All posts by Alec Vanthournout

James Norbert Ivanyi

Interview with JAMES NORBERT IVANYI

James Norbert Ivanyi just dropped a new EP, and it bloody rocks! The guitarist extraordinaire from Sydney in Australia with “The Usurper” offers three new songs which creatively overcome everything he has done so far. Ivanyi already works on some new material, so if you are already a fan of his work fill the gap with “The Usurper” while waiting for more greatness. If you are new to this world, make no excuses and introduce yourself to the work of real artistry.  Oh, and also read the interview below.

Hey James. How are you doing?

Doing great! Thanks for asking.

You are about to release a new EP “The Usurper.” How do you feel about the release?

I feel really good about it. Especially after getting such a great response from the single ‘A Fatal Eminence’ that I put out about 2 weeks ago. I’m looking forward to hearing what people think of the rest of the EP.

How much of a challenge was to work on “The Usurper”?

Thankfully it was quite easy. There was a wonderful flow throughout the creation of the EP, and obviously being able to make records from home is very comfortable and removes a lot of the stress. The only real challenges were getting some of the vintage tones right that I wanted to feature on the record. Luckily I was able to achieve everything I set out to, thanks to the assistance of the talented people I work with, and exercising a little patience.

The Usurper

What is your opinion about the current progressive metal scene?

I feel like it’s better than ever! Perhaps not in the sense of the classic 70’s & 80’s progressive model, but in terms of how much forward thinking and challenging music there is out there today, it’s definitely strong and extremely inspiring. I’ve especially noticed it over the last couple of years in the bandcamp and independent scene. It’s great.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

I consider myself a rock player who loves modern, technical heavy music. I’ve really tried to embrace that in my solo music to bring what I love from classic rock into a more modern context and explore it in the instrumental sense. Growing up in an artistic and musical family, we always had bands like Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Rush, Yes, Genesis, Emerson Lake & Palmer, AC/DC, Ella Fitzgerald and more playing in our house. I suppose I was fortunate to be exposed to such a diverse amount of music when I was so young. Some of my more modern metal influences would be bands like Necrophagist, Opeth, Dream Theater, Nevermore, The Faceless, Pantera, Mastodon and bands like that.

What are you listening to these days?

I’ve been listening to the new Sean Ashe record a fair bit. He’s a really cool guy and a great song writer. I dig his use of tone and melody. The record is called ‘Flux’. It’s great!

JNI

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

Opeth: Ghost Reveries.
The Doors: The Doors.
Led Zeppelin: Presence.
Dream Theater: Scenes From A Memory.
Nevermore: This Godless Endeavor.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you used to record “The Usurper”?

I used a Gibson SG for the majority of the rhythm parts, and all of my Suhr guitars for different solo’s, melodies and texture parts. I used my Friedman BE-100 amplifier for all the parts and a Suhr Re-Active load to feed the signal into my computer to use cabinet simulation. Most of it was recorded at my home except for the drums, saxophone, Theremin and some keys parts that were tracked in external studio spaces.

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

I definitely want to get out there and do a US tour as my next focus. I’ve played there a bunch of times but have never done a tour as a solo artist. I’ve got the fire lit after doing a really enjoyable and successful mini tour here in Australia, so it’s likely that after the EP is out, that will become my focus. I’ve already got the wheels in motion there.

Any words for the potential new fans?

Thanks kindly for checking out my music. I hope you enjoy it!

Palindromia

Review: Fatal Destiny – Palindromia

There’s a maturity and depth to these progressive metallers from Verona, Italy that makes them instantly endearing.

Beyond Dreams sinks its teeth in with a host of hooks and galloping passages, before the slow-paced riffs of Leave Me Here give way to rich melodies.

However, it’s the moody refrains of The Gate of Time where Fatal Destiny come into their own, evoking the emotional majesty of early Fates Warning, with vocalist Andrea Zamboni doing his best John Arch impression on towering ballad Dear Amy.

At times the transitions from heavy to heartfelt passages seem forced, as the band attempt to cram in as many nods to their heroes and peers as possible, but these Italians clearly have musical chops and an ear for an enviably catchy hook that should see them conquer beyond their homeland.

Links:

http://www.fataldestiny.it

https://www.facebook.com/fataldestinyofficial/

Pontus Gunve

Review: Pontus – IV

Only a handful of records each year perfectly embody the strengths and hallmarks of an entire subgenre. And New York’s Pontus (founded by guitarist Pontus Gunve) have curated one of those records in their new EP, IV. The complexity and dexterity shown on the album is unheard of, as Pontus spiders across the frets on “Ten,” complemented by the weeping sound of cellist Eric Allen.

Pontus - IV

While the individual talents of each member are on display (bassist Bryan Percivall and drummer Tripp Dudley shine on the closing “Felix”), the straight-up magic that happens when the elements come together must be heard to be believed.

Buy IV on Bandcamp, and follow Pontus’ work on Facebook.

Fatal Destiny

Interview with Fatal Destiny

Italian prog metallers Fatal Destiny are scheduled to release their debut album “Palindromia” in March. The band will also play shows in London, and about this all they are telling us in the interview below.

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

We’re doing great, thank you! We’re excited and amazed.

Speaking of new music, you have an album coming out. What can people expect from “Palindromia”?

Andrea: I think this shall be the album for all the people who appreciate both technical skills and melody.

What was it like working on the album?

Nick: It has been hard, it was painful to get there but all our achievements are so far a form of payback for all the efforts we’ve made.

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

Filippo: This year we’re planning on setting our first official dates in London. We’re really glad and proud for this opportunity and we can’t wait to perform live.

Palindromia

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

Filippo: Our tour will start from London but we do hope this is only the beginning!

Who and what inspires you the most?

Riccardo: Life itself is an inspiration. Inspiration shows up when you least expect it and where you least expect it.

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

Andrea: Among my favourite genres I shall mention: Power Metal, 60′s Rock up until 80′s Glam Rock, Funk and Blues.

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?

Please follow us on our social media channels! We can’t tell how much we love our fans, they’re our true lifeblood.

Like Fatal Destiny on Facebook.

The Benzene Ring

Interview with The Benzene Ring

“Crossing the Divide” is the second album by New York based experimental trio The Benzene Ring, released in November last year. It’s a demanding experience which once fully revealed presents a band that offers a lot.

I talked with singer, drummer and guitarist Jeff Aldrich.

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

Life is good! It’s winter here in Brooklyn, which is beautiful and also freezing cold. We just finished a new photo shoot for the album after an enormous snowstorm that hit the east coast of the U.S.

Speaking of new music, you have an album called “Crossing the Divide”. What can people expect from it?

A dense, artistic, thoughtful, emotional journey.

What was it like working on the album?

We used sort of a strange, formal process for composing Crossing the Divide, beginning with a narrative story, which was dreamed up by all members. Then for each “chapter” of this narrative, one single band member would write a structural blueprint/map to inform the musical composition. Next, two other members would compose a musical skeleton around this map and musical themes posing as “characters” from the story. Finally the entire band would then flesh out that musical skeleton, bringing back musical themes from other chapters when narratively relevant.

Are there any touring plans in support to “Crossing the Divide”?

No immediate touring plans. We’ve been locked in our home studios for the last few years laboring over this thing, but we’re getting back into the rehearsal studio and looking to start performing again in 2016.

Crossing the Divide

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

Everywhere! We’d love to play in Japan and Eastern Europe.

Who and what inspires you the most?

Too much to list! We definitely all grew up on a steady diet of 90s alt rock: Radiohead, Tool, Sunny Day Real Estate, Soundgarden, Hum, Nine Inch Nails. Also 20th century classical: Stravinsky, Bartok, Ligetti. And of course lots of prog and experimental rock heroes: early 70s Yes, Rush, Kayo Dot, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Scott Walker, Mars Volta, Mr Bungle.

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

Lots! Aphex Twin. P-funk. Kendrick Lamar. Phish. 50s and 60s jazz. The films of David Lynch. We draw influences from all over the map.

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?

Check out the album, it’ll rip your brain apart!

Follow The Benzene Ring on Facebook and Bandcamp.

TKH

Interview with The Killing Hours

The Killing Hours formed on March 3, 2011 in Miami, FL by Steven Izquierdo and Yusell Garcia on guitars, Paul McBride (Before The Mourning) on bass and Micheal Collantes on drums. The band says that they are “in the pursuit of combining each of our unique styles to bring the best material we can to share with the world.

They are currently promoting their debut album “I, Catharsis” and I talked with the band about it.

Hey folks. How are you doing?

We are dling great, hope you are as well.

You released “I, Catharsis” in October, 2015. How do you feel about the release?

We are very happy with the outcome. We achieved everything that we wanted at the time with this recording and the songs are really fun to perform.

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

It was hard work but fun. We had a lot of time to prepare so everything went very smoothly.

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

We are pretty unique in our area, but we are good friends with fellow miamians Silenmara, Abiotic, Suffering Tool,Deadmans Gambit and Falseta to name a few.

I, Catharsis

What is your opinion about the current progressive metal scene?

It’s definitely growing and becoming more popular which is awesome. Its at point where there are alot of paths that you can take musically.

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

Megadeth (rust in peace), Gojira (terra incognita), Yes (close to the edge), Metallica (ride the lighting), and Wu-tang (36 chambers)

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

As far as amps we used Laney, Bugera, EVH, orange, and tech 21 sansamp. For guitar we played Fender, ESP ltd, Jackson, Spector bass, DW drums and savian cymbals.

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

We plan on touring in late march and plan a few more in summer 2016.

Any words for the potential new fans?

Go to school, eat your vegetables, and keep an open mind.

Follow The Killing Hours at:

Facebook

Bandcamp

Methexis - The Fall of Bliss

Methexis – The Fall of Bliss

Methexis - The Fall of Bliss

I am always tremendously impressed by albums which are by and large the work of a single person. It is often unfathomable to me that one person can be talented enough to not only write a complete progressive rock album but also perform the entire thing.

Well, add Nikitas Kissonas the list of those who have pulled it off, and maybe make a new list for those who have pulled it off with such flying colors. The Fall of Bliss is an absolute stunner of an album, finding common ground with many other progressive rock bands while simultaneously finding its own niche and excelling there.

I think that, in an alternate universe, Storm Corrosion could have come out sounding a lot like this album, and I absolutely mean that as a compliment. From the very first twanging notes of “Eradicated Will,” I can hear a lot of both Steven Wilson and Mikael Akerfeldt’s softer moments in this music, and, quite frankly, you can’t do much better than to be compared to those two.

I certainly don’t mean to suggest that this is anything other than extremely fresh, original music, though. The Fall of Bliss is one of those albums that seems at the same time familiar and completely unique, and it’s never content to sit for too long in the same place. Even within the first track the music goes from lilting, off-kilter vocal harmonies to epic guitar solos to climactically heavy motifs and back again, and never once does it feel forced or disjointed.

With such a satisfying opener there might be some worry that the album is bound to go downhill, but fortunately it doesn’t. “Poetic Mirrors Wound Heroes” makes perfect use of gorgeous vocal harmonies to create music that is simultaneously epic and extremely relaxing. “Those Howling Wolves” drops into a darker, more sinister vein, and yet, like magic, it still manages to keep the album’s chilled-out, atmospheric, almost breezy feel going. It’s simply stunning.

“Lines on a Bust” comes next, and I think it would have fit very well on Pain of Salvation’s Be. Gorgeous piano and high vocals create an incredibly emotional atmosphere that bring the listener into a very relaxed place before metaphorically smacking them over the head with the relative heaviness of “Track the Saviours.” “The Aftermath” reminds me very strongly of Opeth’s quieter moments circa Watershed, with beautifully, slightly atonal guitars and a very effective symphonic interlude, complete with simulated vinyl cracks and pops.

And then, of course, we have the wonderful four-part title track to close out the album. From the delicately beautiful intro, replete with sampled birdsong to the noisy, crashing conclusion, the track(s) is (are?) a trip for the duration of their combined run time of more than 20 minutes. A multitude of atmospheric sonic textures and wonderful instrumental interplay take the track from the relaxing motifs that have dominated the album to more intense and climactic themes, the latter figuring especially prominently in Part 2. The Interlude, too, I feel deserves special praise, featuring some of the most beautiful music on the album and of course transitioning very well between the more relaxed Part 1 and the more intense Part 2.

Overall, The Fall of Bliss is one of the most impressive albums I’ve heard this year, especially considering that it essentially a solo project. Fans of Storm Corrosion should find a whole lot to like hear, as will anyone who’s ever listened to a progressive metal album and thought that the softer, more atmospheric bits were the best parts. A killer album overall and one that has one of the most impressive ambiences I’ve heard in a long while.

Tracklist:

1. Eradicated Will (8:57)
2. Poetic Mirrors Wound Heroes (4:52)
3. Those Howling Wolves (8:07)
4. Lines on a Bust (3:42)
5. Track the Saviours (4:14)
6. The Aftermath (4:13)
7. The Fall Of Bliss (Intro) (1:41)
8. The Fall Of Bliss (Part I) (8:20)
9. The Fall Of Bliss (Interlude) (4:22)
10. The Fall Of Bliss (Part II) (6:38)

Line-up:

* Nikitas Kissonas – vocals, guitars, bass, mandolin, keys, programming
* Nikos Miras – drums
* Jargon – piano (4)

Links:

http://methexis.bandcamp.com/