realizing, this pain is almost like salvation“, suggests “I have finally come to the understanding that this pain is almost freeing, because I can focus on it, rather than focusing on what once was, the loss, the fear”.

It also could suggest a reprieve from sins, for their part in whatever happened, just like the line “clean away my sins” later in the song suggests, “I will do anything to fix what is broken, to reverse time so this never happened”.

Clean all my sins because I want to be with you.” This line suggests that “whatever I did for you to cause this pain, I want you to know that I am sorry for my part, clean those parts of me, so we can be together again”.

The evil within, stinging and burning, consumes me with guilt“. The suggestion here is whatever sins, as mentioned earlier that may be at fault, were the result of some evil thoughts, and a guilt is being felt from deep within that cannot be helped because those evil thoughts were never intentional, and they wish none of this ever happened. 

Maybe, going back to the other songs alluding to time, there is not a way to go back to change what has already happened. A lot of us, myself included can relate to doing things we regret, and wishing we had a chance to go back in time and fix them.

But I asked Cristina in an interview if she had any regrets or moments in time she wished she could change, and she said “maybe they are but they might change who I am right now, which I am pretty happy. So I wouldn’t change a thing”.

I only hope she and everyone else can take heart in the fact if you could change the past, you could be a completely different person right now, and friends could be out of your life, different things could happen, and is it worth the risk to change what is happening now?

The last words in the song you hear are “now, please answer my prayers, because the end is all I can see.” There is a suggestion that the prayers for redemption could be wanting to get back the moments time had stolen, to be given a second chance to prove that things can go back to how they were before.

After all, life is ever changing, every evolving, and some things are great, some things we embrace with open arms, but other times we hate ourselves, we hate others, we grieve, we have sorrow and immense guilt.

We are humans, and emotions can be our greatest ally, as they convey compassion, or they could be hindering us, but that is up to the interpretation of every human being in the world to decide for themselves.

“Save Me” 

“Save Me” starts with a fast-paced but slightly-subtle guitar sound in the foreground. As Cristina comes into the song, the pace gets faster, and the drums kick in with a heaviness.

Save me, from myself, I could use your strength right now.” This is among the first lines of the song, and suggests Cristina is her own worst enemy and she needs help, someone’s strength to keep her out of that dark place inside her head.

Something I feel many of us can relate to, as there have been many situations in which we have felt we are our worst enemy, and just like she calls out in the song, we look towards any source we can to save us from the mental torture we put ourselves through. 

So I keep asking myself will I be strong enough to face this mess“. This next line may suggest she is concerned if she will have enough strength to face the music and deal with what has happened. Will she have the strength to get out of her head, get out of that dark place to face what has transpired.

Cristina has a monologue at the end, a sort of reflection on what has happened, what has caused her to get to this point in her life. Maybe she feels guilt for something? 

During the monologue, Cristina says she hates what she sees in the mirror. Without giving too much away, she can’t turn back time but she is not giving up.

In that last line of the monologue, she sounds like she is gritting her teeth in a way that is the strength being summoned to get through the tough times. That driving force has come back ready to seek vengeance.

In Lacuna Coil fashion they don’t give up, they keep singing, keep writing, keep fighting, keep thriving, and most important, keep surviving. 

The heaviness of the guitars and drums ends, and you hear what sounds like a soft, sad violin in the background and a very low-toned piano hitting one note.

This was the bridge getting back to the chorus, because when you think the song is over the heaviness comes back to the chorus. Then at the end of the song, the heaviness fades again, hearing nothing but that soft violin-type sound slowly fade out, 

I cannot help but notice the song, overall, seems like there is a deep fear that is felt, a fear maybe Cristina cannot change what she has become because of what she went through. In addition, her greatest fear really could be herself, as hinted at many times, but that is just my interpretation. 

“Black Anima” (Prologue)

Not including bonus tracks, “Black Anima” is the last track of the album. This has a very ominous, haunting melody with something sounding like it is reverberating in the background with what almost sounds like a music box also in the background throughout the song.

There is a mix of emotions I feel with this last track. I feel the songs before were fighting what cannot be changed, and this one could be about acceptance of what has happened, though it also suggests anger later in the song.

Maybe it is at first sorrow for what cannot be changed, and as you go through the song they say “to hell with it”, “I don’t want to be sad, I don’t want to accept what happened, I will not be beaten down and I WILL keep fighting. 

The first line we hear is “The calm before the storm, clouds are moving in anticipation“. This could be about the storm that is brewing, and how they are ready to have the rain wash away all the anger, sorrow, grief, and pain from them. Ready to truly move on, they need to be relieved of all the toxic energy that has been built up throughout.

Further into the song you hear lyrics that suggest it is almost time and they are ready to build themselves back up as the storm has passed. They are ready to forget about the past, forget whatever happened, and they are ready to be who they once were before any of these terrible moments in life happened.

Later you hear Cristina and Andrea collaborating “our world is afraid and falling, pain, we are chasing the ghost that is trapped inside.” Maybe the “world”, they mention, is alluding to their life, their every day existence.

They are afraid of suffering, an ending, and the “ghost” trapped inside could be the past, and the only way to stop the world from crumbling is to destroy the “ghost” being the past from all memory, from any existence it ever had.

Almost the last line of the song say “all the walls that keep us separated, we will break them all, and reunite, and when I’ll be gone, you’ll keep our legacy alive“. Could this bring attention to the fact the “us” is referring to the soul, the “anima” that has been trapped for so long inside as mentioned earlier?

Back to the line “and when I’ll be gone, you’ll keep our legacy alive” could this be about the soul? When the soul is gone again, because of any more pain, and suffering, and grief, keep the “legacy”, which could mean the days when the soul was not broken or lost in time.

Break, smash, disarray, chaos, rise“. The final words from this album, and from this suggest a summary of the track. Destroying the past, smashing it with all their might, disarray and chaos ensue because the pain has been felt for so long, and there is a fear of the unknown, of what may happen, what is yet to come.

“Rise.” Rebuild, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, they will be reborn, just like “Veneficium” says “nova vis ad diem novum nascitur”.  A new day is born”. We are reborn.

I cannot help but notice that a lot of the songs have some correlation with time. Whether it be to turn back time or trying to fight time to get back what was stolen from them. Perhaps that is why “Layers of Time” was the first track released, as it represents that theme very well. I mean, after all, the track title has the word “time” in it.

This idea has stuck with me the entire time I have listened to this album and has become the theme overall, at least for me.

I can only then assume, the reason this album is darker, and heavier is because of personal loss. I truly believe they are dealing with loss on this record. As to what kind of loss, I cannot say with absolute certainty.

In addition, some of the tracks suggest mental torture, something tearing them apart. They may have lost themselves due to what they experienced,

All in all, this was a fantastic album to review, and the chills the Goosebumps, the sadness, (yes, I got teary-eyed through some of the lyrics), you can feel, and even relate in a way to their pain.

This was my first album I have ever reviewed, and I can only hope you like it, and I can only hope I have done it justice.

I give this hell of an album 5 stars, and not only because it was so well-composed, it was very dark lyrically, dark states of mind were definitely apparent, and the heavy guitar riffs and drum smashing just add to it.

Before ending the review, I have to say that if you made it this far, I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to read this review, I spent many hours on it, and I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

I want to apologize at how lengthy this is, but I wanted to do a very thorough review of each song, as the artists spent a lot of time on this work, and it means a lot to them, so the least I could do was give a very detailed, in-depth review track-by-track, rather than an overall review, as that is what I felt this album demanded.

I want to give a huge thank you, even though it may not be warranted, to Cristina, Andrea, Marco, Diego and Richard for sharing this masterpiece with the world, and for sharing such private and intimate moments of your lives with the world.

Thank you also to Claire with whom I was able to review this record and Jess, founder of this webzine, for allowing me to be the trusted one to review it.

You all are the anima behind the music.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Review of Teshaleh’s ‘Born of Fire’ EP

Review by Bridget Taylor
2/18/2019

Today, we are reviewing magick combined with mead, as we review Teshaleh’s new (and first) EP, Born of Fire (released February 1st, 2019). Teshaleh consists of Lori Glimmer on Vocals, Vanessa Harris also on Vocals, Brett McCoy on Guitar, John Harford on Bagpipes, pfeifer and shawms (I know you’re desperately Googling now), Colin Parker on Violin, Chris Welborn on Bass, Dan Wise on Drums and Percussion, and Damien McCoy on Keyboards. Many talented musicians, sharing an eclectic stage together.. How will this adventure end?

We start with a dramatic set of strings on Ancient Brotherhood to kick off the EP. A strong eerie voice introduces the song and band, and we get into a gypsy-rock groove. The lyrics start the story as the music evolves throughout the tale. Overall, Ancient Brotherhood perfectly captures what you should expect from Teshalah.

The title track, Born of Fire, seduces you from beginning to end. A
pronounced instrumental that’s guaranteed to have you swaying and rock every second of the song.

In Taberna is the fastest-paced out of the songs, and definitely worth a
listen.. Or a few, to make sure you keep up with the chanting! This memorable diddy promises to stay in your head all day.

Nowhere Near Enough is definitely the jingle to that will catch anyone’s
ears, and leads on where In Taberna left off. It sounds to me a song to gather your friends to drink a pint over. The only downside? It’s the shortest song on the EP.

Finally, we finish up with Totentanz, which shows the complementary of
vocals to the music. A great finale to combine and wrap up the whole EP, the ladies express their strength through singing as the band thunders behind them. It nicely ends the EP on a definitive note.

All in all, Teshaleh delivers exciting journeys and smashing melodies on their first EP. A combination of chants and vocals amplified by the contributions of merriment and contributions of each individual instrument (Have you found out what shawms are yet?) will have you
jamming each song, toe tapping, and swashbuckling your way through your day.

To get the latest, follow them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/teshalehband/)
or visit their website (www.teshaleh.com) to see where they
next embark on tour!

Interview With Kevin Chown: 2019

image

Interviewed by Jessica Clingempeel & Joshua Becker
1/29/2019

Hello Kevin, thanks for doing this interview with us. In September 2018, Tarja finally made it back to the states. I was cheering you guys on in NYC. How did the shows go in the States?

“It was great to finally do some shows in the USA after 8 full years seeing the rest of the world with all my crazy friends. The shows went well. It was interesting seeing the contrast between the international audiences and the one here in the USA. It was a totally different perspective on things. It was a pleasure to play all of the shows, NYC especially. That was the best show of the USA tour.”

Do you think her next album will bring more shows to the States?

“Tarja has a 2-3 year cycle of things, and we are about to start that cycle fresh this year….. Europe festivals, I’m sure Europe tour, South America, etc. I’ve been in over 60 countries with her so I imagine its only a matter of time within the cycle that we are back. I’m sure it wont be 9 years this time!! In all honesty, touring in the USA is not easy for ANY international band. But any international band always finds a way to get to places where their fans live. Some places are easier than others. The USA, as a country, does not make that easy for the fans of overseas artists to tour. The United States, and this moment in time, for international musicians, is probably THE MOST difficult country to tour in, in the world. As hard as China. Harder than Russia. Its not a concern for ME, but I am the only American in the band, so it does effect me!!”

What is the worst thing that has ever happened on tour?

“I’ve never been asked that….. so many things come to mind. Some personal, some musical. Some just LIFE. Personally? It’s my feeling that the worst thing that can ever happen on tour is if nobody shows up to see you. Tarja does NOT have this issue. She certainly has a loyal and steady fan base. Everywhere! But, not every artist, of whom I have played with, have that core to work from. Her fans should be proud of the collective THEY have created!! And continue to build it.

Regardless of whom you are a fan of, just remember that to us, the musicians, we tour for YOU. And we want you all to see us do what we love to do. We admire so many of you who come to shows around the world. But I will be honest, and this can be said for no matter WHO I play with or for: we need the lovers of music to unite when we happen to be in town, under the roof we provide, to create those special moments. They are, for YOU. Especially with Tarja and her great band. It’s the best band I have ever played in. We’re all damn proud of it. The worst thing that could EVER happen on tour, is that people don’t get to see just how far we have taken it, in the live show. All musicians want to create an experience that cant be forgotten. I don’t think the band has ever been better. Come to the shows!!! I’m not afraid to say, it’s BETTER than Nightwish. Let us PROVE it to you, if you are a denier or a skeptic.”

Regarding Tarja’s new album, will you be taking part in any, if not all, bass recordings?

“Of course, always. She has an amazing team of people that are constantly moving things in new and interesting musical directions.”

Any other details about the new album you can give us, or shall more be released to us “soon”?

“I am honest when I tell you, I only put things on my calendar when there is a plane ticket in my hand to begin the journey again. Stay tuned!!! You likely know as much as me!! HA!!”

Moving on, back in 2013 you had brain surgery due to epilepsy. How has it been since then?

“It has its ups and downs, but I am still Alive. What can I say? When you go thru something like that, each day has meaning. That comes with a price….. as the meaning is not always good!! BUT, somedays, the miracle of the fact that I am touring AT ALL comes into plain sight….. and I realize that I am a lucky to be doing it. There are close call, believe me. It doesn’t slow me down. If you have medical challenges, “nothing is going to stop me” is the only choice. My normal is fucked up. But, we all can say that in ways. I’m not special. So, I pick up my complications, try my hardest, and that’s just the way it’s going to be. If you want to do this AT ALL, regardless of if you have a health consideration, that’s the only mindset that will allow you to survive as an artist. Artists are the toughest of us all, sometimes. Don’t forget: most musicians put up with rejection, apathy, judgement…. and refuse to let it EVER stop us. Throw a health concern into this equation. An occasional seizure is still far easier than making a living in the music business. HA!!!”

Kudos to you for not allowing epilepsy to keep you from doing what you love. Has it ever hindered your ability to play though or keep you from giving your all?

“Thank you for that. I’ve played gigs after having seizures. I internalize the music, so its strange. Even in the delirium of waking up from a seizure, I can walk on stage and playa show, to nearly the highest level. (google Thessaloniki 2017 as an example). In ways, not thinking about it makes it easy. I don’t usually remember the show. It’s kind of bizarre….. Yes, I have missed a few shows. But, I can usually pull 90 minutes out of me, no matter how shitty I feel. A stage always seems to help me feel better.”

Moving on to the Swedish show you have recently been part of. How did you get involved in Allt För Sverige?

“I was asked a few years ago by a casting agent in LA if I would be interested…. But it never worked out with my touring schedule. 2018 was the first year I was available. When you live in LA, there are always small, strange connections to things. I ended up in Sweden, in other words, because hearing about that kind of stuff is normal, as someone who lives in LA and knows people in the broader entertainment business. It’s connected world wide, and it’s all rooted in Los Angeles, CA. But it was driven when I realized I had a chance to, in ways, reconnect my Swedish Heritage, reconnecting a lost link. In that strange quest, I have succeeded!!”

According to the description on the show, it is a reality show to meet long lost Swedish relatives. What was the process like about finding out about your heritage?

“It was revealing. I didn’t expect to find that my great great grandfather was sold into slavery by his own mother. But escaped, left Sweden and moved to America, creating a critical piece in the amazing family I am a part of. It hurt in ways. But then, it makes sense. Al Moberg, my great great grandfather, had challenges, just like me. And didn’t give up. Now I know why I am such a tough, stubborn old bastard that refuses to quit. Al Moberg and many like him, created the American spirit of fearlessness. I’m proud to uphold that legacy”.

When you get home from a long gig, or a lot of touring, what is the very first thing you do?

“I remember after a 32 hour flight home from Tokyo, in the wrong direction, Tokyo-Rome-Paris-Atlanta-Detroit-Escanaba, instead of the direct over the pacific flight, I kissed the ground. After this last tour, I totally unplugged all my devices and stared at the trees for a few days. It continued almost 2 months. 2018 was a bitch. It’s beyond exhausting. Tours never end happy. Because the tour is ending. Even though, you are exhausted. It’s complicated. You’re happy to be home but sad because you aren’t on the road. Every musician knows EXACTLY what I am talking about.”

You have been very vocal about the political state of our country lately, and with the Presidency. If you were a mouthpiece for the government, what would you say to them, and what policies would you change to make things better for us all?

“The mouthpiece TO them? Or FOR them? TO them (meaning any leader of any country, since we are talking politics), I would say the simple shit. If you care about your country more than you care about yourself, you are free to stay. If not, please consider another profession. Greed is the universal thing that divides people. Nothing can be successful if its run by people who openly dislike the idea of it even existing in the first place. How can you be a political leader if you say “government IS the problem”? YOU are government. You can’t build the house and tear it down at the same time. I honestly think the changes are nothing more than decisions we need to accept, as we all are forced to do in our own lives. There’s no right or wrong, there’s only compromise and results. It’s the easy way out to be famous for being against things. The path of a leader is to be FOR things. At that goes down to each and every one of us. What are YOU….. FOR!!!!?? Not AGAINST!!!? Would our leaders PLEASE rise to the occasion? And start to work FOR us, once again, as is possible? It’s our choice at the ballot box, then their choice, once in office. Only to be held accountable….. by THE PEOPLE. We all must join, then remain, in the conversation. To not care is to simply let the idiots win. Personally, I would never want to be the mouthpiece FOR the government. I DO know how to talk a lot however!! HA!! For future thought!!!!”

Do you find being successful in music makes certain things difficult, for example, going to a grocery store without being recognized?  In other words, does your profession keep you from living a normal life?

“Not at ALL. People in Escanaba are people I have known my entire life. I’m not Kevin there. I am “Jack Chown’s kid”. As it has always been and always will be. Its why I love it there. It has NEVER changed. Not one iota. People there will see me and talk about the weather. In LA? I’m the least famous person in THIS town, believe me. That stuff happens on tour, but its supposed to. That’s part of touring….. running into fans. I enjoy it.”

Having been in the music industry for so long, what is one key thing you would change about it, to make better for you, and other professional artists in the industry?

“WHEW. Where to begin? When I fell in love with music, at the time, music was what defined everyone. Were you a metalhead? A new-waver? A punk rocker? A fan of pop music? Country? Or, did you just love some of EACH of them? That was me. I love all music. But, I say this because there was a time when MUSIC, not social media, not gaming, not even movies or TV at the time….. shaped culture and how each of us fit into that culture, based in music. It drove our hairstyles. Our fashion choices. Our attitudes. It created our groups of friends. Its was led to us forming our first bands. That culture has been lost, and as a result, people are defined by a much broader menu of cultural options….. and music has lost its greater audience. People still and will always love music. BUT, its not like it used to be.There is no doubt the business has gotten smaller since I started. Its up to the fans of music to look back to the history of its role in our lives. If music matters to YOU? Then, spread the gospel. I hope one day, for music to return to being the themes to what matters to us. That’s when good music HAPPENS. When culture and music are in tune with each other. What the music business needs, just like any other, is customers. WE call them FANS. No mater what, if musicians cant make a living, there will be fewer people making music. I have watched it happen in my lifetime. Are the fans of music, who are the TRUE music business, aware of this? Musicians, with the exception of very few, are all normal people. We have bills, a life, health problems….. just like everyone. The more we have OF your, the more we can then give back TO YOU. Because we can make a decent living. Believe me, being a musician is NEVER easy. The music business, and everyone who is a part of it, needs nothing more than YOU.”

It’s been a little while since we heard anything from Der Elefant, and the Facebook page is not updated much anymore. Are there any future
collaborations in the works?

“Me and Alex have thrown a few concepts around about what we want to do next. I’m sure we will be doing something when the universe makes it so. That goes for nearly anything I do. Nothing in life is certain, let alone in the music business. It happens when it happens. Then you make it the best you can make it.”

image

Photo ©

Christian Kretschmar

What about a future with Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats?

“I just returned to LA for the first time since May. Jeff has been gone. Ed is all over the place with his solo career as well as Robbie Krieger, Chad of course, is all over the place. This is the first time we all have been in LA at the same time in a few years. There’s talk, we even have about half a record written. Its just a matter of time. We just never seem to have enough time to do it!!”

What else would you like to say to our readers and to all your fans out there?

“I would say, it’s an honor to play music for you all. Keep the love moving forward. We live in a crazy world. We’re all surrounded by bullshit on a daily basis. It’s an honor to help create a world of openness, optimism and honesty, all rooted upon the waves of music. The bullshit is always at the doorstep, but at a show, at least for those 90 minutes, it’s a pleasure to be part of creating a moment that matters from time to time, for anyone who’s looking to come in search of a moment, away from the madness. We’re all in this together.”

image

Photo © Jessica Clingempeel

Review of Epica’s “Attack on Titan”

image

Reviewed by Zach Brehany
8/20/2018

Here’s a concept for you: take the soundtrack to a very popular anime and have
a symphonic metal band record covers of four tracks from the show and add
English lyrics. If you felt like you could be open minded or think it’s one of
the greatest ideas ever conceived, then you will feel right at home.

There is little that needs to be said about Epica that isn’t
already widely known among this genre of music, but for this project, it does
click. When hearing the EP, you can feel the love and respect the entire group
has to the music. Their Renditions of these soundtrack pieces are respectful
while adding in an extra kick which helps enhance the mood of the songs.

As for how well the music mixes with the anime, this is
where it gets tricky. I honestly know little of the source given how I haven’t
read the manga or watched the anime and for that I do apologize. However, I
have seen the live adaptations (Attack on Titan and Attack on Titan: At World’s
End). Using that as my basis, I feel it for overall with the story and helps
elevate the tension and atmosphere within. When thinking back to my exposure, I
could see someone adding the songs into the film to help enhance the experience.

When the album finished, I was left wondering about if bands
should do E.Ps like what Epica did. I know the band was asked by someone
connected to the show if they could do this, but I feel like this could be a
cute trend in the future. But until then, this is a tasty little treat for fans
of both Epica and Attack on Titan.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Interview with Myrath

Interviewed by Jessica Clingempeel
4/28/2018

How big is the metal scene in the Arabic countries?

Elyes Bouchoucha: The metal scene in the Arab world is quite big, although
not always represented in music festivals or mainstream media, it is large and
expanding. I believe we will be seeing much more representation of rock and
metal in the Arab world soon.


With Islam being one of the most prominent religions in your area, how is being
in a metal band affected? Have you had great support or backlash with religious
followers?

Zaher Zorgati: We had both support and challenges,
similar to everything else in life. We had a lot of support from fans and music
lovers since we were one of the first metal bands in the region, and in the
same time we faced the challenges of some people not understanding this type of
music or accepting it. 


Have the members always been into metal or is the genre just a route the band
decided to take?

Morgan Berthet: We have always been into Rock and Metal,
in addition to classical and oriental music. This fusion of influences is what
helped create Myrath’s signature sound.


As far as religion goes, do all or any of the members of Myrath follow Islam or
any other religious teachings?

Anis Jouini: I believe religion and personal beliefs are quite
“personal”, As far as we are concerned we believe in the absolute power of
music as a unifying factor between all people, and don’t really pay attention
to other things! 


At the start of the band, how did you go about getting signed and what obstacles
did Myrath have to go through? Did you ever think the band would become as
successful as it is today?

Malek Ben Arbia: We started with the dream all musicians
have, to make good music and be successful doing it! Thanks to the love and
support of people who liked our music, and our producer Kevin Codfert who
discovered us back in Tunisia, we had the chance to play internationally and
get a label deal, which led to another, and here we are. The obstacles we had
were tough for sure, but the main key was not get discouraged and keep on
pushing for our dream.


You started out as X-Tazy which then became as we know now Myrath. What sparked
the interest in name change and how did the name X-Tazy come about?

Malek Ben Arbia: X-tazy was our very first try at a band,
and we were only playing covers, the name was a wordplay on ecstasy, which is
the feeling we had to be together jamming. Once we created our own music we
decided to change the name to make it more compatible with our style and
identity.


What has been the greatest touring experience so far?

Morgan Berthet: Every tour experience was special for us
and cannot really be compared to any other. We enjoyed every tour we had,
whether a headlining tour or accompanying other awesome bands, and we had a
great time on the road in every one of them.

Japan was very special, and so was our Europe tours, so
it’s very hard to pick one!


Back in 2012, you supported Tarja on her What Lies Beneath tour, how was that
and do you have hopes to tour with her again or maybe even collaborate on an
album?

Anis Jouini: Tarja is one of our favorite artists, and we
were very happy to join her back in 2012. We are always hopeful to repeat that
experience and have further collaborations with her!


I love how Myrath not only sings in English, but also uses Arabic in the
lyrics. It goes to show music is a universal language and can bring everyone
together which in these tumultuous times is needed. Myrath’s lyrics can also be
used as an inspiration for a falling world. What hope do you have for today and
what do you hope to bring with your lyrics?

Elyes Bouchoucha: We always have hope for a better
tomorrow, on all levels and aspects. And we make sure to convey this in our
lyrics by focusing on topics of love, freedom, self-reflection and progress. We
wish to lift up people’s spirit with melodies and words that are relatable and
meaningful, and also help them go through their daily challenges with some
positive energy!

Speaking of lyrics, if you had to choose one song from Myrath, which would be
the most personal and hardest song to be written?


Zaher Zorgati: Just like our tours, all of our songs are
special to us in one way or another, we have a lot of favorites and cannot
really pinpoint the reasons behind that. I personally like No Body’s lives and
Madness to name a few.

What kind of oriental instruments are used in the music and
do you find it difficult to integrate that into metal?


Elyes Bouchoucha: We use a lot of North African and
Tunisian instruments in our music, including: Zokra, Gasba, among others. It is
not difficult to integrate them into metal, as that was our main goal, and we
focus our efforts on making their presence harmonic and compatible with metal
music.  

Can we expect an album release in the near future? What about a live DVD?

Morgan Berthet: Our album is nearly done, and we are
excited for its release in the near future, along with a mega concert DVD and
many exciting surprises!


There has been so much focus on the bad in the world, with nations wanting to
wage war, gun violence, etc. what do the members do to keep peace of mind and
to keep inspired to write such wonderful lyrics? What does the band do to keep
its “legacy”?

Zaher Zorgati: We try our best to focus on the things
that are within our control, since we cannot possibly control all the madness
in the world! We make sure to stay inspired by listening to good music and
practice constantly. We also spend time with our family and friends which gives
us the peace of mind and positive energy needed to make music.

Our advice would be to always try and become a better
version of yourself, because that would reflect positively on all other life’s
aspects around you!

With the recent events with both the North and South Korean leaders, do you see
hope for the future? Do you think there will ever be peace among the Islamic,
Jewish, and Christian nations?

Elyes Bouchoucha: I don’t think there is a divide or war
between Islamic, Jewish, and Christian nations. The conflicts we witness are politically
and financially induced to serve certain agendas. There is always hope in the
future, as long as we are fully conscious and aware, and don’t allow division
and hate to separate us!


I read that Zaher is a fan of Assassin’s Creed. Being gamers ourselves, what other
games is Zaher into? What about the other members?

Anis Jouini: We are all into video games, and we spend
time playing them even on tour! We love Fifa, GTA, Fallout, Call of Duty,
Resident Evil, World of Warcraft…

What are some other hobbies of the band? Musical interests?

Malek Ben Arbia: Sports, specially Soccer, and Tennis.
And as for musical interests we have a diverse collective taste where we like many
different genres, from Pop and Soul, to Electro!

Interview with Netta Skog (Turisas/Ensiferum)

—From our archives— *Older Interview*

Interviewed by Jessica Clingempeel
© Ethereal Metal Webzine

How is life in Turisas?

It’s good thanks! We
just arrived from Czech Republic, played there one show at Brutal Assault festival. It was really
good! Loads of people and  very nice
crew!

What other projects are you or have you done?

Mmmm… well nothing at the moment. Oh well, there’s no
other projects in the past either. Hehe!

Is there any talk of a new album?

Yep, now we’re having
a time off from touring because of the new album. We’re writing it right now, but don’t know
anything about the releasing  time. Next
year obviously.

What lead you to choose the accordion as an instrument?

Can’t remember so
clearly but I think my mom put me into some kind of music school when I was a little kid, like 4 years
old or something. And the  teacher was
playing accordion and i thought “Wow! I wanna do that as  well!” so one year after that I got my
own accordion. How cool is that!

What is your favorite Turisas song?

It’s hard to say only one but maybe Five Hundred and One.

If someone was to steal your ipod, what would they find on
your playlist?

Hahaha well
definitely NOT heavy metal! I mean, yes, I do listen to heavy metal but quite rarely. But usually I’m
listening to pop, techno, dance,
pop/rock and so on. For example I like Hannah Montana (and Miley
Cyrus  obviously!) and Lambretta. Oh my,
it’s SUCH a good band.

Were there any adjustments you had to make when joining
Turisas?

Not really. Well talked through the basic stuff about
“rock’n roll” hehe.

Out of all the places Turisas has performed, what was your
favorite or is there no place like home?

I have to say there’s
no place like home, hehe. And it’s really hard even  to say three favourite places to perform. But
as a country I love to  perform for example
in Canada.

Is there any other instruments other than the accordion that
you want to learn or already play?

I do play piano and I’m singing too.

How long does it usually take you before the shows to
prepare your costume?

For me it takes only
like 10 minutes but I’m always trying to start really  early because not wanting to be in a hurry.
But sometimes you have to  be…

Do you have any regrets joining Turisas?

Why would I have?
Absolutely not. I love this whole thing and I’m so  thankful for the guys they wanted to give me
an opportunity to do what I  enjoy the
most.

What helps you get motivated before each show?

Talking with the guys while dressing…. I mean going
through the set list and so on. Nothing special, really.

What are some of your favorite past times?

Past times? You mean in my life or with the band? I don’t
know then!

Do you still see yourself with Turisas in the future?

Oh well I hope I will.

To end this, is there anything you would like to say to your
fans?

Hey guys and gals! Be
happy and enjoy every day of your lives! Don’t stress too much about little things! Thank you for
reading this, cheerz!