Voivod – Synchro Anarchy

Synchro Anarchy Album Cover Art

Voivod – Synchro Anarchy
Century Media Records
Release Date: 11/02/22
Running Time: 47:00
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings
8/10

They’ve got a history of over 40 years, 14 previous studio albums and have a deserved reputation as innovative Progressive Thrash musicians whose style has never been static. Linked as part of the Canadian ‘big 4’ alongside Annihilator, Sacrifice and Razor, I still struggle as to why Voivod have never really floated my boat. I’ve never really gelled although I am fully aware and appreciative of their status and quality. Taking this album to review therefore pushed me into uncomfortable and risky territory; the risk of upsetting the legions of the band’s devoted fan base as well as approaching a band with such a history with only limited knowledge of their rich and illustrious past. So, the caveat to start with is that I’m taking this without much in the way of past baggage and presenting a review based in the main on the strength of ‘Synchro Anarchy’ and not the band’s entire catalogue. 

It’s helpful to drop back an album or two so I did some due diligence and caught up with 2018’s ‘The Wake’, which I actually enjoyed more than I thought I would. With the same line-up appearing on ‘Synchro Anarchy’, apparently for the first time since 2009’s ‘Infini’ there is at least a consistency within the band. Not that they need it. Few bands are as highly regarded by those that “know”. Ostensibly, like both Rush and Devin Townsend, both Canadian (obviously), you either ‘get’ Voivod or you don’t. So, I’m going to buck the trend and say that whilst ‘Synchro Anarchy’ is certainly an enjoyable and listenable album, I’m neither disappearing into raptures nor screaming in anguish for it to be turned off. 

Fans will be familiar with the first three tracks on the album, Voivod having released them as singles in advance of the full album release. The album opens with the twisted contortions of ‘Paranormalium,’ a dynamic and crushingly heavy track that links the concluding guitar melody on ‘Sonic Mycelium’, the final song on ‘The Wake’. The band are clear that they wanted to connect both releases, “as 2 parallel worlds can connect through distorted space-time, black holes, vibrations, spirituality or anything else.” The melody returns several times during the track, whilst the vibrant and chugging bass lines propel the song forward. The angular, complicated time signatures and jagged riffing combined with Snake’s distinctive vocal delivery make it a dynamic album opener. 

It’s a similar pattern on the title track that follows. It pulses and winds its way along, curling in and out, carving a sonic soundscape which is intricately delivered. And whilst Voivod aren’t afraid to use the same patterns, there is enough variation to create distinct and individually carved records. ‘Planet Eaters’ has an underlying groove which provides it with a unique feel, thanks to the seismic, irregular riff and pointed design.

If you want to listen to a track that builds both tension and tempo then focus on ‘Mind Clocks’ which ramps up both as the six minutes plus progresses. By the end, it’s at hyper speed in pace before shaving a little off the speed. It’s intricate, complex, and clever, with the interplay between the musicians behind Snake’s distinctive vocals impressive.

Whilst Voivod’s style and patterns are distinctive, they are still able to mix it up. The groove and semi-Thrash of ‘Sleeve Off’ with its industrial pounding contrasts with much on the album. The Sabbath riff that starts ‘Holographic Thinking’ gives way to a lighter yet still heavy track which weaves its spell, jinking and diving along. And throughout there is no doubt why the band are so revered. The musicianship is exemplary, the tracks beautifully constructed – no bolting together anything here. The final song is no different, ‘Memory Failure’ being a fabulous fusion of sounds, rhythms, and sonic elements. 

‘Synchro Anarchy’ will make the top ten lists for many this year. Voivod remain as unique and individual as they have ever been. It’s an album I could listen to repeatedly without a problem. And that is as high praise as I can give it. They may not fully float my boat but I’m no longer sinking. Maybe it is time to give that back catalogue another go after all.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Paranormalium
02. Synchro Anarchy
03. Planet Eaters
04. Mind Clock
05. Sleeves Off
06. Holographic Thinking
07. The World Today
08. Quest For Nothing
09. Memory Failure

LINE-UP:
Denis ‘Snake’ Belanger – Vocals
Daniel ‘Chewy’ Mongrain – Guitar
Dominic ‘Rocky’ Laroche – Bass
Michel ‘Away’ Langevin – Drums

LINKS:

Voivod Promo Pic - Photo Credit: Catherine Deslauriers
Photo Credit: Catherine Deslauriers

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Reaper – Rebirth Of Chaos

Rebirth Of Chaos Album Cover Art

Reaper – Rebirth Of Chaos
Self-Released
Release Date: 29/10/2021
Running Time: 48:20
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

I love success stories. Seeing other people hitting that sweet spot where they find something they love, and it brings joy into their lives. There’s not enough joy in the world right now, so we should always appreciate it when it happens. And when it happens to someone who you know personally, it makes it even sweeter. Reaper, and in particular, front man Dan Moran, are pretty high up on my list of ‘People who are fucking awesome’, and so when they do something new, and it’s superb, it fills me with a lot of joy. Their latest album, “Rebirth Of Chaos” was released at the end of October, and it’s a shining example of what hard work, dedication, and passion for their art looks like. It’s a reimagining of their 2018 album “Birth Of Chaos”, which troubled the band at the time of release, for many reasons. And with this rebirth, Reaper have shown that they’re beginning to mature, like a fine wine.

The album starts with ‘Possessor Of Evil’, opening with a solo guitar melody, then launching into furious classic Thrash, which serves as a perfect wake-up call. The vocal work of frontman Dan Moran is massive, with crisp clean vocals, and superb growling Thrash tones, which add a sense of urgency and punch to the delivery, which is echoed by the powerful rhythms and riffs provided by the rest of the band. A great way to start an album.

Power and punch are the name of the game throughout this album really. It’s exciting and in your face throughout, and oozes talent and skill. Reaper never shy away from trying things and pushing boundaries either, dabbling with Groove and Progressive sounds and ideas all the time. It’s scarily exciting.     

A perfect example of this is ‘Entropy’. Blistering Progressive Thrash, that’s laden with heavy riffs, and thunderous bass, along with machine gun drumming, and Dan’s superb vocals. It feels like that point when you go down the first drop on a rollercoaster – exhilarating and daring. It’s also got some properly sexy guitar solos, too. Just a big old pot of everything epic really.

It’s almost impossible to pick stand out tracks from this album, because they’re all so good, but ‘Wings Of Darkness’ is a blinder! This opens with a spoken introduction, then drops into heavy and dark riffs, akin to Sabbath, just with more anger about them. Progressing into more classic Thrash realms, this piece demonstrates the sheer brilliance of every single musician in Reaper, and I will challenge anyone not to move to this tune, because personally I don’t think it’s possible. And then, just when you think it can’t ramp up anymore, it does. The ‘bloody hell!!’ scale of all things good, that lives inside my head, is going off the chart with this tune, I can tell you!

The penultimate album track, ‘Sixth Circle Of Hell’ is a superb track. It starts off with moody acoustic guitar, joined by a sumptuous lead guitar solo, which has smacks of Pink Floyd about it. From there, the track explodes into (brilliantly mixed) ‘in your face’ thrash, and I bloody love it! And that leads into a 6 minute Herculean bucket of everything, ‘The Way Of Shinobi’, to close out the album. This has got blistering Thrash, Oozing prog, and some quite frankly brilliant guitar work towards the end.

Get your faces into this trough bucket of epic NOW, everyone!! You need this in your life, and if you don’t think you do, then you are wrong. Seriously ludicrous how good these guys are.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Possessor of Evil
02. Wartorn
03. World at Redemption
04. The Crypt
05. Entropy
06. Wings of Darkness
07. Checkmate
08. Area 51
09. Sixth Circle of Hell
10. The Way of the Shinobi

LINE-UP:
Daniel Moran – Vocals/ Guitar
Anthony Dalton – Guitar/ Backing Vocals
Kayne Watson – Bass/ Backing Vocals
James McDermott – Drums

LINKS:

Reaper Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

EMQ’s with DARKENING SKIES

Darkening Skies Logo

EMQ’s with DARKENING SKIES

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Ashburn, Virginia, based Progressive/Groove Thrash Metal band Darkening Skies. Huge thanks to them for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

We are Darkening Skies. We play thrash metal with a groove and progressive edge. We met February 2014, after I put out a Craigslist ad, and fate was on our side, because 1) we met our drummer, Germ, and 2) No one we met was a Craigslist psychopath (the weirdest people we met were consistently vocalists. Go figure.) We started out playing covers and just jamming, and because local clubs were only hosting metal bands who played originals, we got settled, got the writing bug, and it kind of took off from there. Writing lasted some time, so we stuck with it till we got it. Our setlist back them consisted of our first album. We started networking with other local bands and promoters and started playing out. We had a few members come and go, a few try-outs that didn’t work out, but that’s par for the course…there isn’t really a blueprint for success as a band, but we learned as we went. I moved to San Diego a couple years back, and we agreed to keep going virtually, via Zoom/One Drive, etc. We were pretty much doing everything online anyways before (writing in Guitar Pro, uploading the tabs for the other band members to Google Drive, outside of our weekly practice, which helped us have really efficient practices when we got together because each member had their timing and rhythm already down) because we loved writing and collaborating so much and still had plans. Actually, we didn’t get signed by Jib Machine Records until I moved across the country! Before I left, we had recorded all the tracks for the EP we had started working on in 2018. I actually had a cold when I recorded the vocals to ‘Swallow Your Soul’, which was the final take. We finished those in a final session we got in at Germ’s house, days before I headed to the airport.

How did you come up with your band name?

It wasn’t clever, or anything. It’s an allusion to the Blood Moon Philosophy from the Book of Revelation, “…and the sun became black as sackcloth, and the moon became as blood”. But in the moment, I was just driving through a thunderstorm on the way to class, and I looked up in the sky and thought, most days just feel like a gathering storm to me. And, if it’s not a storm you’re standing in, then you must be standing in the eye and waiting for it to hit again. It sounded like a good name to go with. Germ and I met up to talk shop, and decided to roll with it. Good decisions happen over beer and peanuts!

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

We are from North Virginia, just outside DC. The DC and Baltimore scene are pretty close. Germ didn’t grow up here, he’s from CT outside of NYC where the scene was great (So much music!) I was a Navy brat, born in Jacksonville, FL, and settling down in NOVA for about 27 years of my life. The DC scene is pretty cool, you might have to travel a bit for a show, but they are out there! There are some great bands here we’ve played with, or befriended: One Slack Mind, Omnislash, Rat Infested, Red Sword, Saint Diablo, Traverse, plenty more. Some great historical bands out of DC as well! Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Wrathchild America, Henry Rollins. Dave Grohl was from here, we periodically hear stories about him (His mom was a substitute teacher from Alexandria, VA, and even taught me in English class one day, at Centreville High School; swear to God. We got to ask her questions about Dave growing up [“Oh, he was always banging his drum sticks around when he was young, on the dash board of the car, everywhere. Drove me crazy!”] and she wrote “You guys ROCK!” on the chalk board before she left for the day). There’s another band, A Sound of Thunder (I love A Sound Of Thunder – Rick), a female fronted Power Metal band, and I’m friends with Josh, great guitarist and great guy. He’s always helped me with advice on how to be successful, and I’m really thankful for that, because they are a fairly successful independent band. They have an impressive following! Although calling them Power Metal is a bit constrictive, they really have a unique and powerful style all their own. Nina performed a theremin solo when they played live Rams Head in Baltimore! They’ve been really supportive of us!

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

“Jump Off The Bridge…  And Live!!!” our debut EP is available on all major platforms from Jib Machine Records: Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, and if you’re broke just stream our EP video from our YouTube channel! (But maybe buy a shirt or shot glass from our MerchBucket, too?!)  Despite the dark album title, there is actually a funny story behind the title. I used to play college basketball, and a teammate and good friend of mine, Kenny, and I were joking with each other about our musical tastes. I was hassling him about listening to Usher and smooth R&B before games (that slow, romantic soulful stuff), to get hyped. He responded with “Well, your music is so dark and angry! It’s like, “I’m going to jump off a bridge…and Live!!””. I always remembered that story and years later wrote a song about it, and it became the album title. I reconnected with Kenny on Facebook, years later, and told him that story. He loved it! One another note, we also just released a song on a Nihlistics tribute, covering ‘No Friends’. The Nihlistics are an old punk band from New York, where Germ is from. They just signed to Jib Machine, as well, and the tribute album is coming out this summer! It’s an honour to be on a label with them. They were really helpful during the recording of the song.; Germ sung that one. He couldn’t figure out the lyrics and didn’t know they were negotiating with the label at the time, so he looked them up on Facebook to ask what the lyrics to ‘No Friends’ were, and they were totally cool and sent him back the lyrics.

‘Organ Doners’ (Official Lyric Video)

Who have been your greatest influences?

Oh God, we have some huge influences. Germ loves Pantera, the big 4 of thrash and most major thrash bands: Exodus, Overkill, Testament, Nuclear Assault. Huge Influences! There have been many influences along the way, and I was more into Iron Maiden, Nightwish, Dream Theater, really progressive melodic stuff. I got introduced to a lot of thrash, after meeting the guys in the band. Then I discovered Death, and Chuck Schuldiner absolutely amazed me, especially with his later material before he passed; it was so technical and progressive! After Germ joined, I got him into Opeth, Nightwish and Mastodon. He got me into Fear Factory, DRI, Suicidal Tendencies, and Nuclear Assault.

What first got you into music?

A few things. When I was a kid, I remember driving around in the backseat of my parents’ car listening to all sorts of classic rock. Later, it was the local radio stations and MTV, especially Headbangers Ball. It was so cool to see these bands I couldn’t find anywhere else. When Germ went to college, he became a DJ at the radio station and did the metal show. Additionally, a friend of his there started up a magazine, and he and two of his friends did all the metal CD reviews, concert reviews and interviews. It was awesome, great experience in Florida in the 90’s during the height of the death metal scene! I discovered rock in 5th grade; some kid had brought in Bush – Sixteen Stone, and I got inspired to pick up a guitar and replicate that sound. I was also playing alto saxophone at the time, and played baritone sax through my freshman year of high school. After that, I quit to focus on learning guitar, bass, drums, singing, etc. I kind of fell into Nu-Metal in high school, and discovered heavy metal like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath after that; it was a progression! After high school, I became a music instructor for B&B Music Lessons, which got me gas and textbook money during college, and kept me afloat during the recession in the 2010’s when I graduated and looked around for a job. Teaching for them, tearing around NOVA in rush hour traffic on my motorcycle, going house to house with a travel guitar on my back and teaching kids piano and guitar, was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician, who would it be?

Germ said Gwar! He wants to be a guest musician at a Gwar show and then have them slaughter him afterwards. If I personally could collaborate with anyone, I’d love to work with Opeth, Nightwish, or Ghost Bath; they just write such incredible music! I play rhythm guitar, so I don’t mind backing up anybody that I can keep up with, haha. I’m friends with Dennis from Ghost Bath, and been to a couple of their shows in Richmond, VA. He’s an incredible musician, and such a driven guy, but he’s always made time to talk with me about music and life. I’d be honoured to open for them anywhere, anytime. (I think Germ secretly wishes he was Mike Portnoy.)

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

All of them! Festivals all awesome! Probably Maryland Deathfest, a Monster Energy Music Festival,  Hellfest, or DEFINITELY 70000Tons of Metal! The opportunity to play in front of all those people and with all those great bands, then hang out with them. I’d love to hit the festival circuit. You know, the big European Metal shows, not the county festivals where Hootie and the Blowfish or BTO play.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

From a fan? Nothing. Although Germs running joke is that one year, he got index cards for Christmas. Actually, that’s not a joke, it really happened. Sorry, no fans have ever given us anything other their cheers and applause, and a weird girl walked over to me to grace me with her attention, grabbing and admiring my Meshuggah t-shirt at a Rings of Saturn concert. We love the fans, its great hanging out with people and other bands at shows, and talking to/meeting new people over Instagram or Facebook.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Support underground music, never stop, never give up. Don’t let the scene die!

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

I’d be intrigued to see what Jimi Hendrix would be doing if he was still with us. Kurt Cobain too, he was such an amazing song writer, I have to wonder what he would be writing now with the perspective of many years behind him. But hands down Dimebag Darrell Abbott. He was such a personable guy, and I have no shortage of second hand stories from buddies I know who were fortunate enough to meet him in person.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

I love the creativity, it’s such a great cathartic self-expression of my darker emotions, fear, anxiety, aggression, depression. The tools, hardware, and software available to write and record these days are so readily available and affordable to musicians, now! You can spend as much time as you want (or can) working on music! The downside…the music business is tough. Streaming, as a fan is really awesome to access all the music you could never afford to buy, as an artist, you really don’t make anything from it. And the recording process, grinding out multiple rhythm guitar tracks, it’s definitely work, and a labour of love. I’m not a great guitar player; I’ll spend 2 hours looping a single 2 measure lick at half speed in Guitar Pro, trying to get it down. It can be very frustrating, and has forced me to work on my patience and anxiety.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Tough call, I can’t say go back to the way it was, because I believe in progress. Music and entertainment will evolve no matter what anyone does and it can’t be stopped. How the Millennials and Generation Alpha gets music today is way different then how we did. Germ has kids, he said they just don’t hang out and listen to music like we did. They get it all through devices and headphones (none of our giant speakers anymore!) or as part of another medium for entertainment, i.e., songs embedded as part of a video, or a game or show or something. So, I’m not saying go back to the old way, but the music industry as a whole, and there are exceptions, hasn’t adapted to modern entertainment very well. The record industry really screwed up, and blew its opportunity to get out ahead of file sharing and MP3s. And in hindsight, Lars was right; file sharing and piracy are still a huge issue, and it costs musicians and record labels millions of dollars a year. Bands today are basically t-shirt salespeople, as a result. They make money mostly on merch, and playing shows, not record sales.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Germ says Pantera, “Far Beyond Driven”; he can still crank that album all the way up!  He’s an avid runner, several of the songs from that album are in his running playlists. I’d have to say Iced Earth – “Horror Show”, and then Death – “The Sound of Perseverance”. Those albums were my gateway to heavier power metal and later Death Metal.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

Honestly, I’ve totally adapted to streaming. I listen to music these days 99% of the time on YouTube Music, and my wife has Spotify. It’s definitely pros and cons; if the wireless connection is weak, I lose access, and of course if a server crashes, there goes your digital stream…but that’s where we are now.  “Jump Off the Bridge…And Live!!!” was released as a digital album as a result of this. Germ loves having his whole collection right at his finger-tips, and his collection is extensive…When my hard drive crashed, years ago, it took out a 40Gb collection of mine…I still have a small vinyl collection that I’ll play from time to time, though. I stopped collecting CD’s years ago, and only buy them from local bands at shows to show my love and support. Playlists are the best invention ever. Germ doesn’t miss having his CD’s scratched or melted in the car, and I don’t miss having the CD player not play it in the morning in the middle of a harsh NOVA winter because it’s too cold when the car starts up and the player won’t read the disk, or Germ pulling his tapes out of the tape player after it gets chewed up. Scratched records! He does have a few albums though that sounded better on the original analogue medium, old punk records for example.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

We played with a Baltimore thrash band called Omnislash at a small bar named Addy’s in Manassas, VA. Those guys are awesome and everyone reading this should check them out. They were really supportive of us, they stuck around for our set at 2AM, and they were totally into it! That was actually our 2nd show and they told us we sounded fantastic. They couldn’t believe it was only our second show ever. That was by far the most fun Germ ever had at a show. My personal favourite happened at a restaurant (that closed down afterward) named The Black Cat, in Alexandria. It was on July 13th, the night before my birthday, and many of my friends from the NOVA music scene made it out to support us and wear their Darkening Skies shirts. Most of A Sound of Thunder was there, and I got selfies with Josh and Nina. It was an emotional night for me, I thought I played the best I ever had, live, and it was one of our last shows before I took off for San Diego. With the pandemic, shows are starting up again, and one day I’d like to get on the road with Germ in a beat up van, travelling the West Coast, taking whore’s baths in gas station restroom sinks, etc. haha.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

Well, I’m a special education teacher, and it’s just a path I followed by chance. I have a real passion for it; the service I do is incredibly fulfilling. It, of course, pays for my musical career, but takes up a lot of personal time and energy that I have to prioritize over music right now, unfortunately. Germ would  love to be a writer, and get into writing movie scripts.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Well, it would have to be someone who could cook, because I sure can’t. My wife is an incredible chef, she does it professionally, and would take care of the whole table with ease. Germ wants Gordon Ramsey. I would just sit there drinking and eating while I watch them work the kitchen. I’d say I’d want dinner with a bunch of dead people: Jesus, Jimi Hendrix, Dimebag, and then maybe Robert Downey Jr., and definitely Ryan Reynolds. The dude is hilarious.

What’s next for the band?

Great question! I moved to San Diego shortly before we got signed. We had over 50 songs written, and we both didn’t want to throw that away. We decided to do all our work online and share it with the world 100% digitally. We use tools like Guitar Pro to collaborate and write music (that’s why your music teacher tells you to learn to read music kids!). We also have a studio in Germ’s basement for recording. I’m house hunting right now, and plan to contract to build a badass studio in MY basement, next year. So, what’s next?  We’re going to promote the hell out of this album first, and we have a few lyric videos in the works that you’re going to love.  We have some merch ideas that will come out later on our MerchBucket, at www.merchbucket.com/collections/darkening-skies.
We’re mastering a special song for the holidays right now, and that will be out by Hanukah. Our next EP, “Demon Core”, will hopefully be out next winter. We’re going to take our time and get the recording the way we like it, then eventually have it produced and release the next album. I can tell you right now that the production and sound quality will blow our current EP out of the water. We’re more experienced with tracking, signal paths, etc., and Jib Machine Records has an amazing sound engineer, Brandon, who is gonna take care of us next year.

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

Twitter and Instagram are our most active. Youtube for official videos. We have a Facebook page, but really haven’t seen much activity on that platform lately.
www.facebook.com/DarkeningSkies
www.twitter.com/Darkening_Skies
www.instagram.com/drkngskies/
www.youtube.com/user/DarkeningSkiesBand/videos

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Um, yeah, I have no idea what that is. I’m kind of a bagel or English muffin guy.

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

First, thank you so much for interviewing us! There are a billion bands promoting their creative works on social media, and we’re honoured to receive your attention. Thank you for your time as well! We really appreciate you supporting us! I think what you are doing is great! You’re supporting bands who are working hard and love what they do. Please keep doing it! Please support local and independent bands these days as much as you can! Kids, take the time and have the patience to learn a musical instrument; it will change your life.

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

EMQ’s with AGE OF FIRE

Age Of Fire Logo

EMQ’s with AGE OF FIRE

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Charlottesville, Virginia based Progressive Thrash Metal band, Age Of Fire. Huge thanks to Michael Heck & Laura Viglione for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

Michael Heck: I play a lot of instruments, but mostly guitar these days, and have covered guitar, bass, and production duties in Age of Fire. Age of Fire is really the brainchild of my friend Greg, sort of the rebirth of his old thrash band. Greg is an old friend of mine. When I first met him, I liked a few metal bands, like Metallica and Pantera, but I think my metal taste at the time was fairly limited to just a few bands. Greg expanded my metal vocabulary pretty drastically, introducing me to bands as diverse as Nevermore, to Queensrÿche, to Helloween, to King Diamond. Later, Greg was working on the Age of Fire music, and I heard some of it and liked it and offered to beef up the production a bit for him. This led to him saying he wanted a female singer on some songs, so we drafted Laura into the project, and the modern Age of Fire was born.

Laura Viglione: I’m the singer in Age of Fire. I’ve known Greg and Mike both for a long time, and when they asked me to be part of the project I jumped at the chance!

How did you come up with your band name?

Mike & Laura: That’s all Greg. He came up with it back in the 80’s, I think. I was surprised it wasn’t already taken!

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

Mike & Laura: We all live in central Virginia, near Charlottesville. The metal scene is pretty small, pretty underground. Richmond, which is about an hour away, has a bit more of a metal scene (Lamb of God and Gwar are from there), but even there it’s fairly dead. We’re trying to carry the torch haha.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

Mike: We put out our album “Shades Of Shadow” in 2020, right around the time COVID hit. Great timing!

‘Judgement Day’ (Lyric Video)

‘King Of Aquilonia’ (Lyric Video)

Who have been your greatest influences?

Mike: I play a ton of instruments and produce, so a ton of people across all those areas. For metal specifically, I’d say my earliest influences were probably Metallica and Pantera, but my biggest influence is probably Nevermore and Jeff Loomis, who I think is one of the best riff writers of all time.

Laura: My influences are a mixture of musical theatre and 90’s music growing up, followed by modern bad-ass female front-women like Lzzy Hale of Halestorm. Just like Mike learned a lot at the feet of Greg, Mike has, in turn, educated me.

What first got you into music?

Mike: My dad was in a band when I was very little, sort of a Styx rip off type thing, and he played keys, but I remember being very enamoured with the drums as a toddler. Later, I had a great music teacher in elementary school and loved that class, then continued into band in middle school. I wanted to play drums, but my parents wouldn’t let me, so they sort of forced me into my second choice, which was saxophone, but two years later I finally convinced them to let me switch to drums. I did drums in marching band and jazz band all through high school, was drum captain, and was in a rock/metal band with a couple high school friends, and from them I learned to play guitar just hanging out as a teenager. By my early 20’s I was playing guitar almost exclusively, although I still enjoy drumming.

Laura: My mom listened to music a lot growing up, lots of old R&B and cheesy pop ballads. My older sister was really into a bunch of 90’s bands, so that really got me into rock music. Then, I discovered Rush and fell in love with their early proto-metal sound. Later, this gradually evolved into more hard rock bands and metal bands.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

Mike: Probably either Jeff Loomis or James Hetfield. Tony Iommi would be killer too.

Laura: Geddy Lee would be amazing to work with!

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

Mike & Laura: one of the big European festivals probably! We love visiting Europe and really want to get over there to play!

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

Mike: I don’t remember too many weird gifts. A lot of times people just want to give you something they made or something like that which I always enjoy. I especially enjoy getting music from fans that they made that was inspired by us.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Thank you for all the support and please keep following and sharing our stuff!

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

Mike: This is a really tough question. I’d say it’s a toss-up between Randy Rhoads, one of my all-time favourite guitar players, and a huge lead influence on me, or Dimebag Darrell, whose death was just so unfair. Both of those guys died too early and music would’ve been very different had they had more time on this Earth.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

Mike: I love writing, recording, and playing music. Hanging out with friends and talking about gear or songs. Listening to music. I hate the business side of the industry. Having to do promotions and shop around for deals/gigs/etc. It can be gruelling. I just want to play lol.

Laura: I love singing and performing. Recording can be draining depending on how it’s going though. Mike can be kind of a perfectionist, so when we’re doing vocals and I’m on the 20th take , trying to get it “just right” and I’m about to murder him that can be taxing sometimes haha.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Mike: I’d probably do away with labels all together. I don’t think they have a future, but I would like it to be easier to discover new music. I think the big media companies need to be broken up. Some crazy percentage of US media are owned by a very small number of companies, and this creates problems with radio and TV (and news) where we are all force fed the same 20 songs/artists all month or whatever. With more independent stations this would be less of a problem. I’d like to see more of that, and more bands doing it DIY without major label help. Smaller labels like our label, Sliptrick, can be helpful for taking over some promotional duties, video production, etc, like they have for us though!

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Mike: Nevermore’s “Dreaming Neon Black”. Probably my #1 all-time favourite metal album and one of my favourite albums of any genre.

Laura: Coheed and Cambria, “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3”. It’s just perfection from the first note to the last. Dynamic, massive orchestration, hard guitars and soaring vocals.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

Mike: Streaming is the most convenient for sure, but you have to make sure to go into your settings and set it to the highest quality (320kbs if you have it) so the audio doesn’t suck. CD’s are alright, but a lot of stuff that was mastered for CD, especially early on, wasn’t mastered well for the medium and sounds awful. Cassettes were just a pain; I hate them lol. Vinyl is great, and I hope we are able to put out some stuff on vinyl one day. I think the big thing about vinyl is that it sort of forces you to listen to an entire side of an album, because you can’t just skip to the next track like you can for CD’s and streaming. You just put the record on and let it play, and I think this is better/healthier in many ways for our modern short attention spans.

Laura: I’m too lazy for all that, give me streaming all day. Mike is such an audiophile, he’s picky, but I can get down to any quality of sound as long as something is playing.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

Mike: We’ve played so many shows over the years it’s hard to pick one. I like most any gig where the crowd is into it and moving around. When people are just standing there staring and giving no sign that they’re into what you’re doing, those shows can be hard.

Laura: For sure, I remember a magical night in this dive bar where everything just aligned, and the crowd and I were completely synergistic…I’ll always remember it.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

Mike: Well, we all have day jobs, so we’d be doing those things haha. Artistically, if I couldn’t play music, I would probably write stories/books. I’m (very slowly) working on a sci-fi book, but who knows if I’ll ever finish it. It’s pretty epic though!

Laura: I’m a giant theatre nerd: I have a regular Shakespeare study group I might have done some community theatre stuff, but would love to do more!

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Mike: Living or Dead? Probably people that like good food. I hear Dave Grohl and Dimebag make/made mean BBQ, so they’re totally in. Probably James Hetfield, cause he seems like a cool guy. Lzzy Hale seems like she could throw down with these guys. And last but not least, let’s throw Zac Wylde in the mix. I think this would be a fun backyard BBQ throw down!

Laura: I’m kinda with Mike, I enjoy hanging with people who can just be low key and real. Some tunes, some brews and good food, come one over!

What’s next for the band?

Mike: We are hard at work on our next album, and working on being more active on social media. We’re deep in the writing process now, with a lot of awesome riffs and ideas, writing lyrics. I’m building a new 7 string multi-scale guitar from scratch, and a new studio production desk in my workshop, which may come in handy on the new record as well. Laura and I also have another band called Supervixen (less metal and more straight up rock) that has its own record nearing the end of production as we transition to working on the next Age of Fire record.

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

Mike: We have all the things haha. Facebook, Youtube, etc. I let Greg handle most of that stuff.

Laura: I gotcha- I’ve recently discovered that many fans think of me as “illusive” so I’m making an effort to be more present on social media – it’s just life is so boring right now during the pandemic 😊.
www.facebook.com/ObsidianDreams9
www.instagram.com/age_of_fire_band/
www.ageoffire.net/
www.ageoffire.bandcamp.com/

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Mike: I love British culture and snacks and whatnot, but I don’t think I’ve had one! I need to go get some haha. Wikipedia says they’re “biscuit sized cakes”, so I’ll go with that haha.

Laura: I think it all depends on what you’re eating them with. By themselves, cake. With tea – biscuit.

Age Of Fire Promo Pic (Credit Eichner Studios)
Credit Eichner Studios

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Reaper – Stranger Than Fiction

Reaper – Stranger Than Fiction
Self-Released
Release Date: 16/10/2020
Running Time: 37:53
Review by Beth Jones
9.5/10

Merseyside. An area in the North West of England, known for some interesting stuff; The Beatles, a couple of decent football teams (one arguably better than the other – which one that is, I’ll leave up to you to decide), and the exit point of the River Mersey into the North Sea (I believe there’s a ferry across it, too. I heard it once in a song 🤣). And now, Merseyside has a new offering! A young four-piece Progressive Thrash Metal band, by the name of Reaper. Over the last couple of years, we’ve become quite friendly with their frontman, Dan Moran, so it’s a great pleasure to now be able to review their second full length album, “Stranger Than Fiction”.

Inspired by the great and good of Thrash, Prog, and Classic Metal, Reaper create a sound that’s full of thumping melodies, entwined with faster thrash riffs, and intricate rhythms, which give the sound a distinct edge. “Stranger Than Fiction” was originally set to be an EP, but then Covid happened, and the lockdown that followed led to some intense and inspired writing, leaving them with enough material to go the whole hog! The concept of being thrust into life in a world full of chaos, then learning to accept that chaos is all part of life’s rich tapestry, forms the basis of this album. It explores some of the harsher sides of life that run starkly through the world, especially at the current time.

After a short introduction, made up of a collection of chaotic samples to set the scene, ‘Sigil’, the bands previously released single, kicks the actual music off. It’s pacey and full of epic riffage and thrashy rhythms, with Dan’s vocals ripping over the top of everything. His voice is somewhere between Rob Halford and an angry Bruce Dickenson! Powerful and gritty, with a great range, and an even bigger lung capacity (there’s some ridiculously long notes in this track)!

‘The Titan’ is slightly slower, but still with all the vim and vigour you want from a meaty Thrash track. It’s a real thumper. It gets a bit trippy in the middle, too, before coming back to shotgun staccato work on the guitars, bass, and drums, and a pretty epic guitar solo. This thunderous sound is continued in the first half of ‘Upon The Sun’. However, halfway through, it suddenly drops into a quite acoustic section, followed by a proggy interlude, which really mixes things up a bit! Again, this is another belter.

‘Flight’ takes an amble through full on prog, with a heavy edge. It’s many cross-rhythm sections, discordant guitar solos, and bonkers vocal effects, intertwine to create a reasonably psychedelic, hallucinogenic experience. Don’t try and bang your head to this one. It will just annoy you! Just pay attention instead! There’s so much going on in it, that you’ll find something new with each listen.

The business end of the album brings the thrash back, (with ‘Jericho’ being a full-on thrash number that you just have to move to) then goes all out thrash prog genius for the final two tracks, ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Walk The Sky’, which are both of epic length, and by far my favourite tracks on the album.

‘Afterlife’ starts off pacey and powerful, then builds and builds, until it crashes into the stratosphere of epic melodic prog, before finally coming back down to earth, with an acoustic guitar closing the track. It’s so emotive and exciting! I think it might be my favourite Reaper song ever, actually! ‘Walk The Sky’ is almost a resolution of ‘Afterlife’. It offers a fair amount of heavy and pacey thrash riffs early on, but then floats down into intricate, measured, chilled out prog. The symbolic “moment of acceptance and contentment” realising and resolving the discordant chaos.

I love this album. And the more I listen to it, the more I hear in it. If you like anything thrashy, with some added diversity, then you need this in your playlist. It’s interesting and exploratory, and musically, its skilfully executed, tight, and displays a mature professionalism that goes way beyond the band’s years. I’ve only held back from giving “Stranger Than Fiction” a perfect 10 because I believe that Reaper still have even more to give. And that, my friends, is a hellishly exciting prospect!!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Event Horizon
02. Sigil
03. The Titan
04. Upon The Sun
05. Flight
06. Jericho
07. Afterlife
08. Walk The Sky

LINE-UP:
Daniel Moran – Vocals, Guitar
Anthony Capitano – Guitar
Elliott Kyriakides – Bass
Anthony Longworth – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

EMQ’s with HUNGER

EMQ’s with HUNGER

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Indaiatuba, Brazil based Progressive Thrash Metal band, Hunger. Huge thanks to vocalist/guitarist Mauro Izalbert for taking part!

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

My name is Mauro Izalbert and I am the guitarist and vocalist of Hunger.

Hunger started in 2002 aiming to make metal with ‘political’ lyrics. We recorded some demos: “Peace Is In Pieces” (2003 EP), Hunger (2004 EP), “When The Truth Lies” (2005 single), “Demons In White” (2009 single), and “Contradizendo um Paradoxo” (2011 Single). We did many shows, but only in the State of São Paulo – Brazil with some great names of Brazilian metal like Shaman, Torture Squad, Angra and Sepultura. The Band also participated in many contest festivals, and always taking some prize.

I am the only member since the beginning, and the constant changing of members was the most difficult thing about releasing a full length.

How did you come up with your band name?

I was searching for a name that represents politically criticising Brazil and I downloaded a song called ‘Hunger’ from eMule, supposed to be Megadeth and Metallica playing together, and I thought to myself it was perfect: Brazil suffered a lot with poverty and hunger at that time and it’s a mixture of two of my favourite bands. Later, I found out I was pranked; the song was from a band called Eternal Decision and had nothing to do with Metallica or Megadeth.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

We are from Indaiatuba, São Paulo, Brazil.

I think we are growing! There are many great bands around here doing good stuff and helping each other.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

In January 2020, we released our First Full album “Hunger Feeds Misery” and in April, we released the music video “Peace is in pieces”.

Who have been your greatest influences?

Cliff Burton, Chuck Schuldiner, Dave Mustaine, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Pantera, Testament, Sepultura and Pink Floyd.

What first got you into music?

Pink Floyd was what I enjoyed the most when I was a kid. After that, Metallica’s  “…And Justice For All” got me into metal.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

Probably Machine Head. Not only for the music but also because of Rob’s Political vision.

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

Wacken! Because it’s the greatest one and the dream of every metal musician.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

A girl gave me her underwear after the show.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Support metal! Don’t make any kind of competition between the bands. Love and Respect.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

It’s Hard to say only one, but I would love to hear more of what Chuck Schuldiner would make for music.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

I love that I can express my thoughts and feelings through music, it’s way different than talking. I hate rumours, band’s competitions and weak people who try to fuck other bands rather than worry about making music.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

I think the internet. Of course, it helps me a lot, but I miss people buying CD’s instead of downloading music and people going to shows instead of watching videos at home.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

“The Sound Of Perseverance” – Death

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

A mix of vinyl aesthetics and CD sound quality

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

It was on January 24th 2020

We released our First album and there was a special guest: Marcello Pompeu – Korzus

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

Well, as a child my dream was to be a scientist

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Dimebag Darrel, James Hetfield and Chuck Schuldiner

What’s next for the band?

We were planning to tour before Covid 19. Now we’re planning more music videos

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

www.instagram.com/hunger_metal/
www.open.spotify.com/artist/0rVWznTIYGthebFHlOL8A1
www.youtube.com/channel/UCRRDPxK11xE8K9NTZakNtWQ
www.deezer.com/album/152545482

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Hahahaha! I’d say they’re biscuits

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Thank YOU!

I’d love to thank you Guys, specially Victor Augusto. I’d love to thank all metal people who support us in any way! You’re the best!

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.