Monolithic Elephant

Review: Monolithic Elephant – Monolithic Elephant

Mothership is a ‘70s hard rock-influenced, blues-based, heavy rock band. The band’s self-titled debut release is a 66-minute journey back in time with a focus on the bass, drums and guitar, along with the vocals. Monolithic Elephant is a three-piece outfit, hailing from Milan in Italy. The band is comprised of singer/guitarist Andrea Ravasi, singer/bassist Alessandro Riva, and singer/drummer Santo Carone.

Monolithic Elephant album art

Monolithic Elephant harkens back to when music was pure and heavy, not watered down. The band opens the album with “Moloch,” which intro is over a minute of ambient/atmospheric sounds, followed by a very Sabbath-inspired, heavy and plodding tones. With the following 2-song suite “The Unbaptized and the Virtuous Pagans,” the album inevitably falls under the heading “mostly instrumental” for its extended jam sections, but it’s worth noting that when there are vocals they come on with structure behind. The song continues the heaviness, but the tempo kicks it into another gear, energizing the song. The band often flirts with heavy psychedelic rock, as well as prog, but tunes remain to be rooted within the heavy genre. Monolithic Elephant don’t feel by any means tied to a formula, and drummer Santo Carone has his work cut out for him keeping the jams tied to the ground throughout the album. To his credit, he does, and even at these songs’ farthest out, there’s something for listeners to hold onto. It’s part of the overall balance that Monolithic Elephant seem to have a natural hold of, between stoner rock, jam and psych.

“Drawing Minds” opens with a classically inspired guitar intro that is very surreal and tranquil, showing off some dynamics in the confines of the music. That doesn’t last long before the heavy riffs kick in and hammer you. While the riffs are dark, heavy and ‘70s-inspired sludge, the solos are anything but sludge. Rooted in pentatonic, Ravasş showcases fiery chops that slide into more traditional rock soloing. Being a three-piece, the bass is present in the mix. Alessandro Riva has moments in the spotlight in which his chops are the focal point.

Monolithic Elephant unloads with a debut album that captures the energy of rock in a stripped-down sonic landscape. The riffs are heavy and crushing. As a three piece, Monolithic Elephant fills the room with sound. While the band could be considered a “jam” band, there is a method to the madness, and the trio showcases raw skill and ever-expounding energy.

Mute Prophet

Interview with MUTE PROPHET

Mute Prophet is a symphonic prog metal band from St. Louis who in December 2016 released their debut album “The Unheard Warning,” and already in March this year they re-released it with the remixed version of the album, simply because they were not satisfied with how the original mix turned out. Kevin Goetz, Chris Tompkins and Adrienne Odenthal spoke for Progstravaganza.

Hey folks. How are you doing?

All: We’re good!

Your debut album “The Unheard Warning” was put out in December. How do you feel about the release?

Kevin Goetz: I’m happy with it, especially after the remix we did in March. I did the mixing and mastering myself – we recorded everything at our home studio – so I had some personal grievances with the production on the December release that I later corrected, but as for the songwriting and the recorded performances, I’ve always been incredibly satisfied.

Chris Tompkins: It’s unreal. It’s one of those things where we’ve been trying to do this for so many years, it kind of hasn’t clicked yet that we finally have an album out.

Adrienne Odenthal: To me it’s like being past the first hurdle. Kind of the celebratory moment where now we can start on all our other plans without saying, “Well, we should probably save that for after the album’s done.” It’s not planning anymore, it’s action.

How much of a challenge was to work on the album?

Kevin Goetz: It was incredibly challenging. We’ve been trying to put this thing together for going on six years now with a bunch of line-up changes and style changes and stuff like that, and finally in December of 2015 we decided to scrap everything, build a top-of-the-line PC, drop all other musical obligations and spend the entire year just working on this.

Chris Tompkins: And up until 2014, it was only me and Kevin working on this. Our previous members didn’t contribute much of anything, so the creation of this album was really just us for a long time until Adrienne joined.

Adrienne Odenthal: It was extremely challenging for a lot of unexpected reasons. We had countless technical difficulties, including having multiple hard drives fail and take a lot of the recordings with them that we’d have to redo. There were a lot of small details that none of us anticipated, that we had to improvise solutions to before we could progress. I also went and learned marketing, graphic design, merch creation, and a lot of other side jobs that we still had to do ourselves, while Kevin worked on the mixing and production side of things.

The Unheard Warning

What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from St. Louis are you friends with?

Kevin Goetz: We actually haven’t met any other bands in our genre, believe it or not! We’re kind of the musical equivalent of that reclusive kid who stays home from all the parties, though hopefully once we start touring we’ll have more chances to network with other bands.

Chris Tompkins: Yeah, I really think it’s just that we haven’t gotten out there much yet. There are plenty of bands we’d like to meet, at least. We saw a local band, Final Drive, open for Children of Bodom at one point, and that was really cool.

What is your opinion about the current progressive metal scene?

Kevin Goetz: Personally, I love it! I think that because anyone can now release an album out of their bedroom, without having record labels as gatekeepers, anyone now has more of a shot at success than has ever really been possible. I actually teach music on Youtube and Skype, and I get a lot of students talking about how they’ve experienced this themselves. Basically, if you’re good at what you do, you can make it. Success is entirely on your own merits now, and that’s incredibly encouraging to me.

Chris Tompkins: I’m really happy with it. There are so many people out there now making really good music. It’s kind of intimidating, but it’s also cool because there’s always someone to learn from. It felt like, about ten years ago or so, metal was kind of stagnating a little bit. The progressive scene wasn’t quite there yet. But now, it seems like prog is moving more and more into the major overall metal scene.

Adrienne Odenthal: I feel like it’s going in a really interesting direction. Everyone’s experimenting in different ways to find something that hasn’t been done before.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

Kevin Goetz: In terms of songwriting, I get a lot of influence from symphonic metal bands like Nightwish and Epica, mixed with the guitar work from bands like Periphery or Animals As Leaders. In terms of my actual guitar playing, I think my biggest influences are Alexi Laiho, Rusty Cooley and Herman Li.

Chris Tompkins: Paul Gilbert, Michael Romeo, and Kiko Loureiro are probably the big ones for me.

Adrienne Odenthal: I’ve spent a lot of time studying the vocal styles of Floor Jansen and Simone Simons, and my main influence on growling is Angela Gossow.

What are you listening to these days?

Kevin Goetz: I’ve been trying to get more into modern metal, since I realized I’ve been kind of stuck in 2006 with my musical tastes. So I’ve been looking into bands like Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya and the like, but I still spend most of my time listening to my “classics,” stuff like Epica, Children of Bodom, Dragonforce, Shade Empire or Nightwish. A lot of Finnish stuff.

Chris Tompkins: Periphery, Animals As Leaders, Jared Dines’ solo album…I haven’t had a whole lot of time lately to listen to much music.

Adrienne Odenthal: Children of Bodom, Nightwish, In Flames, Epica, Shade Empire, Periphery, Delain and Revamp.

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

Kevin Goetz: Sinthetic by Shade Empire, Once by Nightwish, Follow the Reaper by Children of Bodom, Inhuman Rampage by Dragonforce, and The Divine Conspiracy by Epica.

Chris Tompkins: Iconoclast by Symphony X, Follow the Reaper by Children of Bodom, Rebirth by Angra, Technical Difficulties by Racer X, Inhuman Rampage by Dragonforce.

Adrienne Odenthal: Follow the Reaper by Children of Bodom, The Jester Race by In Flames, Oceanborn by Nightwish, Sinthetic by Shade Empire, Holographic Universe by Scar Symmetry.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “The Unheard Warning”?

Kevin Goetz: We used Reaper for all recording and mixing, with everything coming through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Drums are Toontrack’s EZDrummer, guitars are LePou’s free guitar plugin Legion, orchestra/keyboard are a collection of free soundfonts I’ve assembled over the years, and the vocals were recorded through a Sterling ST51.

Chris Tompkins: Kevin plays a Schecter C7-Hellraiser, and I actually use a custom-built 8-string that we’ve had ambitions of prototyping into our own guitar brand. Strings were I think Ernie Ball Power Slinkies. I think we mostly used 2mm Dunlop picks, but I think I used a 1.5mm on a couple of my solos.

Adrienne Odenthal: My vocal cords, and Monster coffee…which I probably shouldn’t be drinking as often as I am.

Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

Kevin Goetz: Actually, we’re already working on our second album, and we’ve also started planning covers of similar bands, to try to get our music in front of a larger audience. I’ve also been using my music lesson channel on Youtube to try and do some additional promotion.

Chris Tompkins: We’ve also been sitting on a documentary that details the creation of the album, which is something we’ve had fans express interest in.

Any words for the potential new fans?

Kevin Goetz: If you haven’t heard us before, and you’re interested in symphonic metal with a modern progressive twist, check us out on Spotify or Bandcamp.

Chris Tompkins: Or Youtube. And thanks for reading!

CAST

Review: Cast – Power and Outcome

Mexican symphonic prog rockers Cast are back with another symphonic adventure of epic songs. A modern symphonic prog-rock album with heavier moments, the music has a lot of quiet and beautiful atmosphere where the melody is carried slowly. The opening “Rules of the Desert” is 11+ epic that is absolutely mind blowing. “Power and Outcome” is an album where the emotions flow perfectly accompanied by the musical lines. Make sure you hunt it down and enjoy it!

Power And Outcome - cover

“Power and Outcome” showcases an impressive combination of creative instrumentation and heartfelt vocal delivery; the band has created a suite of music that coheres in a deeply compassionate and emphatic way. This is a rich and eclectic record with echoes of classical music, the Canterbury progressive rock, jazz and a bit of metal.

“Power and Outcome” is a masterclass example of current progressive music that perfectly fuses vintage and modern sounds with an equally on-point balance of subtlety.

To conclude, this is an incredible album. It’s a lengthy, complex, emotional, and pretty much perfect example of modern progressive rock.

Links:

castofficial.com

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Hyaena

Interview with HYAENA

Hyaena from Orleans in France is set to release their debut album entitled Existence on April 5th.  The 12-track record offers quite a lot for fans of progressive death metal; it was produced by renown producer Jamie King who is best known for his work with Between The Buried And Me and Scale The Summit.

Hyaena was very kind to answer my questions about their new release, but also gear, scene, and more.

Hey folks. How are you doing?

Bam: Great! Thanks of asking.

Alex: Fine too!

Chris: Pretty good!

Virgile: Cool cool!

You are about to release a full-length debut album entitled “Existence.” How do you feel about the release?

Bam: It’s a great feeling! We have worked so much on this, we hope you guys will dig it!

Alex: It’s a real achievement for all of us, a true satisfaction!

Chris: I’m so proud of it, and quite excited to see what people think.

Virgile: Excited, we’ve been working on this for a long time.

existence

How much of a challenge was to work on the album?

Bam: It was a very long process due to a change of our lineup. At the start, I was the only guitarist so most of the album was written with one guitar part. Then Alex join us in the process, so we started to add new riffs, that was lots of work!

Chris: I came from a grindcore/death metal band (Necrofist) wich worked in a very different way, we used to compose together during rehearsals. Bam and Nathan used computers and softwares but I didn’t. That was the biggest challenge for me! It was worth it though.

What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from France are you friends with?

Bam: We are not friends but I think Hypno5e is the band that sounds the most similar to us. I’d love to tour with them one day!

Alex: The Dali Thundering Concept is a great French band I like. These guys are nice!

Virgile: I have so much respect for Klone and Psykup!

What is your opinion about the current progressive metal scene?

Bam: This scene is very special, because there is so many genres in it. I personally think that it’s the best period for the progressive metal scene. Some of the best albums I’ve listened where released couples of years ago.

Virgile: I think it’s a scene that crosses the ages, it’s not the easiest music in the world, but the most colorful one!

Can you tell me something about your influences?

Bam: I grow up listening to bands like Dir En Grey (and lots of visual kei), so the Japanese sounds are really a part of my influences.

Chris: I have to say that, like most drummers, Thomas Haake influences a lot my drumming.

Virgile: The voice of Maynard James Keenan stuck in me. It’s like he can sing in every band in the world and do something different, but you’ll always know that it was him. I love the personality of his voice.

What are you listening to these days?

Bam: It depends of my mood [haha]. But these days I listen to Within The Ruins.

Alex: These days I listen to Polaris, Architects, Northlane!

Chris: Vidhjarta and AAL.

Virgile: Statea by Vanessa Wagner & Murcof, and The Night God Slept by Silent Planet.

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

Bam: Dir En GreyUroboros & Dum Spiro Spero / Tool10,000 Days / The ContortionistLanguage.

Alex: ArchitectsLost Forever / Lost Together, Periphery II, The ContortionistExoplanet, DayseekerOrigin.

Chris: MeshuggahNothing / The dillinger escape planMiss Machine / Origin – Antithesis / Les musclésMerguez party / BotchWe are the romans.

Virgile: Tool10,000 Days / The ContortionistLanguage / NINYear Zero / DeftonesAdrenaline / Coal ChamberCoal Chamber.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “Existence”?

Bam: Guitars and bass were recorded with an AxeFx II – not sure about the patch but I think it was the Das Metall amp with a TS808mod drive for the tone!

Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

Bam: We plan to make as much as possible shows and maybe a tour for the end of the year!

Chris: And save the world. But we want to tour first.

Virgile: Haha.

Any words for the potential new fans?

Bam: Thank you! Spread the word and we hope to play close to you and share a beer!

Alex: Thank you for your support, I can’t wait to play this album live for you guys!

Chris: Sounds good.

Virgile: Music is life!

Links:

Bandcamp

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Twitter

hyaena-music.com

The Lonely Traveller

Review: Psychic Equalizer – The Lonely Traveller

Psychic Equalizer is a project by Spanish musician, pianist Hugo Selles, crowning a multi-award wining combination that music speaks widely for it’s self. Founded in 2011, PE released three EP’s, amassing a noble reputation holding a high regard of appraisal. The new release is an album entitled “The Lonely Traveller,” which graciously feels like a transport mechanism to the ‘bygone’ smoky-bar-room era of sparkly contemporary brass-string Jazz movements, sporting its style in a crisp, rich manner that effectively classifies itself among the overall album content.

Though the Jazz aspect dominates the scene as its intended expression, it still gets a fine collaboration of etheric and futuristic sounds from guitarist Quico Duret to establish almost a Post-Neo modern take. Duret seems to get the pacified arena worked up with an array of eerie and spacey measure.

Track no. 2 “An Ocean of Change (I-IV)” makes addition of finely sprinkled Post Rock essence in an ‘echoy’ air, allowing the Jazz to hold its form and that crisp clarity. Even Selles’s Prog Jazz signature that comes thru on occasion feels contemporary and intentional. Morten Skott’s take on the Classic Jazz drumming scope is something to behold, with fantastic arrangements to simple mood. This fine instrumental album is by no means a complication of matters generally involved with Prog or a unique collection of sound tools which interprets that unique does not necessarily constitute a complex heavy arrangement that can emerge from inventive or improvisational setups.

Although “The Lonely Traveller” does listen like an arrangement of twelve tales in (large) variation, no track complimenting the previous or the next, the emotions are still warm and committed. Selles’s occasional nuances with the keyboards and synths make the listen personal, like when you have that urge to increase your monitor levels a ‘little’ more to appreciate the fine technicality. All instruments are meticulously (mathematically) played in a variety of styles from classic to contemporary to modern.

Psychic Equalizer makes a bold statement about its intent, but does not attempt to barrage or hammer-home its distinctively classy form. Absorbing the rewarding experience of “The Lonely Traveller” is one different in the way you would expect normally associated with absorbing high value audio, one is left with a quality reminiscing of classic jazz worked with a modernity. I loved this work.

Hugo Selles

Interview with PSYCHIC EQUALIZER

Hugo Selles is a composer, pianist and a man behind the project Psychic Equalizer. He released a full-length album “The Lonely Traveller” in January, and I got a chance to ask him few questions about the album, his favorite records, and more.

Hey Hugo. How are you doing?

Hi! Pretty busy, but good!

You have just released “The Lonely Traveller” with your project Psychic Equalizer. How do you feel about the release?

Exactly, it was released on the 20th of January. I have been working on it for almost two years, so I feel very excited about it being out there for everyone to listen.

How much of a challenge was to work on the album?

It’s been the most difficult recording I’ve done to date. Apart from the normal process of composing, arranging, recording demos, contacting musicians, etc; the whole album was rehearsed in the studio for a couple of days and due to the lack of time, 75% of the music was recorded live (some of the final versions that you can hear in the album are the only take ever made). Just the strings, voices, some percussion and keyboards were added afterwards. We also had to deal with many other unexpected things. For instance, on the fifth or sixth day of the recording, there was a flood in the studio caused by some burst pipe in the heating system. I mean, you can expect that a guitar gets damaged on a flight – even when you take all the precautions – but water falling from the roof…?

The Lonely Traveller

What is your opinion about the current experimental scene?

To be honest, even though I love lots of music and try to listen to new things regularly, I’m a bit outdated in this field. I do know some bands or artists that are active nowadays, but unfortunately, I don’t have a whole picture of how the scene is. I have heard from others that last year has gone through a magnificent revival of progressive music. So I should definitely check it out!

Can you tell me something about your influences?

The music by Rachmaninov, Pat Metheny, Radiohead and Pink Floyd. Those four are remarkable. Others depend on which stage I’m at in my career or life. Some years ago I was obsessed with Brad Mehldau, Anna Maria Jopek and pianist Krystian Zimerman. Now I’m truly re-discovering Dream Theater, Paco de Lucía and Dvorak. I guess they have all marked me in some way. I do also find nature and painting to be great influences in my music.

What are you listening to these days?

At this very moment, while writing these lines, Fragile by Yes. I’ve also been listening to Anoushka Shankar and Stephan Micus quite a lot for the last month. There’s also space for Anathema’s Falling Deeper in my playlist and for this other album that never saw the light as The Alan Parsons Project but as an Eric Woolfson’s project called Freudiana. It’s simply magnificent.

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

I’ve always been worried about someone asking this question to me, so difficult to choose! Although it’s true that there are two which I’m completely sure about: the recording of Bartók’s Piano Concertos by Géza Anda and Ferenc Fricsay, and The Way Up by the Pat Metheny Group. Those two are outstanding. And knowing that I’d possibly change my mind tomorrow, the other three: the recording of Beethoven’s last Piano Sonatas by Maurizio Pollini, Mychael Danna’s original score for the film Life Of Pi and In Praise of Dreams by Jan Garbarek.

HS

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “The Lonely Traveller”?

In general, I think we used high profile gear. I recorded with a grand piano Fazioli, which has a very powerful bass sound that India Hooi, the sound engineer, managed to capture perfectly. I’m a great fan of Kurzweil and brought my SP3X to the studio. Every single synth, hammond or rhodes is played on it. I use some of my own setups as well as the default ones. I know that Quico Duret, the main guitarist, is obsessed with the best sound quality too. He plays a Fender Telecaster and have tons of different pedals: Memory Boy Deluxe, Fulltone OCD, Verbzilla, etc. I specially like that reverb one and always encouraged him to use it. We used the “classic” amplifier VOX AC30 for the guitar, and apart from all the different precious instruments, we also used DPA, Sennheiser, AKG, Royer and Shure microphones. The console was a Lawo, of which we combined the use of its preamps with some Neve and LA.

Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

We are planning a summer tour presenting the project and I personally would love to record the already-composed next album towards the end of the year.

Any words for the potential new fans?

I believe Psychic Equalizer is a very eclectic project and I’m sure that jazz fusion or progressive rock fans will find it very interesting.

Visit Hugo Selles’ website for more news and info.

Randomnicity

Review: Konstant Singularity – Randomnicity

Konstant Singularity is a project of Russian multi-instrumentalist, but mainly guitarist, and composer Konstantin Ilin who lives in Dublin, Ireland for a few years. In May 2014, Ilin released his debut album with KS entitled “Music Diversity Party” (available here), and back in December 2016 he returned with its followup — “Randomnicity.” A quick comparison between the two releases reveals that the new record feels far more free-form than its predecessor.

“Randomnicity” is at times a brutally minimalist avant-rock exploration of loathing and at others a nostalgic trip through a bad 1960’s acid trip, 1970’s progressive rock, 1980’s art pop, and 1990’s jazz fusion. “Randomnicity” is driven in equal parts by noise rock’s harsh guitar, and a sense of sonic adventure and true experimentation. Album highlight “Hyacinth Sky” is a stunning masterpiece; Ilin and drummer Alex Vostrikov abandon all pretence of accessibility, and that it is the very core of the album. This doesn’t seem like a record that is easy to digest, what is in the core of the experimental music, but there is definitely a lot of balance and determination in the band’s improvisational approach. This only adds to album’s intrigue though, as it makes us question the ideas of nostalgia and longing so built into the record’s sounds.

Konstant Singularity have released a powerful statement here; this is an album that should definitely be on radar of many prog fans. Get it from Bandcamp.

You can read the interview with Konstantin Ilin here.

Synaptik

Review: SynaptiK – Justify & Reason

Get ready for a gigantic portion of thick, stinking, faux-prog metal cheese of epic stature with this outstandingly campy, exciting, and wholly enjoyable album by SynaptiK!

I have a soft-spot for iconic Heavy Metal, and “Justify & Reason” does everything it needs to to tug on my heartstrings. First, it’s energetic, with genuinelly entertaining songwriting. The opening “The Incredible Machine” sets the majestic tone beautifully, giving way to the big, busy guitar work of Ian Knight and Jack Murton and an ever surging momentum which carries through the entire album. As a whole, the band is very tight, and never burdened by the excessiveness of say… any of Dream Theatre’s recent albums. Songs feature glimmers of symphonic nuance here and there, but largely feel stripped down, simplified, rocking, and very effective.

Justify & Reason cover art

Guitars step in and out of the spotlight tastefully, and solo breaks are fantastic, with lightning dexterity and creative playing. They sometimes come with cool time signature changes as well, making them a real highlight of the album.

Of course, John Knight’s vocals are a big part of this album’s success. He is every metal singer from the 1980s condensed into a perfectly honed, screaming machine — which makes “Justify & Reason” feel very much like a relic of its days…

Prog-metal snobs will probably not be impressed by the occasional concessions the band makes for accessibility and sing-along-ability… but the enthusiasm and talent demonstrated here more than makes up for its sometimes FM-oriented melodies. “Justify & Reason” gets high marks from me because its simply so much fun to listen to! The awesome cover artwork is the icing on the cake.

Pre-order “Justify & Reason” here.

Pregnant Whale Pain

Review: Pregnant Whale Pain – Blank

And so we come to “Blank,” an EP by Pregnant Whale Pain, a Hungarian band that’s been active for a few years now. This release, which was released in January, is definitely one of the best mathcore releases I’ve experienced in a long time. What we’ve got here is sort of a progressive metalcore that dabbles in jazz and schizophrenia. This record should not be overlooked by anyone. Any fan of metal, prog, hardcore or good music in general needs to listen to “Blank.” The technicality and songwriting are both through the roof and there is no shortage of creativity.

Pregnant Whale Pain - Blank

Guitarists Daniek Garamvolgyi and Balasz Lederer play some of the most challenging and jaw dropping guitar parts to be heard here while remaining super creative and not falling into the trap of classic shredding. Krisz Horvath’s vocals are excellent, though would probably be what turns off the most people. These vocals are extremely chaotic, and whenever they stop being as heavy as possible, it is only to build back up again. The fact that the music could be appreciated without the vocals is a testament to the originality. So long as you don’t mind the vocals or can see past them, you will enjoy this.

It is also important to mention that the feeling of this record is never calm. Even when the distortion is gone and it all slows down, there is still a very ominous feeling that the music will jump out from behind a rock and smash you in the head. A prime example of this would be the song “Blank Long Nights Kill Romance Vengefully” which falls back form the intensity but never even approaches soothing. That isn’t to say there is no dynamic because the level of intensity shifts.

When someone tells you that there is no good metal left, point them here. When they say all core stuff sucks, point them here. When they say metal and core are all just shrieking and screaming, point them here. This release is the killer of cliches.

Links:

Bandcamp

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Zafakon band

ZAFAKON Speaks for Progstravaganza

This may be a weird way to start a post, but I would love to thank to a PR wire for hooking me with this great band. Puerto Ricans, Zafakon are relatively a new name on the scene. They released two great studio albums since 2013, toured a lot, opened for Metallica. Life seems to be good.

I spoke with bassist Weslie Negron, and singer/guitarist Marcus Veit.

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

Weslie Negrón: Hello! All good on our end, thank you for having us!

What can people expect from your last year’s album “Release”?

Marcus Veit: It’s an album that has a lot of different styles in it. I like to believe there’s something for people of all musical tastes. We are mostly a Metal band. But in this album you can see there’s influences from a lot of musical genres.

What was it like working on the album?

MV: Exhausting! *laughs* There was a lot of hard work and long hours put into this one. All of our hearts and souls went into it. The writing process for it was long, but it’s because we wanted everything to come out just right. Also we were in no rush. We took our time. The recording process was a different story. We had quite a few inconveniences throughout. And we had a tour coming up for which we wanted to have the album ready. It was pretty stressful but we got it done.

Release

Where does “Release” stand comparing to “War as a Drug” (2013)?

WN: “Release” is a more of a complete and evolved album than “War as a Drug”. WAD is more straightforward, Death/Thrash Metal, and more raw than the new material. It has to do a lot with our mindset by that time compared to now. In “Release” and with Yhann’s (Ortiz, Lead Guitar) addition to the band, our musical approached changed into a more melodic and diverse sound and that it where “Release” stands.

You opened for Metallica in San Juan. Tell me how did the whole thing happen?

WN: Metallica made the contest “Hit the Stage” for their 2016 “Worldwired” Latin America Tour. The contest consisted on choosing every country’s top 5 bands (in Puerto Rico Puya, Fullminator, Machete, A Million Souls, and us where chosen). After the bands were picked, people from around the globe had the chance to vote for their favorite bands and get them to play the day of the concert. Thanks to the amazing response of our followers, friends, and family, we had the chance to open the show and I would dare to say that has been the most important day of our lives.

Are there any touring plans in support to “Release”?

WN: We did an 18 dates tour at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 in support of “Release” around the United States. We are planning to return to the Mainland in the Summer time this year.

Zafakon

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

WN: We would love to visit as many countries as we can, but I would say the top would be places in Europe, South America, and Asia for sure.

Who and what inspires you the most?

WN: In my case, personally, I cannot deny that I’m a huge Opeth fan, so Mikael Akerfeldt is definitely one of the people I really look up to. When you hear his story, coming up with as many difficulties he did during the early stages of the band and, still, he wouldn’t quit, makes him someone to look up to, in my case. As far as circumstances that inspire me, I would say that seeing the happy faces of everyone that goes to our shows during our set it is something that keeps me motivated to keep doing this. There is no way to describe how amazing it is to get positive feedback from the crowd while you are playing.

MV: I take a lot of inspiration from Nergal from Behemoth. I just think that he is an incredibly strong person. He has been through a lot and never lost his focus nor did he lose his convictions. I also admire how his mind works, creatively. I think he is also someone not who is not afraid to break any barriers and is definitely not concerned about what the world wants to impose on him. So I really like to think that I can be that kind of person.

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

WN: I mainly listen to Rock/Metal, recently I’m getting into 70’s Prog Rock and a lot of modern Doom and Stoner Metal. But, coming from Puerto Rico, there is a lot of Latin music that you listen to practically every day, it’s in our blood. So, stuff like Salsa and Latin Jazz are there as well. I try to incorporate different approaches from the music I listen to. Usually, if I find interesting a specific section of a song, I’ll just study the approach and try to apply it into my playing.

MV: Well I honestly mostly listen to Metal and Rock. It’s what I love. Other genres I dabble in are Blues (old Mississippi Delta stuff), some orchestral pieces (like videogame soundtracks ‘cause I’m a dork), some proggy stuff too: Rush, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, and also the best thing that ever happened to music: Pink Floyd.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

WN: Thank you for this opportunity! We would like to thank everyone that read this interview and I would like to invite everyone to check our music out. You can stream “Release” on Spotify and our Bandcamp page. And you can follow us on: Facebook, Youtube and Instagram for the latest news on the band.

MV: What he said.

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