LEPROUS Drummer BAARD KOLSTAD Talks “Pitfalls,” Band’s Position on the Scene, Rendezvous Point & More

LEPROUS Drummer BAARD KOLSTAD Talks “Pitfalls,” Band’s Position on the Scene, Rendezvous Point & More

Leprous and Rendezvous Point drummer Baard Kolstad did an interview before the Leprous show in Istanbul on February 13th where he talks about the group’s latest effort Pitfalls, the Prog scene, the upcoming edition of the Prognosis Festival in Eindhoven, and more. The full video interview, as well as a few excerpts, can be seen below.

Asked to comment about the new Leprous album being arguably the most dynamic release the band put out to date, Baard said: “We’ve always been suckers for dynamic and whatever is making the right vibe; it that’s to play soft or if it’s to have everything soft but the drums extremely hard. It’s difficult to point out exactly what’s going on when we make very variated album as that, but of course there were some barriers or not barriers, but it was like new Leprous kind of stuff happening. For instance from my point of view as a drummer, when I heard demos for ‘By My Throne’—it’s just like, ‘okay, that’s a new kind of Leprous, let’s make this sound like us and try to put that into the Leprous setting.’”

About whether or not Leprous defy progressive rock and metal conventions with Pitfalls, Kolstad commented: “When I’m searching new music I’m not going only for progressive bands, I’m going for all kinds of music. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but of course we have a background we love, like Opeth and Tool and Dream Theater—not the others but I love Dream Theater—bands like that, Meshuggah. But that’s tools again—not the band Tool—but tools for us to use in composition and musicianship. We don’t try to care much about expectations, but I guess like the way we write or like Einar writes, the way we play will naturally be for people that only play stoner rock. We will always be a prog band, but for the proggers we will probably not be a prog band. And for a pop group we will definitely be proggy or weird or something like that. We kind of don’t belong anywhere.

During the interview Baard also talks about the expectations fans usually have from bands in terms of the sound and musical direction, Leprous’ 20th anniversary next year, the current Rendezvous Point tour with Anathema, drum clinics, his tips for aspiring drummers, and more. Watch the full interview below.

Interview with HEYOKA’s MIRROR

Calgary, Canada-based progressive metal act Heyoka’s Mirror has recently returned with the release of a new, instrumental single “Asylum” which is a grand taster for the group’s upcoming full-length album.

Let’s start from your early music beginnings. How did your musical career begin? When did you start playing? Which groups have been your favorites? Please tell us something more about your early life.

Andrew: Omar and I started playing music around the same age. We were 14 and 16. I discovered Dream Theater when I was 14 years old and that’s when I started taking singing and theory lessons. I spent my teenage years listening to bands like Dream Theater, Symphony X, and Transatlantic. 

Omar: Yup, started playing around 16. As a young kid, I was a huge GNR and Metallica fan and always wanted to play like those guys! Then when I picked up the guitar and started learning, I was introduced to music from guys like Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, John Petrucci, DREAM THEATER (greatest band!), Paul Gilbert, Yngwie J. Malmsteen and the list goes on and on! 

How did you go about starting Heyoka’s Mirror? Who was the most influential when the project started its musical journey?

Andrew: I met Omar in the spring of 2015. I had just moved into Calgary and I was looking for a guitar player for a solo project I had. We met and decided to have a writing session a week after our meeting. That’s when Heyoka’s Mirror started. 

Omar: Just like Andrew said. I was contacted by him through social media, we met and had a quick discussion about the kind of music we both wanted to do and that was it. I remember we discussed how melody is a very important aspect of the kind of music we want to create. 

In the beginning, did you have some “fixed” tempo in composing songs or everything was a product of jamming, improvising?

Andrew: We always write a story first. Once the story is complete, then we start writing the music according to the events in the tale. 

Omar: Story always comes first and then we start creating the music for it. A lot of it just happens bouncing ideas, talking about the story and then trying to communicate those feelings and emotions through our music. 

How would you describe Heyoka’s Mirror music on your own?

Omar: I would say it is a blend of a lot of different styles of music. Our songs and certain parts within them can sound like hard rock, pop, jazz, metal, blues, blues rock. To us, whatever feels right for the story, belongs in the song. Let’s go with Progressive Rock/Metal 🙂

What is the most important thing for the structure of your songs? Is it a riff, a melody line?

Omar: We like to write a story before we write the music. If there is no story, what is the music about? For the album coming up, the whole album is one story (concept album). We go part by part, song by song to create the music for it, while keeping the story in mind and where it is going. For recording, all the drums, vocals and bass are recorded in the studio. Andrew and I record our parts(keys, 8 string guitars, rhythm and lead guitars) at home. 

The most important thing for the structure of the song? I think there are a few things.

Melody is important! Riffs that are heavy and high energy in certain situations. We also like to avoid sounding mechanical. We want the music to be full of life and character! 

Recommend us some good prog metal acts coming from your area.

Andrew: Oh, there are some really good ones! Illuminated Minerva, Metavore, Subsume, and my favorite one… Nok Novum! Those guys are amazing! 

Are you also involved in any other projects or bands beside Heyoka’s Mirror?

Andrew: Not really, I help here and there as a session player, but not really as a full time member.

Omar: No. I play golf in my free time. Golf is the best!

What are your long-term plans for Heyoka’s Mirror?

Andrew: First things first… we need a drummer! Our album was completed with the help of session drummers, but we need someone who would like to join the family. Once we have a drummer, we would like to start going out on little tours. Start expanding. We want Heyoka’s Mirror to eventually get big enough so we can tour around the world (every musician’s dreams pretty much). We would love to play with big bands, play festivals. We just want to get OUT THERE!

“Asylum” is out now; get it from Bandcamp. Follow Heyoka’s Mirror on Facebook.

KATATONIA’s ANDERS NYSTRÖM on Band’s Comeback: “Our Hunger and Passion Came Back Pretty Quick”

Photo credits: Ester Segarra

KATATONIA’s guitarist Anders Nyström and singer Jonas Renkse talked before the recent show in Izmir, Turkey about their return, the upcoming album City Burials which is out on April 24 via Peaceville Records, among other topics. Watch the full interview below.

Asked about KATATONIA’s return a year after they announced the hiatus, Nyström commented: “The break was something that we really needed to do. We’ve been going for a band since early ‘90s, non stop. With everything you need to step back and sometimes put things into perspective and re-evaluate yourself and everything around you. We needed to do that. Also to try to see where we want to go and also to gain the motivation to continue. It was not a set plan that we need a year. I think our hunger and passion came back pretty quick. It kind of happened to be the anniversary of ‘The Night is the New Day’ album and we felt that it was like a perfect slow comeback thing; nothing too dramatic and it would just make a lot of sense trying things out again and celebrate that album. It actually made things very exciting again. Stepping into that, that way.

KATATONIA returns on April 24 with the release of their 11th studio album City Burials; pre-order it here. The band will play a fan voted by request set at the Prognosis Festival in Eindhoven on March 20.

Watch the interview with Anders and Jonas below.

Review: M-opus – Origins

The very notion of a double album should be enough to make most people giggle a little bit. There are implications of ‘concept album’ and insinuations of ‘prog-rock’ involved in that notion. Neither of these things are not cool, but they encompass exactly what Origins is, and exactly what M-opus do.

After the release of a stunning debut album 1975 Triptych in 2015, which was thought-provoking as it was sonically mesmerising, the Dublin, Ireland trio didn’t take it for granted and rush into a songwriting process for their follow-up.

m-opus_origins

The focus of the band’s attention has shifted somewhat, and although the debut was somewhat concept record, Origins is a piece of work that is entirely based on the story that deals with “redemption and destiny, the fulfillment of potential, through the story of a character who is a genius, but is his own worst enemy; a drunk gambler who is increasingly lost.

Throughout of the album’s 28-track repertoire, you get epic arrangements brought to perfection which are refined through a pleasant filter. Origins intersperses jangled guitars with angular complexities that might fly over some heads – repeat listens are deserved. The songs are organised so intricately that all the nuances and difficulties that might have gone into recording such an extraordinary album are totally lost in its beauty.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, sit songs which will shower the listener with jagged shards of heavy pounding; jagged shards that will bypass your vital organs and instead embed themselves within the deeper, darker echelons of your mind. Some of this album is simply unforgettable.

M-opus really do lead by example: with Origins acting as a fantastic example of how to take inspiration from all the sub-standard facets of day-to-day goings on to create a stunning collection of songs, they’ve proved that not everything in modern life is rubbish.

Follow M-opus on Facebook.

Album Review: LUNAR – Eidolon

Originality is tough in music, and especially so in progressive metal. So many genres have cross-pollinated over the years that trying to put a unique spin on music usually ends up with going so far off the reservation that coherency can be lost. It’s a shame that “progressive” has become a kind of cliche-ridden sound of its own, hence my temptation is to call Eidolon — the second album by Sacramento’s Lunar — a progressive death metal album. Not in the sense that it uses “prog” tropes, but because it genuinely sounds like a forward step in terms of what can be done with death metal.

I’m not often a fan of likening bands to other bands, because I think unless it’s an intentional throwback or copycat it does a disservice, but the first thing that comes to mind is Opeth by way of Fates Warning and I do not say this lightly. Eidolon has an intensity to it that is organically broken up with occasional clean or melodic sections that never sound out of place; the group — brainchild of drummer and songwriter Alex Bosson — never comes across as hokey or gimmicky.

Alex_Bosson
Alex Bosson, founder of Lunar

All right, let’s dig in a bit. The musicianship is as tight as any metal release you’re likely to hear this year or any other year. Every member is on top of their game.  And speaking of members, the core of the group is comprised of singer Chandler Mogel, bassist Ryan Price, and guitarist Balmore Lemus, along with already mentioned Bosson on drums. Eidolon also features guest contributions from members of Haken, Leprous, Thank You Scientist, Fallujah, and more.

The guitars layer beautifully, with chunky riffs both alternating and occasionally layering beneath more melodic lines. The rhythm section pounds along, with a bass guitar that fleshes out instead of simply sitting at the root notes, even getting plenty of room to shine on its own (which I appreciate) and a drummer that can handle blistering double bass and blast beats right alongside jazzier sections. All the while we have a vocalist who manages to be perfectly understandable when he growls, by death metal standards anyway, without ever losing that sense of intensity and roughness.

One of the best things about (progressive) metal is that feeling of not knowing what to expect next. Sometimes it’s less enjoyable if it feels like the band doesn’t have a grip on what they’re doing and keep taking left turns to the mood, but once again Lunar succeeds by having each song feel like a distinct entity while never losing the tone of the album as a whole. After the two three “proper” songs (after the instrumental intro “Orbit”), the appropriately named “Comfort” comes in with a melodic and prog-rock/jazz inspired beginning, blossoming into a behemoth of a track that puts acoustic guitar and jazz drumming front and center forming a foundation and building to an explosion of a soothing guitar solo courtesy of Haken axeman Richard Henshall.

At this point you might think you’ve heard all of Lunar‘s arsenal, and you would be all wrong and a bag of chips. The very next track, “Potion,” is way more into the prog rock territory, with underlying acoustic guitar melody and jazz bassline carrying it.

The closing 12-minute epic “Your Long Awaited Void” is like a revue of all the best bits of the rest of the album: heavy riffs, clean vocals mixed with growls, acoustic bits, guitar soloing, in addition to cello-laden atmospherics,…

The word “classic” gets tossed around a lot, but I honestly can’t think of a better word for Eidolon. From front to back and top to bottom, this album is both firmly rooted in death metal with a progressive bend while standing alone atop the mountain. It’s equally headbang heavy and enthralling, music to get in the mosh pit and simply sit in awe of. This is required listening, because there’s nothing else quite like it.

Eidolon is out now and is available from Bandcamp. Check Lunar on Facebook and Instagram.

Premiere: LUNAR Launch New Single “Comfort” Featuring HAKEN’ Guitarist Richard Henshall

Sacramento based progressive metal project LUNAR are back with a new single from the sophomore studio album Eidolon, out on November 8th via Divebomb Records. Premiering today is animated video for “Comfort” which features guest appearance by Haken’s Richard Henshall, who laid down an enticing guitar solo. Watch the video below.

Alex Bosson, drummer and founder of LUNAR, commented:

I’m very excited to get to debut the song ‘Comfort’ from the new album.  Already, this early on, it seems to be a fan favorite. I think it has a good diversity with some aspects of pop, rock and, of course, metal and I think it turned out really well. Plus getting to have a guest solo by Rich Henshall of HAKEN is a big honor for me. The video was done by Miles Skarin of CRYSTAL SPOTLIGHT and he did such a phenomenal job! I hope everyone out there enjoys the song and the video as much as I do!

Alex_Bosson
Alex Bosson

LUNAR has been around since 2013. Bosson and guitarist/singer Ryan Erwin’s goal to create the genre-defiant music resulted in releases of a debut EP Provenance (2014) and a full-length album Theogony (2017).

In the Spring of 2018, Erwin unexpectedly passed away, but Bosson decided to continue on the project using this tragedy as an inspiration. The resulting release, Eidolon, is a concept album based around the cycle of life and death, and the stages of grief endured by those left behind. 

The core line-up besides Bosson features bassist Ryan Price and singer Chandler Mogel, who previously appeared on Theogony, in addition to NovaReign’s guitarist Balmore Lemus. Eidolon also includes guest contributions from members of Leprous, Haken, Caligula’s Horse, Fallujah, Thank You Scientist, among others.

Stream a video for “Comfort” below, and pre-order Eidolon from Bandcamp here.

Eidolon track listing:

  1. Orbit
  2. The Cycle Starts Again
  3. Surrender
  4. Comfort
  5. Potion
  6. Hypnotized
  7. Your Long Awaited Void

Lunar_Eidolon

 

Interview with MEMOREMAINS

Madonna certainly isn’t an artist that you would think of when it comes to metal music, yet many metalheads tend to cover the pop goddess’ songs. One of the recent additions to that camp is a Finnish metal band Memoremains who have covered “Sorry,” a song from Madonna’s 2005 album “Confessions on a Dance Floor.”

The group fronted by singer Johanna Ahonen answered our questions about their beginnings in music, the new single, and more.

Let’s start from your early music beginnings. How did your musical career begin? When did you start playing? Which groups have been your favorites? Please tell us something more about your early life.

Johanna: I think that I’ve been singing always, at least, as long as I remember. Singing has been a natural way for me to express my thoughts and feelings. I have performed ever since I was a child, mostly by myself and singing cover songs. Memoremains is the first actual band in which I’m involved. I always wanted to sing in a band and make own music so I can honestly say that Memoremains is the best thing that has happened to me!

Mikko: I’ve done songs for as long as I can remember. I have thousands of demos in my stock over many years. Music has been a part of my life for a really long time. I took my first contact with the piano sometime between the ages of 4 and 5 and drums and other rock instruments came along at around the age of 10.

Memoremains_band
Photo: Riku-Pekka Lappalainen

How did you go about starting Memoremains? Who was the most influential when the band started its musical journey?

Mikko: It’s really hard to determine who did what, because our band is really democratic. However, I had written the first songs of Memoremains before the band was born, so in a way it is possible to think that this is where our band was born. Eemeli and Aapo came along as old musician acquaintances. We found Johanna through an online announcement, just as we found Aleksi. Soon we were playing together and releasing our first song ‘We’re Not Alone.’

How would you describe Memoremains’ music on your own?

Our music is a combination of pop melodies, metal riffs and groovy disco beats. We’ve mixed together elements of different genres and created an own recognizable sound from them.

The new single is a cover of Madonna’s hit “Sorry.” How did you come to an idea to cover this song?

Mikko: Oh, it’s such a great song from the Queen of Pop. Unfortunately it has been forgotten from the general public during these years and we wanted to bring it back to life but in our style. Hopefully, people will find the song and listening to it takes them back to the last decade.

How difficult was it for you to shape this song and make it different than the original? Obviously, originally it is a pop song and you combine these elements with metal, but what would you say is the thing that separates your version from the original?

Mikko: It’s been a fun and creative job that we’ve been excited about. The first step was to internalize the song as our own, that is, to have it feel like our own song. Only through this can a functional cover be obtained. Once the song was thought to be our own, it was easy and fun to work with. But, strictly speaking, our version is faster, more energetic and heavier. However, we have retained the original song’s epic melodies.

What is the most important thing for the structure of your songs? Is it a riff, a melody line, vocal arrangement?

It really depends on which of those elements the song is created from. ‘Ballerina’ was born simply because it sounded like a good name for a song. “Time Is Running Out” was born from the melody of the chorus, and other parts of the song were built around it. In the end, though, the most important element of our music is addictive melodies and engaging rhythms. That’s where our sound comes from.

Recommend us some good metal acts coming from your area.

Mikko: There are so many great bands coming from Finland. We made a European tour together with Resolution 13 which is an alternative metal band from Helsinki. We’ve also been following Escalane, a band from middle-Finland, and their story. I need to bring up also a very original band, Awake Again, from Turku. On our tours abroad we have met many really awesome bands like Austrian Ardenite.

Memoremains live
Photo: Markus Soini

Are you also involved in any other projects or bands beside Memoremains?

Mikko: I play drums in a finnish language metal band called Riesa. The band name means like “ nuisance” or “annoyance”. Go and check it out!

Aleksi: I made own project with drummer Teemu Koski last year called “i Helvete”. It released two long songs and right now I am writing new ones. It is much darker and heavier than Memoremains. I also play bass in one another, unknown band.

So, what comes next for Memoremains?

We strive to make everything that happens even bigger. The goal is to make every release and tour bigger than the last one and there will also be more festivals.

Follow Memoremains on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Album Review: Parliament Owls – A Span Is All That We Can Boast

Parliament Owls, a quintet from Canada, have quite a challenge as with any new band playing this stylistically demanding music. They either need to add something exciting and original to the genre, or be so bloody good at delivering captivating rock (that visits quite a few genres) in its conventional form that they stand head and shoulders above the oceans of ordinariness that surround them. While they will not win any awards for innovation, the debut full-length release “A Span Is All That We Can Boast” does in fact rise most convincingly from the latter category, and has enough variation in its six tracks to keep interest levels high.

A Span Is All That We Can Boast

Beginning with “Cocobolo,” Parliament Owls expertly marry the math rock histrionics of The Dillinger Escape Plan to the noise rock sensibilities of Melvins. The band doesn’t joke about with long intros, and like to get on with the business at hand, with only one track clocking at almost seven minutes. This makes for a more urgent and also provides a much more organic feel to the band’s playing.

In addition to The Dillinger Escape Plan and Melvins you can undoubtedly hear the massive influence of Cult of Luna, Mono, Mastodon, Between the Buried and Me, all the major names, but Parliament Owls somehow manage to put a unique stamp on this rather derivative framework.

Parliament Owls have risen far above the sum of their influences, and delivered a very fine rock album. Check it out!

Follow Parliament Owls on Facebook.

Review: Drummond – In Sand

In Sand

Bedroom composing and producing has been on the rise in recent years. Drummond, a young songwriter from NewYork, has just launched his second EP “In Sand” in June.

There’s a real sense of movement in each of the three tracks here. “Submerge” feeds the ear a lovely set of liquid guitar chords, tasty synths and irregular rhythms, while “Root” laces its main melody and harmonies with bustling, positive energy.

The closing title track features extensive lead guitar that complement a busy drum kit and the tracks build confidently rather than hurtling towards their crescendos.

It’s tough to ignore the incredible versatility, technical prowess and emotion in the lead guitar’s phrasings. Talented musicians often overload their music with impressive, yet characterless fretboard acrobatics. Thankfully, Drum does not subject his audience to the same ordeal. The solos are wholesome yet light, devastating yet controlled. His sound is smooth, well-rounded, and, at its core, brimming with delightful energy. The record puts listeners into motion—they can soar and eventually reach a celestial landscape, sweating from the trip and anticipating the next step in this young guitarist’s growth.

For more info about Drummond visit his website.

What are the Hidden Talents and Skills Behind Our Favorite Music Stars?

Bowie
Photo by Roger Woolman / CC.3.0

When it comes to music, you can’t beat a hypnotic bass line or an electrifying drum solo, something that songwriters and musicians take pride in delivering the best of the best to create songs that can live on forever. However, did you know that as well as making some incredible music that some of our favorite musicians and singers have many other strings to their bows in the shape of some not-so-secret skills that you may not have necessarily known?

Bruce_Dickinson_at_Campus_Party
Photo by Campus Party Brasil / CC BY 2.0

When you think of Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden, you think of a rock legend, but as well as flying high in the charts, Bruce also flies high in the skies, too, as a qualified pilot. After having a trial flying lesson in Florida, Bruce got the “flying bug,” and he now could be your pilot on your next private flight!

Are you impressed? As well as being a pilot and a rock legend, Bruce is also a talented fencer, too, and historically, Great Britain’s seventh-best fencer.

Rock stars have a reputation for their outrageous acts and outlandish behavior, so you may be surprised to learn that these days, Blur bassist Alex James has swapped his wellies from performing at Glastonbury to wearing his wellies on his own cheese farm. Alex has dedicated a significant amount of his time to developing his dairy range, and, in fact, you might be surprised to know that his own brand of cheese was voted “Best Goats Cheese” at the 2008 Cheese Awards.

What goes quite well with cheese? Wine, of course! If there ever was a dream collaboration, then for sure Alex should do this with the American rock band Train, who have developed their own brand of wine. They developed the Save Me range in conjunction with the San Francisco Wine company. There are links to their songs in their wine range, which includes a red wine named after their top hit, “Drops of Jupiter.”

As well as achievements in the food and beverage industry, many of our favorite singers and musicians also demonstrate their talents in other areas. Singer-songwriter and musician Imani Coppola is also a talented artist and has seen her work exhibited in New York. Imani is not alone when it comes to talented musicians who paint. The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood and Bob Dylan are both incredible artists, and the late great David Bowie was also a prestigious painter and sculptor, too. Rock legends The Eagles are a celebrated band all over the world for their incredible back catalog, which includes possibly their best-known hit, the legendary “Hotel California.” As well as being a great lyricist, Glenn Frey developed quite the reputation for his card skills and often used to participate in games of poker. According to legend, Glenn, along with Don Henley, were “avid card players,” playing on a regular basis — not necessarily in their own homes, but elsewhere in the likes of tour buses, hotel rooms and even backstage at concerts.

One other singer known for his poker playing hobby was Lemmy, who was the lead singer of Motörhead. His band created the “Ace of Spades,” which is an absolute rock classic and widely considered to be a song that inspires professional poker players before a game.

These musical stars reinforce that, in fact, regardless of age, that it is never too late to try and learn something new or indeed develop existing talent. It also demonstrates that age should never be a barrier to starting a new career. Hands up for those who want to become a prog-rock musician as a new career! It would mean we would have to review your album, though! Still interested in changing your life? Form an orderly queue now!