Dark Rites’ latest album ‘Welcome to Eternity’ was released on December 28 last year. Name some of the magazines who have covered it and indicate what the reviewers had to say.
Our second album was well received by our fans, bloggers, radio stations and the public in general. Thanks to social media and internet radio stations we managed to reach new audiences and a few months after the album’s release we’re still getting much positive feedback.
It is always a thrill when someone reviews a new album, single or a live show. Our very first review of this album was done by The Metal Mag which has been in the business since 1998, so there’s no pressure there. This is a few lines of what they had to say:
“What is amazing to hear is for a Death Metal band they have lots of Thrash Metal influences gaining this band a must to love and spread. We could tell Dark Rites are the link in the early nineties when Thrash became Death. Yet they are recent!”
“Strong heavy powerful riffs, a growling compressed voice, melodic shreds they have it all to conquer the world. You will automatically love this band even if like me you are not such into Death Metal.”
Quite a good review, but we knew we needed more from more sources to get adequate views. Shortly after the first review, Mr. Sam Hookom from Metal Purgatory Media scored us 8/10, Pat “Riot” Whitaker from Riff Relevant followed with a great review and Rifftastic scored 7/10 with this nice comment:
“Overall its enjoyable listen with great riffs and vocals and songs with great presence,
'DARK RITES' have undeniable talent between them but I feel 'WELCOME TO ETERNITY' is just a taste of what they are capable of and I look forward to what they do from here.”
One of the latest reviews from Metal Public Radio is truly great for us:
“Overall musicianship – 9.5 out of 10 (above average, especially bass and drum backing)
Vocal style – 9.5 out of 10 (harsh but clear, smooth and gritty yet still melodic)
Overall song composition – 9.5 out of 10 (tight, driving, and energetic throughout)
Originality – 9 out of 10 (their own twist on tradition)”
So, not bad at all.
Where were those zines who reviewed the band based from? Did those zines have enough distribution to give you healthy exposure in those areas?
The zines (blogs) that decided to work with us are from various locations. We have many contacts in the USA, the UK, Canada, Portugal, Poland and many more. All of them are focused on reaching metal audiences, any exposure is good for underground bands so we are grateful for all the support.
Describe how the band got together and began exchanging ideas.
I and Wojtek have known each other for many years, and we used to play in bands together back in the late 90’s and early 00’s. We moved to different countries around 2005 and lost contact for a few years. Luckily thanks to social media we started talking and we came up with this idea of starting a band. It may sound crazy taking that we are living on different continents, but thanks to technology we are able to compose, record and release our music without any problems. In 2016 we decided that it will have to go more serious route, and we searched for singer, and this is where Oskar joined. We exchange ideas online, discus riffs etc. and when the song is ready it will go to Oskar for vocals and lyrics.
Something I ask many bands is, how much has social media helped fans of underground music connect with one another regardless of the area where they live? In what ways does this help musicians and unsigned bands?
Social media is the thing at the moment, people communicate, share their stories and interact with each other using social media. Almost everyone got a device which can be used to quickly access music, video or chat with people, and certainly this is a great, great thing for underground and indie music. Regardless where fans live they can share music online, listen to it, comment and often give a vital support to unsigned bands, and this is very important. Social media is a great space to promote live gigs, selling tickets, merchandise and making sure that without making huge investments, independent music can reach many people.
What was the title of the band’s debut album, and how much distribution was it given? How much of an improvement is “Welcome to Eternity” musically and lyrically?
The first album we released was called “Dark Rites”. It was distributed through all the major digital stores and also in a physical format of CDs. It was quite successful for a first release. “Welcome to Eternity” is a major improvement in all the aspects, equipment, ideas, sound and also the whole process of making, recording and producing our music. Musically we decided to go heavier but still keeping all the melodic aspect in our songs. On this occasion we decided to go independent and release it only in digital format for now. We may add physical format in the future.
Name the songs on “Dark Rites” that demonstrated the most potential for improvement. Are those songs still part of your live set?
As a band we constantly work on improving sound, the way we compose, structure of our songs and lyrics. Our first album is very important to us, because it proves that when there is enough determination, there is no such an obstacle that can stop anyone from doing what they really love. In our case it was making music together, despite the fact that we are living on different continents and different time zones. When I go back to the first album I`d like it to sound slightly different, maybe a bit different mix, but I would not change songs completely. It was a great experience and very important to us too. At least three of the songs included on this album would be a great addition to live set, “Hall of the Slain” is my absolute favorite track of this album.
Did the band release the new album independently or seek labels or distros for distribution?
With our second album “Welcome to Eternity”, we decided to take a different approach, and we went for a self-release. We’re all having our own home recording facilities, which is practical because we can work on our music without any time limits or restrictions, in our own time, getting exactly what we want in terms of sound and quality. Obviously, we are continuously working on improving our music and sound, etc. Regarding distribution, with a self-release we went for DistroKid for all of our digital distribution, which gives us much needed flexibility. Social media is great to spread word of underground music.
Many bands these days record and produce their releases independently, in their own studios. Is this the route Dark Rites intended to take when they started? How was “Welcome to Eternity” recorded and produced?
We decided right at the beginning that we want to record independently. It was a bit of and investment at the beginning, but it payed off quickly. We are free to record in our own studios, in our own time and we can discuss the way we want to go regarding the sound and style. We all have our own studios, and everyone does their own part independently, and when it is all ready, we will mix and master the tracks making sure we achieving exactly what we want, without rushing because of the cost of the studio rental etc.
Does the band have more creative freedom working independently as opposed to working with producers?
There is certainly pros and cons of having a producer working on your album. When doing everything in home studio, there is no limit and no one to stop you of doing it your way and your way only. On the other hand you are losing this, often very important, different perspective, different approach which is not contaminated by your own habits.
How many copies of “Welcome to Eternity” were distributed to zines, magazines and webzines? Did you also do mass emailings of social media links and sound files? Which of these options is the most convenient way to distribute it widely?
Because we went for digital format only on this occasion, we offer digital links to anyone involved. Regarding the way we distribute our music to zines, magazines and radio stations, we prefer to seek personal contacts with people in charge instead of just emailing. Often these emails are treated as spam, and they won’t reach anyone, whereas when we contact the actual people asking if they are interested in our music in supporting us in any way, we may be certain that we actually getting exposure. Also, radio stations and DJs are very helpful with promoting indie music, and here also, direct contact is the best way of spreading word about our music.
Did releasing the album on digital format help funds could go toward new equipment?
It helped a bit. It’s just extra money we can use to promote Dark Rites, run the website, etc, but it is all about the music for us. Money is good but it was never a goal.
Does the band still have an interest in pressing CDs of their releases or is digital format more convenient and more of a fund saver?
Digital format is very convenient for us, many people these days are more into Spotify etc. than actually buying CDs, and since our priority is to reach as many listeners as possible, it works better for us, even though there are not a lot of financial benefits in Spotify and other streaming services.
What is your usual procedure of promoting? Do you write potential contacts and email them material if they’re interested?
We focus mainly on social media, which at the moment is the main platform where we promote our music. This gives us a chance to reach all the heavy metal maniacs, and also radio stations, DJs and magazines. We contact people directly, and often we are approached by people who are interested in promoting underground music.
Do you exclusively distribute full digital packages of your album or are there also social media links included in your emails?
Our music is all over the place, we are in all the major digital stores including Bandcamp, Youtube, Facebook, Google Play, Itunes/Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, Deezer and Tidal.
Does your Youtube promotion include uploads of live shows or live rehearsals? If so, how many of them do you post there?
We tend to use Facebook for this purpose more than anything else. It helps us to instantly reach fan base through the metal music orientated groups. It is not very often when we do it, as we are more focused on publishing full lyric videos, and singles. At the moment, due to the fact that we are dispersed over the world, we are only a studio project but it will change in time.
Are traditional radio stations or internet radio stations more supportive of the band’s work? How important has internet radio become to extreme metal since fans started hosting their own shows?
As for underground metal band, Internet radio stations are definitely more supportive. We meet quite a lot of fantastic people on our way, people who were happy to give us an advice when needed, DJ’s who did not hesitate to play our music, interview us in their shows to help our music to reach as many metal fans as possible. Metal Devastation Radio was a much of a support when we started, Banks Radio Australia, Harry Ho’s International Rock Garden, Pro Rock Radio just to mention few, and also Hailsham FM where every Friday Mr. Chris Pullen plays many, many tracks from the world of underground metal.
In my opinion Internet radio is the way forward in promoting Indie metal and indie music in general. They’re not focused purely on money that starting bands don’t have, but rather on promoting music and spreading the word about bands.
Metal Devastation Radio often interviews bands live on their program. Have they approached you for an interview?
We had an interview with DJ REM from MDR when we released our first album. We managed to win the Band Of The Month competition which resulted in our songs being added to daily playlists, promotion and interviews. They are truly great guys and it is always a pleasure to work with MDR.
How much did you get to discuss your debut album in your MDR interview? Was there a chat window open where people listening to the interview could ask about the band?
We won this competition soon after our first album release, and it was a great opportunity to discuss the album, our situation and plans for the future. Unfortunately we did not have a chance to take questions from the listeners because it was pre-recorded. We are living in different time zones and the time difference between us is seven to nine hours so we had to find a spot where we could be there at the same time as the DJ. It was a great experience and MDR is definitely very supportive for the underground bands.
Who were the other bands involved in the Band Of The Month competition at MDR? Did this happen around the same time as the interview?
The interview was a part of the promotional reward for winning Band of The Month on the MDR. We had an interview, and promotion on their social media plus our songs on daily rotation. We had a tough walk with all this independent artists, but thanks to all the fans support we managed to win it.
How many MDR listeners added Dark Rites to their play lists after your interview? Do you or the other band members have pages there and communicate with new fans?
We have a page on MDR server but our main platform to communicate with our fans is Facebook where our page gained over 12k members over past three years, Dark Rites Official Group with almost 4k members plus of course Instagram, Twitter etc. At the time of the interview and MDR competition we had very warm response from listeners, DJ`s and Radio stations. It was well worth doing.
How often does the band do interviews on internet radio? Do you prefer zine or radio interviews as far as getting your name around?
We always try to sort some interviews out when we have new music coming out. At the same time we keep in touch with Zines, Bloggers, Reviewers and anyone who is happy to spread the word about Dark Rites.
Does the band have ideas in mind for another EP or full length album? If so, how soon do you expect to start working on it? In what ways will the material be an improvement from your current releases?
We are currently working on new songs, which will be a part of a full time album, but it will take some time before we will be ready with new release. In the meantime, we are working on a music for independent Horror movie and also on few songs which will be released due course only as a singles to help continue the momentum. It will be certainly an improvement comparing to our last two albums, we want to make it heavier than before with surprise vocal changes.