"Crooked Doors" was the anticipated second album of Atlanta, Georgia based Royal Thunder. The recorded exceed expectations and brought the four-piece band on the radar of fans of intense rock music. After such a success expectation went up when it comes to the bands newest album "Wick". After some hard work the quartet presents with "Wick" a record that adds another step in developing Royal Thunder's sounds. Markus' Heavy Music Blog had the chance to talk to Mlny and Josh who gave some more insights into background of "Wick".
Markus’ Heavy Music Blog: Thanks for spending some time with Markus’ Heavy Music Blog.
Mlny Parsonz: Thanks. We really appreciate it.
MHMB: With “Wick” you guys have a great new album in the starting blocks and my first question is, if you can tell us a bit more about the album and how you guys approached it?
Mlny: Well, first of all thank you for the compliment.
Josh Weaver : The way we did the new album is that it all came from us playing live and living life. We were experiencing losses, happiness, frustration and everything in between. All this means a constant change of people. What we did is that we put all the emotions and the things we experience in life into our music.
MHMB: When you mention the emotional aspect, I have the feeling that the new album, as well as “Crooked Doors’, is a very emotional album when it comes to music and lyrics. Are the lyrics also based in very personal experiences?
Mlny: As Josh said, we take the inspiration for our music and for the lyrics from everyday life. The lyrics are about emotions and experiences we all walked through together. I draw a lot inspiration from the different relationships in my life – good and bad.
In the past I have been more on a soul-searching journey, which was reflected in the lyrics. For “Wick” I was in different place. I knew exactly what I wanted. I knew what was happening and how I felt about everything, which means that the search wasn’t so much there. I think it is more a collection of the wisdom gained through those experiences, like pieces of this larger puzzle. And since we’re still moving and living, there will be new collection of life experiences to put after this on the next album. You could say “Wick” is like a photo in time that captures us in a place we were in.
MHMB: “April Showers” is one of these intense songs on the new album. Why have you chosen this song as the first single of the new album?
Josh: I’m don’t really know why we have chosen that song, but it feels like a very well-rounded song to pick and it was the only song we had pretty much written for the album before we went into the studio. And since the album is coming out in April we thought that it’s also very much appropriate to chose “April Showers” as the first single.
MHMB: When I was preparing for this interview I read a statement from you guys saying that “Wick” was the hardest album to make. Can you explain what made “Wick” so hard to do?
Josh: Actually they are all very hard to make, mainly because you don’t want to repeat yourself and you want to create something new and fresh. Therefore, we had to get in touch with our feelings to put them into our sound and into the lyrics. We wanted to clean corners and that’s a very hard thing, but we wanted to do it right.
MHMB: The first two albums have gotten very positive feedback and my question is, if this increased the pressure you felt while working on “Wick”?
Mlny: For me, I definitely felt pressure. It was unnecessary pressure that I put on myself. It wasn’t coming from the label, the management, fans or people around me. It was coming from me. After having done “Crooked Doors” I had the feeling that I had used up all my creative ideas and I tortured myself a little bit with that. But the pressure I put on myself wasn’t necessary because the truth is, you just have to listen to the song and keep digging. It’s all in there and it’s just a matter of believing that it’s in there. It’s not like it doesn’t exist. I always start off kind of rough, putting pressure on myself and than I realize that it is going to be OK. It also should be hard because if you work hard you are going to feel it. It should be challenging to work hard on something and sure you get tired, but never get tired in a way that you give up because in the end it gives something good and positive back to you.
MHMB: Another song that stands out a little bit from the rest is “Plans”. The vocals and the drumbeat are quite dominant in this song. Did that idea come spontaneously or was it more planned?
Mlny: That was a very natural progression. It was something that Will wrote and he mentioned that he had this idea that he was just jamming with his acoustic guitar. He started to play it for a while and it stuck. So, we thought: “Let’s track it. That’s fucking awesome”. That song just unfolded on its own and I appreciate the compliment on the vocals. I was really inspired by Will’s song and where he went, which inspired me to go where I went. That’s our way of doing things. We feed each other and we respond to what the others are doing.
MHMB: You mentioned jamming which brings me to a thought I had when listening to the album. “Wick” sounds very vital and it feels like a lot of ideas where actually created in the studio. Is that assumption correct?
Josh: Yeah. I think “April Showers” was written for the most part, together with just one or two parts from “Wick”. Other than that we completely wrote the album in the studio. Everything was like one building block after the other. Writing the songs in the studio and putting them together one after the other, that’s pretty much how we did it.
MHMB: Why did you guys choose “Wick” as the title? Is there a deeper meaning behind “Wick”?
Mlny: I have to say that I named that song “Wick”. Even though it’s the title track, it’s a bit detached from the album but it slightly relates to it. When it comes to the meaning, I don’t want to say too much about it since I want people to interpret the song however they want to. Anyhow, I was sitting in the studio together with Joey (the producer) and it was one of these days when I was frustrated. I felt like every time I took a pen and a paper nothing was coming out. I felt so frustrated and irritated, so I came to a point when I just thought ‘fuck it’. Not that I really meant it like that, it was more the headspace I was in. Joey reacted like: “Wow, that’s a feeling. There’s something to say about that”. So I went just through it and aired out all my frustrations. It was like standing there with a candle, starring at the wick and not being able to find the fire to light the wick and ignite the flame. You know, I’m human and yeah, it was one of these days where I didn’t really know where to find this fucking fire, but obviously it’s there. The album title is related, reflecting the whole journey of standing there, holding a candle and looking at the wick. Looking for the flame and the fire behind, which means that it’s all around you. That’s the bridge and the story behind the album title and song.
MHMB: Mlny and Josh, thanks a lot for your time and for giving us some more insights about the new album.
Josh: Thank you very much for having us and also thanks to all the fans out there, supporting us. We look forward to coming to Europe to play some shows and make some new fans. So, thank you and see you on tour.
(7/10) It was at the end of the 80’s when keyboarder Greg Guiffria formed House Of Lords, releasing three very well received records.
It was in 1992 when the band went into a hiatus for 12 years before House Of Lords came back with James Christian (v), Lanny Cordola (g), Chuck Wright (b) and Ken Mary (d). These for guys release with “The Power and the Myth” a great hardrock album that went down well with the fans of melodic hardrock.
“Saint of the Lost Soul” is the newest strike of James Christian and band. It’s House Of Lord’s tenth full-length longplayer, coming with eleven melodic tunes. “Harlequin” is the opener and it’s a good one. Catchy melodies and good hooklines dominate a tune that sticks to your mind the first time you listen to it. Another number I would like to stand still for a second is the title track. Here we are talking about a vital uptempo song that is rocking very well. Guitars and keyboards are in balance, giving “Saint of the Lost Souls” a dynamic that peaks in the guitar solo.
There is also a ‘but’ when it comes to “Saint of the Lost Soul”. The album contains good songs but many of those don’t include a ‘wow’ momentum. “Hit the Wall” is such an example when the band drifts away into standard AOR without thrills. The same goes for the ballad “The Sun Will Never Set Again” which is too trivial, a song of which many similar ones are already out there on the market. In the end I would have wished more of these heavier tracks that come with the agility of the title track.
What’s done in an excellent way though is the production. The sound of “Saint of the Lost Soul” couldn’t be much better, giving the album and the songs the best possible power to shine. If I would be critical I would say that things sound even too good which takes away the vitality and the edges. In the end I think that Christian was aiming for a safe bet with this album, not risking too much.
House Of Lords’ newest longplayer is melodic and catchy. What’s missing is the dot on the ‘i’ that lifts the album from a good one to an excellent one. It’s like with a dish that missing the final two spices to make it really tasty. Fans of melodic rock will like the album and all the others should check it out before coming to a conclusion. .
Label: Frontiers Music
Genre: Melodic Rock
Release Date EU: March 24th, 2017
Ambient rockers Anathema will release a new longplayer on June 9th via Kscope. It's entitled "The Optimist" and eleven new exciting songs of which the first one, "Springfield", is online as a video on the bands website.
Brooklyn hard rock legends LIFE OF AGONY have completed work on their new album and Napalm Records debut "A Place Where There's No More Pain", which will be released April 28th via Napalm Records. So far only one song from the album has been released to the public, the title track “A Place Where There’s No More Pain”.
Today Invisible Oranges and Brooklyn Vegan are stoked to debut the second single from A Place Where There's No More Pain. Get a first listen to “World Gone Mad”.
"The message behind ‘World Gone Mad’ could not be more relevant to what's going on all over this planet right now. People are more divided than ever, and if we continue to ignore the fact that this world is busting at its seams and just continue to "stick our heads underground," like the lyrics suggest, we will see a madness in our lifetime like we've never experienced before,” says bassist Alan Robert.
(7/10) Norwegian rock and metal outfit Dunderbeist worked on a new EP that hits the shelfs in March. This disc is the highly anticipated successor of the 2015 release “Hyklere", an album that received very positive feedback from fans and media.
"Tvilja", the new EP of the six Norwegians, comes with five tracks. Based on classic rock, Dunderbeist embarks on a dark trip that sounds pretty good. "Kometen Kom" is the first track and it the title indicates the fact that the lyrics are kept in Norwegian. Since my Norwegian isn't existing I can't tell you a lot about what the tunes are about. What I can say though is that the opener is a melodic rocker, mostly kept in mid-pace and spiced-up with a good melodic approach.
Things get darker with "Terpentin" before "Vakum"'covers the scenery with melancholy. You might have a need for a more uptempo track and you'll get it. The title track feels almost light-hearted compared to what you got served beforehand. "Isvind (grå gås)" is already the last song on this EP and brings back the mournful vibe, even though the chorus got a slightly different expression.
Dunderbeist's new EP is a well-crafted piece of creation. It will not turn the world upside down but it comes with almost 30 minutes of good music that's worth to be checked out.
Label: Indie Recordings
Release Date EU: March 10th, 2017
(9/10) My Mastodon trip started with their sophomore album „Leviathan“. This disc made more than an impression and still belongs to my all-time-faves. This was 13 years ago and in the meantime the Atlanta-based band released many more records with an constantly growing supporters base.
„Emperor of Sand“ is the newest work of art, an album that was recorded at The Quarry Recording Studio, produced by Brendan O’Brien who did already the 2009 release „Crack the Skye“. The band uses the story of a wanderer, who’s on a journey through an hostile to life desert and what sounds like a fantasy story is actually a metaphor for the effect and suffering of long-term sicknesses like cancer. In these kind of situations time gets very important, asking the first question: How much time do I have. Mortality becomes all of a sudden a beast that tries to catch hold of you.
The newest longplayer is the most mature one up to date. The four-piece band makes use of so many different styles, bringing them all together on an album that stands with 100% for Mastodon.
"Sultan's Curse", a pounding song, acts as the opener for the album. It's a mid-pace number that has quite melodic vocal lines, interacting with a guitar sound that alternates between heavy riffing and melodic leads. The latter brings a certain classic rock feeling to the table that's well embedded. The next masterpiece is entitled "Show Yourself" which is surprisingly melodic - almost a bit too catchy for my taste. It comes with an alternative rock expression that fits very well; for me the song is the one that’s the easiest accessible on the album.
A track that is very straight-forward too is called "Precious Stone", blending heaviness and melancholy; all with a kind of late 90’s grunge factor. And if there was any ease in some of the earlier song, this is gone with the first riff of „Steambreather". The almost swinging approach of some of the earlier songs turns into a darker and gloomier one. A hypnotic riff builds the base for the track that belongs to the best ones on the album. You can almost feel the desert heat, making life of the wanderer to a threatening experience between life and death. The song is like a sonic Fata Morgana and belongs to the pearls on this record.
What comes next got the name of "Roots Remain" and it feels like the band going back to the roots. The number is harsher than the earlier ones and especially the beginning feels like going back to the band's roots. The rougher vocals, that makes this tune to heavy pounder, underlines this too. But Mastodon is more than all the mentioned. The band incorporates progressive elements as well. „Candestiny“ is such a song that uses a 70’s progrock vibe, strengthened by the inclusion of a Moog. And as of it should act as a brutal counterpart, it’s „Andromeda“ that stands for the most brute song on the album.
„Scorpion Breathe“ combines hard-hitting drums with immense riffs; all build on a pumping bass, before the first notes of „Jaguar God“ introduce the ending of this awesome album. An acoustic guitar starts off a song that gains intensity with getting really mighty towards the end. It’s a closer that shows again the potential and capabilities of a band that was constantly growing over the last years, permanently increasing their fan base.
“Emperor of Sand” is the expected big shot of a band that developed over time to one of the most influential ones in rock and metal.
Genre: Alternative Metal
Release Date EU: March 31st, 2017
(9/10) It' was 25 years ago to date when an album was released (on March 31st, 1992) that had a strong impact in metal. In the days of grunge becoming more and more popular it was Body Count who released their debut; an album that came with an intensity that was mind-blowing. And not just that it was good record, it also contained lyrics that where confronting and controversial. A song everybody was talking about is "Cop Killer", addressing the case of Rodney King. After such a powerful and controversial beginning it was in 1994 when the band released the highly anticipated "Born Dead" which picked things up where the debut ended.
In the meantime we reached 2017 and Body Count is back with their fifth longplayer. "Bloodlust", that's what it's called, comes with eleven songs, each of them a real smasher. I'm not really sure what triggered this unleashed power of Ice-T and his band, it might be the current political situation, but what the guys decided to put on the album belongs to the best I've heard from Body Count.
Anger, rage and power forges ahead in songs like "Civil War", including a guitar solo from Dave Mustaine, followed by the not less energetic "The Ski Mask Way".
Next to all the new songs "Bloodlust" also comes with a cover version. As an intro to the tune Ice-T describes what Body Count is about and why the guys choose this song as being the cover version on the record. The song we're talking about is Slayer's "Raining Blood/Postmortem". This version can easily compete with the original, something I never thought that I would ever say. Slayer belongs to one of Ice-T's favorite metal bands, leading to a cooperation for a contribution to the OST of "Judgement Night". "Disorder", the song that was recorded that time, is a brutal metal track and so is the cover on this new longplayer.
Talking about cover version; other than expected "Walk With Me" isn't a Lamb Of God cover even though it's Randy Blythe contributing with some shouts. “Bloodlust” is an album that comes without any filler. “No Lives Matter’, the title track or the closer “Black Hoodie” are brilliant grooving metal songs that belong to the best ones Body Count ever released. This album is a sonic riot, build on a mighty groove and brutal thrash riffs.
"Bloodlust" became a record that I was hoping for but didn't expect. Each second of these 41 minutes running time is charged with mighty riffs, angry vocals and lyrics that are very relevant in today's situation. The debut might brought the most attention but it's this longplayer that shows what Body Count is able to achieve in the fields of metal. You should not miss this album.
Label: Century Media
Genre: Groove Metal
Release Date EU: March 31st, 2017