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Sound Struggle

Interview with SOUND STRUGGLE

Sound Struggle from Boston released their second album titled “Rise” in September. The follow up to their 2014 self-titled debut is an awesome piece of music, and about it and more I talked with Adam Rafowitz, Joe Calderone, and Cameron Rasmussen.

What is Sound Struggle up to these days?

Cam: We have been rehearsing for upcoming shows in Boston and we are getting ready to also record some live play through videos for everyone to see! Everything is going well, and maybe we can see some of you reading this at a show!

Being a six-piece, is it hard to work with the band specially if we look from the economical side?

Cam: Currently we are all still situated in Boston, weather at Berklee or elsewhere we are all still in the same vicinity, so at the moment it is not incredibly hard. In the next few years however, that will most likely change. We will all be close to Boston relatively but doing different things outside of Sound Struggle for work. We will be booking as many shows as possible and we will meet up when we have those shows to play.

Sound Struggle - Rise

Describe the new album “Rise.” 

Adam: “Rise” is the product of all of the band members’ influences and musical ideas. We each wrote a couple of tunes, and then brought them to the band, work shopping them until we felt they fit our sound. This gave us a wide range of styles and feels across the entire album, all tied together by Joey’s stellar production skills. Everyone has their own voice on “Rise”, and we could not be happier with the finished product.

Joe C: I think a fan put it best when they said, “This is like being in a fancy restaurant, then walking into the kitchen, then opening the walk-in freezer into a vast Oasis in the middle of the desert, then being abducted and taken to The Orion Nebula, then snapping back to reality looking at this comment.” But if I had to describe it, I’d say its a great blend of modern progressive metal with a fair amount of influence from older progressive bands like Rush and Dream Theater, with some Brecker Bros sprinkled on top.

If you had to pick a song that in the best possible way explains what Sound Struggle is about, which song would that be and why?

Joe C: For me, I would say “Sound Struggle” off of the first album is a good thesis for what the band is about. You get your metal, funk, even rap and we’re not afraid to play that stuff for 10 minutes! The solo sections in that song also really emphasize our commitment to improvisation and contrasts nicely with the tightly orchestrated metal sections.

Sound Struggle

Saxophone feels like a finishing stroke in your songs. How do you go about arranging these parts?

Cam: Most of the time I write out sax and other horn parts in my music notation software when I make the score for every song. Some people may not know that every song we have is charted out in sheet music. On rise we split up some of the chart duty though. All of the boys made charts for their own songs so we could write and rehearse them, and then some of them later on I made new final charts and added sax to compliment the music that was already there. This is how “Perpetual Motion”, “Close Your Eyes” were written for sax.

What is it like being on stage with Sound Struggle?

Cam: It is the most fun. We realize that people watching don’t want to watch us concentrate intently on playing everything perfectly and standing still. We all are as active as possible and we interact with each other and the audience a lot. Of course we play the songs well, we just don’t do it statically. My favorite part of our shows are the things that we improvise when playing, it gives a sense that every show is special for that audience, and it’s also different for us every time which allows us to goof around more than if we didn’t improvise anything I think.

What can audiences expect from your shows?

Adam: The audiences can expect great energy, technicality, and above all else, fun! I know that we all truly enjoy playing this music, as it is very challenging, be it technically or harmonically. Being Berklee students or graduates, a musical challenge is what we hunger for. We try to make our live performances as lively as possible, which isn’t such a difficult task given the music we are playing. Metal, funk, jazz fusion, and solos upon solos!

How much what you listen to influence your songwriting? Especially once when you work on new material.

Adam: What I listen to heavily influences my songwriting. Not just what I am currently listening to, but I believe any artist or style I’ve been interested in comes into play. I don’t sit down and consciously think, “I want this song to sound like X”, but my influences are inherent in my playing. It’s always a massive compliment to hear that something you write reminds someone of one of your greatest idols.

Joe C: What I listen to has a huge influence on what I write. New music comes out and I might say, “that’s awesome! I have to try that!” or there might be a texture or mood that I really want to replicate. However, these external influences all combine as one and form into something uniquely “me”.

Sound Struggle live

Speaking of playing live, do you have a tour planned down the road?

Adam: We most certainly plan to tour in the near future. We have nothing concrete planned at the moment, but we’re definitely hungry for the road!

What was the last gig you attended?

Adam: The last gig I attended was a small bar gig of one of my friends’ bands, “Chronologist”, and a band I’ve been following, “The Fine Constant”. It was a stellar show, Chronologist was incredibly tight, energetic, and played with authority. The Fine Constant was much more laid back, but the trio put on an amazing performance, highlighted by Sarah Longfield’s unique tapping style on her beautifully hand-painted Strandberg. It was a great night of prog, and didn’t fail to inspire. We will be playing with Chronologist in a couple of months, and can’t wait to share the stage!

Joe C: The last concert I saw was Rush on their recent R40 Live tour. What a show! The second set was incredible, and got more and more hype the farther the show went on.

Is there anything else you want to add?

Cam: Thank you to everyone who has been following us and likes our music! We hope to keep you happy in the years to come!

“Rise” is available now from Bandcamp. Follow Sound Struggle on Facebook here.

Pearly Gates

Pearly Gates – Unchained EP

It makes perfect sense that Pearly Gates came together as a result of a planned hybridisation of Tool, Black Crowes, Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd. This Finnish quintet are wholly infused with the same penchant for adventurous art introspection.

Pearly Gates tether themselves not only to the erratic expressionism of progressive rock, but touches of alternative / pop rock styled consciousness expansion as well. A bombastic affair, Pearly Gates are predominantly led by gracious singing of Jonne Nyberg, who also handles guitars, saxophone and harmonica.

Unchained EP

Their incisiveness and edgy tones cut the path for the excitable raw guitar work and ever unpredictable percussive collapse that follows. Despite its heady nature, a sense of playfulness is exhibited throughout the four-track release.

White the guys are certainly enjoying what they do and have fun, there is a determinism instilled wishing their songs that keeps them pulling to an eventual conclusion. It is a meaty listen that runs the sonic gamut from and to wide spectre of influences.

Dynamically charged and musically gifted, Pearly Gates plow through a colourful array of punchy grooves and extravagant melodies. But rarely do they get lost in the clouds thanks in part to the considerable weight of their low end focus and continual efforts to make their sound diverse. Abrasiveness emerging from heady indulgence rather than overpowering distortion is a refreshing change of pace.

It may not be a pick for everyone, but those who have record collections that include the mentioned groups are in for quite a treat.

Unchained” is available from Bandcamp. Follow the band on Facebook here.

Turbulence

Review: Turbulence – Disequilibrium

Turbulence are a Lebanese progressive metal band and “Disequilibrium” is their debut album. This is progressive metal that sounds not too far removed from a modern version of 90’s progressive metal with a bit more of distorted guitar and melody. The music has a similar feeling and immersive quality, only updated for the present day. The songs are easily assimilated, with honey-dipped melodies and top quality prog metal riffing seemingly on demand.

Disequilibrium

Although this is the band’s debut, the performance is exquisite and their songwriting skills are highly developed and advanced. This is an album that is put together extremely well. The interplay between vocals, guitars and keyboards is well-judged and everything fits together flawlessly.

“Modern” progressive metal doesn’t always sound this professional, slick and polished, but there is still an edge here and a depth to the songs. Turbulence know what they are doing, and this is shown throughout the music.

Disequilibrium” is truly an enjoyable album.

“Disequilibrium” is available now from iTunes. You can follow Turbulence on Facebook here.

Drumm

Review: Drummond – Getting Comfortable EP

Drummond is a guitarist from New York who just released his debut EP titled “Getting Comfortable.” His music is largely based on progressive rock/metal and jazz fusion. For a debut release, “Getting Comfortable” sounds very professional and imaginative, it’s is a release that has a lot to offer.

Getting Comfortable

“Getting Comfortable” is almost completely an instrumental recording. It includes four songs that are centered around the mixture of jazz fusion and progressive rock, but there are also some other influences that add up to the overall taste. The EP seems to be balanced very well between the progressive and fusion parts, but the transitions between the two feel rather smooth than forced.

“Getting Comfortable” is mainly guitar-focused release, and Drummond does his job flawlessly. The closing song “Ecotone” also features Sithu Aye on guitar, who brings refreshment to the EP’s sound. The same song features Sara Donnellan on vocals who brings depth and breaks the “monotony” of an otherwise fully instrumental track.

Fans of jazz fusion and instrumental progressive rock will enjoy this record, and it’s one of 2015’s best newcoming releases. Give it a try without hesitation.

You can get “Getting Comfortable” from Bandcamp.

Deep Stare

Interview: Michal Popelar of Deep Stare

Deep Stare is a new band formed by the former members of the progressive metal band ClayFeeders. The band recently released their debut EP called “Triplet,” and guitarist Michal Popelar answered our questions.

Hi, Michal. Let’s start by discussing “Triplet.” Tell me about its creative process. Where was the EP recorded, and how much time did it take for you to complete it?

The EP was recorded in Biotech Studio in the Czech Republic. The instruments were recorded in less than three days and the mixing and mastering were done by an audio engineer. From the first moment in the studio to the resulting material, it took us less than three weeks. In comparison to the composing itself and all the preparations, it was a rush. We had some technical problems with our car while going to the studio, there was a problem with a new amplifier and lots of other small inconveniences. In fact, we had to solve a lot of things around rather than the recording itself, which had never happened to us before although we have already been to different studios a couple of times. Finally, we handled everything and I think that it had a positive rather than a negative influence on the result. We didn’t have time to deal with some micro-inaccuracies and we left many things unaltered, the way they had been recorded. Nothing was corrected and that’s why these recordings sound a bit more lively.

Deep Stare - Triplet

Do you write primarily on the guitar?

Primarily yes. All the main melodies and backgrounds are composed on guitar or bass guitar.

Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?

Of course, there are some principles which we respect when composing but we try not to be bound by anything and do everything intuitively, the way we feel it. We are all influenced by some musicians or bands to a certain degree. We can always see it somewhere. However, our aim is to create always somthing new. We play instrumental music only but we work as a real band. We replace singing by music trying to make it sound interesting and not like a bunch of notes without any idea.

Many guitar players started out on piano and then moved to guitar. Maybe it’s easier to make the transition once you’ve played piano. What is your view on it?

I can’t judge it myself. I started with the violin which I played for seven years. Step by step, I moved to guitar and stayed with it. For me, the transition was quite easy. I have kept many violin habits until now.

Which guitars, amps, and effects did you use on “Triplet”?

I didn’t come with anything new except the amplifier. It was a safe bet. A lot of amplifiers, effects, guitars are usually taken to the studio and the best combinations suitable for individual parts are gradually chosen. I recorded everything live on Mesa Boogie Mark V. But for the same songs, I use the preamplifiers Rocktron Prophesy and Marshall 9100. Except acoustic parts, everything was done on Ibanez RG550 EX. I’ve got this guitar adjusted by Mr Jurkovic in the Czech Republic. His guitars were used for example by Billy Gibbons, Erica Clapton or Jeff Beck. To record the acoustic parts, I use my favourite guitare Nashville whose front board is already cracked. But it sounds great, even better than some famous guitar brands which are several times more expensive.

How do you balance the importance of songwriting with the importance of soloing?

We consider our songs to be a big solo of everyone of us, even in accompanying music parts. I don’t think I’m a soloist myself so it’s not a problem for me to perceive music as an entity. In fact, we accompany each other mutually all the time.

Michal Popelar

How do you see your music evolving?

This is a question for the people who listen to our music, for those who have known us and our music for a longer time. In my opinion, we gradually move somewhere else. The biggest change for us was to start playing instrumental music only because we used to have singing before. We were really afraid of it and had certain prejudice too. But it turned out to be a good decision, I think we are going the right way. We like it a lot and when performing we always have a positive feedback, which is the most important thing for us – to enjoy it, be positive about it and move that positive energy to people.

What are you looking forward to?

We are looking forward to our next album, concerts and everything related to it. Music and our band especially are, for all of us, a number one priority so we go through it all with a lot of emotions. It’s not only a band, it’s our second family.

Links:

http://www.deepstare.eu

https://www.facebook.com/deepstareband

Orymus

Interview: Daniel Brönnimann of ORYMUS

Orymus from Switzerland released their second album “Miracles” in March. Singer Daniel Brönnimann talked with us about it.

Orymus released their second album recently. Are you satisfied how “Miracles” turned out?

What kind of musician would I be to answer “no” to this question? Let’s put it that way: I was unbelievably satisfied during the writing process because I felt that the songs are going to be kick ass. I was also totally satisfied during the recordings ‘cause our producer Yann Rouiller (NAZARETH, CORE 22) pushed us to the limits and massively influenced the great sound you will hear on MIRACLES. I was more than satisfied when I had the first CD in my hand – the artwork, the sound, the concept, everything just wonderfully fits together. And if I am still satisfied now, I have no idea – I haven’t listened to MIRACLES since many months. But we did a great job on this record, I am more than proud on it.

Miracles

How did the songwriting process for “Miracles” go?

Actually the same as for our first full-length studio album ESCAPE TO REALITY back in 2013. At first, we clearly defined the body of the album – decided which kind of expression or atmosphere each specific song should transmit. This is exactly the reason why we are releasing full albums and not EPs or singles. Our sound is an experience, which should not be judged upon one song but only as a whole. It needs background, embedding. And well, afterwards I spent many days and weeks writing up these songs, presented them to the band, we practiced them “live” – eventually even performed some of them to test the audience’s reaction – and then recorded it.

What were the hardest moments during the creative and production process of “Miracles”?

As far as I remember, everything went quite smoothly. Orymus is a really good team – we rarely have any problems and we’re all on kind of the same wavelength. We’re good friends since more than 10 years and I think that this is the recipe of our music. The hardest moment for me is always after the album is released. For the audience, all the songs are new and totally thrilling. In contrast, the band has just spent their last 1.5 years on these 10 songs. Probably that’s also one of the reasons why I immediately started writing new songs after releasing Miracles – I am constantly looking for more.

Orymus_small

How would you describe the sound of this album?

The sound is vivid, raw but at the same time perfected. There are 10 songs on the album and probably 10 different sounds but still the whole album leaves behind a unified impression. That’s one of the reasons why MIRACLES is not getting boring – there’s a lot of inspiration in it and a lot of things to explore for the listener. This time, we played with large choirs to create epic moments. Let’s see what we’ll come up with in the next album – I already got some good ideas! ;-)

What are drawbacks and benefits of self-releasing an album?

By self-releasing, one is his own master. We were able to design our albums exactly as we wanted them. There is no one taking influence and no top-down decisions against the band. Drawbacks are the visibility and the money… what else! The real question in our digital world is whether it’s actually worth to release full-length albums or rather stick to singles or small EPs. But as I said, the sound of Orymus needs a lot of space, which only an album can offer.

“Miracles” is a fresh release, but are you working on anything new already?

Hell yes! As I said, I am constantly hungry for more. Once an album is finished, I would immediately start thinking about the next steps. I am afraid, I cannot lose any details but after ESCAPE TO REALITY and MIRACLES, this will be the 3rd pillar of world domination. Thanks for the interview!

“Miracles” is out now and available from Bandcamp. Like Orymus on Facebook here.

Prospective

Interview with PROSPECTIVE

Italian prog metal/djent band Prospective have come up with the release of their debut EP “Chronosphere” in March. In the interview below the band speaks about the EP, future and more.

How would you described your debut EP titled “Chronosphere”?

We guess Chronosphere is a mix of anger, melody and groove. The songs are very metal but also lovely! Syncopated grooves are also a main event in the ep.

What kind of gear did you use to record ”Chronosphere”?

Our EP is completely D.I.Y., we recorded everything in Flavio’s little room. We used a Line 6 toneport UX1 to record guitars, bass and voice. Guitars were dialed in pod farm, bass was D.I. and in Cubase we made the tone, voice was recorded with a classic SM58. For the drums we used Superior Drummer.

Prospective - Chronosphere

I wonder what inspired the story behind the “Increase” songs?

The first part is about a dream, the second is about 2 people toghether in space (or some sort of dream) trying to escape.

As a very young band, do you think there are things that need to be improved in music business to encourage new starting bands and artists? What are these things?

At the moment, for our genre, the music industry “is on the internet”. There are a lots of great bands and not-so-great bands out there, the trick is to have luck and to play something that no one ever did. Nothing has to be improved in the music industry in this sense, because is all about the people’s taste.

Prospective live

What are you guys up to these days?

In these days we will playing at a Metal-Fest in our town Bologna and we’re also pre-producing the last songs for our upcoming album.

Where do you see Prospective 10 years later from now?

We hope on tour with some great bands. We know a lot of young bands here in Bologna and Italy in general, maybe one day we will tour with them, it would be awesome!

Buy “Chronosphere” from Bandcamp, and follow Prospective on Facebook.

Drummond

Interview with DRUMMOND

Drummond is a young guitarist from New York who recently released his debut EP titled “Getting Comfortable.” It is a very interesting and eclectic piece of work, and it features contributions from guitarists Sithy Aye and Alex Frondelli. The EP is available from Bandcamp, so check it out and give some monies.

Drumm answered our questions.

Hi, Drummond. Let’s start by discussing “Getting Comfortable.” Tell me about its creative process.

Getting Comfortable took a while to write in its entirety. There were months where I locked myself in my room and just wrote all day, but then there were days where I just didn’t even think about it too. If I stayed in my room all day Id have probably gone insane, so I had to have those off days!

Getting Comfortable

Where was the EP recorded, and how much time did it take for you to complete it?

The EP was recorded all over the place. I was kind of testing the waters, seeing what production methods I liked, seeing what the pros and cons were from person to person so that I could learn from my experiences when I record my next EP. The first song was recorded in Brooklyn, the second two were recorded in Long Island, and the last track was recorded in Purchase New York. Because I was jumping around a lot it took about 3 years to finish up everything.

Do you write primarily on the guitar?

I do write primarily on guitar, yeah.

Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?

I try not to, only because I don’t want my compositions to be too predictable, but a tool I find myself always coming back to is my loop pedal. Maybe that dictates how I write and maybe not in the best way, but I come up with a lot of ideas from just jamming out with it.

Many guitar players started out on piano and then moved to guitar. Maybe it’s easier to make the transition once you’ve played piano. What is your view on it?

As someone who started on guitar, I’d always wished I had started on piano. The piano is an amazing learning tool, and if you learn the instrument, you view theoretical concepts differently than if you are just a guitar player. All the notes are laid out in front of you, it’s really a great learning tool aside from sounding beautiful too!

Drumm

Which guitars, amps, and effects did you use on “Getting Comfortable”?

I used two guitars to record the entire album, my .strandberg* Boden OS 6, and my Ibanez prestige 5470. I went direct in to record a lot of the album, so we ended up using a lot of amp simulators, but the sound I was going for was something similar to the Peavy Classic 30, id always loved the sound of that amp, and then after I recorded the album I went out and bought one!

How do you balance the importance of songwriting with the importance of soloing?

That’s actually something I have worked really hard to try to balance. There is a fine line when it comes to soloing. If you solo too much it’s seen as wankery, too little and you lose the opportunity to really develop a section. I don’t really have a rule of thumb when It comes to soloing, but I think if the music calls for a solo, then you’re going to need a solo there, you cant just throw them in wherever you want, that isn’t the most musical approach.

How do you see your music evolving?

Well I’ve started composing for more instruments like string sections, choir, brass sections, and I think those would really add a different color to my music if implemented in my originals. I think that’s the closest goal of mine when it comes to evolving my sound a little bit.

What are you looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to playing music with great musicians and creating something hopefully everyone can enjoy!

Buy “Getting Comfortable” from Bandcamp and support Drumm to make more great music.

Split Bearing

Review: Split Bearing – Welcome to the Present

Split Bearing is a progressive metal band from Czech Republic. The band has been active since 2002, and although they experienced a few line-up changes thy recorded two full-length records so far.

Their most recent offering is 2014’s album “Welcome to the Present.” Featuring nine songs, “Welcome to the Present” is a progressive metal album to the full extent. Perfect clean vocals hit straight along with the strong guitar work. Singer Petr Duliskovic carries an almost identical resemblance to the voice of young James LaBrie. This similarity washes your ears with more of familiar progressive metal sound. It’s stripped-down just like the old prog used to be.

Welcome to the Present

Songs on “Welcome to the Present” are between 6-7 minutes long. Both lyrically and melodically the album keeps its levels pretty high.

The opening “Shattered” is an absolute highlight and it seems that other tracks are a bit shadowed by this piece. Not that other songs are bad, quite the opposite. It’s just that the band choose to open the record with their best piece, what I think is a bad move when it comes to marketing.

Split Bearing are obviously influenced a lot by Dream Theater. In every melody and rhythm these influences are easy to notice. If you are a fan of Dream Theater’s older material, this album may be a pleasant experience.

Buy “Welcome to the Present” from Bandcamp, and follow the band on Facebook for more news.

Prospective

Review: Prospective – Chronosphere EP

Prospective from Bologna send a warm progressive metal breeze with lots of djent particles in the air. This five-piece band came up recently with their debut EP titled “Chronosphere,” and though I cannot tell that they made something new this release is fairly good launcher for the start of their career.

Chronosphere

The almost 30 minutes long “Chronosphere” includes six songs brings mixture of clean and grow vocals with tons of progressive metal melodies wrapped around aggressive riffs. This format is presented throughout the release, starting with the opening “Karma’s Lesson,” and finishing with “Chronos Speaks.”

Feelings stuck between emotion and aggression are something that “Chronosphere” is made of, both lyrically and musically.

All in all, for an unexperienced, new coming band to the scene, Prospective made a good deal with “Chronosphere.” Fans of progressive djenty metal will be satisfied. The follow-up to this release will be crucial, and if the band manages to deliver a release that stands up to standards, we are talking about something possibly huge.

Get “Chronosphere” by Prospective from Bandcamp. Follow the band on Facebook for news and more.