Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Interview with Ken Kängström and Linda Toni Grahn of Follow the Cipher

Hey there, how are you today?

Linda - Hey!! I´m fine, thanks and hope you too!

Ken - Hello! I´m awesome over here, and hope you are great too!

You guys in Follow the Cipher are about to drop your debut self titled album, are you excited to get it out?

Linda - Yes, we are very excited to finally release our album. To finally show you all what we have been working on since 2014 :)

The album will be coming out through Nuclear Blast Records nonetheless, how does it feel to be releasing the album through what is the quintessential Metal label?

Linda - It feels so overwhelming. We all are truly happy and so thankful for this opportunity. Nuclear Blast are like a hard working label with a family feeling.

Tell us a bit about the album, what is your guys music about? What drives you to create music?

Linda - The theme of the album is Post-apocalyptic. You can maybe feel revenge, power, action, sadness, hope and faith. It´s up to everyone to interpret it how they want.

Ken - As Linda says, it is has a theme regarding a future of destruction. It has some undertones of seriousness reflecting on how mankind treats our planet and all the conflicts around the world. There is nothing better than sitting back and enjoying a song that you just wrote and is are happy with. That feeling drives me for the next experience like that.

This may be Follow the Cipher's debut album, but you guys clearly have experience in what you're doing. Can you tell us a bit about your time and close friendship with Sabaton?

Ken - Well I guess Jonas and I has the history with these guys. Jonas has been an very close friend with Par for a very long time, also helping our Sabaton with various things on tour and at home. I met Joakim many years ago and moved in with him for a short while. We had a lot in common regarding what we considered to be good music and good composing even though we focused on different kinds of genres. Later on I became a sound engineer for Sabaton, and after ending that, I was invited by Joakim to compose music with him for Sabaton.

Who influences you to do what you do? When did you realize you wanted to start making music?

Linda - For me it has been growing through the years. The first person that made me wanted to do something with music was actually my cousin. He worked as a musician and I felt that it seemed to be very interesting, and when I met him once when I was 15 I thought that I wanted to be an artist after that meeting, but I was way to shy to sing so I wanted to be a dancer and went for dance classes in High school. But when I was 21 I started to play guitar and write music in a band and after a while I couldn't resist to start to sing.

So what's next? Will we be seeing Follow the Cipher touring worldwide?

Linda - Next up is two shows in June. The 2nd of June in Czech Republic at Metalfest and the other show is in Belgium at Graspop on June the 21st. We have got some proposals for touring but we don´t want to jump on the first tour we got if it´s not the right tour for us. We want to wait to the right tour comes along. And for sure we want to go for a tour worldwide. We want to play, see the world and meet up with all our fantastic supporting people out there.

Who would you like to hit the road with? Any bands you hope to support or have support you?

Linda - Oh what a good question, but it´s a tough one to answer. Hmm....I would say that it would be great to tour with bands that maybe have the same kind of genre. But I like to think that you can do what ever you want so we will see in the future. We are hoping for a tour in this autumn.

What was the writing and recording process like? Was there a lot of stress in the studio? You hear a lot about bands fighting and getting sick of each other when trying to get the recording done

Ken - We never had any fights, but it a hell of a ride doing this album. We pretty much had to record it twice, due to putting a lot of time to the pre-production of our first drafts, and it also did not help that we live far apart from each other in the band, so the process was both tedious and stressful at times. But we were determined to hang on and focus on an album that we could be really proud of.

Last but not least, do you have anything you'd like to share with your fans, old and definitely now new?

Linda - I will say THANK YOU so much for your support! Hope to meet you all!

Thank you very much for your time, I hope to see you on the road soon! Be sure to pick up Follow the Cipher's debut album "Follow the Cipher" on May 11th through Nuclear Blast Records

Linda - Thank you so much for this interview and thank you for showing the interest in the band :)

Ken- Thank you very much for the interview. We are honored to be invited. =)

pick up the album through the Nuclear Blast Webstore

check out the singles on YouTube
Valkyria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1e4nRzHoaE
Carolus Rex: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-3nE5L8vag
The Rising: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJqc7NR1mTM

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Cruelty Exalted "Cruelty Exalted" Review

          “Cruelty Exalted”, the new EP from the band of the same name, is a fantasy themed Technical Death Metal band who, while they stick true to this style, implements some of the best traits other subgenres have to offer, like the harmony Melodic Death Metal has or the speed and intensity of Black Metal. Featuring Alec Cordero on guitars, Todd Farnham on Bass and Yuri Kondra on vocals.

          Instantly, with the first track “Dethroning the Righteous” it becomes obvious the skill this band has as musicians, until about the midway mark, the song is pretty tame really only featuring a very melodic sort of sound, once the song speeds up and jumps into the faster bit though, it's not hard to hear the Technical part of this band. In the last minute, we get to hear everything in overdrive, speeding up even further and surprisingly in this part instead of trying to break into “the craziest solo you'll ever hear” it actually puts a lot more focus on the bass playing to push it along.

          “Callum Incendebat” pulls a lot more influence from Black Metal, taking a much more Melodic and harmony inspired approach to the entire song. Imagine the intensity of Darkthrone infused with the melody of Carcass or early In Flames. The song also taps James Benson (Amiensus) to help push along that Black Metal feel.

          All-in-all, this is a very solid first release from Cruelty Exalted, full of charm and intensity. With the amount of different styles prevalent throughout this EP, it's hard to not find something you could get behind. The only thing I think that can push this band along is a full time drummer, although it is hard to tell that the drums are programmed, some of the sections do seem a little inhuman.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Quantum Hierarchy "Neutron Breed" Review

          If you're into space and Death Metal than let me welcome you to Quantum Hierarchy. This is a Technical Death Metal band with the speed and destruction of a meteor and lyrics to match. Right off the get go, you'll hop into a short intro track and right into the title track, "Neutron Breed", luckily the lyrics are relatively easy to follow, describing the vast emptiness of space. The first track is blisteringly fast, full of hooks and intense musicianship, but does fall short in one section. While the lyrics are easy to follow, the vocals are mixed in slightly too low, as such the rest of the instrumentals are generally overpowering the vocals making them hard to make out without reading the lyrics.

          While I may have a mild gripe with Quantum Hierarchy's low vocal mix, there is a spot where they excel past the vast majority of bands and that's transitioning from song to song. Where a lot of bands want to be as heavy and intense as possible that's generally lost between the end of one song and start of another, while Quantum Hierarchy manage to maintain their intensity throughout all of "Neutron Breed" with perfectly implemented transitions. The EP, while only 3 actual songs (not including the minute intro) and 12 minutes actually sounds like one full song with the way each song transitions into the next, you won't even realise you've listened to the whole thing until it's done.

          Quantum Hierarchy's "Neutron Breed" is an exceptional level of Technical Death Metal, the instrumentals are intense, the guitar solos are, while few, technical and awe inspiring and the lyrics are distance but relative. If you're a fan of bands like Artificial Brain and Beyond Creation and need some SciFi based Death Metal, look no further.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Live Report: Invicta and Raider Release Show with Rippr'd and Woofout

          A sold out show at the Boathouse on Saturday night, led by the release for the new Raider and Invicta albums. The night kicked off with the only out of town band, Woofout, this was my first interaction with the band, never heard them prior to this show. The played pretty solid Rock and Roll, much in the vein of Motorhead, and it seems like the crowd was into it. Woofout rocked a handful of songs, with some good crowd interaction, but pretty quickly the show was over and we were into the next band.

          Rippr'd kicked off the hometown metal vibe with their oldschool Thrash Metal vibes.
"Too Trashed To Thrash" is essentially the Metal anthem of Kitchener at this point. It seems like it's a must know song to be officially part of the scene, I'm saying this as someone who was an outsider only two years ago. Rippr'd rock that Thrash crossover sort of tone much along the lines of Municipal Waste or S.O.D. and they take full advantage of it, they're also very self aware as a band with songs like "Ripp", "We're Rippr'd" and "Tales from the Ripp'd" it wouldn't surprise me much if they ended up as well known for their catchphrases, as much as their music.

Rippr'd Setlist:
1. Too Trashed To Thrash
2. Banned For Life
3. Hot Sluts With Tits
4. Ripp
5. Tales From the Ripp'd
6. We're Rippr'd

         Raider followed up the hometown heroes, but considering it was their release show the crowd was beyond anxious for this to start. Even though the recently released "Urge to Kill" is only 3 songs, Raider managed to fill out a full 45 minute set playing the entire EP, including taking a fan from the crowd hostage during "Phlebotomized". If the crowd wasn't rowdy enough already, when the band broke into their cover of Pantera's "Fucking Hostile" the venue became, for lack of a better term, fucking hostile. With ~120 cap, the bar was packed so when the pit opened, everyone knew it. People were being carried around (since there wasn't much area to crowdsurf), the first front row was nothing but a flurry of hair and the back was people on their toes trying to see the mayhem. It's hard to think of something that could top this, but apparently covering the infamous Amon Amarth song "Twilight of the Thunder God" will do it. Although this was a release show for Raider, they showed off what the future held, filling out the rest of the setlist with a couple new songs "Sky Burial" and "Ravenous Hydra", but with the close of Raider's set, it was time for our second release set of the night.

Raider's Setlist:
1. Nebulous
2. Phlebotomized
3. Ravenous Hydra
4. Fucking Hostile (Pantera Cover)
5. Sky Burial
6. Twilight of the Thunder God (Amon Amarth Cover)
7. Urge to Kill

          Just like Raider before them, Invicta were playing a release show for their recently released EP "The Executioner". Also along the same lines, the album is 4 tracks (5 with the intro) and doesn't quite fill out a 45 minute setlist. Majority of the EP was pumped out right away and the best thing about Melodic Death Metal is the pits, the pits are always a good idea and everyone in the venue knew it. If Raider didn't cause enough damage, Invicta took it a set up by showing off their level of influence even causing a more intense wall of death in a ~120 capacity venue where its about 15 strides wall to wall than I've seen in 900-1000 cap venues like the Mod Club and Opera House in Toronto. Invicta broke into a cover of "Sixpounder" by Children of Bodom, a generally underappreciated, yet still well known song and that pretty much set everyone off, the hair was flying and no where was safe. Luckily this is Metal and we don't need a safe space. Invicta showed off what would be coming in the future with "Halls of Execution" and "Infinite Aggression" and much like Raider, I wouldn't be too surprised to see the next release relatively soon. With everyone tired out though, Invicta called it a night.

Invicta's Setlist:
1. Hamartia
2. Prehistoric Suffocation
3. Forbidden Scriptures
4. Promise Land
5. Sixpounder (Children of Bodom Cover)
6. Halls of Execution
7. The Executioner
8. Infinite Aggression

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Aepoch "Awakening Inception" Review

          Potentially the biggest release out of Kitchener, Ontario this year is the debut full length album from Death Metal maniacs Aepoch entitled "Awakening Inception". The album is slated to be released here on April 13th with the band going on tour to promote the album across Canada alongside. The album is more than full of influence and for anyone who was a fan of the band's first EP "Aepocolypse", this will be a real treat for you.
          For anyone who has seen Aepoch before, you'll be familiar with a fair few of these songs, "Delirium of Negation" (formerly known as "Paradise") is the second track on the album, which stuck out right away as someone who's caught this band on multiple occasions. The instrumentals are pretty defining in a lot of Aepoch's track and none are more prevalent than this one. "Tabula Rasa" is a track that the band has been playing live for quite a while, almost since the first time I had seen them and that was a fair few times ago. "Tabula Rasa" is probably the stand out track on this album for me, its such an intricate piece of music, from the Technical and Progressive Death Metal side of the verses and chorus, to the jazz infused bridge in the middle and the Technical and Melodic mix of the second half the album with the solos. On top of that the lyrical prowess relating to the cosmos and the opening of the third eye are incredibly well written.

          Another track you may recognize from the bands live setting, or just because they released it as a single, is the much more Black Metal infused "Burn Them at the Stakes". If you're a fan of the Technical Black Metal side, much like that of Enfold Darkness, "Burn Them at the Stakes" will be right up your alley. The track, especially with the last 2 minutes or so takes on a much more Emperor sort of approach with the chaotic melody it implements, all before throwing some incredibly technical solos over top and a few fake out endings. While we are on the note of these Black Metal influenced tracks, we have to discuss "Mentally Raped By Christ", which takes a more Blackened Death Metal approach, as opposed to the old school Black Metal approach, much more along the lines of that of Behemoth or Goatwhore. If there was any song I could say for certain is influenced by Enfold Darkness, this is it.

          Needless to say, if you're an Extreme Metal fan in almost any capacity, this is an album you need to check out. Countless levels of influence and an incredible level of musicianship in this release, from the technicality of First Fragment and Beyond Creation, the Black Metal aggression of Emperor and Dissection or the crossover of the two like Behemoth or Enfold Darkness, there's something for you here. On top of that, if you live in Canada, Aepoch will be trekking across the country in April alongside UK Death Metal band Bloodshot Dawn, with their hometown show being treated as the album release show on April 21st.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Invicta "The Executioner" Review

          Kitchener-Waterloo is rich with new Metal over the first few months here in 2018. On top of that, certain musicians in the scene seem to need to be a part of every new album coming out. Today, we check out "The Executioner", the debut release from Death-Thrashers Invicta. This band made a splash last year with their debut show opening for The White Swan and have since had a few lineup changes, now we are at the brink of the release, so without any furthur hesitation, let's hop on into it.

          The album kicks off with "Hamartia"m which is simply just a Thrash Metal intro that leads into our first proper track, "Prehistoric Suffocation". The opening tack should do nothing but spell out the madness thats to come for you, this is a track full of Thrash Metal chaos, Melodic Death Metal groove, harmonizing guitar parts and of course, brutal solos. "Prehistoric Suffocation" starts off the album on a high note, but thats only one track.

          "Forbidden Scriptures" follows, this track is probably the strongest one on the album. The verse and the bridging portions all follow a very Thrash filled sound, the riffs are fast and brutalizing, the drums are fiercy and the vocals are aggressive. The chorus on the other hand is a lot more Melodic taking more of a page from bands like Amon Amarth and Children of Bodom or even some earlier Sodom. The other big standout track on the album is the title track, "The Executioner", which is just pure Thrash Metal mayhem. Think "Something Wild" or "Hatebreeder" era Children of Bodom and in both instrumentals and vocals, frontman Kyle Edissi seems to take many pages from Alexi Laiho the vocal style in general, although Laiho does have a higher tone, is the first giveaway. The pure aggression as well Edissi gives up some annunciation in turn for a more savage sound.

          If you're a fan of old school Thrash Metal and Death Metal, "The Executioner" will be right up your alley, if you're not, I'm a little confused why you read this far. Invicta release "The Executioner" on March 23rd and will be playing their release show on March 30th at The Boathouse in Kitchener alongside Raider, who will be doing a release show as well for "Urge to Kill", as well as Rippr'd and Woofout.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Raider "Urge to Kill" Review

          "Urge to Kill", the debut EP/Demo from KW Death Metal band Raider just dropped over this past weekend, this is a release we have been looking forward to so we had to dive right into it. The band is made up of a couple of relatively well known locals including Kyle Edissi (Aepoch, Invicta) and Brandon Sanders (The Wormwood Scrubs) as well as some new talent like vocalist Angelo Bonaccorso, so let's hop into it!

          "Urge to Kill" is a total of three tracks with what we will say is two separate "modes", the first of which is an oldschool style Melodic Death Metal and damn is it done well. "Phlebotomized" (the act of puncturing a vain, if anyone is curious) and the title track, "Urge to Kill" would both fall under this umbrella. While obviously the two songs are not exactly the same, "Phlebotomized" is a straight forward Melodic Death Metal song in the vein of Amon Amarth or Unleashed, while "Urge to Kill" takes on a bit more of a hectic approach, including straight speed in both the main instrumentals and solos much more like that of The Black Dahlia Murder or even a little more closely, Skeletonwitch.

          "Nebulous" is the only out of place track on this album. While the other two take on a much more Melodic Death Metal approach, this one seems to aim more for a Melodic Thrash style, which all in all isn't a bad thing. The song itself is good, although it seems to suffer from a bit of an identity crisis, trying to make the song too much like the other two while trying to take it in a different direction at the same time. The effect this has on the song is the fact that it does become a bit of a missmash which does hinder it a little bit and unfortunately made it a bit stale.

          All in all, "Urge to Kill" is a great first release from a band still trying to find their voice. Raider took chances with this release and honestly for the most part it paid off, my biggest suggestion to the guys in Raider would be lean more towards the Melodic Death Metal side as those tracks are killer pieces of music. Keep an eye out for these guys as if they find their stride, they'll be going far with their music!

          Raider will be playing their release show March 30th alongside Invicta, Rippr'd and Woofout at The Boathouse in Kitchener! also, CLICK HERE to be taken to the bands Bandcamp page and check out "Urge to Kill"