Saturday, April 20, 2024

Full Length Review: Bloedmaan "Castle Inside the Eclipse" (Immortal Frost Productions) by Dave Wolff

Band: Bloedmaan
Location: Flanders
Country: Belgium
Genre: Black metal
Full length: Castle Inside the Eclipse
Format: Digital album, digipack CD, standard black vinyl, opaque grey swirl vinyl
Label: Immortal Frost Productions
Release date: December 15, 2023
The surreal cover art for "Castle Inside the Eclipse" was created by Ronarg (Antzaat, Ars Veneficium), who is also the creative force behind Bloedmaan. It promises to take the listener on a journey into a world where vampires are the dominant species and humans enter at their own peril.
A grey landscape with a dark castle set against a blood moon and a blood red sky surrounded by dark clouds came to life much as the cover art for Satyricon's "Dark Medieval Times" and Dimmu Borgir's "For All Tid" had when I listened to those albums. A distinct feeling of a prodigious novel, written from the perspective of vampires, is evoked due to the imposing quality of the musicianship and the cursed sensibility of the vocals.
Ronarg has been sharpening his black metal sensitivities since working on the 2014 debut EP by Ars Veneficium “The Abyss”. As a result of years of methodical writing, Bloedmaan's debut appears to be longer in the tooth as a portrayal of vampire myth and legend. For a six track recording "Castle Inside the Eclipse" is as subtle and complex as the folk beliefs of these emblematic creatures across the world.
In his songwriting, he displays a growing mastery of balancing wall-of-sound rhythm guitar progressions with tremolo lead guitar embellishments somewhat comparable to early recordings by Satyricon, Ancient and Gehenna, only with melody and dynamics designed to depict ancient vampire narratives.
This is Ronarg’s first project in which he handles bass and drums as well as guitars, vocals and songwriting; he gives his dual guitar approach loads of room for magnification with the amount of time changes each of the five songs are composed with. This approach doesn’t deviate, but neither does it become stale or predictable. His bass tracks do things additional justice with the depth they add.
Creating all the music, he creates the mood he was seeking to incorporate the lyrics he penned with gothic and Lovecraftian themes. In "The Night of Blood", he welcomes you to his world in a manner reminiscent of a movie made in the 2000s, "30 Days of Night". There is the same sense of disquietude and unease as the sun sets over the horizon.
In "Haunted Melancholic Obsessions", "Winged Flight Under the Pale Moon" and "The Hunter's Dream", we experience the passion that would accompany being turned, leaving mortal existence behind and becoming one of the undead. Feeling the hunger for blood awakening within you, and the intensity of your desires for the first time. But once you’ve crossed over into that world, there’s no turning back. You’ve become one of the undead minions you’ve read about through these songs, and this is what makes "Castle Inside the Eclipse" a satisfying release. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Ronarg: Vocals, all instruments

Track list:
1. The Night of Blood
2. Cursed Charms of Death
3. Haunted Melancholic Obsessions
4. Winged Flight Under the Pale Moon
5. The Hunter's Dream



Bloedmaan official site
Bloedmaan at Facebook

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Full Length Review: Green Day "Insomniac" (Reprise) by Devin J. Meaney

Band: Green Day
Country: USA
Genre: Punk, rock
Full length: Insomniac
Label: Reprise
Release date: October 10, 1995
It has been a long time since I really listened to Green Day. Don’t get me wrong—the odd time I hit up Youtube and listen to “Dookie”—mostly because it is a very nostalgic album for me as my cousin Jeff used to let me listen to his CD copy when I was a kid (He never did let me listen to NoFx’s “Pump up the Valium”).
On a weird topic for a music review my daughter is of the age where she has started dating. Her boyfriend is a big Green Day fan and while at the local Walmart I found a CD copy of “Insomniac” for ten dollars. Due to David’s inspiration I snagged the album and took it home.
I remember listening to Insomniac when I was younger, but it never was quite as home-hitting as “Dookie” for me. With that said, after listening to it again in my later years I can state that Insomniac is just as good of an album as “Dookie”—and one thing I can state is that I really dig the production. It is a short album, but it is just long enough to get the motors running!
Is Green Day my favorite band? No. But do I enjoy them? Yes. One might call me “faux punk” for writing this review but as an overweight 30 something man who lives with his mom and writes children’s books maybe “punk” isn’t the best way to describe me anyway. With that said, I’m still not a fan of the “newer” Green Day—that “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” crap just ain’t for me. There IS a lot of enjoyable Green Day though, with “Dookie” being my all time favorite followed by “Kerplunk”! and “Insomniac”. “Insomniac” is the main focus of this review though—so put your jaded notions aside and give it a solid listen!
P.S: I’m actually still punk as fawk. Just don’t tell my mother! -Devin J. Meaney

Lineup:
Billie Joe Armstrong: Vocals, guitar
Mike Dirnt: Bass, backing vocals
Tré Cool: Drums

Track list:
1. Armatage Shanks
2. Brat
3. Stuck with Me
4. Geek Stink Breath
5. No Pride
6. Bab's Uvula Who?
7. 86
8. Panic Song
9. Stuart and the Ave
10. Brain Stew
11. Jaded
12. Westbound Sign
13. Tight Wad Hill
14. Walking Contradiction

Monday, April 15, 2024

Film Review: Gods of the Deep (Dark Temple Motion Pictures, Ace Entertainment Films) by Devin J. Meaney

Gods of the Deep
Written and Directed by Charlie Steeds
With Derek Nelson, Makenna Guyler and Kane Surry
Executive Produced by Charley McDougall, Jamie McLeod-Ross and Peter Oxley
Released December 4, 2023 (USA)
Dark Temple Motion Pictures, Ace Entertainment Films
Distributed by Quiver Distribution (United States, 2024)
Not too long ago I watched the film “Gods of the Deep”. It was available on Tubi and the cover was appealing so I figured I would give it a go. At first it just appeared to be standard sci-fi but after a bit it changed to something that was creepy, weird, and leaning in the direction of psychological horror.
I will also mention that with a title like “Gods of the Deep” I assumed it would be Lovecraft inspired, and I can say that my assumptions were correct. Unlike a lot of Lovecraft stuff this did have a modern twist, even if not paired with a shockingly high budget (I’d call this “B list but well done”).
As for the vibe of the movie I’d say it was “enjoyable and eerie” but personally I think it could have had a better ending. As to why, I’ll leave that for you to decide as I don’t wish to ruin the movie. Overall though I’d watch this again if I was looking for something spooky to watch with friends, and even as a B list film (I do have a bit of a love and lenience for B movies) this was far from terrible, and again, well worth the watch! -Devin J. Meaney

Full Length Review: Infernal Angels "Shrine of Black Fire" (mmortal Frost Productions) by Dave Wolff

Band: Infernal Angels
Country: Italy
Genre: Raw, melodic black metal
Format: Jewel case CD, standard black vinyl, opaque white/black splatter vinyl, digital
Label: Immortal Frost Productions (Brazil)
Release date: November 24, 2023
"Shrine of Black Fire" is a manifestation of the personal Luciferian, Gnostic and chaos magic embodied in Infernal Angels' writings. I'm unfamiliar with their previously released albums, but this one resonates strongly with a hidden esoteric knowledge that becomes a part of the musicianship.
A solitary practitioner of dark magic and his coven invoke the powers of darkness in an overcast woodland far from civilization, manifesting something vibrant, dangerous, and flourishing. Even though you may have visited this woodland several times, the unspeakable wisdom and enlightenment that has been revived reveals there's much more to discover beyond.
As the novitiate of unseemly arts invokes an essence in a bodiless voice during the darkest hour of the night, without moonlight, in "Abyss Oath", you feel frigid winds breathing down your neck. In taking possession of those gathered, it offers sageness setting them apart from other mortals. "In the Silence of Tehom" depicts Lucifer as showing existence through his eyes as a result of the summoning.
By the fire, Lucifer and his minions become one as the power invoked in the ritual grows. There is much more to it than that but you'll need to refer to the lyrics for an explanation of the epic conclusion to the ritual. There is an excoriated sound accompanying this call, similar to old Satyricon, Gorgoroth, and Taake. The Norwegian influence is conveyed using the sacred, regal mannerisms of Italian metal.
Throughout, acidulous, high frequency guitar, vibrating, semi-melodic bass, and a maddened blast give way to moderately paced, primeval percussive designs and a sardonic atmosphere. Among these sounds are detailed dissonant passages and a variety of voices that represent the possessed cover morphing into one entity with the fallen angel. Despite parts of the album possessing familiar characteristics, they are constructed in a way that carries traditional tales of black wizardry and revolt against the heavens to their logical denouement. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Xes: Vocals
Nekroshadow: Guitars
Apsychos: Guitars
Asdraeth: Bass
Postmortem: Drums

Track list:
1. Abyss Oath (feat. Michael W. Ford & Sara Ballini)
2. In the Silence ov Tehom
3. The Horizon Eats the Sun and Other Stars
4. Fire as Breath
5. A Gateway to Purification
6. The Flame Burns Brighter in the Darkness
7. I am the Thoughtless Light
8. Shrine of Black Fire - Ablazing Serpent


Saturday, April 6, 2024

Full Length Review: Trenchwar "From The Earth To The Moon" (Sleaszy Rider Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: Trenchwar
Location: Ankara
Country: Turkey
Genre: Thrash metal
Format: Digital album, CD
Label: Sleaszy Rider Records (Romania)
Release date: March 8, 2024
The surreal cover artwork of Trenchwar’s second full length “From The Earth To The Moon”, depicting a Baphomet like figure in a space suit, calls back to the proto-science fiction of the early twentieth century, with a mysterious theme of what to expect when journeying into space for the first time. In a way this fits considering how subtly they displays their myriad influences.
This is the band’s second album since 2020’s “Criminal Organizations” and there has been much evolution on their part since those days. At first I thought “From The Earth To The Moon” was conventional thrash, but as it grew on me I saw it’s a standalone album that shows Trenchwar as having an identity all their own. I discerned constituents of technical thrash, classic metal, brutal death metal, melodic death metal, hardcore and black metal vocals all rolled in an impenetrable package. This album has comparable song structure to old Metallica and enhances thrash’s roots in seventies rock. It contains the energy of a Testament show and buffets you like an Amon Amarth album.
Groove is written into the material with especial subtlety, accompanying stringent heaviness and dense production with streamlined vibrations. This technical skill is engrossing with little effort, giving the unceasing aggression and consistent time changes an instinctual ambiance. Trenchwar's songwriting provides as many melodic sections as shifts in velocity, with straightforward conveyance. The transfixing lead guitars are somewhere between the lead solos of Hank Sherman and Michael Denner (Mercyful Fate) and Eric and Brian Hoffman (old Deicide), resonating with an analgesic character.
Close attention is called to the inventive license the band took with their cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown” and their tri-tone sampling of Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” in “In the Grip of Cult” which serves as a fitting album closer. -Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Harun Altun: Vocals
Tolga Otabatmaz: Guitars
Dağhan Erdoğan: Guitars
Gürdal Sönmez: Bass
Yiğit Aksoy: Drums

Track list:
1. Tax Corruption
2. From The Earth To The Moon
3. Shock Doctrine
4. Benevolent Businessmen
5. The Nailing Killer
6. Trash Not Thrash
7. Communication Breakdown
8. In The Grip Of Cult

[Contact information at Youtube link]

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Full Length Review: Juha Jyrkäs "Väinämöinen" (Earth and Sky Productions) by Dave Wolff

Artist: Juha Jyrkäs
Location: Helinski
Country: Finland
Genre: Kantele folk metal
Full Length: Väinämöinen
Format: Digital album, CD, limited edition digipak CD
Label: Earth and Sky Productions
Release date: February 29, 2024
With kantele, bass kantele, strings and traditional instruments, Juha Jyrkäs' debut album “Sydämeni kuusipuulle” raised the question of whether it was metal, folk metal, pagan metal, or something far more worldly. Exploring previously unexplored territory, the album's extensive background in Finnish mythology, nature mysticism, and occultism placed it in league with any of these subjects. He appears to widen his perspective with the release of his second full-length “Väinämöinen”.
In the 90s, Viking metal bands such as Enslaved and Borknagar touched upon a musical expanse as vast as their unconventional guitar scales and chord progressions. Most of the pagan elements incorporated into the songs were surreptitious, but revealed elements that could go far beyond the irreverent themes of bands that preceded them. Throughout the evolution of extreme metal, those constituents became equally important to defining a band's sound as the traditional instruments were.
“Väinämöinen” adheres to the substance inaugurated into metal by bands like the ones I mentioned (as well as by bands like In Extremo). The shades of folk and Viking metal have become more prominent than before. The variety is expanding exponentially with massive advancements in innovation. With numerous variations on the kantele and the percussion, the songs personalize the mythical Finnish demigod Väinämöinen, and the lyrics are written in Kalevala-metre, a traditional Finnish meter.
There is more distinction between metal and folk, which refines the increased nuances on this album. Riffs written with bass kantele, along with guitar solos in “Äidinmaan puolustus” and  “Metallikantele” and bass kantele solos in songs like “Syntysanat” and “Jo veri jokena juoksi”, Jyrkäs embellishes the material with more variety, maintaining a harmonic, cohesive feel. The contrast between harsh and melodic vocals heightens the album’s dramatic nature to the extent of a film soundtrack.
Building upon what was a relatively simplistic songwriting technique in the 90s, he has taken it to new imaginative heights. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Juha Jyrkäs: Vocals, bass kantele, percussion
Olga Kolari: Keyboards, concert kantele,15 stringed kantele, 16 stringed kantele, copper stringed kantele, viola, violin, jouhikko, concert harp
Janne Väätäinen: Drums
Henry Kolari: Soundscapes
Antti Röksä: Guitar solos
[More information at the Bandcamp link to “Väinämöinen” above]

Track list:
1. Voima nousee
2. Syntysanat
3. Jo veri jokena juoksi
4. Helkatulet
5. Ukkosloitsu
6. Äidinmaan puolustus
7. Kultapyärä
8. Metallikantele


Monday, April 1, 2024

Full Length Review: Suffering "Symphonies: Diabolis" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: Suffering
Country: England
Genre: Black doom metal
Format: Cassette (limited to 22 copies), digital
Label: Independent
Release date: March 29, 2024
Suffering have honed their ability to create a dichotomy between fantasy and reality since their 2017 full-length debut "11". While that album conveyed a sense of forbidden ritual with LaVeyan overtones, "Symphonies: Diabolis" feels like a manifestation of the reality summoned by those rituals after being long hidden from human view.
Throughout the material, the prophetic theme inspired by "The Omen" is a promise of something much more sinister to come, made all the more unnerving by the dialogue and the contrast between age-old scenery and the modern world. This transition from Suffering's first album to their latest appears to have been a long and meticulous process, undertaken with infinite patience that is now bearing fruit.
My impressions of the music recorded for this album: A quote from "The Omen" introduces the death march emerging with "Ave Satani". The repetitive rawness of "Symphonies: Diabolis" establishes the mood of the album by heralding an apocalyptic event already occurring. This track and the following ones take the listener on a journey through the wasteland, showing nothing but devastation up close and personal, with light having vanished and nothing but allegiance to darkness remaining.
As I envisioned eldritch horrors coming to life and slowly taking over the contemporary world for "11", I made comparisons to John Carpenter's film "In The Mouth Of Madness". The merging of normal and macabre also gives the songs a similar feeling to the second chapter of Carpenter's apocalypse trilogy, "Prince of Darkness", with possessed humans lurking everywhere you turn.
With gritty, caustic production, unvarnished, discordant guitars, vibrating bass, barbarous drumbeats, and vocals that threaten to break your sanity, the repetitive nature of the songs pushes the album toward a mechanically mind numbing plateau, until you finally appear to be one with the minions of the underworld preparing to bring Old Scratch himself from the shadows into our midst.
With two additional live tracks, you can’t go wrong with this release if you’re into raw, primeval black/doom metal with heavy occult connotations. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Aýdlig: Guitars
Inquinatus: Bass
Malleus: Drums

Track list:
1. Ave Satani
2. A Semen Stained Letter To The Devil
3. Deceit: A Sheep In Wolf's Clothing
4. Danse Macabre
5. Nácht: Das Kinde Tod
6. Fire, War, Death!
7. Releasing The 11 (Live)
8. Cloven Hoof (Live)

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Interview with Waste Disaster by Dave Wolff


Interview with
 ARJ of Waste Disaster by Dave Wolff

Let's start with your August 2023 release "The Killer Pizza Delivery Man". When you recorded it, what kind of effect did you want? In the recording sessions, what kind of equipment was used?
The initial idea of Waste Disaster was to make a sound mixing Grindcore-Thrash-Noise with influences from bands like Unseen Terror, Masher, Lawnmower Deth, etc. Me and my friend Thon, who was also the drummer in my other band H.C.G., recorded the nine extremely short sounds from the album “The Killer Pizza Delivery Man” on an old portable recorder in his room. I recorded all the sounds with my Dolphin Thrash Superstrat guitar, and Thon used his old Peace drums. We wanted the loudest recording possible; everything was recorded live without overdubs, without mastering and without any effects or studios. Just an old recorder and us playing as fast and loud as possible, hahahaha. The concept behind the album revolves around our mascot Joe Violence doing absurd and insane things like blowing up a Greenpeace plane or being a serial killer who delivers pizza, hahahaha.

How long have you and Thon worked together, and have you always been a two-piece band?
In the band H.C.G. there were two more guys, the bassist Hiago and the vocalist DJ, We had a Death/Thrash band in a short period of time called Slaughter Hell. We played covers of Celtic Frost, Venom, Kreator, Exodus, Sepultura, Slayer etc. We only played one show with this band, there were some original songs but we didn't record anything, and the songs ended up being reformulated and used in H.C.G.

Waste Disaster sounds like an old school garage band mixed with early 90s death metal and grind. Did you intend to create this sound when you formed the band?
Initially yes, but after the first album we wanted to change the sound of Waste Disaster to something more Crossover Thrash style: Excel, S.O.D, D.R.I, but it ended up not happening.

What appeals to you about albums and EPs recorded loudly with inexpensive equipment? Do you strive to capture the raw sound of old school grind-noise bands?
What I admired was the simplicity of things, without all this shitty modernity that infests the world, things were more real. It was more organic, the rawness of the sound, it was all done for real. Nowadays I don't know what's real more, what was done by a human or a robot. It's difficult to say. I think we've reached the era of Skynet, hahahaha. That's for the worse unfortunately.

What was the inspiration behind choosing Joe Violence as the band's mascot? Does this character have any resemblance to characters in horror films or horror comedies?
Joe Violence was created by me, as Ted Dead mascot for the band H.C.G. was created by me. Both were inspired by characters from Trash Horror films from the 80s. In fact, Joe Violence had already been created by me before the band. I write some horror stories and I had written a story about a serial killer pizza delivery man who was Joe, so when we created Waste Disaster I decided to use it as a mascot and theme.

Where did you find inspiration for Joe Violence and Ted Dead in 80s horror films? Upon viewing them, what appealed to you? Have directors today been able to capture the feel of those films?
In fact, Ted Dead was inspired by the mascots Eddie [Iron Maiden], Sgt D. [S.O.D.] and Big Ben from the film “House”. Joe Violence was inspired by Ash Williams from “The Evil Dead” and Rick Caldwell from “Silent Night, Deadly Night 2”. What I like most about these trash films is the 80s feel. It was a wonderful time for music, cinema, books, comics, sports, etc... My favorite trash films are “Bad Taste”, “The Evil Dead”, “Night of the Creeps” and the aforementioned “Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 and “House”. Man there are so many I would stay here forever, hahahaha. What attracts me to these films, besides their being from the 80s and 90s, is the gore, the politically incorrect humor, the abusive deaths, the situations, my favorite directors in this style are Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, Steve Miner, Lucio Fulci, Fred Dekker and Lloyd Kaufman. I don't think any director today has managed to reproduce what these guys did.

As a horror enthusiast, do you like "The Walking Dead", "Ash vs Evil Dead", and "Stranger Things"? How do you feel about the popularity of these shows?
“The Walking Dead” I only watched the first three seasons, then it got really boring. “Stranger Things” I watched the first episode, I thought it was pretty good. “Ash Vs Evil Dead” I never watched. These programs became popular more because of marketing than because of quality.

Have you ever published your story about a serial killer pizza delivery man, or did it just serve as inspiration for Waste Disaster's mascot?
It was published at the end of last year by the independent publisher Opera Editorial. In fact it was my first published book, which is an anthology of fifteen short stories, entitled “Historias Estranhas Para Pessoa Esquisitas”, with the free translation of Strange Stories for Strange People.

How many horror stories have you written in total? Would you consider publishing an anthology of them, either independently or through a small publishing house? 
I have several horror stories written, at least thirty. I want to publish them soon but I want to publish them outside of Brazil, like in the United States or Europe because there are more outlets nowadays for these types of stories.

Is there any publishing company in Europe or the United States that you would be interested in contacting? Are you interested in publishing online?
I don't know yet, I have to start looking, I don't have much interest in publishing online, maybe after it comes out in a physical format.

Which of your fiction pieces has been published in "Historias Estranhas Para Pessoa Esquisitas"? Is it still possible to order copies online and how long has it been available? Are you working on any new horror fiction to keep with the others until they are published?
There are fifteen Strange Stories for Strange People. Here are the titles of the stories that appear in this book. “Eternal nightmare”, “Dead party”, “The shooter from apartment 15”, “A door to hell”, “The impaling janitor”, “Sewer massacre”, “What happened to Mr Chen?” “The killer pizza delivery man (Joe Violence!)”, “The taxi driver”, “The hourglass of the end times”, “The lightning”, “A toilet from the heavens”, “Knife duel in the alley”. “Hunting season is open!” and “15 minutes later”. It was released in December almost three months ago. Here is the link to purchase a copy of this book. However, it is only in Portuguese.
I have some ideas in mind, but I haven't written anything yet.

There have been many extreme death-grind-noise bands in the Brazilian underground for many years. How would you describe the current state of your local underground scene in terms of bands, zine publications, and venues?
The Brazilian underground scene was once very strong. Nowadays it has weakened a little more. You can find some people trying to keep it alive. Some independent labels are releasing a lot of things, and there are several shows taking place, but it's not like it was in the 80s, 90s, and even in the 2000s; it still resisted.

Please identify some of the labels that still support local bands. Do you know of any print or online zines from Brazil that are worth mentioning?
Zines I don't know, I haven't heard of any zine in a long time, but there are many record labels. Those that have released H.C.G. materials areDo Terceiro Mundo Caos, Tales From The Chaos Records, Two Beers Records, Heavy Metal Rock, are some that are always releasing material from new or old bands.

When do you have the opportunity to be interviewed for zines outside of Brazil? Tell us about some zines that you have been featured in recently.
No one has ever interviewed me, much less have I been featured, hahaha.

Is there any collaboration between labels to organize metal festivals in Brazil these days? Do you know of any venues that regularly host them or showcase individual bands?
There's the Kool Metal Fest and the Master Of Noise in Sao Paulo city, but I don't think they're made by collaborations with any label. These two events promote the underground well, especially Masters Of Noise, which promotes Grind/Noise Thrash bands, etc...

Give a brief description of the songs appearing on "The Killer Pizza Delivery Man" and explain how you came up with each scenario.
“Joe the Killer Pizza Delivery Man” - It's an instrumental intro sound, Joe's journey begins! “Joe Will Blow Your Brains Out With A Shotgun Blast!” - This song narrates when Joe goes to deliver a pizza and when the customer opens the door to receive the pizza he receives a shotgun blast to the brain! “Joe Attacks Killed a Hundred People with a Lawnmower” - This song is about when Joe killed a hundred people with a lawnmower in a party! It was inspired by the scene in the movie Braindead when the protagonist kills thousands of zombies with a lawnmower. “Joe Attacks in Delaware” - This is when Joe takes a vacation to Delaware! “Joe Goes to Disneyland” - Same thing as the previous one, but this time the bloody holidays are at Disney! “Joe Blew up a Greenpeace Plane” - Another instrumental narrating the situation when Joe blew up a green peace plane! It was just to make fun of these shitty hypocritical ecologists who don't even care about the planet. “Joe Will Deliver Pizza to Your Home, You're Dead!” - Same thing as the second song says, if you answer the door to receive your pizza and the delivery man is Joe Violence you will have your brain blown out by a shotgun blast or you will be stabbed to death, being decapitated by an axe, beaten by a baseball bat, etc... “Fast Shit Pizza!” - The lyrics are simply about fast shit pizza! It's just another fast, stupid, noisy sound I wrote hahaha. “Waste Disaster” - The last sound on the album, an instrument that bears the band's name, “Waste Disaster” is about a world after a nuclear war or nuclear disaster, would anyone be alive?

Could any of the songs be construed as social satire or are they simply intended to shock?
A little of both.

As of this writing, do you promote Waste Disaster and H.C.G. independently? Do you intend to continue promoting your work independently/DIY or do you intend to distribute your work through a local or larger independent label in the future?
The Waste Disaster album was released here in Brazil by my little label Ted Dead Records and was also released in Pro CD-R format in Poland by my friend Pawel's label called Undergrinder Records Limited. By the band H.C.G, most of the 56 releases that we have was from several independent record labels from various countries. The Waste Disaster album was released in a limited way on physical CD media, but in the future I want to find other labels in other countries that are interested in releasing it in other physical formats.

Have you contacted Undergrinder Records Limited for the release of Waste Disaster? Have your bands received more attention since you began working with the label?
I've known Pawell, the owner of the label, for a few years now, he's a really cool guy and a fan of the bands I've played with. When Waste Disaster's first album was recorded, Undergrinder was the first label that came to mind to release it.

Are Ted Dead Records exclusively dedicated to the distribution of Waste Disaster, or do you also sign other local bands? Which is the most effective way to promote this label over there?
In fact I have two small record labels, Ted Dead Records and Death Prank Records. I created these labels just to release materials from my bands like Waste Disaster and H.C.G. I release ultra-limited editions on CD-R just to exist on physical media and distribute them between them. My local friends.

Ted Dead Records has released its material in how many formats to date? If you regularly release music in physical form, how much does it cost to print and advertise?
Only in CD-R format. The costs are very small, I make a maximum of five, ten copies of each release. As I said, it's more to have the physical material and give it as a gift to some friends, more for fun, when it's to be publicized. I always look for other labels to release my bands' materials.

What other labels have you contacted recently in order to cross-promote your work? Are there any potential collaborations in the works?
The releases from Undergrinder Records, despite being in limited editions, gave good recognition to H.C.G. and Waste Disaster, especially H.C.G.

Have you approached any labels to appear on a compilation release? What are the benefits of comps for unsigned bands who release their own material?
We have only appeared on two compilations, one made by Undergrinder Records which was recently released and another by the German label Rat Covenant which was released in a limited edition on tape, the benefits are that it helps to promote the bands' material a little.

If your bands release more material, would you like to expand Ted Dead Records and Death Prank Records so that more people become aware?
It would be a good idea to expand these labels, but I need time and money, things that are in short supply for me at the moment, hahaha...

Are there any ideas you have in mind for your next recording of Waste Disaster? When are you likely to start working on new songs for a new release? How about H.C.G.?
Waste Disaster is on hold, I don't know when I'm going to write something for this project, but I already have a lot of riffs, lyrics, and some songs already completed for H.C.G. I think next year we'll be back with lots of new things!


-Dave Wolff

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Interview with Under The Shadows by Dave Wolff

Interview with Elias Negrin of Under The Shadows by Dave Wolff

How did you develop your latest EP "I Before You" and promote and distribute it since its release? What do you believe are the most important things people should know about it? 
Hello Dave, really happy to talk to you!
The drive for me since my school years is to make music, and this project is no exception! It developed really fast, within a few months actually, from inception to completion! I decided to undertake full production responsibility this time except for songwriting and arrangements, stretching myself a bit more but was fun too! Gained more confidence in the mixing-production part as well.
As far as line-up is concerned, I tried a different model too. Instead of trying to find permanent band members in a more traditional setup, I tried collaborations with musicians that I already know (have worked with them before) or by networking with new ones and seeing how it turns out. This also gives me more possibilities for the future. It did save a lot of time but brought more responsibility on me to explain properly what I want and still give musicians some freedom to express themselves within the boundaries of the songs. I am also very happy that my son Aris has helped with drums, this is absolutely cool and look forward to taking it further!
Distribution for now is only digital, started small and simple to test the waters a bit, EP can be found on all major digital platforms, Spotify, Youtube, Applemusic, Napster, Bandcamp etc. In the future I might press some vinyl and/or CDs. Promotion is done via an agency. I have worked with Kostas (Salomidis) before (with my other band Julian’s Lullaby) and I am happy to work with him again.

How does the name Under The Shadows represent your vision for the band and why was chosen in that regard?
I believe it encapsulates the general music direction of the band, a bit mysterious, somehow dark, not heavy metal exactly in a more traditional way but still a good fit, could make someone think and it creates a mood.

Who are the musicians you've collaborated with? Which of them appears on your EP? Provide a brief description of how the EP was recorded and mixed, as well as what songs are included.
I have collaborated with Eric Castiglia from Italy on vocals, he has quite an extensive experience and a number of releases in the melodic death/groove/gothic metal and related genres which makes him quite versatile as a singer. For lead guitars, I’ve worked with Dimitris Koskinas from Greece, an awesome player both in terms of musicianship and personality. We have worked together in my other band Julian’s Lullaby, which makes him a really credible and professional partner. On drums, as mentioned, my son Aris has contributed which is great of course but challenging as well since it takes a lot of effort to provide the necessary direction. Last but not least, Anna Spanogiorgou has contributed with her beautiful lyrics. We have a long lasting friendship and collaboration since 2009 if I recall correctly. I appreciate her both as a person and an artist, she is also a fantasy novels writer and definitely can get inspiration from her work.
Recordings and mixing-mastering were done at my home studio in the Netherlands, all collaborations were done by exchanging files online which makes it very convenient nowadays. It all worked quite well given I had the songs at a pretty much completed stage so I knew what I wanted more or less. Of course, while laying down the vocals and lead guitar parts we tried a few things and did a couple of revisions until we got the best possible version.
The tracklist of “I Before You” contains four songs; “Black Butterfly”, “7 (Sweet) Sins”, “The Emperor and The Nightingale” and “Blue Dragon”. The style of the songs is a mix of 90s metal with an in-your-face sound, short, tight compositions mixing some more modern metal elements. Lots of experimentation and things I didn’t try in the past. Future songs can be somewhat different; it's all based on the mood.

The process of finding musicians to work with seems to have been relatively straightforward. Initially, did you think it might be harder to track people down?
The process was indeed fast in terms of execution, I did flirt with the idea of finding long-term/permanent members but that would basically take a lot of time, tried with a couple of acquaintances and it didn’t work so quickly pivoted to finding professional musicians which is a general idea I have for many years now.

How does Eric Castiglia's training in vocals contribute to Under The Shadows' ability to expand their range?
Eric is a professional session singer, musician and songwriter with far too many collaborations under his belt to mention. Did approach him through a web portal after listening to some of his work and thought his style could match what I was looking for. We did the first song “The Emperor and the Nightingale”, it worked well and decided to move on with the rest of the material. I like the fact that his voice is versatile and can do both clean and brutal/growls.

How much experience does Anna Spanogiorgou have as a fantasy novelist? How does she obtain inspiration for characters and storylines, and how does it influence her lyrics? How does this affect the songs of the band?
Anna has already released a trilogy and she is very active in this community of writers, sharing her own reviews about other books, joining events and other activities. Fantasy and mysticism are the main sources of inspiration. Her lyrics though come from a different, earlier era where they more fit into dark and romantic fields I would say. I like both aspects a lot and I am glad we have this cooperation going on for many years.

How does Anna incorporate fantasy and mysticism into her recent trilogy? In what events does she share her work and her thoughts on other literary works?
The trilogy is a fantasy story where the protagonist is a girl called “Katia”, she possesses magical and mystical powers that she is not aware of and has a mission she doesn’t know anything about in the beginning. She lives a quiet, peaceful life and suddenly things turn upside down when she is dragged to an adventure beyond belief visiting imaginary places out of this world, places and people she never thought of or dreamed about.

Are Aris's musical tastes similar to yours or do they differ? When working on material together, what is the process?
We share a lot of common tastes in music and go to concerts together, but he is also listening to a lot of modern stuff that I do not resonate with necessarily. Working together is great and challenging at the same time. Exchanging ideas is easy as we have all the equipment at home. The challenge comes in terms of organizing our time, difference in mindset (and age haha), managing expectations, things like that. In general we communicate quite well, and it is fun which is most important.

In terms of working together and exchanging ideas, how does having similar tastes in music benefit you? Are there any bands that you saw together that were inspirational to you?
Well, having some similar tastes or references when creating anything (music, or art) is always helpful in capturing the end result faster and with more accuracy. Imagine asking a jazz drummer (with no metal influences/ playing style) to record an extreme death metal piece! I recall for example Annette Olzon who had no metal experience before and she was not a good fit at the end when she replaced Tarja at Nightwish. Hm now that I mentioned Nightwish, I recall we had a very nice time actually at Sabaton and Nightwish shows some time ago in Amsterdam. And of course not to forget the all-time great Mr. Udo Dirkschneider having his son Sven on drums, how nice this is!

How much input did your band mates have during the production of "I Before You"? How many other musicians do you plan to collaborate with once your current release gets around? How do you hope working with different musicians will provide the band with a variety of musical styles?
Given that I have the overall idea and responsibility over the project, I provided the framework/concept/style I am looking for every song, then let them process it and give me their interpretation. This is the model I intend to follow for this project in general, work on my ideas as the songwriter and then based on the style I want for every song look for the right collaboration. Don’t have a pre-decided plan on how many musicians to use but definitely this model allows me to experiment with various sounds, styles and musicians.

Who is the promotion company that is helping you spread the word? Could they also promote the CD and vinyl versions of "I Before You"? Do they also promote Julian's Lullaby?
The promotion agency is called K.S. Music Promotion, it’s an independent P.R. and booking management and the plan is to work with them for all future versions of the EP. We have worked with Kostas via another agency to promote Julian’s Lullaby in the past, and possibly will work again in the future. Talking about Julian’s Lullaby, we have been working for our third album for some time now but personal and family situations have delayed the whole process considerably. Hope we can finish it this year.

In what circumstances did you first become aware of KS Music Promotion, and what events led you to partner with them to promote your music? How much effort do they put into promoting their bands?
As mentioned, I have known Kostas for a few years now and we have worked together through Julian’s Lullaby so I’m fully aware of their professionalism and effort they put in helping their bands. Communication and transparency is also something well appreciated. We are all grown-ups so no room for fuss and making things unnecessarily complicated.

How long has Julian's Lullaby been around, with whom are you working and how many releases have you made so far as a project?
Julian's Lullaby is a band I formed in 2006 while still living in Greece, we have released an EP and two full-length albums on CD format. We have changed a lot of members throughout the years but our line-up is more or less stable since 2012, currently it is myself, George and Anna on vocals and a couple of friends as session musicians on drums, bass and lead guitars plus some guests on piano and violins.

Musically and lyrically, how similar are Julian's Lullaby and Under The Shadows? What are the different ways in which these bands can be distinguished?
Hm, musically I wouldn’t say much, except for the fact that I am the main man in both! Although I would expect someone that likes one could also like the other. However this is not the idea. I also expect to attract new listeners who wouldn’t like Julian’s Lullaby per se. Lyrically you can find similarities of course, but the style of Under The Shadows is more aggressive and direct. Julian’s Lullaby is more melodic and romantic with lots of keyboards and symphonic elements. The vocals are also balanced between male and female, while with Under The Shadows things can be much more experimental. In the future though, I intend to try other things with Under The Shadows. I am not limiting my options.

Does Julian's Lullaby exchange files in the process of composing? What file sharing software is best suited for collaborating and assembling material? Are you in contact with the musicians with whom you are working online?
Since we live in different countries with most of the musicians I collaborate with, file exchange seems the way to go. The actual collaboration is online but not synchronous, if I get the question correctly. I send the file(s) using Wetransfer for example, explain what I need and then I get the file(s) back for review, asking for revisions until the result is the best possible.

As the new recording of Julian's Lullaby is completed, how do you anticipate it will sound? Is there a desire for you to continue to build on what they have created so far?
The Julian’s Lullaby material is done to a large extent already, so songs direction is known more or less. Vocals and guitar solos are still to be done but the overall sound is not much different from the previous album. As long as there is an appetite for doing more, then I can definitely build up. It is true that we haven’t been very active in the past years due to various, mostly personal and family reasons. Hope we can soon finish the album and be able to release it!

If you considered the differences between Julian's Lullaby and Under The Shadows, would you say working with them has a balancing effect on you as a musician?
Yes, this is a fair statement to make.

Back to "I Before You", could you describe what “Black Butterfly”, “7 (Sweet) Sins”, “The Emperor and The Nightingale” and “Blue Dragon” are about, and how much of Anna Spanogiorgou’s experiences are reflected in the lyrics?
I don’t personally know what every poem (they were initially written as poems) is talking about, but there is a common denominator in most of them. They are dark and romantic, for example “The Emperor and The Nightingale” is a fairytale if I recall correctly. Fairytales and imaginary places are all over the place, like in “Blue Dragon”. You can sense dark romance and melancholy in most of these songs’ lyrics and this brings a certain mood, character and personality to Anna’s writing. Sometimes, I add a few lines or change the words to fit the melody but the core concept stays mostly intact. These lyrics have been an inspiration to me. The idea is to use a variety of themes in the future but I must also admit that writing lyrics is not actually my cup of tea unless I have a topic I really like to write about. Writing music is my way of expression.

In what ways, if any, do you think "I Before You" will provide inspiration for the material you and Anna prepare for your next recording? Is it more likely that you will wipe the slate clean and begin anew? At this point, have any ideas been proposed?
I have some ideas already for new songs and plan to begin pre-production in the coming months. I have some lyrics from Anna still to use so I will see what works and if I need additional inspiration. “I Before You” is definitely a good baseline for the next release but like I said, I don't want to limit my options.


-Dave Wolff

Interview with A.Moortal by Dave Wolff


Interview with A.Moortal by Dave Wolff

Were you born into a musical environment? Because your first exposure to it was when you played flute in middle school. Did you practice with a particular type of flute? And did you begin to consider a career in classical music at this time?
I wasn’t actually born into a musical environment. My parents both liked music but they didn’t play. My mom had played the flute in school but it wasn’t something that she stuck with. I really only chose band class and flute because my Mom always told me she did it when she was a kid and it sounded fun. The flute I had was just the cheapest one that the local music store had. I did ask to play the piccolo my third year but the band teacher said no. The greatest impact flute had on my music career is it led some friends to decide to teach me bass guitar. My two best friends in middle school were Sam Lanyon (of Anomalous) and Aaron Pauley (of Jamie's Elsewhere and Of Mice and Men). We were all new to music and they decided that I could learn to play bass because I had played flute. Still doesn’t make sense to me but they were right! We started our first band, Meniss Two Society or MTS. We were terrible but we had fun. I did learn some basic music theory playing flute that still helps me today but otherwise everything is self-taught and learned from friends.
When I got into bass my Dad helped me get my first bass guitar. I worked construction for him over the summer to pay for my first bass and amp. When he learned how affordable starting instruments were he decided to get a guitar. So we really started learning at the same time. Him having a guitar in the house led to me picking it up and starting to just kinda mess around. He thought I had a knack for it and when I was fourteen he came home with a guitar for me. I didn’t even ask. He just saw I was playing it and thought I’d enjoy it. I haven’t stopped playing guitar and writing since.

Did Meniss Two Society primarily perform locally? Are there any recordings they made during their tenure that can still possibly be heard today?
We never left the garage. Halfway through eighth grade Aaron Pauley moved out of town and the band died with his departure. But we all learned a lot and ventured onto new projects. I think there might be an old VHS tape somewhere of us playing and skateboarding but I have no idea where it is. So sadly nothing still remains.

If MTS was essentially a garage band that played for fun, what did it teach you about writing and arranging songs, as well as practicing with other musicians?
The biggest lesson it taught me is to follow the drummer. If everyone in the band follows the drummer, even if the drums are off, you’ll sound locked in. Other than that it really just showed me that playing music is fun and felt like home. It was a big step in becoming who I am today. And of course the basics of being in a room with other musicians. Getting used to what a full band sounds like in a room. How to set up an amp to work in the band instead of on its own. Stuff like that.

As a result of switching to guitar and discovering Disturbed, Slipknot, and Sum 41, your paradigm shifted. At this point did you decide to work at being a professional musician? In what ways did you relate to the bands you discovered and where did your tastes go from there?
I was always the weird kid. I got picked on a lot. My friends showed me some bands and it was just so raw. It was what all my feelings sounded like. This is when I realized music is what I was meant to do. I’ve been trying to make a career out of it ever since. I started writing on the guitar and every time I wrote an angry song idea I felt better about myself and my life. Over the years my tastes have evolved and broadened. I started going to local shows. I listened to everything from pop punk to extreme death metal. In recent years I’ve even started listening to top 40s pop music. Just to see what I can learn from it. These days I mostly listen to metal, I like a lot of newer stuff. Alpha Wolf, Thrown and Knocked Loose are always on my playlists. Slipknot still never misses. Lamb of God is one of my all-time favorites. I still listen to a lot of older metalcore too. 2000s Killswitch Engage is just untouchable.

When you started attending shows, who were the first local bands you saw? In what ways did they inspire you to compose music?
The first local show I went to was headlined by a local band called Below Ground. This would have been around 2004. They actually still play some shows and I’m pretty good friends with a few of the members now. The experience of going to an underground show with other people was so amazing to me. I still can’t explain it but it was like I had finally figured out who I was. I just wanted to feel that way all the time and help other people feel that way too.

Several years ago, I explored Celtic music and folk music. Extreme metal and punk bands incorporate these genres, and I see how they work together. What genres do you listen to that are compatible despite appearing incompatible at first?
I’ve always said metal is just classical music with electricity. I’ve always enjoyed classical compositions and opera. Pop music is probably the biggest departure from metal that I borrow from. A lot of metal feels like just throwing every idea at the wall. I love it, don't get me wrong, but I think the way pop music just gets to the point is really cohesive from start to finish is something every musician can learn from.

Describe Alpha Wolf, Thrown and Knocked Loose to those who may not be familiar with them. In your opinion, what do they offer that has not been done before?
All three I would classify as Metallic Hardcore. Definitely more punk-derived than metal. All three bands use pretty simple guitar riffs combined with elaborate drums, intense drums, and strange noises that aren’t exactly musical but sound really good in context. Knocked Loose has blown up in the last few years and does some weird, almost art piece things with their music. Last year they released two songs that seamlessly blended together and a music video to go with it. Alpha Wolf and Thrown are just so heavy in a way that I haven’t heard in more traditional metal and I really enjoy it.

When did you decide to start writing music after all of your exposure to music? At this time, what were your thoughts regarding being a musician and being a part of a band?
Once I moved from bass to guitar I started writing and composing. I kinda skipped over the whole “learn other people’s music thing.” I only learned a couple riffs here and there. I only recently started learning songs in addition to writing. As a new musician most of my thoughts on music were “I like this but I’d like it more if it did something different.” So I started trying to do that. As for being in a band I didn’t have many thoughts other than “I need to do this.” Playing live makes me feel alive in a way I can’t really explain. It’s more important than a hobby but less important than breathing.

When you compose music, how much effort are you putting into blending classical-inspired metal with direct, to-the-point music like pop punk?
I don’t think about it a whole lot. The writing process usually just starts with a guitar riff, sometimes a lyric, a feeling, or a story, but usually a guitar riff. I’ll record the guitar idea, put drums to it, then I’ll go through and pick apart its key elements. See what notes I’m using, determine the key, see if I’m moving through a chord progression in it, anything that might inform where the song should go. That’s where the pop influence comes in now. I used to just kinda throw riffs at the wall and call it a song. Now I break down the original idea and use that to grow the song. In my opinion this helps keep the music coherent and like it’s a connected piece of music and not just a bunch of ideas.

Can people instantly recognize your sound as one that belongs to you as a result of your approach to writing and combining genres?
I’ve been told over the years that I have a very recognizable style. Even friends who aren’t really into heavy music, I’ll show them something I’m working on and they’ll be like “Yup that’s an Aaron riff!” I do think that I have a way of writing that is somewhat unique to me which I’m really thankful for. I didn’t consciously cultivate that sound, it’s just happened over the years. I do have a very high output for creating and think that is what has honed my skills more than anything. I’ve definitely written some trash songs but I write like two to four songs or ideas a month. I think doing that for like ten years now has made me the musician I am now.

In your opinion, how important is it to channel emotions that people can relate to while listening to your music?
I think emotion is extremely important. Sometimes we musicians can get so caught up in technique and theory things can become too clinical. We forget that the theory and technique are tools to help us achieve emotional expression and not the whole point. I’m definitely guilty of this myself. But to answer the original question I think an argument could be made that emotion is the most important. Music is emotion. Most of my songs are about my battles with mental health and I think that comes through. I hope it does and that it can give some catharsis to people who have similar experiences.

Does your method of writing lyrics reflect your musical compositions in terms of how you channel feeling?
It varies from song to song. Lyrics are usually an afterthought for me. I’ll sit down with an idea and turn that into a full song instrumental. Usually I’ll start to see a story while I’m working through the music. That story will become the lyrics. Like I said before I’ve been struggling with my mental health pretty much my whole life. That feeling is always fueling my writing. A song will start from a vague sense of despair, or anxiety, or anger, and then get more specific.
Sometimes it’s the complete opposite too. My song “Hall Of Mirrors” started with the cover art. I was just messing with designs when it was slow at work and I came up with the artwork and the title. Then I decided on a story: it’s about someone who has betrayed you and has created struggles in your life. Once I had that I started working on the lyrics, no music at this point. I had 90% of the lyrics written before I ever picked up my guitar. I knew how I wanted the chorus of the song to sound vocally when I started working on the music too. I was screaming to a metronome in the car on my way from work that day. Once I got the guitar in my hand I had lyrics, vocal patterns, and a tempo. Then I started writing music to follow that. Short answer: yes, no, maybe, and sometimes.

What is the total amount of material you've released to date? Do you handle the release and distribution of your work independently, given your method of songwriting?
As of today, March 8th 2024, I have sixteen singles out, plus a new song releasing March 15th and another on May 17th. I plan on releasing a single every other month the rest of the year. I might even throw out a couple extra releases depending on how the year goes. I also have a physical CD I made by hand with thirteen tracks on it. It’s a compilation of the singles I’ve released over the last two years and a couple extras.
I do handle everything myself. I like to steadily release songs instead of an album every couple years. Right now I’m using Distrokid because it’s easy and affordable. I have a couple upcoming releases that I’m using Earache Digital Distribution to try out. See if it works better.

If you were to seek indie labels to reach a wider audience, where would you begin? Do you know what demographic and type of label you think would be a good fit for what you're doing?
I used to dream of a label. To get a record deal. That was the only way for years. Now I’m more interested in going the DIY route. My goal is to reach enough fans that the labels come to me. I’m not currently signed but I am working with Self Made Records LLC on marketing. It’s a cool set up because I’m still in charge of all my music and art but I get help with finding my audience.

What label of Erik’s were you signed to previously? Could you add how well it helped you gain exposure for your work?
I signed with Mistanthropik Records a few years ago. They helped me get interviews, reviews, and a lot of playlist spots. That’s why I was excited to work with Erik again!

How did you come to work with Self Made Records LLC and Earache Digital Distribution for promotion and distribution? In what ways have you been able to maintain creative control over your music?
I was signed to a label that Erik Leviathan ran a few years ago. Self Made reached out to me and said they wanted to work with me. When I found out it was the same team I said yes. They work with Earache distro so I tried it on their recommendation. I still have full creative control. That was never even a discussion.

When it comes to some musical genres, how do you define screaming? Do you think watching YouTube videos by vocal coaches would benefit your vocals? It’s common for coaches to demonstrate the importance of keeping your cords open to prevent damage.
Screaming is hard to define. I think any vocal that is heavily distorted could count. Anything from AC/DC to punk bands yelling at the top of their lungs are all a type of screaming. I’ve been doing extreme vocals for over fifteen years now and I still watch videos on Youtube and TikTok. I think I’m a pretty okay screamer but I’ll never think I’m so good I can’t learn something new. I actually just started learning proper warm ups a few years ago from watching Youtube videos.

Which vocal coaches have you watched on YouTube?
I watch Voice Hacks and videos featuring Melissa Cross that emphasize the use of melodic vocal techniques rather than shrieking. David Benites of Extreme Vocal Institute has some really good vocal tips. I actually found him on TikTok originally. Even in just sixty seconds he can be really helpful. Justin from Tallah has some really good videos on Youtube. I think his page is called Hungry Lights. I also watched “The Zen Of Screaming” by Melissa Cross when I was first starting to do screams seriously and not just for fun. Back then she was really the only one teaching it that I knew of.

How helpful have Melissa Cross and the other vocal coaches you have watched been to you? What adaptations did you make to the information you obtained from them?
The biggest thing was learning resonance control. I’m not a singer so I didn’t know how to control where my voice was in my body. Melissa gave a lot of really good singing advice that a lot of screamers overlook, but learning it really helped me get a fuller sound. I would also recommend her for learning proper breathing. I was lucky enough to learn that from the flute.

Do you have any vocalists who have inspired you as a vocalist over the last fifteen years? It Different singers from King Diamond to HR of Bad Brains have different styles to suit different moods. Is there something similar that you do with your lyrics?
Randy Blythe from Lamb of God. Probably my favorite screamer of all time. I really tried to emulate him in the beginning. Howard Jones (Light the Torch, ex Killswitch Engage) and Johnny Plague (Winds of Plague) were also really big influences in the beginning. For lyrics inspiration is more sporadic. Sometimes it’s what I’m listening to that’s inspiring, sometimes it’s a conversation or life event. I’m definitely influenced by the tropes of the genre. Metalcore kinda has a lane when it comes to lyrics. I try not to get stuck in doing things too the same, but you also kinda have to stay in the lane a little to appeal to fans of the genre. It’s a careful balance for sure.

When you compose, what genres do you tend to draw from most frequently? Is this different for each single? What methods do you use to reinterpret your influences?
Genres I think are probably Nu Metal and Metalcore. That’s what I listen to the most so there’s usually something I’m listening to a lot that’s in my head. It does differ from song to song for sure, but I like what I like ya know? But none of that is set in stone. Sometimes I’m just walking around humming a random melody and think “I should play that on guitar and put a breakdown under it” You never really know when or where inspiration is coming.
A lot of the time I’m just playing guitar for fun and I’ll improvise something I like. Then I’ll record it real quick and start messing with it. Change some notes around, add changes, have the root notes of it move through a progression. It’s a lot of just having fun with the guitar and experimenting.

Is it your practice to tailor your lines to fit the guitar progressions behind them, or do you fit them to the mood of the song as a whole?
Song as a whole definitely. When it comes to lyrics and vocals I follow the drums more than anything. But you gotta pay attention to everything going on. For example sometimes I’ll drop a line at the end of a part because I want some cool guitar run or drum fill to stand out. I’m a musician first so I’m usually making the vocals fit around the music. But like I said before, sometimes it’s totally different. That’s what makes music so fun, there’s no right or wrong, just what you create. Sure there’s “rules” but those are guidelines and ways to explain what you did.

As musicians find new ways to work within their genres, rules can be bent and stretched. Change some notes and experiment as you suggested. How much do you want to break the mold?
I never set out to break the mold. Or to fit in it. I just create and see where it takes me. Admittedly I don’t think I’m doing anything super groundbreaking. I think I sound different from most metalcore, but I’m not redefining the genre or anything. I think metal as a whole is expanding and I’m expanding with it.

Which of the singles you have released so far has proven most personal for you? What made those songs personal and what kind of cathartic experience was it to write them?
That’s a tough one. All of my music is very personal to me. I think my upcoming release “Hollow” (out 3/15/24 shameless plug) is definitely up there. Maybe just because it’s fresh on my mind. It’s a song about being depressed. That’s it. Not getting better, not overcoming. Just a song about how hard it can be to live with mental illness. I was in a funk and just needed to scream about it. The song is just catharsis for me, and hopefully anyone who hears it.
Another track that comes to mind is “Wage Slave”. When I wrote it I was working a dead end job, and hated it. I was just a number to them and barely scraping by. And I was just pissed and sad about it. I was looking for something better but I wasn’t having any luck. So I wrote a song about wanting to change the world so everyone can be happy, but also about wanting to fight your middle management boss in the parking lot.

Are “Hollow” and “Wage Slave” written in a way for younger and older listeners to relate to? Are the ideas about overcoming certain situations a common theme in your lyrics?
They’re written for me to relate to. I’d like to think my writing is timeless and for everyone, but that feels egotistical. These songs are written for the depressed and people fed up with the grind respectively. If that’s you, you’ll probably like them. Overcoming is a pretty strong theme in my music for sure. I try to be optimistic. “Hollow” is a departure from that. It’s not meant to be about overcoming. But I think that makes it an outlier in my catalog. What is the ease of composing solo as opposed to other musicians? Is this arrangement something that you would like to change at some point, or are you satisfied as a solo musician? The biggest difference is time. I don’t have to wait for someone to sign off on a part or spend half an hour teaching people parts to see if it works in the song or not. I can just write it and record it and decide. It can be really frustrating to have a group of people weighing in on your art. Especially if they’re not bringing anything to the table creatively. A.Moortal will stay a solo project. It was started as an outlet for me. I’m in some bands too but they satisfy different needs.

Is your desire for creative control reflected in your desire to independently produce your music?
Honestly self producing is more out of necessity. I’m a poor musician. I can’t really afford studios or producers. And I live in a small town, there’s not really anywhere to do it that’s reasonably close. I started learning production in high school because it was the only way I was gonna get my stuff recorded. I do like it though. It allows me to work as I write instead of needing to write a whole EP or album and then plan to record it.

Do you have any ideas for new material since your last release? Can you recall any recent experiences in your life that might serve as inspiration for lyrics?
My next two releases are fully finished and waiting. One will release in May and the next in July. I have an instrumental finished that will get vocals soon. For inspiration I think that one will use a haunting as a metaphor for generational trauma. Recently life has actually been pretty good, but it hasn’t always been and there’s a lot in the world I don’t like so I’ll never be lacking something to write about.

Given the personal nature of your work with A.Moortal, do you hope to be received by the metalcore industry? How do you weigh the importance of mass exposure and self-expression?
I would love to be accepted by the industry, yes. But it’s not the most important thing to me. I truly believe in my music and what I do. I don’t need to be world famous, I just want enough success to not need a day job. My hope is that if I just keep doing what I’m doing enough people will find it and like it so that I can make a living from it. Thank you for this interview by the way! Hopefully it will help get me in that direction!

Besides creating music as a solo artist, what else would you like to accomplish?
I have a new band I’m working on called RVR (pronounced river) that I’m really excited about. It’s more pop punk and rock. Just catchy, fun music. Other than that the goal is always just to be happy. Music makes me happy. My friends make me happy. My partner Ari makes me happy. My goal is to keep those things in my life and make as time as possible for them.


-Dave Wolff