Sheri’s Top Ten Releases Of 2020

Sheri’s Top Ten Releases Of 2020
By Sheri Bicheno

Hello everyone,

Welcome to Sheri’s top ten releases of 2020. Sheri is one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. Apart from being hugely passionate about our scene and music, she is so friendly, caring and always there for her friends, even though she’s had a tough year herself. It doesn’t matter how down you are; Sheri always makes you smile. Her lovely nature means she is excellent at interviews and she has become my interview guru, always managing to get the best out of people, in a year where the nearest we have been able to get to most bands, is on Zoom. We can look forward to many more of those. I am incredibly lucky that she is a part of Ever Metal and my friend. Thanks Sheri.

10. Ashen Reach – Homecoming (November 2020)

‘Tear It Down’ (Official Video)

9. Kataklysm – Unconquered (September 2020)

‘The Killshot’ (Official Video)

8. Deified – Anthrobscene (May 2020)

‘Apotheosis/Rebirth’ (Lyric Video)

7. Grimorte – Esoteric Ascendence EP (October 2020)

‘Esoteric Ascendance’ (Full EP Stream)

6. Draconian – Under a Godless Veil (October 2020)

‘Sleepwalkers’ (Official Video)

5. Ward XVI – Metamorphosis (September 2020)

‘Shadows’ (Official Video)

4. My Dying Bride – The Ghost of Orion (March 2020)

‘To Outlive The Gods’ (Official Video)

3. Lamb of God – Lamb of God (June 2020)

‘Memento Mori’ (Official Video)

2. Ensiferum – Thalassic (July 2020)

‘Andromeda’ (Official Video)

1. Paradise Lost – Obsidian (May 2020)

‘Fall From Grace’ (Official Video)

To read the original reviews, where available, follow these links:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Sheri Bicheno 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.

Interview with Chris Kenny and David Jordan (Deej) of Incinery

Interview with Chris Kenny and David Jordan (Deej) of Incinery
By Sheri Bicheno

Hi Everyone, Sheri Here!

Born from the Midlands Thrash and Metal scene in 2009, Incinery have ploughed festival stages such as Bloodstock, Download, MetalDays to name a few! They brought out their first album “Dead, Bound and Buried” in 2014 and released their second album “Hollow Earth Theory” on 30th October 2020! I recently got a chance to have a sneaky listen to the album (many thanks to Dan at FatAngel Management) and have a chat with Chris Kenny (guitars) and Deej (David Jordan – Bass) about the new album, sci fi, alien abduction and working through lockdown…

Sheri: You formed back in 2009 and since have done some – pretty spectacular stuff! Bloodstock, MetalDays, Download…Damnation! Going back for a moment, take us through the roots of Incinery and what gave you the push to get into music?

Chris: So…it really started as a covers band for our old guitarists’ 21st birthday! So, me and him played in some bands beforehand and he had the idea of “I wanna do something for my 21st, let’s do a little band thing and play some music”. So, we did that and started out doing covers and then we sorta carried on doing covers…and then after a while we were like “Let’s not do covers anymore” haha. At that point we had a different line up and then once we started going into our own stuff and that, we then switched and that’s when we got David on board and everyone else so…

Sheri: Were you doing Thrash covers before or a bit of everything?

Chris: It was mainly thrash that we were doing – Metallica covers, Megadeth, that sort of thing.

Sheri: And you mentioned that there was a different line up, so since forming the foundation of Incinery have you been the same line up?

David: It’s been pretty stable since the first EP has been out. To be honest, where we are now, we’ve been the same line up we started with, we’ve just had a few comings and goings since we’ve gone along and those have been sort of dictated by external pressures and the financial stuff around balancing being in a band against everything else you’ve got to do. I had to leave after the EP’s were released, a bit under a year I think, it was a while back, about 2011 or something and then our other guitarist had to leave the band after the first album was released, for similar reasons. Other things just sort of getting in the way, but it was sort of why the gap is so big between the first album and this one, we’ve gone through trying to sort that out and getting it back to how it can work better. It sort of clicks better with all the original guys in so…

Sheri: Your first release was E.P “Dawn Of War”, which for our readers, was released in 2011 and then that was followed by your 2013 E.P “Nothing Left”. For me, these early releases sound like you had elements of Death Metal and even a bit of Black Metal in places, under your signature Thrash sound. I can detect this in songs like ‘Rise’, ‘Nihilum’ and ‘Behind The Lies’. What are your thoughts on that perception?

Chris: Hahaha I think that as we’ve gone on, we’ve put more of it in to be honest… hahaha. So that’s a great perception!

David: Yeah it’s like obviously Incinery is a Thrash band but we all listen to quite a lot of Death Metal and some of us, Black Metal so I think it’s sort of natural that it bleeds in a little bit even though it’s not what we’re aiming to do specifically but it’s hard not to play what you like isn’t it?

Chris: I think, as well, it helps us sort of stand out from being a regular Thrash band because it gives us a bit of uniqueness, I think.

Sheri: Absolutely, so you have some diversity in there as well.

David: Yeah, I think that some of the stuff that people like about us is that it’s not just – cuz you can go to a Thrash all-dayer festival and there’ll be some really good bands but it can be a bit samey I guess so I think the thing that has helped us get on is probably that there’s a little bit of variety in it and we try a few different things out and you’ll probably hear a little bit of that coming out on this album as well.

Sheri: Your 2014 debut album “Dead, Bound And Buried” saw some slight changes from your earlier works in terms of guitaring style and rhythm. I would say, a bit more sticking to your brutal Thrash sound than anything else…vocals, strings and drums are really tight! I can definitely note some subtle nods of Exodus from this album. Particularly in ‘Death May Die’ and ‘Destroy The Gods’. I absolutely love that track! From building Incinery from scratch and getting to that quality in not a long time at all, what works for you in order to produce that strong energy of Incinery?

Chris: I think the first thing is that it sounds really simple really, but we all get on with it & each other haha – that’s a big thing haha. But you know, especially where there are some bands that don’t, some bigger bands and that but… it’s something that definitely helps you start out building stuff.

David: I think that as (Chris) Kenny says, it sounds sort of funny in a way but it does really help if you can get on in that way because when you’re writing songs, sometimes you need to be critical in a constructive way of stuff that you hear and if there’s animosity or people don’t get on, I mean I know other bands where they just have ended up not playing anymore because they just can’t be in a room, or if you’re too protective over what you come to the table with and you’re not willing to hear what everyone else has to say then you might end up getting your own way musically like in the creative process, but you’re not gonna – what you come out with is crap or not as good as it could have been because you didn’t take other stuff on board… so that is worth it, if you’re in a band, make sure you get on haha.

Sheri: It definitely has to be a group effort. In terms of your songwriting, how is it put together? What works for you? Does someone come up with lyrics and another person come up with riff…

Chris: What tends to happen is that one of us will come up with two or three riffs and maybe stick them together to start putting a structure together. What could be say, an intro verse chorus as we’re in a modern age where we can sort of quickly record things down, ideas…do that and send them to each other to say “Here, have a listen to this, what do you think? Do you like it?” Then we then take that structure and take it to band practise and start to develop it from there. Sometimes, someone maybe comes in with a complete song because we’re sometimes just happy to write the whole song or maybe half a song and then from that point we get things structured down and then everyone starts thinking about what they want to do with it. So, I would never dictate Deej’s bass lines or anything like that, he’ll come and go “Ok, this makes me want to play this particular motif here.” Or do a bass solo type thing here and he will go away and start adding that. From that foundation, we start building it up and that’s where you start getting those other styles coming in. I think with the lyrics, it’s mainly James and Deej also chips in with a lot of ideas for that as well.

David: Yeah, the lyrics always end up being the last thing that happen because a lot of James’ lyrics are quite rhythmic or the rhythm is what he ties what he’s doing to and in the past James has been known to start writing out the lyrics to the song and we’ll show up to the next band practise and we’ve totally changed the structure of the song just because that’s what’s happened whilst we’re writing it. James then has to throw everything out and start again so he tends to wait until we’ve got what we think is gonna be the final structure down and then he can get on with that, so like on this album there are some songs we didn’t really know the lyrics for until we were listening to them being recorded haha.

Sheri: That’s an interesting way to do that! Totally cool. Let’s talk about the message in “Dead, Bound And Buried” – I’m picking up that there is a pretty dark story but without being so much as a concept album?

David: Yeah, it’s hard to speak on James’ behalf I guess but we don’t really do a concept album in terms of it being a narrative but I know that he likes to read a lot and there’s a lot of horror and science fiction that he reads and he likes to get that into the lyrics.

Chris: There’s a lot of Lovecraft type things in there…

David: There’s a lot of Lovecraft in “Dead, Bound And Buried” hahaha.

Sheri: You have a new album due to release! For our readers, “Hollow Earth Theory” is due out on 30th October and I had Dan (FatAngel) send me a sneaky peek. It is BRUTAL. There are some absolutely killer solos and riffs tearing through this album. The on-point drumming provides the backbone and I think that James’ vocals are cleaner and rawer. How do you think you have evolved leading up to “Hollow Earth Theory”?

Chris: I think…there’s been a long gap between the last one and this one so…a lot of it has just been experience and growth through…just getting old haha! A lot of it is experience and we’ve written stuff before. Even though “Dead, Bound And Buried” was released in 2014, a lot of it was written a couple of years prior to that so there is actually a more extended gap for us. To bring in some of that knowledge and the things we’ve done before and try to do better with it and gain – make everything a little deeper and a bit bigger and add more to what we can do. I think from a writing point, it’s a big aim.

David: I think one of the differences for me is that on the first three releases, there’s a lot of really good riffs and a lot of really good moments and what I think we’ve gotten better at is looking at songs as a total package and one thing that made a difference was that with “Dead, Bound And Buried”, we recorded that in the studio in about two weeks. So, we went down to the studio and we all lived in each other’s pockets for 14 days and just had to get it down. But what that also meant was that we were writing to a deadline so we were trying to get to that date when we knew we were gonna have to go in and so there are songs that turned out fine but they probably didn’t turn out how they could. This time Kenny recorded for the most part…we did it in Kenny’s back bedroom, In some ways that’s given us a lot more time because we had most of the album drafted, with probably 6 months to go from the music side of things and it just meant we could sit down with it and refine it and actually play through the songs and not have to settle for the first draft and go “Ok let’s change that.” The songs are more cohesive.

Chris: It’s a different perspective when you’re writing a song, you’re writing the bits and then you play the song and then when you are actually able to sit down and listen to the song that you’ve just made, it’s a completely different perspective to how you hear it and I think because we’ve had the chance to do that as well that’s also enhanced it for us.

Sheri: So, you’ve actually had the opportunity to digest it as you?

Chris: Definitely.

Sheri: Understood. You’ve not long released “Hollow Earth Theory’s” first single, ‘Falling Into The Sky’ – can we explore the message of this? I feel this is a track that suggests a glimpse of foreign life…sci-fi based…

David: It’s about getting abducted by Aliens…hahaha

*all laugh*

David: When we were writing it, the riffs and stuff, it was one of the last songs that got written for the album. It was almost a bit of an accidental single really because we didn’t think that far ahead and then sort of went “What are we gonna put out? What do we think would be a good track?” It’s the shortest song on the album which means from a single point of view, that was a bit of a go-er and it’s quite bouncy and fun and I think when we wrote it before we knew the lyrics, we knew it was going to be a fun one to play live, which we haven’t done yet for obvious reasons but the lyrics sort of suit it. So, it’s turned out well, it’s good!

Sheri: It is a bloody good track, it is! How do you think it’s done? has it been well received?

David: Yeah there’s been a few people who have done the single reviews for it and it’s been quite positive from the guys that have commented and got back to us, it’s landed alright, I think!

Sheri: Fab! It’s essentially a look into the new album that’s coming out so that’s brilliant! You released the second single ‘Ellison’ on Friday 16th October. This track, I am presuming, refers to the works of the writer Harlan Ellison – what inspired this?

David: Yeah that’s right! Haha. I’m trying to remember how it came about…I know me and James both read the story, it’s based on a thing called I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, which was one of the titles we were playing around with and we thought it was a bit wordy for the song which is why we ended up going with ‘Ellison’. But it’s a really amazing story, I’m not sure if it’s that widely read but it’s about a future where we’ve built Artificial Intelligence and then that has wiped out humanity basically and the song is about that, when you look on the face of it.

Sheri: Wow! I know some of Ellison’s work, one of the most popular is A Boy And His Dog. I wish I could go into more detail as the album isn’t released yet hahaha, but I feel you’ve got a theme going on in Hollow Earth Theory. What can you tell our readers to expect from this album?

Chris: I can’t speak lyrically because I don’t get involved in that but…I let the people who know words do that hahaha. I think they can expect something that is very much a core in its inner experience… but a new inner experience at the same time. I think it’s a good balance of that… I think it’s a good balance of the familiar and the new. I think they can expect 55 minutes of their ears being ripped off basically hahaha.

*all laugh*

Sheri: I agree, I think it’s brilliant… as you say, it’s about an hours’ worth of face melt haha. Your Album Cover Art is always really good as well. Do you use the same Artists?

David: There’s a few Artists we go back to for generally different projects we work on so it’s not always the Album Art, it’s a different Artist to the previous one because ‘Dead, Bound and Buried’ artwork is really like… I don’t know how to say it… it’s you know, a METAL album where on the cover it’s got you know, Demons and portal to Hell and a tomb and sarcophagus and zombies hahaha it’s just like everything crammed in there. Hollow Earth Theory has got a much more minimalist design, we went with a guy called Dan Leyton who I think does some Graphic Novel design – but because it’s sort of a science fiction theme thread that runs through the album, we kind of went with that and liked the way it looked and we’re really happy with the way it turned out.

Sheri: I’ll be sure to check out his other work, I feel this of all your album artwork, it is quite dark. Just to look at things from another point of view – What are your thoughts on the support for the music scene at the moment?

David: It’s quite a difficult time for everyone obviously at the moment. It’s difficult obviously for the venues primarily and we hope that as many of those as possible can come out of this intact. I know a grant has just gone out so some of the guys like Bloodstock have received a government grant to help them continue to function. As musicians, it’s really difficult and for fans as everyone wants to get out and go to gigs and no one can see when that is gonna be a reality at least for the short term. So, in a way for us, you see a lot of bigger Artists releasing E.P’s and stuff at the moment and I’m sure it’s because all they can do is get in the studio and write because it’s harder for them trying to make their living off this. For us, it’s an inconvenience but we all have day jobs that are paying the bills that aren’t this. So that for us is obviously good but if you’re in say Mastodon, I was reading the other day that they’re flippin’ picking up welfare cheques and you just think “Bloody Hell, if Mastodon can’t make a living at the moment, there’s not a lot of hope for anyone else.” If you’re a fan, it’s going to buy merch and support the Acts and try to sort of preserve the scene until we can come out the other end and start getting out. As long as the venues are there and the bands are there once we can get back out, you’ll hope it will pick back up.

Sheri: It will do, I think it will do, I just think it’s going to be a case of support as much as possible, as there are some bands that have been a casualty of what’s going on at the moment.

How have you found putting together a new album, working together and releasing the new album, during the madness we are going through? We need more of this haha!

Chris: A lot of it was done pre lockdown and stuff and then…some of it kinda got put on hold, we had some vocals that we still needed to do. We couldn’t meet up and that. In the interim, with being at home, there was still a lot I could do myself that I needed to do in that time so there wasn’t time wasted and then as soon as we got back out and got James round to finish off the vocals and finish off any extra little bits and then staying safe, staying at home I could just mix the whole album and get it done and keep firing it out to these guys til they gave it the OK and then send it off for master really.

David: We’ve often worked, as Kenny was saying earlier, with Demos and things, we’re used to working remotely as I live in Birmingham and the rest of the guys live in Nottingham so if we have ideas, we have to work in that way anyway and send things over so to some extent that’s not been a huge challenge and as it’s all done now and we’re getting it out, even halfway through the year, we’ve been able to work remotely on it. It’s been OK for us at this point, it’s a shame we can’t do a traditional album launch which we would have liked to have done and get out and play it… that will come in the New Year hopefully and also just finding new ways to work. I know a lot of bands are doing live studio type performances. For the new single ‘Ellison’ we’ve done a lockdown video which we’ve had to perform in our respective houses and then edit it after haha. That wouldn’t have been part of the game plan a year ago but it’s something we’ve done now and quite happy with the way it’s turned out. It’s just partly adapting isn’t it? And just hoping we’re back on stage soon.

Sheri: As soon as I hope! So, you’ve had to compromise quite a bit?

David: Yeah but it’s been in some ways a creative task set in there, and you look at someone like Devin Townsend for instance, some people seem like they’re thriving on it, just bashing out music and it’s great! Haha.

Sheri: It’s needed. What’s next for Incinery?

Chris: Think just for now we’re gonna try and push things in any way we can, just get some noise going about the releases and that and then next year, permitting everything opens up, with gigs, get out there and get it played to people properly, how it should be done live. I think that’s gonna be the next focus for a while, maybe look at writing something…

David: We’re booked onto Hammerfest for the New Year and that was again one of these gigs that was originally gonna be this year and they’ve pushed it all back but we’re hoping, touch wood, that all goes ahead and we’ll be playing that in Birmingham in February and like Kenny says, a few ideas kicking around for album number 3 and hopefully it won’t be another however long it’s been, like 6 years before it comes out haha.

Sheri: I’m sure it won’t! I hope it will be better next year where you can get out and do what you can normally do. Finally, have you got any advice for other Artists at the moment?

David: I think we need some advice haha. I guess just use the time that you’ve got, it depends where you’re at in your career. If it’s bands that are starting out, use the time that you’ve got now where you’re not gigging to work on your songs and try and get material written and put stuff together and then get ready to go back out again.

Chris: I’d say use this time as well to start getting used to building yourself up on things like social media when you’ve got the time to do it, you know, it’s a powerful tool. You can learn earlier on and get good at it; I think that helps a lot.

Sheri: So, time for self-promotion.

Chris: Yeah, it’s not always something you can just do, you have to build up, especially when you’re doing a lot of it yourself which a lot of bands are. You have to build up how you do it, ideas, marketing plans and things like that. It all comes with practise and experience so if you can get that in whilst you’ve got a chance to, use the technology that you can use to get out there while you can.

Sheri: Thank you guys! I appreciate your time!

Incinery: Cheers! Bye!

Incinery’s new album “Hollow Earth Theory” was released on October 30th and is already receiving great reviews! You can purchase it, all other Incinery releases and merch at the following link:

More information on Incinery can be found at the following links:

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Sheri Bicheno and 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.

Interview with Psychoberrie and Dr Von Stottenstein of WARD XVI

Interview with Psychoberrie and Dr Von Stottenstein of WARD XVI
By Sheri Bicheno

Sheri Here,

I was so happy to be able to sit down recently and talk to UK based Avent-Garde, Theatrical/Horror Rock/Metal band WARD XVI to get an insight into their music and concept behind their art. Ginger and lemon tea at the ready, I pressed the Skype button and was greeted by two familiar painted faces, Psychoberrie (Kerrie – Vocals) and Dr Von Stottenstein (David – Guitars)! WARD XVI, based in Lancashire, tell us all about their fabulous new album “Metamorphosis”, the concept of the band, the Whittingham Asylum and how the music has unexpected twists. They also go back to their roots and explain the meanings of their music below the surface.

Sheri: We know that the name WARD XVI was inspired by Whittingham Hospital and the disturbing reports surrounding the Asylum. For our readers, let’s explore a bit on what drew you to this and how it represents you as Artists?

Psychoberrie: We spent quite a long time finding a name for the band at first, because the story element was in place but then we couldn’t agree what to call it and one day I was reading on the internet and I found the Asylum which is based near us – Whittingham Asylum – where there was some horrific abuse that took place there and the worst of which was on Ward 16.

Sheri: So that’s how it came to light?

Dr Von Stottenstein: And you thought you’d have it with Roman Numerals so that forever and ever we would have our name said in different ways, mispronounced haha.

Psychoberrie: Hahaha just to make it hard for people to find us on social media…

Dr Von Stottenstein: Bring the Roman Numerals back! Haha

Sheri: I was gonna say the Roman Numerals are a good input because it confuses people but in a good way…education! Hahaha.

Psychoberrie: Hahaha yeah!

Sheri: As theatrical artists, you have a concept to the band and your brilliant live performances. Tell our readers about what expression on stage means to you and how you put your message across?

Dr Von Stottenstein: It means quite a lot to be honest. I think, myself and some of the other members of the band, they’ve been influenced in the past by bands that dress up like idiots haha. Or like Iron Maiden or Alice Cooper – Artists that aren’t just turning up in jeans, there’s a concept to it. It’s almost like it’s 3D – I know music shows are 3D anyway but it feels like there’s more of a bridge between ourselves and whoever’s in the crowd and it’s easier to bring the crowd into the stage show. For me personally, I’m quite boring in real life…

Sheri: Surely not!!

Dr Von Stottenstein: At first I was quite worried about putting face paint on and things like that and then it actually…well, when you get to the gig, to be able to become somebody else and disassociate yourself! When I’ve been in bands in the past where you just wear T-shirt and jeans and whatever, it’s hard to become who you are on stage and then come back off stage to the same person. So, at first, I was hiding behind the mask and I became more liberated on stage to become someone a bit freer, to express how I felt. In the 7-8 years I’ve been in the band, I actually almost feel like this is me now and when I go to work in the suit and whatever, that’s the alter ego. When I feel stressed the first thing I wish is that I had my face paint on. So, it’s like a front in terms of who I really am.

Sheri: So everyday life sort of thing…

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah.

Sheri: Understood. What about you, Kerrie?

Psychoberrie: I think I’ve just always wanted to be in the ultimate form of entertainment sort of thing. Because I think it’s best to appeal to as many senses as you can. The whole point of doing it is to entertain all the people that listen to it and all the people that watch it so rather than just being auditory, you’ve got something to watch as well, it’s entertaining.

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah, It has evolved in the last 5 or 6 years because at the beginning we were all just dressed up in random masks and face paint and it really didn’t mean anything, it was just like a gimmick really although the seeds of the concept was there, there was no uniformity to it, it was everybody just dressing up and it was hard to get engagement either from the band members or the people that would come into see us and then go away because we wouldn’t be able to associate it with anything. So we slowly started to build a story as we got along towards the first album  and it’s got to a point when we started to record the second album that it was like an identity and there was a storyline that was then ready to be created and developed even more.

Sheri: So, there’s an ongoing concept to you guys. When I think of WARD XVI, I don’t put your sound into a label or box, you cover a lot of genres and don’t conform to just one… you’ve got different elements to your style – how would you describe your sound to those that are starting their own journey with you?

Psychoberrie: That’s one of the questions we’ve always struggled to answer which is why we came up with Avent-Garde Theatrical Rock, we didn’t actually want to put ourselves in a box cuz we’re trying to represent what that story is about in that particular song so…

Dr Von Stottenstein: Well it’s funny isn’t it because going back to being liberated by the face paints and all that – we don’t actually force ourselves into writing in a different way, we don’t go “We’re gonna write this bit dark and we’re not gonna write this bit like Eastern European or whatever – we’re not good enough musicians to do that…”

*I pull a frowny face*

Dr Von Stottenstein: No, no, but we’re not technically and theoretically good enough, we blag it haha! So, we kinda jam stuff and then because we like so many different types of music, it just falls into place. So it means that we cannot be tied to quite a narrow tool when we’re writing music…and to be fair, when we wrote this album, because there’s a few more of us writing this album than there were writing the first one, I thought it was very much more focused and the range of music was a lot narrower…but we’ve been told that it’s actually even broader than it was in the first one which surprised me and made me happy.

Sheri: I felt that too! Let’s briefly talk about your first album “The Art of Manipulation”, which was released in 2017 – the concept to this was of a psychopathic woman manipulating a man into killing her for her own pleasure. In the album, it speaks as if it’s in the first person, we can see this in tracks such as ‘Take My Hand’, ‘Blackened Heart’ and the title track – however ‘Crystal Ball’ is different to the others, which indicates another side to the story telling. Can you broaden on that at all?

Dr Von Stottenstein: We’ve never been asked that question before! Haha.

Psychoberrie: Haha! That one’s about him – he’s going to see a fortune teller and he is warned against her so I think that’s a part of the story that just was needed for someone to tell him “This person is really bad.” But not for him to completely ignore them because he’s got his rose-tinted glasses on.

Sheri: I love that track, it’s one of my favourites actually because it comes from another person’s perspective. There are a lot of different emotions in “The Art of Manipulation”. The one that stands out to me is ‘Hold Me’ which shows a glimpse of inner recognition and clarity in a warped kind of way, like an ocean of sadness – it makes the listener sympathise with her which ultimately, could be the most dangerous track on this album, so to speak. What are your thoughts?

Psychoberrie: I think that’s bang on to be honest because that would be the intention really, would be to get everyone to feel sorry for her and for her to use it as a form of manipulation.

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah, it’s almost like Stockholm Syndrome – but it’s funny because we get that almost like the ‘Every Breath You Take’ similarities. People have told us that they love the song and we’ve had it at weddings and like really romantic parties and it’s actually quite a sinister song haha. People think it’s actually something that’s a just position to what the actual music’s about.

Sheri: You brought out a new album on 25th September! “Metamorphosis” and I have to say, from my perspective, this album is much darker in some ways! You’re still true to your touch on theatrics and exploring the deep corners of the mind. I feel this is a follow up to Psychoberrie’s story in “The Art of Manipulation”?

Both: Yes, it’s a sequel-prequel haha.

Psychoberrie: If we follow the timeline of the interviewer, it’s all about what order of the questions he’s gonna ask and the first album is asking about some events that have taken place before she’s locked up and talking to him. But in this one, he wants to find out why she is the way she is. The only place you can go is right back to the beginning.

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah, so it’s a flashback So the first story is the prequel, and the second story is the sequel haha.

Sheri: So, we’re taken back essentially to find out why she is the way she is. That’s brilliant.

Dr Von Stottenstein: We’re twisting it to the point where in the first one she’s just a random nutter haha

Psychoberrie: Haha. Yeah, we’ve had to kind of flip and turn it on its head.

Dr Von Stottenstein: But yeah, at the end of this, what the hope, is that you go “Well if it was me, would I have done the same kind of thing?” and really empathise!

Sheri: Yeah, it makes you think.

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah, she’s ruined. (To Kerrie) You’ve ruined Psychoberrie for me haha.

Psychoberrie: Hahaha!

Sheri: I’m looking forward to what else you’ve got in store for her because I feel like this is not the end…

Dr Von Stottenstein: Nope! Once the nervous breakdown has finished from writing this one, we’ll start writing the next one.

*all laugh*

Sheri: When we enter into this album, one of the first tracks, ‘The Cradle Song’, which is another of my favourites on the new album, shows a depth of songwriting that is displayed through this album that touches on the emotional and I want to say – a somewhat mysterious connection to mentality – in both lyrics and composition. How do you decide on your songwriting and what makes it all come together?

Psychoberrie: With that particular song, it started with the music box at the beginning because I’ve always been obsessed with the idea that the first song on the album would take you back to childhood with the music that you hear, so I wanted to kind of mimic maybe a children’s mobile or the kind of sounds that you would hear as a child – even if you took the introduction away that’s at the beginning, you would know that that’s what happened. So, with that particular song, that’s where we started it and we built the rest of the song from that introduction.

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah, it was quite easy after that. I know we had this idea in mind of having almost like an idea of waltzing around the baby, so that could be quite easy to come up with that polka type of feel. But I thought it would end up quite a bit heavier, but it ended up being quite power ballad like.

Sheri: Yes, it is powerful!

Dr Von Stottenstein: Which surprised me because we didn’t expect it to go that direction, it just did.

Sheri: But you’re happy with it?

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah… the baby is on it as well!

Sheri: That’s brilliant! In terms of your songwriting how do you piece it together? Kerrie, do you write the lyrics and does someone come up with another part or is it something you all piece together?

Psychoberrie: A mixture of different things. On the last album it was very much the band was jamming and I was having to cram in lyrics to whatever they had done, but with this album a lot of the songs came as the lyrics were first so it was mainly me and David working on it…

Dr Von Stottenstein: Who’s David? Hahaha.

*all laugh*

Psychoberrie: Martin was doing the keys so we were demoing at home and jamming at the Room so we really structured it around the story, and it really enabled us to put a lot more thought into the direction of the song. So, Dr Von Stottenstein had come up with an intro or something like that and it would lead into how it goes…

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah, we discovered home computers and home studio and we didn’t do it with the first one, the first one was bodged, really, all put together jamming. But this one we could just be really pre-meditated and record a demo all the way through and see if it worked and if the sound was good – you could just listen to it just like an normal album, you can pick out flaws then quite well.

Psychoberrie: I think last time I would come up with vocal ideas but then I would be going to a room and expecting people to just be able to jam. I think putting music underneath vocals is something that a lot of people find quite hard to do.

Dr Von Stottenstein: But I like to have an idea of what the mood is so that I can then write it in that mentality, where Psychoberrie likes to have the guitars first sometimes and it’s kinda finding a happy medium to it.

Psychoberrie: I don’t like to have a whole song in place, sometimes maybe just an intro because that would then set the mood and inspire some of the lyrics. Because what I don’t want to do is get caught in the trap of singing in the same key and then the same chord progression, where I can hear a different chord progression, I can think of something a bit different.

Dr Von Stottenstein: It’s also luck, loads of luck really. You never think of what it’s going to be like…

Psychoberrie: It’s just natural.

Dr Von Stottenstein: A lot of it, we didn’t put a lot of effort into writing some of the music. We practised a lot and we worked hard on it, but we didn’t really strain ourselves, we didn’t get writers block or anything like that, it just flowed out…

Sheri: It went pretty smooth?

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah, it felt a lot more natural than it did last time.

Psychoberrie: It went a lot easier working with less people and I always thought that would make the music less eclectic. What we didn’t want was to lose how random our music is, it incorporates a lot of different genres so I just thought with less minds working on it, it would end up becoming too narrow.

Dr Von Stottenstein: But because we got two minds on it, we’ve got the double psychotic similarities haha.

Sheri: Partner’s in crime! Hahaha. You have a different ambience on this album, you have some melodies that really take you through to a realm of longing and sadness, like ‘Shadows’ and then there are tracks such as ‘Mister Babadook’ that are heavier and more fast paced and alsoBroken Toys’ which is more fun, fast and upbeat. When you do come to song writing, how do you decipher which feeling fits with the way you are heading on a particular track?

Psychoberrie: I think it’s because we said that we needed this album to be the darkest album as the subject is dark, but it’s also got to be childlike, I think! With ‘Broken Toys’ I always wanted to do a prequel to the song ‘Toy Box’ which is on the first album so I wanted to tie into the Toy Box theme when she’s an adult and the reason why she goes to that when she’s grown up is because that was her safe place when she was a baby. We kind of tied it together in that way so there’s different thought’s behind every one of then I think.

Dr Von Stottenstein: You just added so much to it! When we wrote ‘Shadows’ I never expected it to be as powerful as it is. I knew it was meant to build up and build up to some kind of crescendo, but the lyrics are just phenomenal…

Psychoberrie: I think where ‘Shadows’came from is the idea that we wanted the last song on every album to have their own storyline so it’s always going to be about a time when she was in the Asylum so, it was always gonna be the last song wasn’t it?

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah, but again, there was nothing pre-meditated about what made ‘Mister Babadook’ heavy, it was just you’d written it in B, and I thought “Oh! I need a new guitar, I’m gonna buy a seven string”!

Psychoberrie: Yeah because I learnt the piano piece with no understanding of the bearing on what that would have on him playing the guitar haha and he was playing along with it and because he had a six string, he was playing stuff that was really high and it just didn’t work – so he had to buy a new guitar hahaha.

Sheri: Hahaha. Perfect excuse for a new guitar!

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah! Haha!

Sheri: Your daughter is featured in the video for your single ‘Mister Babadook’! Did she enjoy being part of the visual side of WARD XVI?

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah, she’s also the voice at the beginning of the song! She enjoyed it too much haha. She was in trouble for it because she was meant to look scared, but she just laughed all the way through it haha. I was worried it might traumatise her a little bit but she’s seen us dressed like this for so many years and she’s drawn pictures of us and the original ‘Toy Box’ video, there’s a bit of it where there are cartoon characters dancing, they drew them. So, I think they’ve always seen that, and I was worried it would be frightening for her but because she’s had so much time watching us do what we do and everything, she loved it! It makes it a lot more emotional for me to watch the video. I feel kind of like she’s vulnerable and I’m you know…haha

Psychoberrie: Hahaha you’ve got to go and save your own daughter haha.

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah haha!

Sheri: She must have probably felt safe because it was you guys you know?

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah, I’m not too sure I’d like someone else pulling her under the bed haha. She was really good. She’s only nine and so when you look back and watch the videos, she’s so sincere in walking around, she took so much interest in what everyone was doing so…

Psychoberrie: And that candle was red hot wasn’t it? She was holding it all the time and it was burning her arm, but she was persevering, she was saying “No, I’m alright.” Hahaha!

Dr Von Stottenstein: Don’t say that…don’t say that we burnt our own child, you never know who might be reading hahaha!

Psychoberrie: Hahaha. It wasn’t like 3rd degree burns haha.

Sheri: Resilience hahaha. Bless her haha! Does she portray Psychoberrie in ‘Mister Babadook’? I want to say that there are pieces on “Metamorphosis” that take us back to Psychoberrie’s past…

Psychoberrie: Yeah that’s exactly what it was, when we went to do the video, I didn’t want to play Psychoberrie, it wouldn’t make any sense, it’s supposed to be a young Psychoberrie so…

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah, it was her timeline, her pathway from childhood to then so the videos will hopefully show the story, they’re obviously a single on their own but the intention is that if we were have to cancel every gig, we would get a video for every song and there should almost be a theatric timeline so it’s almost like a theatre show rather than stand-alone music videos.

Sheri: So, you would be able to piece all the music videos together and it comes out as one story – it’s very clever hahaha!

Dr Von Stottenstein: We’re just blagging it haha We just need to make it so – we’re skint now! Hahaha. We’re broke.

Sheri: I don’t know many Artists that do that kind of approach, it’s really quite clever.

Dr Von Stottenstein: There’s a few bands that are doing that, the likes of Avatar. Avatar have been doing things like that, they’re last album was so amazing, and their concept was amazing. We cheat a little bit because we do talk to people as they seem to do, they seem to immerse themselves, like Ghost do too, they do the same so I think it’s having confidence in the story and portraying a storyline with theatre that the music comes alongside to it. That makes us a little bit different to other bands that kind of do what we do. We are fully in the concept, it’s all in the story and I think the hardest thing for us to do really…

Psychoberrie: Paying for it hahaha.

Dr Von Stottenstein: Other than paying for it, when you’ve got 30 or 40 minutes to do the show, we still want to show the timelines and show the narrative and sometimes it’s very difficult, especially if people are just wandering in and out and don’t necessarily know the story so it can look like there’s a gimmick cuz there’s some crazy woman running around with a chainsaw, it’s all part of the album storyline and it’s trying different ways to still portray that and allow people to know that there’s context to it, that it’s almost like a trailer to a film. Where you can see the unabridged version of something like that when you listen to the album.

Sheri: So, it needs to be obvious that it’s part of the story when you’re on stage.

Dr Von Stottenstein: We’ve got an actor on stage with us, he hands out sort of like newspapers with the storyline in it so people can read it – so it’s almost like going to a theatre and getting a programme. We’ve started to do that because it allows people to piece together what the story is without needing to really pay a lot of attention whilst they’re getting drunk and bouncing around everywhere haha.

Sheri: It’s more fun to watch you though hahaha

Psychoberrie: I think people just put it in their pocket and read it when they get home and are like “oh that’s what it’s about!” hahahaha.

Sheri: I think it’s a clever concept and because it’s something you have to keep to as well so… I imagine that when there’s a later release, it’s going to be quite a long process of that concept on stage because it is like obviously watching a band and their music but also a theatre.

Dr Von Stottenstein: That’s the thing, I don’t usually like musicals!

Sheri: You have our friend John Badger on the drums and Russ from Footprints In The Custard joining you on guest vocals for ‘Shadows’! How easy was it for everyone to collaborate during this pain of a year?

Dr Von Stottenstein: We finished recording two days before lockdown.

Psychoberrie: I was just thinking it was another Swine Flu when we were in the studio…

Dr Von Stottenstein: We finished recording something like 9 o’clock on the Friday night and then Sunday night it was announced that lockdown happened, and I was just going into shielding, so we were really really lucky! It was difficult because our producer couldn’t get to the studio

…he had to shield a little bit as well and that pushed things back, but it allowed me and Psychoberrie 24 hours a day for 5 months to really really just go mental on it.

Psychoberrie: The artwork on it, I put a lot more effort into because normally it’s just me coming home after work and the last thing I wanna do is get on the computer and do the same thing I’ve been doing all day at work. So, this one I could just focus on it 100% and I enjoyed doing it.

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah you did all the merch, all the PR and everything like that. We were sitting in the sun and it was just nice to spend time with my family and do what I love to do. Now it’s out, we can’t actually go out and sell it so it’s like OHHHH!

Sheri: I mean, there’s only so much that social media can do isn’t there…

Dr Von Stottenstein:
We’re trying to do things a little bit different like running competitions and things like that just to make it a little bit less spammy which can be really difficult because Facebook have just completely closed all up the algorithms so it’s just been hard for everybody. Not just us, it’s not like we are going to lose our livelihood through it, other people are but it’s obviously something that we love, and we want people to enjoy it.

Sheri: What are your next plans for WARD XVI?

We’ve got the album coming out, so fingers crossed the album launch on 30th January. We’re hoping to also do a tour so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for that one.

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah, we really want to do a UK tour where we can take it up and down the country so we’re hopeful, but we are realistic. We were meant to be launching a gig tomorrow- but if we can do January with Footprints in the Custard, then Pulverise at Manchester Academy then that would be ace but if we can’t then we will just have to be responsible and try to find an alternative and find something else to keep momentum. I think we will probably have to think laterally what else to do. Because it’s quite difficult.

Dr Von Stottenstein: We’ve been offered to do so many virtual gigs and things like that, which is ace – but because it’s a show, we need people interactive within it, it’s become very difficult you know, we can’t just get in front of the camera and do it, it takes a bit more for us to do that – a bigger stage and things. Fingers crossed though!

Sheri: It will happen, and I think it’s part and parcel of testing these things out.

Dr Von Stottenstein: We’re all in it together though aren’t we so…I think it has brought people closer together. Hopefully when the scene opens up again, the scene is going to be so desperate for it, they’ll probably appreciate it more than what it was before.

Sheri: Absolutely. And people are going to be wanting to get out to them as well.

Dr Von Stottenstein: Venues were shutting down before COVID happened so fingers crossed it’s made people more of aware of what they’re missing.

Sheri: Any advice you can give to other artists?

Dr Von Stottenstein: Yeah, keep the faith! You only have to look at Van Halen and his death where it was completely uniting a scene that was 2 days before kicking off and were becoming almost tribal. The music is beloved no matter what… and people love playing it or people love listening to it, they love being a community based upon it. And we can’t lose that… if we can’t perform it live, then we all need to find ways to keep the scene moving and keep it positive and just be happy that we are still able to create music – we just might have to do it in a different way. It’s a hard time but hard times bring good things with it too. Even just really good ideas and really good things to the scene that no one anticipated. Power to the people haha!

Sheri: Thank you so much guys, it’s been lovely to talk to and see you!

WARD XVI: Thank you!

WARD XVI’s new album “Metamorphosis” is out now and receiving fantastic reviews.

Read Beth’s full review of the album here:

More Information on WARD XVI can be found at the following links:

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Sheri Bicheno and 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.

Interview with Democratus

Interview with Democratus
By Sheri Bicheno

Hi Everyone, Sheri here

Democratus, hailing from South Wales, have smashed their way through the music scene since 2014, playing Bloodstock, supporting Light The Torch, and sharing the stage with some amazing bands such as Agrona, Kilonova and Suffocation. I have been following them for the last two years or so and recently got the chance to catch up with these hilarious and lovely chaps!

Read on for more including strategizing as a band around the Pandemic, serial killers, their thoughts on supporting the music scene, turning a chaotic show into a memorable one…and a hint of a new album!!!

Sheri: For our readers, You formed around late 2014 after Steve’s band Counterhold ended?

Steve Jenkins (Vocals): Yep, Counterhold!

Sheri: After our chat last year, I know Rich had not long joined the band…can you give us a bit of a history lesson on Democratus and your roots…

Steve: Shall I take this one?

*Zak joins the conversation*

Rich Rees (Guitar): Omg! Zak has appeared!

Steve: A wild Zak has appeared!

Rich: Yeah, it’s like the last peanut at the bottom of the bag haha!

Joey Watkins (Guitar): He looks purple! What is going on with him? Haha.

Steve: It’s looking ominous, mate.

Joey: Willy Wonka told you not to eat the gum in the factory mate, or else this would happen.

Zak Skane (Drums): Hahaha I’m not in the mental space for this interview, I don’t think I am!

*all laugh*

Steve: Right, I’ll take this one then. History of the band; we started the nucleus of Democratus around late 2014 just after Bloodstock, the plans were set up with a vastly different line up to what it is now. We started gigging around 2015 and that was my push to kinda get too the magic 5 song mark and then we just chucked ourselves out there to kind of own our craft on the live circuit. Members came, members went until we got Joe and Kerrin in on guitar around the same time. I basically ended up losing both guitarists on the same day. Around the 2016 mark, then got Joey and Kerrin in cuz myself and Spoon, we were virtually on the verge of saying “alright shall we go our separate ways?” And we thought no, we will crack on. Between myself and Spoon, we had written the majority of the music we had at the time so we thought we would get another line up sorted and crack on. Then in 2017 Zak Came In.

Zak: *waves* Hi!

Steve: And things started to come together in terms of our live performance. We ended up getting through to the finals of the Metal 2 The Masses in South Wales and whilst we lost out on that, rather than mope about it, we thought “right…” the stuff we were playing at that point was written under old line-ups. So we decided that we would hit the restart button and start working on new music, create a sound that was five of us at the time and basically kind of work on our stage show, cover both bases because we were on the verge of getting our first EP out, “Starting Again”.So, we did that and then started immediately working on new stuff. “Starting Again”was the line in the sand. This was the old stuff and then we moved forward from it. 2018 then happened and we were fortunate enough to win the South Wales Metal 2 The Masses that time round and it all kicked off from there…

Sheri: So, you basically started from scratch?

Steve: Yeah basically. Kerrin then decided, and we kinda saw it coming, that the band stuff kind of wasn’t for him. It was getting a bit too busy with the life he had and what he was doing at home and stuff, so he decided to step back. We’d already had a couple of occasions then were Richard filled in for us on a couple of gigs prior, so there was only one option once Kerrin said he was gonna step down. We ONLY approached Rich and THANK GOD he said yes haha.

Rich: I got in by default! Haha.

*all laugh*

Sheri: You weren’t dragged in kicking and screaming then? Haha!

A lot of your songs are very humanity based and politically driven. They highlight a lot of the problems that humanity is facing – homelessness, poverty, recession, the greed of the government, sin and faith. You have a message to put out there as opposed to making music that just sounds great. I can pick this up in the songs like‘Damnation’, ‘Creator of Poverty’ and ‘Is This Fear’? Tell us more about this and what it means to you.

Steve: I suppose I’ll have to take this one again won’t I? Haha!

Yeah, I miss being oblivious to the political situation as we have it. As a carer to my wife, I’ve had my hand forced into keeping an eye on current situations and it’s not in a good place. So, for me lyrically, it just makes sense that Democratus has become my catharsis, my chance to vent at what’s wrong in the world in a more constructive way than trying to get banned on Facebook. Hahaha!

Sheri: You? Never! Hahaha.

Steve: Hahaha. But yeah, I’ve never been one of those that can write much in the way of fantasy lyrics. I can kind of write personal stuff you know; with any issues I have going on in my own head. But it’s all quite realistic, quite relatable stuff rather than things about Dungeons and Dragons and fantasy stuff… which, you know, has its place! I love that kind of stuff but for me, I’m not that kind of lyricist so thankfully the boys then come up with music that is as suitably angry as I am, and it fits. The boys kind of know my stances on things like that and are happy for me to rant about it, which I’m grateful for.

Joey: Sometimes we don’t always agree though Steve.

Steve: We don’t always.

Rich: That’s the thing, from a political point, we’re actually quite a diverse group. But when it comes to writing the music and stuff like that, I think the new stuff that we are working on now, is gonna be completely different, not in terms of the message or anything like that because we’ve got so many more lyrics and different music and then there’s my influence on it where I’ve not really written anything for Democratus before, so I’m hoping the new record is gonna be amazing to be fair.

Steve: Yeah, see it kind of ties in with the name itself anyways. How Democratus came to be in terms of its name was, we were chatting in the early incarnation, we were chatting about what we should call ourselves and I turned around and said “We’re a Democracy, not a Dictatorship” we all have to decide on something that we think sounds good. Our guitarist at the time then came up with Democratus and we all went “ooooh!” so you know, it’s all been a joint collaborative effort. I kind of handle the management side of things, but musically, we all chip in, we’ve all chucked in riffs here and there and you know, even if it’s just me humming something, but we all collaborate.

Joey: I think all of us having such a diverse range of opinions and actually, you know, seeing the world from different angles is really helpful towards the lyric writing as well, so it doesn’t kind of alienate an entire group of people. We need to kind of keep it focused as well going down that route. I think our aim is to say “Look, there’s problems with everything and it needs sorting.”

Steve: That’s it. I try not to be as linear as someone like Rage Against the Machine for example, I do try and leave a fair chunk of the lyrics open to interpretation so if people can take a personal feeling out of the lyrics I’ve written then great!

Sheri: Absolutely, yeah. So, in terms of your songwriting, as you say, everyone chips in, it’s not so that you have say a guitarist that only writes the riffs, how do you put it together?

Rich: Zak just turns up at my house and goes “I’ve written a song now learn it.” Hahaha!

*all laugh*

Rich: And then I tell him why the song is bad and then we fix it haha.

Zak: Song. Bad. Fix. Haha.

Joey: I tell everyone that I’m currently working on something and that it will blow them away but it’s yet to appear haha!

Rich: Due to release in 2025 haha.

Joey: Yeah haha! I’ve come up with a couple of riffs and sent them off to Zak and he’s kind of built a song around that so like ‘The Unworthy’was something that me and Zak worked on and again the lyrics of that kind of came like…we were all at practice, we were all really pissed off cuz someone had trolled the band page saying that we didn’t deserve any of the bigger shows we’ve had or you know, how we didn’t deserve Bloodstock or anything like that and they said “Yeah, you’re not worthy” and we’re like

“Yeah, you’re right, we’re not. But we still did it.”

Sheri: Wow…just wow!

Joey: So yeah, like some of the lyrics kinda come from there. And the ironic thing is that their band is now broken up…

Sheri: WELL WELL!!

Joey: So yeah, it’s kinda like… haha.

Sheri: That goes to show then eh! Steve, your vocals are remarkably diverse, and you can do all sorts of ranges. From heavy to something a bit more melodic and cleaner…Listening to tracks like ‘Dead Without Dying’ and ‘BTK’, then to a slight contrast in ‘Starting Again’ and ‘The Furious Horde’. How do you find vocally what fits with the direction of the songwriting and harmonies of Democratus?

Steve: Ahh there’s no set way of thinking with it. Whilst I kind of chuck us in the Melodic Death Metal group, that’s more for like chucking ourselves to promotors who like to label things and stuff. It’s basically a case of, if we all think it’s good, it’s in. So vocally, it continues to be a work in progress. If you’d have asked me to do these kinds of vocals 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do them. It’s been a gradual process from being a very rough, motley clean singer to working in the occasional screams and growls that I used to do with Counterhold through to then thinking “OK, maybe I can try and see if I can do the more aggressive stuff”. Cuz all my favourite bands are Melodic Death Metal anyway and as soon as Counterhold called it quits, that was the route that I kind of wanted to aim for. So vocally, it was kind of, “Alright, I’ll test it out. If doesn’t work, I’ll go back to mostly staying on clean vocals.” But thankfully, I’m told it seems to be working!

I do what I do, and I love what I do, but obviously, I’m my own worst critic as well so if I don’t think something works, I will take it back. The boys can come to me and say, “This doesn’t quite fit, we think you can do something a bit better with it.” I try not to be a Diva so you know, they can come to me and I’m not gonna throw a hissy fit over it, I’ll take it on board. Might not always listen to them, but… haha.

Joey: It’s like when Mike, the guy who produced and helped do the mixing and mastering and recording of the “Damnation”E.P helped. We had 3, maybe even 4 versions ofBTK’ and the recorded version is different to the live version. Mike was basically like “Look, the song just needs cutting here and there because it’s too long for a record. Whereas where you’re playing it live, that’s fine as people can’t see you over a CD” so we then went through various cuts of it where vocal phrasing was and everything like that and it took us a couple of weeks really to suss that out. So, I think that’s also been really important for us when we’re looking at recording, so you’ll notice a big difference in production value between “Starting Again”and “Damnation”, hopefully between whatever the album is gonna be as well. I think we’re really gonna be taking our time with it and doing something really good and so what you might see in the live version probably may not be on the recorded version, but the reason for that is to try and get a bigger sound and to try and encapsulate that energy and that feel of being in the room with it not just being onto a CD.

Sheri: Understood. Amazing. Now, you’re mentioning a writing of a new album!!! (Getting excited)

Steve: Yes!

Sheri: I’m picking this vibe up guys!

Steve: Hahaha! Certainly, dropping hints.

Rich: I’m sorry…was there a plug? Hahaha.

*All laugh*

Sheri: What are your plans for that? Are you looking to release that in the New Year…What can you tell us?

Rich: Personally, I’m enjoying not working to a schedule at the moment, obviously have to try and get everything together eventually, but right now it’s nice just to go “Hey, I’ve got some riffs, let’s work on these,” So we’ll go to practice and we’ll work out a few things or we’ll send each other recordings of what we’ve done. I mean, even Steve has been writing some riffs that we want to potentially work on, but as a newcomer, we’ll figure it out haha.

Joey: There’s some bones of a good song there.

Steve: I’m about 3 weeks away from being a better guitarist than Joey hahaha.

Joey: Yeaaaah…haha

Sheri: Oh noooooooo! Hahaha.

Joey: That’s true hahaha

Rich: Joey tries, don’t say that hahaha!

Joey: The thing is we’re not really working to any schedule, we’re currently in the process of writing as many song as we can really and what we’re gonna do is once we’ve written a load of songs, we’re gonna record rough demos of them and then we’re gonna take a hat trick to them and curtail anything we think won’t work, maybe come back to them later but we’re gonna have an album’s worth of really good songs, not three or four good ones and seven songs of filler kind of thing.

Steve: That’s it Sheri, we take pride in the tracks we already play live anyway. We may drop one or two of them in the run up to getting the album sorted but yeah…5 of them are already in the set list as it is.

Sheri: Oooooh, all the excitement!

Joey: Unfortunately, all that sort of stuff has kinda halted cuz, currently, me and Zak are the only ones not in a Lockdown area in Wales.

Zak: Yeah pretty much!

Steve: You’re aware there’s a Lockdown by literally half a mile, aren’t you, Joe?

Joey: Yeah, I’ve gotta drive like 30 miles to go to the Supermarket now.

Sheri: Loooord!

Joey: Yeah basically I live on the Monmouthshire side so I’m in the same county as Zak so I’ll plan on meeting up with Zak one evening or couple of evening’s in the week now and we’ll just try and get stuff recorded so we’re not at a complete loss. But we can’t practise and learn the songs together at the moment unfortunately, which sucks. There we are.

Sheri: That’s a bit sucky but gotta make the best of what we have.

Joey: Exactly.

Sheri: The composing is absolutely marvellous, with the strings and drums, you have a lot of twists and unexpected turns in your style of melodic death metal and your methods. I detect some other elements, even some Thrash! An example of this I think, is in the track ‘Deity’on your EP “Starting Again”. Last year, I remember Joey telling me he started out as a not very good guitarist amongst his injuries haha – surely you gotta feel differently as time has passed?

Joey: Yeah haha. I don’t think I’m on that first EP. We were that pushed for time and trying to record. I’m on the new EP and I’ll be on the album but that first EP, I saw the red light and my playing just went totally out of time, I couldn’t play a triplet.

Rich: Seems to be a curse for Democratus guitarists because I’m not on the new EP much either haha! But I’ll be on the album…

Joey: Haha yeah so Kerrin had to record my parts of that because we tried one four or five hour session and I just couldn’t get anything down and it got to the point where I was just like “Look, Kerrin, I don’t mind not being on it, we need to get this done.” Because…Like, it had been written in a time where I had been in the band but those songs had been written prior to my joining, I don’t really have any connection to them, I enjoy them as songs but they’re nothing I had anything to do with the writing process of, so I was like “You know what, Kerrin, you take it.”

Zak: The thing is with the EP; we were just replicating what the previous line up did. Just putting our own twists on it to make it original.

Joey: Yeah, so there were solos and everything that we had re-written and a couple of things that we added but the for the most part it’s old Democratus and that’s one of the reasons it’s even called “Starting Again”cuz you know…that’s was just like the end of that.

Steve: For me, “Starting Again”was tied in simply with my re-start after Counterhold. It’s as simple as that. It’s not a subtle nod, but yeah… like I said, “Starting Again”by the time we got round to recording it with the boys that we had in the band, it was simply a case of “Right, let’s just get this out there so we’ve got something to plug.”

Joey: Yeah, in all honesty, it was a very difficult recording process, it took a lot longer than we thought it would in terms of before Zak joined, our drummer – nothing against him, again just a similar problem to me in terms of recording, he just really struggled to be tight and to be able to play on the record so that really slowed things down. But then we got Zak in and things kind of all came together. I mean, Spoon, he’s not on the interview on the moment, but he’s probably the tightest player out of all of us when it comes to recording, you know.

Sheri: In light of that, you’ve had some pretty huge highlights with Democratus – playing Bloodstock, supporting…YOU SUPPORTED LIGHT THE TORCH!

Zak: I KNOW haha

Joey: Yeah!!

Rich: …did I!?

*all laughs*

Zak: You saw the poster, Rich? haha.

Joey: Yeah Rich, just photoshop yourself in there really badly hahaha

Rich: Yeah, the only picture I’ve got of Democratus at all, doesn’t have me in it haha but it’s the tour poster that I’m on haha!

Joey: Yeah, that really was like a highlight for all of us because me, Zak and Steve…Howard Jones has been a huge influence on us and then to share the line-up was just a Holy Shit moment basically.

Steve: The weirdest thing about that was just how straight forward it was from making my initial pester to the promoter – I had a heads up after going to see them open for In Flames like a couple of days before it was announced, so I basically messaged the promoter and then noticed the promoter had their phone number on their page… so I thought “bugger it!” and called them up and I just went “look… if I’m pestering too much, please let me know but I’m chasing up the message that I’ve sent regarding the Light The Torch show, if there’s any chance of a local slot, please can you let us know.” Because my worship of Howard Jones is rather well known.

Zak: I’m pretty sure Howard knows that as well haha.

Steve: Damn right he does haha!

Zak: When we were at Bloodstock, they had the meet and greet because he did the Jasta show and Jamie was the first person there and then there was Kirk and then it went to Howard to shake hands and Howard just went “I know you!”

Steve: … “I’ve seen you before!” hahaha.

Zak: Nervously sweating as well hahaha

Joey: So, it was great that we got on that show and didn’t get a restraining order hahaha.

Steve: The promoter told me “I’ll see what I can do, I’ll get back to you.” So, a week and a half later, I chased up with one more message basically saying “Can you let me know what’s going on because I need to know if I’m selling my ticket or not.” Then the following morning I woke up to the email saying, “You’re in, send us your logo.” How I didn’t wake up my Amy FIST PUMPING THE F*KING AIR, I will never know!

Sheri: Hahaha that’s brilliant!!

Joey: And just a couple of words on that promotor – a couple of months later they put Insomnium on and we asked them for the slot and unfortunately we didn’t get it but they were really good enough to put us on the Guest List for that. So massive Kudos to them, that was really good of them.

Steve: Yeah, they were a great bunch.

Sheri: Wicked! That’s so cool. You see, I love stuff like that. So, like I say, you’ve had some huge highlights and obviously you have your two EP’s out at the moment and you’re working on an album… How do you feel you have evolved over time?

Rich: I mean I’ll put it this way, I’ve played guitar since I was 15, so that’s 15 years now and I feel I’ve progressed more in my time with Democratus than I have in the other 12 odd years haha. I remember the first time you asked me to do lead guitar and I was like “excuse me!?”. There was that practice where there was the first solo going up and I remember just doing the bend and then Joey just turning around and laughing at Steve, so I either did something very wrong or very right just now haha. So, I just nervously carried on haha.

Sheri: You obviously did do right haha!

Rich: Yeah, apparently! Haha.

Joey: I think that our song writing is always evolving, as you said earlier, our lyrics are very politically charged, and the landscape is always changing with that. You know, a hell of a lot has changed in the last 4 years since I joined the band and the lyric writing has reflected that. In terms of guitar work, new members make things…everyone has their own spin on things. Zak is just churning out riffs like a madman, which is great!

Sheri: Like a boss!

Zak: Yeah, I haven’t got a life so…haha

Joey: Yeah…Oh no! I didn’t mean…yeah, you haven’t got a life hahaha. Also, I think our understanding of recording has come on leaps and bounds since the first EP. So, you know, we’re paying more attention to things like dynamics, things like guitar tone and everything like that just to try and make the songs sound bigger and better. We’re always looking to try and improve. Yeah, just make things interesting.

Steve: Which is why we work. This is why we work. We’re always looking to improve, we’re never just settling for, you know, the words “That will do”. They are banned in the studio when we are recording. You’re always looking to improve in whatever way, be it a better vocal line, a better guitar solo, a better riff being played, better drum fill. You know, we don’t box ourselves into how we should sound because we’re always looking to progress. If we decided that this is how we are gonna start sounding for the next 4 or 5 albums, we would all get bored to buggery anyway!

Joey: There’s only been a couple of times where I’ve had to ask Steve about lyrics and whether he thinks that’s a good line. I was terrified because you’ve got the song ‘Preach To The Hate;and its original title was Hints of Hate and I said “It’s a bit too in your face to be called Hints of Hate” and it was a nervous moment for me because Steve was like “You’ve never questioned my lyrics before.” And I was like “Oh no! What have I done?” haha.

Steve: Hahaha! And you will never do so again!! Haha

Joey: The whole album has been more like a group contribution whereas the previous 2 have always been like “here’s a riff” and one person has written the whole song, whereas now it’s like everything is just stemming to contribute to it. Even recently, the lyrics have been quite group contributed as well, haven’t they Steve?

Steve: Yeah, even if it’s just you guys giving me a subject to go off, yeah – I mean, I’ve always been open to lyrical contribution. One of the latest thing’s that we’ve written has had Zak’s full input on the lyrics! I looked ‘em over the other day and they look fantastic. I am more than happy to put my vocals over what he’s given me. So yeah, it’s a case of – there’s no ego’s in the band. Our overall outlook on it is just to see where it goes.

Joey: Yeah, pretty much.

Steve: We’re not expecting anything, we’re not demanding anything – we’re just kind of putting ourselves out there, asking if the possibilities are there and if they are, brilliant! If not, we crack on doing what we’re doing anyway.

Sheri: Educate me! My favourite song of yours is ‘BTK’, but… what does that stand for?

Zak: Steve, that’s all you mate!

Steve: That’s me, OK! This one stands for ‘Bind, Torture, Kill’.

Joey: I thought that was a sandwich! Hahaha

Rich: Bacon, Tomato, Kale hahaha.

Steve: Hahaha! It’s basically a set of lyrics I was sat on around the Counterhold days that just weren’t doing anything, but it’s based around the Bind, Torture, Kill killer. So, I was reading an article in one of those daytime magazines about him. What was in there was some of the letters that he would write to the Police before he was caught. It was all very simplistic stuff, so the lyrical approach is very simplistic for that reason. It’s based around the letters that he would send, the way that he would speak about how he tortured his victims, how much pleasure he found in building up to the kill and stuff like that. So yeah, it’s all based around Dennis Rader.

Rich: I’ll tell you something interesting if you want to know, especially about the video. I got to do the lyric video essentially, I was the only one with video editing experience but unfortunately, I was on horribly outdated software and the fact that it came to light in the first place was interesting. But what I realised half-way through and it’s still there to this day – is there is now a folder on my computer called Murder Photos full of pictures of Dennis Rader and actual pictures of his crimes! Hahaha so…

Steve: There’ll be new pictures incoming with one of my censored lyrics, mate, you know that!

Rich: Yeah but eventually, GCHQ are gonna find out, mate! Hahaha.

Sheri: So, there’s a lot of extensive research that goes into that sort of thing as well. In light of the album you’re working on, what are your plans for 2021, all being well?

Rich: To gig again one day!

Joey: Yeah, hopefully!

Steve: Oh God, I miss it. It’s been 84 years…

*all laugh*

Steve: Basically, under current circumstances, all we can do is song write. So, all we can do is send over song ideas to each other and so that when the lockdown is lifted, we can get the pre-production on the go and get the Demo’s on the go. After that, once everything is up, we’re gonna try and get gigging as quickly as we possibly can. We’ve got a few dates, no more for this year…that’s bust.

Zak: We’ve got a few in the pipeline though haven’t we, that we secured.

Steve: Yeah, we’ve got a mini tour that we’ve scheduled for March that we’re hoping to keep hold of. I think that is probably the realistic target now, is March dates that we’ve got booked in. We’ve not gone public with it yet so we can’t say who we will be touring with but there’s some very good, very established bands.

Sheri: Amazing! We will keep our ear out for that as well then!

Joey: We just wanna get back to Oxford again. I love that place!

Steve: Ahh yeah Oxford!

Rich: Oxford was the best gig I’ve played by far apart from maybe Newcastle and that was more just a miracle that happened in the night sort of thing haha.

Joey: Everything that could have gone wrong… went wrong haha. Spoon broke Bass string, Rich kept knocking guitar cables out hahaha

Steve: I must have gone through a pack of Vocalzone in the run up to that day…

Joey: The batteries died on my wireless kit halfway through a song whilst I was playing haha

Rich: 4am in Newcastle in the snow…

Joey: Yep we went from Oxford to Workington, played a gig and then from that gig, drove to Newcastle…it was long.

Rich: All in one day…

Zak: It was snowing as well!

Rich: That was Zak’s favourite bit haha

Sheri: That sounds absolutely brutal! Sounds like you had a bit of a nightmare gig there, no?

Joey: It should have been, but it really wasn’t, it was amazing! The atmosphere was there, it didn’t really matter, the crowd were amazing, Zak did a drum solo which I’ve never seen him do before, it was beautiful!

Rich: Yeah, it was actually really good!

Zak: You put me on the spot for that, ya f**kers! Hahahaha.

Joey: It wasn’t us! It was Kilonova hahaha

Rich: Yeah, Kilonova put you on the spot for that hahaha

Joey: I highly recommend checking out Kilonova, their live shows, they bring a ridiculous amount of energy, like…first time we were on that tour, we just went “Ah sh*t, we gotta follow that…Um…” hahaha

Steve: Yeah Ellen and the boys are sweethearts, they’re brilliant.

Joey: Yeah, they’re good people.

Sheri: I know of Kilonova, they’re fantastic! Please tell our readers in your own words why it is so important to support the scene at the moment…

Steve: Given the current circumstances, we’ve all been saying for years that you have to use it or lose it. Right now, that is amplified a thousand times over. Given the current situations within venues and performing arts, are getting zero in the way of support. I’m not gonna go down a political rant on that, I’m just saying as it is, we have no support. So, we basically cannot do any of this if people aren’t gonna come out and support the scene. It doesn’t have to be for us. It has to be for the venues, it has to be for the workers.

Joey: Yeah, for the people who actually have it as a career you know, like, being a performer – because there’s just no funding for them. Even the big companies are struggling at the moment in terms of what is happening with events. There’s a lot of investment gone into trying to put these events on and it’s all up in the air as to everything that’s gonna be happening across Europe. So, it’s not just the grassroots that are suffering, it’s everyone in the industry right from the bottom to the very top. So, imagine lockdown if you couldn’t listen to music because at the end of the day if bands don’t have a platform, artists don’t have a platform, if they can play in venues and won’t have a way to get people through the door and it’s gonna be gone and it won’t come back… and it will be a real shame to see that go. For a lot of people, it’s the only outlet they really have. There’s a lot of talented musicians who absolutely love doing what they’re doing, it helps them to deal with the sh*t they’ve had at work or you know, it helps people unwind and get their feelings out…and if that isn’t there, it’s gonna really mess up a lot of people.

Steve: I mentioned it on my Facebook the other day that it’s not even just the financial implications that places and people are gonna struggle with, it’s the mental health side of it as well. You know, not having that security is gonna play Holy Hell with people’s mental well-being. So, it’s a case of, we have to look after each other. You don’t have to like the genres of music; you just have to support it because it all needs help.

Sheri: Absolutely you’re right, at the moment I feel like that even though things are the way they are, people do, especially in the underground scene, have to help each other out mentally.

Joey: It will all come back, I just think there’s gonna be a lot people who won’t come back from it in terms of their businesses, which is gonna be a real shame. Like you see on Facebook almost every week that the iconic venues are closing because the landlords are like “Well, we need the money” and a part of me is really really pissed off with the owners of these venues but at the same time, that’s their revenue stream as well, they still need their money and yeah…

Sheri: It’s a vicious circle.

Joey: Yeah, and it’s gonna be tough times for a lot of people and I think that when times are really shit, people are gonna need good music to listen to.

Sheri: Absolutely… and that’s why you’re getting an album out haha!

Rich: Full circle back to the flood, YAY! Hahaha.

Joey: And if it doesn’t work, we will just sell it to America to Guantanamo Bay as a form of torture, there’s lots of avenues open to us! Hahaha.

*all laugh*

Steve: I mean one thing I would add about the scene supporting and stuff like that is in South Wales in particular, I’ve noticed, seems to have a core nucleus of bands. From the likes of Agrona, Sodomized Cadaver, In Which It Burns, Blind Divide etc. The list continues, there’s a core nucleus of a good 20 to 30 bands that genuinely look out for each other, you know, we’re all offering each other shows. Bands like Agrona and Sepulchre are putting on their own band nights alongside Gavin from Sodomized running his promotions company that’s going from strength to strength. We’re all looking out for each other, we’re all plugging each other, we’re all kind of chucking in our support where we can get it. Agrona for example have just been confirmed for the SOPHIE slot at Bloodstock next year. There’s no jealousy, there’s no pissing and moaning about it, we couldn’t be any prouder of them. It’s the same when Sodomized played the SOPHIE stage when we were doing Bloodstock, you know, there’s no animosity, there’s no one upmanship, the scene is just genuinely supportive.

Joey: The bands that do have a bad attitude, we’re just like “well, we’re not playing with you and no one’s gonna want to play with you.” Or they fall by the wayside pretty quickly because that attitude doesn’t get you far at all.

Sheri: That’s what it’s about at the end of the day. I’ve always been a believer in…If you’re gonna do this then do it together.

Steve: Otherwise you can crack on and form a tribute band hahaha

Joey: And that’s where the real money is hahaha.

Sheri: Finally, tell us a joke! And don’t say our music hahaha.

Rich: I’m not allowed to tell the jokes anymore. Hahaha.

Sheri: Has Rich been banned?

Rich: I’ve been banned from a few comedy venues when I did stand up so…hahaha

Sheri: That sounds like that’s got a story behind it haha

Rich: I’m not about to give you a rendition here haha.

Sheri: Fair enough. Hahaha. Anyone?

Joey: What’s brown and sticky…? A stick.

Rich: Here’s a fun fact about flavoured water…it’s actually healthier than crack hahaha

Joey: Yeah but crack is pretty moorish…

*all laugh*

Sheri: Thank you so much for your time guys! It’s been really insightful. I really appreciate it.

Joey: Happy birthday for the other day! Best people are born in September, fact. Just putting that out there…

Sheri: Thank you! I sat by the beach and got drunk hahaha.

Democratus: Best way to spend it. Hahaha. Thanks for having us!

Rick Here. I’d like to send huge thanks to Sheri and Democratus for this great interview.

For more info on the band then check out the links below:

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Sheri Bicheno and 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.

Interview with Jess Stanley and Kyle Martyn Stanley of Ashen Reach

Interview with Jess Stanley and Kyle Martyn Stanley of Ashen Reach
By Sheri Bicheno

Hi Everyone, Sheri here

I’d like to send huge thanks to Rachael Harrison and Enso Music Management for approaching me for this lovely chat I had recently with Kyle and Jess from Merseyside based Hard Rock band, Ashen Reach. Reforming/Renaming the band in 2018, Ashen Reach have a LOT to offer their audience. I was blown away by how humble and down to earth they are and that they have smashed their way from the first stepping-stone of the music industry, to now crossing its fast-flowing river, in such a short space of time! Be sure to check out this phenomenal band!

Sheri: What I wanted to do first is just brush up on the history of Ashen Reach…I know Ashen Reach reformed from Equinox, is that right?

Jess: Yeah that’s correct! We’re going way back sometime…I originally joined them when I was like…16 and I’m currently the only standing member from the very original line up haha!

Kyle: Oh wow!

Jess: Oh yeah, I got rid of them lot, no I’m joking haha!

Kyle: Hahaha absolute Axel Rose treatment right there!

Sheri: Hahahaha Lordy!

Jess: Hahaha. It was only I would say from about last year, hang on what year are we in now?

Kyle: 2020

Jess: We’ve only been this line up as Ashen Reach with obviously Kyle and Joe for about just over a year now. I think we had our little one-year anniversary at like the 1st August.

Kyle: That’s the 8th or 9th, something like that…

Jess: Something like that yeah, where we just finally got them secured and announced Kyle to the world. Before that, oh going back, we were Ashen Reach still before that for about a year in total as well and then we obviously did the gigs, the two shows with Bullet For My Valentine in April last year. That year was probably the first year we started taking things properly seriously and then obviously the big change up happened…but, was it 2018 or something? It all seems to happen around Christmastime where like, names change, or members change haha. So…hopefully it doesn’t happen again this year because I think we’re quite comfortable with it now haha!

Kyle: Best line-up ever!

Jess: It is, it really really is. But, for the current line up as I say, last year we just finished the Bullet for My Valentine shows and we did one or two gigs and then we parted ways with our singer and Rhythm guitarist…then, after that, Me, Paddy and Mike (drummer, lead guitarist and bassist) were like “What do we do? We just played two of the biggest shows of our life ever!” And it was so good and exciting feeling like that cuz it was like 5000 people one night and 8000 the other to play to…it was just unreal!

Sheri: Wow!

Jess: And it was just us two as well, it wasn’t like it was a festival of 20 bands, it was really something special. So, it was kinda a moment where it was like “Oh no! We definitely have to carry on.” So, we just put some Ads on Facebook and we got Joe, who’s our guitarist with the dreadlocks, first. We did some auditions and then from there on he helped pick Kyle…and I think it was actually Katherine Murph, who’s a promoter on the local scene, she messaged me out of the blue and was like “You know what, I know a singer who’s looking for a Hard Rock band and I know a Hard Rock band who’s looking for a singer! Why don’t I put two of you together?” And then from then it has kinda just been perfect! He came in and did an audition and we were like “yeah!”

Sheri: That’s awesome!!

Kyle: Yeah, I think I had to send the little video in, didn’t I? But I had a chest infection at the time haha…

Sheri: Oh Noooo!!

Kyle: And I didn’t want to be like “oh can I wait?” Cuz I didn’t want it, to you know, sound like an excuse haha so I was like “I’m gonna have to power through this!” haha.

Jess: Oh yeah! He sang one of our old tracks and we were like “yeah let’s get this guy in, see what he’s about”

Sheri: Well, safe to say you smashed it! Haha.

Jess: Oh yeah! We’re so glad you did as well, it’s so much better and it’s like a proper, proper family now…aren’t we?

Kyle: Oh yeah!

Jess: Cuz we wanted to make sure that not only can everyone play their instruments or sing, like we are gonna do it properly, we’re gonna be together for a long time, if you’re gonna be on the road or recording, so it’s like we gotta like these people haha!

Kyle: We is one big family now and dat.

Sheri: That’s how it should be! As we were sorta saying 2018 onwards was like, we saw some pretty exciting things happening for you guys. As you just mentioned you supported Bullet For My Valentine on their Russian tour, wasn’t it?

Jess: Yeah it was 2 gigs there, in St Petersburg and then Moscow.

Sheri: Amazing! Then obviously you also played the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock and then of course there was a line-up change in 2019. So, there are some huge positives as a young band…What has been your favourite part of the journey so far?

Jess: Oh God, do you wanna go for this one Kyle as I just blabbermouthed the whole way through that haha

Kyle: I’d say so far it was probably doing the album. Obviously doing the tours as well, like touring with Fahran and then we toured with Nocturn Wolf, Ritual Spirit and Kilonova. Like erm, just before the world ended. And it was – that was amazing, doing multiple dates in a row, travelling everywhere, meeting loads of new people and stuff like that. It was awesome and then obviously writing and recording the album, getting everything that we’ve put our entire heart and soul into. It sounds so rewarding like, we’ve just seen our new video today and it’s just like – Ahh, it’s so good! It’s just amazing watching it and you know when it’s like – all our hard work is paying off, there it is, it’s right in front of us and it’s just BOSS. Haha.

Jess: I think my favourite part is he growth in general, obviously being there from the very beginning of everything when we were – not even this line-up.

Sheri: Still a baby haha

Jess: Yeah It was! I was 16 when I joined the band and I’m 21 now – still a baby but haha – to see the evolution of the music, the people and just how strong we seem to be right now. Like in one year, we’ve released two singles, about to release the third, gonna release an album, we’ve done two tours and that is in the space of one year of actually getting the band members and then writing it all, so it’s all completely fresh material as well. We’ve got one song that we’ve kept over, and we’ve changed the lyrics and how it’s sung but everything else is completely brand new. It exciting seeing how well it’s all gelled together, and I feel dead proud. Proud of it. Haha!

Sheri: And that’s the thing isn’t it that when you’re an artist, it’s like your band is your baby, you watch it grow and it comes out and it’s all beautiful.

Jess: Yeah haha!

Sheri: So, we were just saying about your new single, ‘Epiphany’, will be released on the 25th September. Do you have a video to go with it?

Kyle: YAAAS.

Sheri: Amazing! Cannot wait to see that! And then your debut album, “Homecoming”, is scheduled to be released in November. After what’s been happening with the end of the world haha, this is actually really great. There are a lot of Artists that are feeling bummed out as a lot rely on touring, selling merch and so on to make their way. So, it’s amazing to see new music during the pandemic.

Jess: Yeah, I think it’s been a make or break situation for a lot of bands.

Sheri: It’s been brutal for everyone. I listened to the album today, multiple times.

Kyle: Ooooh!

Jess: Ooooh, did you haha! Have you got a favourite song?

Sheri: I do! It’s actually the title track that is my favourite. I detect some really strong Alter Bridge vibes and a little bit of a…almost like Trivium – ish, vibe.

Both: That’s a new one!

Jess: Our lead guitarist Paddy loves Alter Bridge so that’s probably how that’s kind of rubbed off in there somewhere.

Sheri: It’s also vocally too, in the lyrics! It’s very Alter Bridge type too.

Kyle: I could hear it in ‘Tear It Down’

Sheri: That’s a really good example actually! There’s a good balance of heavy, classic, groove and even a little bit of proggy metal and hard rock in your sound. So how did you reach your style of songwriting? And what works for you as a band?

Jess: Collaboration. 100%. We’ll all do everything and we’ll all chip in with the lyrics or if something is sung different, we can say “change it like this” or “try a drum beat like that”. Everyone has a say in everything and we feel like that has given the best results and it has worked in everything we have done so far so that is our way forward, isn’t it Kyle?

Kyle: Yeah, it takes a lot of pressure off as well. It’s not like where in some bands you’re like… “well, you’re the guitarist or you’re the vocalist, drummer, you have to write that part” so all of us combined together, it just helps make the song better. The way everything is, the only ego that should be in the room is the song itself.

Sheri: Absolutely.

Kyle: As long as it makes the song better, we should all chip in and as Jess was saying we could say “oh why don’t we try this” There’s a couple of songs that lyrically is 100% one person, maybe only 3.

Jess: But it’s still like “Ok guys what do you think?” No one calls the shots, do they?

Kyle: Yeah.

Jess: And because we all have different influences musically anyway and what we listen to – I think that’s why there’s so many different vibes. Obviously Alter Bridge has stood out a couple of times but other than that, we’ve had a different name from each person. Basically, which is nice because we don’t want to be a carbon copy of anyone.

Kyle: We get Bowie quite a bit too, which is odd because Bowie isn’t an influence haha!

Sheri: So, it’s a collaboration and a bit like a puzzle where everyone makes it a bigger picture. I really loved the title track ‘Homecoming’ I think it’s beautiful. I was sitting here with it on repeat through my work and I was like WOW. There’s a lot of power, emotion and diverse energy to the lyrics and the way your songwriting and music is put together. How do you feel some of your songs on this album reflect the rawness in your sound?

Kyle: I’m glad that people are feeling it because every song has some meaning to it. There’s a couple of songs that have really personal meanings like ‘Alive Again’ but there’s other song’s, like ‘Epiphany’, kinda one we all put together because we all had the vibe of it and we were all like “Okay, we can all understand what’s coming with that” so we all kind of feel within the song if that makes sense? Because we all are right in it, we all get into that mode of feeling and that.

Jess: The album is not a concept album so there’s no running story, so some of the songs might be about something else like, you know ‘Epiphany’ is about abusive relationships basically and then ones like Kyle said are more personal, might be about something that’s happened to someone in the band but overall, we just wanted to show everyone each side of what we can do. This debut album was basically like “This is what Ashen Reach can do” we can do long epic songs, we can do fast jumpy, upbeat songs and do a whole duet basically. We just wanted to show everything we can do but have passion all the way through. None of them are just album fillers. We just wanted to show all our sides, that it was 100% us and that you can hear the passion and effort that’s gone into every track.

Kyle: Even with ‘Ether’ the 1 minute 40 interlude, we didn’t just throw that in and just beef up the track, we put that in because we wanted it to make the album blend better. We just didn’t want to just change the vibe quickly.

Jess: Is it from “Prey”? It would be “Prey” straight into “Here I go” and “Prey” quite like a dark psychological thriller song – but we thought all that out and the order of the album, we just wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just going all in super-fast, super hard, there was a proper build up and I think I feel after you’ve listened to it, you feel “What’s just happened”…like I’m glad I feel like that.

Kyle: Yeah the ending blows you into a false sense of security as well because you think it’s dead relaxing and dead chill, melancholy and then you forget your album is on repeat and it goes DADADADADA and you’re like ARGH!


Kyle: It’s happened when driving and having to swerve out of the way because I’ve almost sh*t myself haha. It just slams back in and you’re like “Oh there it is…Okay!”

Sheri: How do you feel that “Homecoming” is different to your previous work, for example you released a single in 2018 called ‘Gone Tomorrow’?

Jess: That’s one of the ones we took down because we thought it’s a fresh start but we really really loved ‘Homecoming’ so much and everyone would ask us to play it when we perform so we thought we have to keep it but we will just rework it to make it better and more suited to what we are now and it just had something else, it’s difficult to describe. You can tell when you’re playing a song and it’s not even my favourite song now but back then it was just like… this is just epic, we’ve written a nine minute song, people always cheer for and it was known as That Epic Song At The End – we’d finish on that song all the time because it was just a rollercoaster of a song.

Kyle: It doesn’t feel like a nine-minute song.

Jess: Oh no, we’ve heard people say, “oh you’re finishing” and you say, “it’s a nine-minute song” and they’re like “no way!”

Kyle: There was a guy in Scotland, and he was like “Oh really enjoyed your set but I have one criticism.” And we were like “Okay, what is it?” and he said, “Homecoming is too short” and we’re like “Its 9 minutes!!” He was like “IS IT!? Does not feel like nine minutes!”

Jess: So yeah, people get lost in it and I think that’s what made us think “No, we have to keep it and rework it somehow, this has gotta stay and be a staple part!” haha.

Kyle: Its nice seeing people singing along to it at the end of the show, people will start singing the chorus and that’s the first time we’ve heard that as well. You’ll see people just singing along and it’s just like “wow, this is their first time seeing this and they’re already singing along to it”. It’s an absolutely surreal feeling and it’s like… it’s actually happening.

Sheri: That’s when you know isn’t it – when people are catching onto your songs and its humbling.

Jess: We couldn’t be more grateful of people who just listen, share or you know, it is as you say humbling – when you see a couple bands and it doesn’t really matter what level, I know a lot of bigger bands don’t look at their own social medias but when you know when it’ a bit lower level, you see people that don’t reply to comments or they don’t react and these are the people saying “I love it” – I really hate that so much because people have taken time to listen to your music and if you’ve really put that much effort in, you care what people think and you know – we all care so much so we make a conscious effort to make sure we tell everyone who says anything you know “Thank you so much” because it really does mean the world to us when we say it.

Kyle: Yeah, we always try and message people back or reply to them or after a show we will always try and hang around and have a conversation with people and we try to get to know them, the people who listen to our music. Because it makes it personal. It turns a fan base more into a family, because you’ll see them come back and you end up becoming friends. You get a new level with people and its really nice.

Sheri: I love that. I mean, that’s how I essentially got doing what I’m doing now. Years and years ago, I met a band called Breed 77.

Kyle: I’ve heard of them!

Sheri: Really nice guys, I was introduced by a family friend at the studios and went to a couple of their shows and they were mingling and mixing and then making friends with some of them. Doing that, I met lots of different people, friends and circles and now I’ve ended up doing what I’m doing now and that is what I love because bands like you that actually take the time to make friends and mingle with people, you don’t know what your impact is on that person’s life you know…it can make a massive, massive difference. So… that’s amazing, I love it!

Kyle: Yeah if we can make people forget about their problems, even if it’s for like 10 minutes, then we are doing something right and makes everything worthwhile.

Sheri: Do you have plans to tour or promote “Homecoming” after the pandemic dies down a bit?

Jess: We do, nothing is booked or set in stone but Rachael, our manager is working extremely hard to try and get something. I think she said she was aiming for March next year, but we have no idea, nothing is booked yet. But that is the idea.

Kyle: We do have a gig in December as far as we know. It’s not been cancelled yet. So, we are playing December at Planet Rockstock in Trecco Bay, Porthcawl.

Jess: We were like yay we have all these gigs set up, things are going great and then… the world closed down haha.

Kyle: Yeah, we had some really good gigs as well. We had some like… supporting Ryan McCombs from SOiL and stuff like that. And I was so excited, like I was in work when we got the gig confirmed and I’m running ‘round the shop like YESSSS! Because I LOVE SOiL!

Jess: Kyle’s 31 by the way haha

Kyle: Yeah, I was absolutely chuffed! Headbutting the cookies haha going mental and some people were like “Whos’ SOiL?” And I’m like, “You don’t even…how dare you!! Haha I don’t care if you’re 67 Barbara…” hahaha.

Sheri: Educate yourself, like haha!

Both: Yeah exactly! Hahaha.

Sheri: What did you do before creating your way with Ashen Reach/before Equinox? What drew you into making music?

Jess: Paddy our guitarist, he was in a band before and I used to always go see them. I was doing my GCSE’s before I was in Equinox. I just knew I loved playing the drums as well, I was playing my lessons since I was about 12. So, I was a Grade 5 and my teacher was like “Go Forth my child, I can’t teach you anymore, go play in a band.” So I basically set off to join a band and I joined Equinox on JoinMyBand, I just found an Ad and I went to Vulcan Studios in Liverpool and did my practice there and they didn’t have a singer or anything at that point. That’s sort of where I went on and over time was new members and we evolved. We didn’t actually, with the very first line up of Equinox, we didn’t gig at all, we just spent loads of time in the practice room. But it’s because we knew we weren’t ready and then we went from there. But that’s personally how I got into it, seeing Paddy doing gigs on stage and I wasn’t in a band the whole time yet. And I was like I know I definitely want to do it now. Seeing your favourite bands on stage as well isn’t it? It’s like “Oh my God”. Haha.

Kyle: Oh, mine is a long time ago! I was proper into music as a little kid, I used to sing a lot when I was little but then as I got older, I was obsessed with Slipknot and Joey Jordison so I wanted to be in a band. I was actually a drummer for years. I was in a brick punk band kinda like the Artic Monkeys but with a double pedal haha. I was in a few bands, so I ended up forming kind of a Tenacious D double act with my friend Adam at Butlins. It was dead funny because we were told we had to do normal covers and we were like “No, we’re doing Tenacious D!” hahaha. We’re covering ‘Wonderboy’ hahaha. Just before I joined Ashen Reach, I was in a Take That tribute haha.

Sheri: Really??

Kyle: Yeah haha.

Jess: You were like the biggest in the UK, weren’t you?

Kyle: Yeah we were in at number 1 so I toured with them for three years but my itch was like, I wanna do rock and stuff like that so, I was in a proper djent-y metal band but I didn’t want to scream as much anymore. So, I spoke to Murph and I said “I wanna be in Hard Rock band, I don’t wanna scream anymore, it’s killing my voice” and Murph was like “Oh! I know a band!” and that was it!

Jess: Oh, I remember that as well as actually! I only got to drum as Rock Band haha like playing Rock Band with the family and now I can’t play Rock Band because I’m playing the real instrument haha

Kyle: It’s so annoying because as soon as you can play an instrument, you can’t play Rock Band or Guitar Hero haha.

Jess: I’m a boss on the guitar on it though. Expert! Hahaha.

Kyle: Rock Band makes me rage. I was trying to play Everlong by Foo Fighters and it’s like “You’re doing it wrong” and I’m like “No I’m not!” hahaha.

Sheri: Hahaha don’t dictate to me, computer! So, you’re from the Liverpool area?

Jess: Kinda yeah! Some of us are from Merseyside, Cheshire, Wirral. Kyle is from Runcorn.

Kyle: Runcorn is the posh area hahaha. It’s not posh at all…

Sheri: Are there any local Artists you would recommend checking out?

Jess: Oooh, there are good bands but the scene in Liverpool isn’t heavy on the Rock at the moment. We’ve got really good friends in Raised by Wolves; Liv in Raised by Wolves is a really awesome girl, so she definitely needs a shout out! But I think recently, because we’ve not actually gigged that much in Liverpool with Liverpool bands since being in this line up. But we can recommend like…Fahran and when we toured with Kilonova and so on, those guys are awesome.

Sheri: Aye, we had Fahran play at Rabidfest last year and they were amazing. Your first two singles off the album ‘Prey’ and ‘Tear It Down’ have been a hugely promising taste of what’s to come in November! What’s the reception of the singles been like for you? I know Kieran Scott of Ashen Crown did a reaction video to ‘Tear It Down’ recently!

Jess: “Tear It Down” has definitely been taken a whole lot better than ‘Prey’ but not because ‘Prey’ is worse, I think the seven-minute number scares people off. I think we may have just promoted ‘Tear It Down’ more but all the feedback we’ve had ourselves has been great. I think we had one guy though, which makes me laugh, who commented on the Ad on Facebook and was like “I hate this. This is too produced” or said it was too good and that he just didn’t like it. He thought it looked too clean and good, so I don’t know what it was…it didn’t make sense. And we are a local band with no money – so technically, you thinking that we are that clean and super great is like… a compliment haha. We’re not a Sludge, Death, Growl band so…

Sheri: It’s a complementive insult haha!

Jess: Yeah! Sorry hahaha.

Kyle: It like sorry we’re not one of those really (GROWLS) bands haha.

Jess: If you are one of those bands, that is fine! Haha. ‘Tear It Down’ has been played on Planet Rock and a load of stations. We were actually surprised because ‘Prey’ has had some radio time as well. We thought that was never gonna happen because seven minutes is a big chunk. But the Hard Rock Hell competition we were supposed to be taking part in got cancelled, when we did that, we sent them both tracks and they obviously have the segment on their radio show to show off each band who could be getting through and they played ‘Prey’ and we were like Wow!! It’s just really surprising. It’s been really great. I think we definitely kept it solid all the way through and we have done what we aimed to do.

Kyle: You can hear, there’s so many vibes that we were going through as the album has progressed, we wanted to experiment with stuff like in ‘Epiphany’ there’s Mongolian Chant and stuff. All five of us, even Jess is doing some haha. If you hear it, the higher vocal, that’s Jess!

Jess: I don’t sing anything else haha, my claim to fame with the vocals is the voice on “Prey” haha.

Kyle: Every single voice, every one of us have their vocals in the album as well. It’s not just where we wanted to just do me doing every vocal, because we’re not gonna do that live. So, there’s a lot of three-part harmonies. There’s a lot of me, Paddy and Mike all together. Joe has some proper guttural screams. It just adds depth to it so yeah, we wanted to do stuff that we could do live as well.

Jess: That definitely came off well because obviously the voice, the full breakdown as in Kyle’s breakdown in the song. Not like even in the music, that was very experimental for us especially as a second single haha.

Kyle: Yeah, we were like…is this too brave? But we thought let’s just go for it.

Sheri: It works! What advice do you feel is relevant to Artists at the moment?

Jess: I’d say that you have to be proactive. We’ve had lots of help, like my family, we’ve been really lucky to have my Dad who is a photographer and driver so – just make yourself look as professional as possible. You don’t need to look like it’s a business or job, people want to see you having fun. You have to choose what you post; you don’t want to be seen posting really silly things on the page, you have to keep people up to date. Because of the algorithms on Facebook at the moment, if you don’t post for like a day, you don’t get seen. Be as active as possible and make sure you’re professional while you’re showing your personalities I guess because you have to be careful. You have to treat life like you’re on stage all the time. Even if you are a small band. Don’t have the ego but act where you wanna be basically.

Kyle: Don’t be scared of writing what you wanna write as well. Don’t try and fall in with the grain that’s what I would say as well. So, if you’re like “Ah yeah let’s do a 20-minute space ballad, why not?” As long as your full passion is in the song, it can be anything but as long as it sounds like you’re putting your passion and love into it. It’s gonna sound great, regardless. Like you can tell when people write soulless music.

Jess: Always release the highest quality things as well. I was listening to this nine-hour audio book because I was researching “How do we be better?” haha. But rather than releasing a load of demos, if you’re gonna release an album, because it’s gonna take away the impact straight away and it’s not gonna be like “Let’s show them a little teaser before we do the full thing.” Practice videos are different, but it will definitely take away from everything if you release little demo tracks when you’re going to release the full song. Give away some things but don’t give away so much that you ruin it for yourself.

Sheri: Yeah because then people will know what to expect won’t they?

Jess: Yeah, you wanna have an impact and not just like Ah, this sounds almost the same… you want a full impact straight away.

Sheri: Finally, tell us a joke…

Kyle: I’ve got so many what would you like? Haha. I’ll do a family friendly one. My friend said to me “Eh Kyle, for that fancy dress party, I’m gonna dress up as a small island just outside the coast of Italy.” And I said, “Don’t be Sicily” (so silly)


Sheri: Hahaha that is the Dad joke of all Dad jokes.

Kyle: I love it, I know so many Dad jokes haha!

Sheri: Thank you so much for your time guys! It’s been really really lovely talking to you. I’ll look out for Jess’s vocals in ‘Epiphany’ haha.

Jess: Thanks so much Sheri, we really appreciate you having us.

Rick Here!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jess and Kyle for the wonderful interview and to Sheri for putting it all together. I too have been listening to “Homecoming”, the album, and it is a fine debut. You are all in for a treat!

Follow Ashen Reach at the following links:

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Sheri Bicheno and 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.

Interview with Atorc

Interview with Atorc
by Sheri Bicheno

After witnessing Atorc for the first time at Warhorns Festival in 2018, I’ve noticed these guy stand out more and more. I have previously reviewed their latest album “Under The Raven Banner”, seen them play across the UK at many Folk and Viking Metal themed events and befriended some of the band through mutual people, so I was more than happy to sit down with the Suffolk based tribe and have a chat!

Atorc are one of the UK’s most well-known underground Folk Metal bands and I was intrigued to know a bit more about their story…

Sheri: Hello guys!

Atorc: Hello Sheri!!!

Sheri: I did a review of “Under The Raven Banner” last year for Ever Metal and loved it, For our readers, tell us a bit about the roots of Atorc and how you decided on the concept of the band?

Battlebeast: Well the roots of Atorc really stem from when I got into folk metal and I thought there’s not really a lot of folk metal bands in the UK. I had contact with Tom Scales and we basically formed Atorc together with our old drummer and violinist and basically from there evolved into what we are today!

Boudikath: We had the line-up changes so everyone brought their own influences.

Battlebeast: Yeah, everyone brought in their own influences with what they’ve listened to over the years. With Andy, there are elements of Power Metal in the band, which is very interesting and with Jack, he added a sense of a much darker, black metal vibe with the rhythms. So, it’s been quite interesting with the mixture of music tastes all around.

Boudikath: And also, some classical backgrounds.

Sheri: That brings me onto the next question actually – your sound is quite entangled in metal, folk – most notably in the Viking and Battle elements, with some pretty big Power vocals. You certainly have your own identity – do you have any influences both musically and historically?


Helbard: Hellooooooooo! There are different people, different backgrounds, different influences. I’m really like a classic metal kinda guy. I’m more sort of Maiden, Priest, Queensrÿche, Dio – that kind of thing. I have done a lot of different music projects before this as well, covering quite a lot of different backgrounds musically. I mean I was mainly a guitarist before I joined this band on vocals. Before that I was a gigging bass player for quite a while in a band playing like Cheap Trick power pop stuff. That was the first album I ever recorded as a bass player. So, I’ve been all over the map really and I’ve written for everything I’ve been involved with as well. So, it’s really trying to kinda be a well-rounded musician and much like Jack is, Jack has done a lot of different stuff as well. Just trying to bring some sensibility from that, you know…you can always learn skills playing any kind of music that you can take with you and transfer to anything else you do.

Sheri: What about you, Kath, you play the keys and you do backing vocals, have you done anything previous?

Boudikath: To be honest this is the first proper band I’ve been in but I did study Popular Music at University along University bands and that kind of thing but I came in completely new to metal, I mean when I first joined the band, the guys made me watch The Headbangers Guide to Metal, which is a documentary – they were like “she needs to know more!” hahaha. To be honest, I was more into Coldplay, David Gray, 80’s Pop so I was thrown in the deep end as it were haha. But I can say now I quite enjoy listening to things like Iron Maiden, Priest and those kinds of bands.

Sheri: What song or performance do you feel best represents Atorc?

Boudikath: To be honest, we’ve got the one that…

Battlebeast: EVERYONE…

*Blistyg laughs*

Boudikath: Yeah everyone likes it.

Battlebeast: And its repetitive all the fucking time haha.

Helbard: Is that not actually Shieldwall though?

Blistyg: Is this the one that begins with “T”? Hahaha.

Helbard: What THE Shieldwall? Hahaha.

Blistyg: We play it at every gig…it’s our Smoke on The Water I think haha. I do still enjoy playing it, sometimes haha.

Boudikath: I do enjoy playing it, it’s just very much, that every time we HAVE to play it.

Blistyg: Watching the crowd while we play it…

Helbard: I think by the time we play that song in a set, we’ve already been going for 30 or 40 minutes and everyone’s on board at that point.

Battlebeast: To be honest, I just wrote a basic folk metal song about drinking and I thought “this isn’t gonna catch on” like it’s just gonna be a throw away song…but everyone loves it.

Blistyg: This is like our Rum song.

Sheri: It’s probably the Mead Hall for me hahaha

Helbard: That’s another drinking song! Haha.

Battlebeast: Fun fact – I’m writing another drinking song for the next album.

Sheri: Oh, you are!? Well I was going to ask you about that anyway! From your first release, which was – EP “Pure Folking Metal”, how do you feel you have developed since then? You’ve had a line-up change since then and have found your fit – take us through the development.

Battlebeast: I think we have. With the first line up we had, it was OK, I wasn’t really happy with how things were going. But when the former singer and violinist drop out, Andy and Kath came in, which I thought was the perfect fit with everything that we had been doing so far – with Andy’s vocals and Kath’s keyboards.

Blistyg: And quite good friends we have become too!

Battlebeast: Yes, we have. Then we had Helen brought in and her Violin skills were amazing for us as well and then when our former drummer left, we brought in Jack and his blend of dark, black metal, y’know, influences of drums – they just perfectly fit.

Blistyg: We’re like the perfect BLT hahaha.

*everyone laughs*

Helbard: I’ll tell you something too, those line-up changes from me and Kath coming into the band to having the line-up we have now, I think that took about maybe two years. We hadn’t changed drummers and taken Helen on board until about the end of 2016.

Boudikath: We joined around the beginning of 2015 then Helen came on board for the Seven Tales when we did the recording and then Jack came in about a year later.

Blistyg: Do you guys remember our first gig with Andy and Kath?

Battlebeast: The Evil Scarecrow gig…

Boudikath: It was Evil Scarecrow, it was amazing. We had only been in the band about a month and a bit!

Battlebeast: Yeah it was! Haha.

Boudikath: Literally, we had been in the band a month and we supported Evil Scarecrow at The Waterfront.

Sheri: So, you were pretty much thrown into the deep end that’s amazing haha!

Boudikath: Yeah haha. We showed up and it was like “Oh by the way guys, your gig next month is at the Waterfront in Norwich.” We were like WHAT?!

Helbard: It wasn’t…Well, It wasn’t really confirmed until about a week before. The promoter was…we had problems trying to get money from him.

Boudikath: I remember the venue being big. In terms of development, we definitely have darker tones to “Under The Raven Banner”. The Seven Tales was fun, but we’ve come a little bit darker since then. I think we might be going down a bit more of a darker route with things to come – keeping some of the fun in there – but in general a bit darker.

Helbard: Another thing is that Seven Tales was pretty much – well the songs were written before Kath and I joined the band.

Boudikath: Yea there were two songs in there I think, that were written after and then we added to some of them.

Helbard: “Under The Raven Banner” is a bit more progressive, it was written sort of mainly by Jack and I did the lyrics and there are a few songs on there that I wrote almost entirely and that is probably a reason why some of them sounds almost completely different to Seven Tales album.

Sheri: It was last April you released Under the Raven Banner and as we’ve just discussed, this album is a lot more raw than “Seven Tales Of Swords And Ale” and you highlight some of the difference in songwriting and the sound. Are there any challenges you faced whilst doing that?

Boudikath: I think it was more Andy’s writing style more than anything. Andy got involved with writing on “Under The Raven Banner” and basically, we come along with a riff, an example is Hammer to Anvil – Andy developed on that. In producing the guitar/violin mix that wasn’t so much written in that first one…

Blistyg: When I’m writing riffs and stuff, I don’t really think much about making a structure so to speak. It’s mainly just riffed and then I rely on everyone else to help fit it all together sort of thing.

Thor: Also, the album is more produced than the EP because we spent more time on it. So, there’s more production involved than on the EP where we kind of didn’t play to a click so there’s more tightness and more cleanness with some spick and spam production with the second one more so than the first.

Helbard: Yeah, the first started on a weekend.

Boudikath: 8 songs in 2 days!!

Sheri: Wow…!

Boudikath: hahaha. So, I dont think we can complain about how it came out haha.

Helbard: If we had done another two days on it, it might have been great! Hahaha. It might have been a classic you know! Haha.

Sheri: Are you working on anything at the moment? Tilly you mentioned that you’re writing for a new album so are you working on anything else whilst we are waiting on 2020 to do one?

Battlebeast: Yeah, I’ve been writing some lyrics so what I’ve done so far, I’ve sent to Andy. So, he will have a look over and see what he can do with them. I mentioned I’m doing another drinking song – cuz why the hell not. I’ve been also researching a lot of other Viking events, you know, the Norse mythology and everything. Basically, everything I can whilst we’ve been in The Great Plague of 2020. Just plodding along trying to get some new material out or make new material and do the best we can.

Boudikath: It very much works lyrically doesn’t it that you do all the research, Tilly… and that goes to Andy so Andy can create lyrics around it.

Battlebeast: Scales (Tom) and I have been working on some riffs as well and we’re basically going with that. Just trying to make new music during these times.

Boudikath: Scales has also got a new toy that he got over lockdown as well! Someone’s got a pretty seven string, haven’t they??

Blistyg: Kath! Shhhhh! Hahaha.

Helbard: We do have a very few rough demo’s knocking about and we’re kind of maybe considering different ways of doing an album this time. Obviously, it’s easier than ever to make music off your own back so to speak. We might see what we can do to do something as no one knows what is going to happen as we get through this. We might see what we can get done off our own back. So I mean, the facility to record at home, me and Scales also have a recording interface so there’s always stuff you can do. It will be a little bit of a learning curve.

Boudikath: It’s not just a drummer and couple of guitarists, its everything and it makes it difficult.

Sheri: You have quite a big UK following where Viking Folk metal genres are concerned, I’ve seen you play multiple times, the first time I remember was at Warhorns 2018 and I could see loads of faces in the crowd donning your trademark blue warpaint. When you have fans and supporters that turn up to live events taking part in your theatrics, what is that like for you?

All: It’s the best thing ever!

Boudikath: Honestly when you get people coming up to you and they’re like “OMG I’ve seen you so many times, please sign this!”

Battlebeast: Yeah when they want your autograph, it’s just like WTF!

Boudikath: HRH Vikings was the best.

Battlebeast: That was one of our top gigs, best thing ever.

Blistyg: We had a good last year. Even though it was really really good, Vikings just topped it off really.

Boudikath: The last gig we did actually was really good as well. The last gig we did was this year in February, where we did a headline show in York. That was a sold-out show in York.


Boudikath: We want these gigs back. We were meant to do, the gigs we were meant to do Sheri, were the Isle of Wight in July, Power Metal Quest Fest in September…

Battlebeast: And we had other gigs lined up, its just all gone! Just like that. It’s just the waiting now you know – waiting for all this crap to go away.

Boudikath: I mean it will be at least kind of middle of next year, I think…

Sheri: It’s the same here with us at Rabidfest. We are at the end of the year and we are at the stage where we have to hold tight and wait until we know if it’s in the best interests of running the event.

Boudikath: I think the people who held off the longest was Jim Beerman (Beermageddon) and now Badgerfest have also had to sadly postpone.

Sheri: I think we will just have to completely write off 2020, in the case of events.

Blistyg: I think it’s a time where you can learn new skills.

Sheri: Absolutely. We were talking about your writing and your challenges! What are your best memories as a band? I mean you’ve played some pretty cool places and festivals…

Blistyg: Manchester and York are always fun. York is the one that stands out.

Battlebeast: North is always the best to play for me, Manchester and so on… I know Birmingham isn’t technically north but we like playing in Birmingham, Nottingham or Manchester and Sheffield. It just feels better. We just have a larger audience. Whereas if you’re playing local here, you get like… two guys and a dog. Haha!

Boudikath: Down here it’s all Thrash really isn’t it?

Battlebeast: Yeah that’s the thing, it’s either Thrash or Hardcore.

Blistyg: Even though our hometown gig in Bury there were loads of people, there were the most metal heads I’ve ever seen in that place.

Sheri: Each place does seem to have their own majority of audience – y’know. I know that Brighton changes from Extreme Death Metal and now there are a lot more Prog and Hardcore bands around. It’s sometimes harder to get other genres introduced to new places.

Helbard: I just want to say about Manchester – I always feel like we are a little bit cursed when it comes to Manchester because the first time we played there, we overran. I remember having a really hard gig because I didn’t have anything to eat before the gig and had an issue with running out of steam half way through. The second time we played in Manchester, we got heckled because I kept addressing Manchester as Sheffield haha!

Battlebeast: Oh yeah, yeah!!

Helbard: And I’ll tell you why… we were playing Sheffield the next day and that Sheffield gig had been a total nightmare as a plan and everything. So the whole weekend I thought “This Sheffield gig, man, I’m dreading it, it’s gonna be crap.” Like… Sheffield, Sheffield, Sheffield… and I was so pre-occupied with the Sheffield gig that I was dreading that I got on stage in Manchester and I was like “Hello Sheffield!!”

Sheri: OH LORD!

Boudikath: To be fair though, Manchester was a nice crowd in general, I just think everyone was a bit pissed and a bit pissed off that you called it Sheffield haha!

Battlebeast: Third time the charm, Andy.

Helbard: Fun times!

Sheri: Happy days! Hahaha. Viking and Folk metal genres are getting more of a light shone on them these days – in your opinion, do you feel this has been overlooked and why?

Helbard: I think everything comes around doesn’t it?

Boudikath: I think the reach is bigger now.

Battlebeast: The internet has more of a gateway for people to listen to other bands – there’s loads of forums and platforms now.

Blistyg: It’s also to do with how it’s – that theme has now become quite popular you know, with Game of Thrones, Skyrim and so on…

Boudikath: Yeah there’s a lot of branching on gateway kind of stuff that brings people back to this kind of music so…

Sheri: It’s always good to have something new but I wish this all came out earlier or was more accessible to reach as Viking and Folk metal is based on essentially history and mythology, which History teaches us.

Atorc: Absolutely, yeah.

Boudikath: I would like to say as well that I think there aren’t many bands like us in that we have the power metal vocal in the folk element. It’s a lot more than kind of I’d say black metal vocal that goes along with it normally, whereas I don’t know of any other Folk Metal band that has the Power Metal vocals.

Thor: There’s a lot that in the new Ensiferum album though, isn’t there, Tilly?

Battlebeast: Yeah there is but I don’t think – I think they’re trying to catch on to the trend. Because I can see that there’s a lot more other Folk Metal bands doing the Power Metal side of things – not saying we are the cause of that at all!

Boudikath: I’d say though that the Power Metal bands that I’ve seen; it’s always been the female vocal that stood high. Which is what we don’t have. I do the lower vocal and Andy does the higher vocals.

Thor: Which is different to other things.

Sheri: What goes through your minds whilst playing live?

Battlebeast: Nothing…hahaha. When you’re on stage, you’re basically just going for it. You’re just having fun; nothing comes to you.

Sheri: You just live it.

Battlebeast: Absolutely. You just rock out with your…

Boudikath: No Tilly, we don’t do that hahaha.

Sheri: Choose a drinking game to represent Atorc and we will have to play it a festival next year.

Helbard: It’s what I call Drinking The Beer hahaha

Blistyg: We could play Forky Forky.**

Battlebeast: Ahhh Forky Forky!

Blistyg: I wanted to play that at Bloodstock last year, but no one seemed to be playing it.

Helbard: It kind of died off.

Blistyg: Maybe we can do that as a band haha.

(** Forky Forky for those not in the know is a game where the rules are that a metal fork (with four prongs) and a courgette are involved. You must score 1,000 points. The courgette is placed in the middle of a circle of people and the fork is lobbed at the courgette so that it has to stick into the courgette erect to win 1,000 points. Otherwise you can achieve getting 1,000 points if the fork lands in the ground at a more than 45-degree angle. The player that gets the fork erect in the courgette then wins the game and has to take a bite of the courgette.)

Boudikath: Let’s paint the courgette blue!


Sheri: That’s a thing now.

Atorc: We will play this at Bloodstock next year haha.

Sheri: Finally, What advise have you got for other people who want to do what you do and be where you are?

Battlebeast: Just don’t give up, if you get knocked down, keep on trying.

Boudikath: Be different.

Helbard: Have an image. I think everyone’s burned out on seeing guys in just black tees and cargo shorts, wearing converse. You know, we are in a good time for bands to be a bit theatrical and try and do something different you know. Put on a show. People want to put on a show.

Dont either be afraid of being ridiculous. If you think it might be a bit ridiculous – most things that people love are things that are a bit ridiculous but done really well.

Sheri: Thank you so much for your time guys, I really appreciate you talking to me.

Atorc: Thank you Sheri, this has been awesome!

Rick Here; With the interview complete Atorc trundled off into the socially distant horizon to search for battles anew! I would like to thank the band and Sheri for a great interview!

To read Sheri’s full review of Atorc’s album “Under The Raven Banner” then hit the following link:

To keep up with everything Atorc related then click the following links:

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Sheri Bicheno and 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.

Interview with Johan Längquist of Candlemass

Interview with Johan Längquist of Candlemass
By Sheri Bicheno

Good Afternoon Readers!

When this interview landed on the list, I jumped at the chance to nail it! Candlemass are undoubtedly one of the most influential Doom bands out there, helping shape the Doom genre into what it is from when they started out over 30 years ago!

Candlemass released their first full length album since 2012, “The Door To Doom”, in February 2019 which features Toni Iommi on track ‘Astorolous – The Octopus’. This album is the first to feature Johan since “Epicus Doomicus Metalllicus” in 1986!

For all you fellow Doom lovers, I’d be interested in what your opinions are on the newest EP, “The Pendulum” that has been released in this chaotic time of life. Give it a go and let us know what you think!

I recently got the chance to have a Skype chat with vocalist Johan Längquist and I have to say, it was an absolute pleasure. Humble, often with a chuckle in his voice and an all-around nice guy!

I sat down, with a cheery bounce and proceeded to call Johan’s Skype ID and await…

“Hi! Johan here!” says a very cheerful voice on the other end. I’m beaming already.

We exchange greetings and introductions and immediately, I sense the smile in his voice.

Sheri: Candlemass are known for being the epitome of the Doom genre – What I find interesting is that there are fewer bands from the 80’s era that explore that genre of metal. What prompted Candlemass to find your technique and essentially be part of creating the way for Doom Metal?

Johan: I think that we were so very influenced by music that was made in the 80’s and as you probably know, Leif is a big fan of Black Sabbath…and I think that is the main reason it all started. Of course, I’m too a great fan of Black Sabbath but I like a lot of other bands from that era too. So, I think that’s the main reason the way how it turned out the way it did, and the way Leif is writing the music because you know, he writes all the songs. And I know he is a BIG fan of Black Sabbath haha.

Sheri: So, they’re kind of an influence for you?

Johan: Yeah, yeah! We haven’t talked that much about it but that must be the reason haha! I think that Black Sabbath were one of the bands that almost sounded like that in the 80’s I think, there were not that many bands, there were a couple of bands, but not that many.

Sheri: Not as few, Black Sabbath kicked off the Doom side so it’s interesting to see how the genre has evolved. Did you have to experiment with your sound technique or – as you just said, you were influenced, did you have a particular vibe that you wanted to go with or did you need to experiment with technique?

Johan: When I got into the band and we did the album in 1986, I had a tape a couple of weeks before we went into the studio. So, you know, I did vocals and I just had to find my way into that music haha! Yeah, it’s pretty much as simple as that. Sometimes, you know, when you’re about to do a song and do the vocals, you can’t find your way in, but I guess that’s the job that all the singers have to do, find their way into the music to give the music the right vocals, the right spirit, to suit the music, I think. That’s what I did. And I remember in my opinion at that time, I had my own band at that time and I thought it was a bit how you say monotone… the same chord, a very long tune, so I remember that I was thinking about doing the vocals as melodic as possible. You know?

Sheri: Sure. So, it’s a change for that sort of era.

Johan: Absolutely yes.

Sheri: How do you feel being a great influencing Artist for other bands within Doom? As we discussed, Doom has been expanded on within the last sort of 20 to 30 years with different sub genres.

Johan: There’s so many genre’s around right now, I don’t know them all haha! To me, it’s Heavy Metal. Slow Heavy Metal or not. Dark Heavy Metal haha.

Sheri: Haha! It does change quite a bit.

Johan: You know, when we are out playing and sometimes people are coming into where we playing and tell us “The reason we started was because of you guys” Then of course you feel honoured that you’ve been a big inspiration for many musicians in that genre, so yeah, what can you say? It’s an honour. It’s humbling.

Sheri: I’ve asked a couple of our readers if they have any questions for you…

Johan: Great! Haha.

Sheri: One of the questions raised by Jimmy, is that A lot of younger bands cite you as a massive influence upon them, as we just discussed, is that a help or sometimes a comfort for you to know that after all this time, Candlemass has stayed relevant without losing focus of what essentially makes Candlemass what it is?

Johan: Yes of course, something tells you that you’ve done the right thing in life. At least some good things in life if your music lives on and other people get the inspiration listening to the older album – it’s fantastic. Life is a tough one and that’s for sure a good thing to do haha. I’m not that kind of guy. But you know, it takes work and sometimes you succeed and sometimes you don’t and it’s a lot of work going on all the time.

Sheri: Happiness does take work sometimes! Casting back to when you were working on “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus”, did you face any surprises or challenges? As it was different from anything made before.

Johan: When I got the tape from the guys, I had actually never heard anything like that before. I thought “wow, how can I find my way into this?” That was the feeling I had when I started listening to the songs and trying to learn them. But it was a lot of fun doing them because there were no limits when we went to the studio and uh… well… we had a lot of fun I can tell you! Haha.

Sheri: Haha! Tell no secrets! That leads me onto the next question… what were the best memories of creating that album and then going forward after you re-joined Candlemass?

Johan: Haha! What I remember is a guy that came to the studio and he was asking “Where is the singer?” And then he saw me and said “Oh…it’s you?” He was expecting a big guy, very tall and big, because he thought… my sound was like… he was looking around, walking by me going “Where is he? Where is he? The new singer!” Hahaha. And I was “It’s me” and he was “Oh!” I don’t know if he was disappointed or just surprised, I don’t know hahaha!

Sheri: Let’s hope it’s the latter! Hahaha! And what about after you re-joined?

Johan: When we went into the studio for “Door to Doom”, Marcus Jidell was producing the album and it was the first time I heard the songs. I was pretty amazed, and you know, we had a discussion before I listened to the songs and they asked if I would be interested in joining the band again. I said of course… but I need to listen to the songs and see if they thrill me haha. And they did! It was a good experience for me because you know, I had to sing so very hard and high, I’m not what you would call a high pitch singer so I had to push myself a lot to sing the songs on the album, not every single one as you can hear, I’m pretty distorted… haha… when I’m crying out loud to do the songs… But it was a lot of fun you know. When you’re into the music in the 80’s, I really do like Rob Halford and Dio and all the great singers at that time, you know to push yourself and do the maximum you know. I like that.

Sheri: I think that’s how a lot of successful people have carved their way. By pushing boundaries and adjusting, as you have done. You do have an incredibly big voice, so it works.

Johan: Yeah and I think I have found some parts in my vocals that I haven’t found before at that point actually, because of all the pushing haha. It was a great experience as a singer, now I know pretty much that there are no limits, you just do your very best. Of course, there are limits but maybe you can do it better than you believe yourself, just give it a really good shot.

Sheri: And that’s how people learn isn’t it! It’s good to have your vocals back with Candlemass as shown in your latest full-length album, “Door to Doom” This is your first album back with Candlemass after a long time. What did it mean to you as a musician to get behind the wheel of Candlemass? It was very positive, but did you have any visions of the future when you joined? Have you got plans?

Johan: Thank you! Haha. Even though I hadn’t been in Candlemass for those years, I have always been involved in music in one way or another all my life. So, it felt pretty natural for me to do all this. But of course, you never know what happens you know, if people are going to like the album or not? But fortunately, it all turned out very well and I’m so happy for that haha. I was very nervous the very first gig we did back together you know, because I hadn’t been on stage at that time for a very long time but it all turned out very well, I felt that, yeah, it works!

Sheri: I did see some footage of that first gig and it was absolutely rammed! I think you had no worries there haha.

Johan: Haha thank you!

Sheri: Another of our readers, Sam, has asked… The Door to Doom is very much old school Doom. In the vein of the first or early Candlemass records, how do you feel they hold in comparison to the more recent or modern bands and other albums of this generation, for example when playing a festival bill full of newer bands, to a new generation of fans who might not have been around in the Epicus Doomicus Metallicus days or hadn’t heard of Candlemass?

Johan: Ah what can I say? To me, it’s just like, you know it’s the same with Leif and the other guys, I’m so stuck in the 80’s and all the great songs that were done at that time and I listen to a lot of new musicians too and they’re so fantastic – but I think you need to have a relationship with the 80’s to find the 80’s spirit. I’d been playing for a couple of years with a young man, only 30 years old haha, before Candlemass happened, he was very interested in learning the spirit of the 80’s and was a very good guitar player – but it’s the way you play guitar and the way you do the songs. I can’t exactly say what it is, but I think there is something with the 80’s that one should learn from I think haha.

Sheri: I think so too. I think the 70’s and 80’s, I mean all decades have had their good run of music… it’s different.

Johan: Of course we have a special relationship with the 80’s because we were young at that time but even these days when you listen to the songs… yeah… My heart feels good when I hear good music hahaha!

And of course, there are so many brilliant bands out there right now too. But the problem is that there are so many bands, you can’t find them all. I’m an old fashioned guy, I don’t hardly use my computer – of course I do, but sometimes I used to sit watching YouTube looking for new bands but there are so many and I don’t’ know exactly how to steer into the very best bands.

Sheri: It’s very social media based at the moment isn’t it?

Johan: Yeah and I know that you can always listen – but the problem is they never play the good bands on radio, of course a couple do but they never play their best songs in my opinion haha.

Sheri: I agree with you. I think it tends to be what’s in the NOW you know…

Johan: Yeah, a good example is ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’ with KISS and that’s pretty much the only song that they play with KISS and they did great songs before that haha.

It’s the same with Van Halen – what’s do you hear from Van Halen for example?

Both: ‘Jump’!

Johan: Hahaha, exactly! In my opinion, that’s not the best song they did haha. Of course, it’s good but I don’t know if they’re giving Van Halen the right… how do you say?

Sheri: Like a light shone on them really for people of the younger generation. I understand.

Johan: (Chuckles) Exactly!

Sheri: Candlemass have just released an EP in March of this year, “The Pendulum”. Which, in the middle of a Pandemic, is greatly welcomed!

For Artists to keep doing what they’re doing and making and releasing music if they can, is needed. There are a lot of Artists at the moment that probably, like yourself, that have to be on pause to an extent and its quite frustrating… but we have to keep rolling with the punches!

Some of the songs on the EP are noted as Unreleased Demos. Can you take us through the history of some of the demos? Are some of them quite new?

Johan: Hahaha! Ah when I did the Door to Doom, I didn’t know about these songs!

Sheri: Ah!

Johan: No! Hahaha. I had no idea that there were more songs. They told me a couple of weeks after we released The Door To Doom – they thought that they were not done in the right way and wanted to make a few changes and do another lot vocals on it… and I was surprised when I heard the songs and I said, “Wow, why?” They were great songs! And we re-recorded them again, I don’t know exactly what they changed about them, but I know some guitars and the vocals… that was for sure a tough one for me to do too. But a lot of fun doing those songs I can tell you haha.

Sheri: How do you think Candlemass has evolved after around 35 years of music? As I say, you are still quite true to your sound, during those almost 36 years, how do you think you have made evolutionary changes within the band?

Johan: I think that the only things you can do is… if you have the chance, if you’re allowed to do the songs and write songs the way you want to, that’s the main reason that you can develop in different directions. But we love the music in that time and that’s what gives us the most if you compare us to other kinds of music. I think that’s the main reason and we don’t have a record company telling us what to do and things like that. We are the only ones responsible for what’s coming out to the audience.

Sheri: So, it’s quite raw and all your own with no restrictions?

Johan: It suits us that way haha. It’s good to have tips of course but…

Sheri: I think if you’re changing so much over time it becomes something you don’t want it to be…

Johan: Exactly. I think that’s the main reason why they called me up again because they said they lost the spirit of what was there and they wanna try and give it another chance by pretty much create the old band again and yeah… that was one of the main reasons, they wanted to the old Candlemass sound to have another chance. Get back to the roots!

Sheri: If Candlemass were a drink – what would you be? Haha.

Johan: Hahaha! What would I be… hmmm…? I don’t drink that many drinks but a drink that I like is actually the old Gin and Tonic, that’s fine with me… it’s not that dark haha. But I’ll say Gin and Tonic just because I like that haha. It works through old times.

Sheri: There’s different flavours and everything at the moment!

Johan: Yeah but you know, I’m old and I don’t like it too sweet and there are so many out there hahaha!

Sheri: Interesting choice haha! Have you got a song that is your favourite to perform?

Johan: The old Epicus songs, I really do like to do all those songs from that album still. And I really do like doing the Nightfall songs too. And in the future, there will be more songs because there is a big library to pick great songs from. We were talking and they want me to feel comfortable doing the songs too. So of course, we will do the new songs. I really do like all the songs that we’re doing, so I can’t say I’m not doing any songs I don’t like. All the songs I do really like, they’re great songs.

Sheri: You just get out there and love it haha.

Johan: Yeah hahaha! And that’s pretty important when you’re the singer too… if you’re trying to keep your smile up and you hate the songs, that shouldn’t be good hahaha! I really enjoy the moments on the stage, playing around, just having a good time, so it’s brilliant right now.

Sheri: Very humbling! Another of our readers, Jack, has asked how you decided on the name of Candlemass?

Johan: Oooooh, actually I don’t know the history behind the name! That’s a question better to ask Leif hahaha. I can’t tell you, I’m sorry hahaha. It’s a long time ago and we don’t talk about that… sorry Jack! Hahaha.

Sheri: We will let him know! Hahaha. Finally, What advice can you offer to other Artists, new or experienced?

Johan: Never give up. If you believe in what you’re doing, continue. Don’t give up. Never give up. Even though there will be hard times and you know, if you have your goal, in time you will be there. I’ve been there myself; I’ve been working a lot with music and writing; you learn from that hard work. If someone tells you that this is shit and you shouldn’t bother, just continue with what you’re doing if you believe in it.

Sheri: Absolutely. If you are committed to something and you believe in it then carry on.

Johan: Yeah, you do it for yourself too and if you’re fortunate that other people like the songs you do too, so that’s very important, don’t give up. I’m pretty much, what you say, being a “rock star” now and I’m close to 60 haha so… you never give up hahaha.

Sheri: I think you learn a lot through that. Through mistakes, positivity, hitting rock bottom or anything in life, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel as long as you stick true to who you are.

Johan: Oh yeah of course, I can be all on my own just playing guitar at night on my own and having a great time… if no one wants to listen… Then I can have a great time myself hahaha. Keep on playing.

Sheri: Keep on keeping. Hahaha. Well thank you for your insight and I hope other viewers might find this useful.

Johan: Thank you very much for calling me up.

Sheri: Much appreciated. Take care, be safe, be happy Johan!

Johan: Thank you very much and have a really nice day!

Rick Here; I would like to take this opportunity to thank both Johan and Sheri for the great interview. To keep up to date with everything Candlemass related then click on the following links!

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.

Deified – Anthrobscene (Mini-Album)

Deified – Anthrobscene (Mini-Album)
Release Date: 29/05/2020
Running Time: 27:31
Review by Sheri Bicheno

Hailing from Merseyside, Deified formed in 2013 and are an utter treasure, you don’t expect them to hit you the way they do when you first listen to their music. The raw sound that is apparent from the first moment is clear cut with elements of thrash and prog metal joining forces to create a rampant beast!

Looking into their background, Deified have made an impressionable footprint. Supporting acts such as Exodus, Lost Society and Cattle Decapitation, gaining the M2TM crowns for Merseyside in 2015 and therefore, playing the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock 2015. They released their first album “Ascension”, in 2015 and then EP “Inhuman Manifesto” in 2018.

I’m looking forward to what’s in store with “Anthrobscene”!

Thumping straight in, I detect a serious amount of vibe that reminds me of a Lamb of God crossover style, whilst still retaining their own sound.

We start with a ‘Prelude’ to the album. This is a taster of Jordan’s drumming that introduces a fast, but not too aggressive, pace to the album. Just edging us a bit along with the guitars. A slow and prog type riff that rolls with the exposed pounding drums.

First track proper ‘Dark Desires’ starts this journey with winding strings. Jamie’s vocals then kick in and they really do give a range on this track that remind me a lot of Randy Blythe’s technique – gravelling screeches, growling, and also softly spoken in places. I adore this track actually. The lyrics address the problem in the world of social media and privacy; identity problems surrounding this and the effects it has on someone with a fragile or darkening mind set. Like a creeping illness.

The strings and bass melt together and bring a heavy, progressive and chaotic sound…and in places, an almost doomy element to proceedings.

Next, ‘Broken Matrix’, is absolutely chaotic! I feel the sharp and tight guitars from Matt and Alistair really stand out here. The thumping and riffing on this track and the backbone of the strings from Tom present us with something you can get submerged in and take HUGE ENERGY from. When we come to 3:40 (the beginning of the end of the track), it still leaves you wanting more. I’m also picking up some Thrash and Groove vibes entwined throughout this track. It works so well and keeps the album momentum going.

Power. Greed and Corruption. Control….

“Because in a world so volatile, it only takes once more.”

‘Enemies Within’ smashes us right in the face with the global issues of these times – where is humanity going to end up?

Strings and drums are hammering and powerful with the apt message that Deified are telling us to sit the hell up and take notice. We are taken through a hellish picture and the pure energetic force and powerful tone tell us that this isn’t just sound and music – this is fast, ripping, spreading, wild and presently without order. I really feel that the aggressive, hard and slamming foundation of this track, should be highlighted and put out there to draw even more attention to Deified. This is the sort of track many people need to hear and feel so that the same level of passion and power can be created within themselves to understand. Not just lyrically, but with the style of tone.

This a top track and definitely my favourite on “Anthrobscene”.

A short, apocalyptic and industrial feeling drum piece, ‘Intermission’, appears next. This is a preparation for ‘Apotheosis – Rebirth’ which starts off with Thrashy guitars, winding bass and, once again, Jordan’s outstanding superspeed beats which are pounding and take us on a journey to some deep places; all welded with Jamie’s vocals, which are rough, fast and dark. The melodic breakdowns in this track are beautifully placed after such a rapid wander through the track, which are still heavy but touch on Deified’s progressive side. Then a fast and rough pace picks up again along with Jamie’s raging vocals and it all sweeps into a fadeout.

‘Blood Under The Bridge’ is a battering ram of Death Metal, Thrash and Groove that’s come to break anything in its path. I love a track that can keep you on your toes and this one captures that so well. The droning guitars, harsh vocals, rapid ever-changing beats and wailing bass that later melt into a moment of dirty breakdowns. Both guitars are skilled here with the riffs keeping us edged and the bass gluing everything in place.

Airing a beautiful wandering through the beginning of ‘An Ode To Armageddon’ with gentle strings and softer beats conclude “Anthrobscene”. The pace does pick up with some harsher tones but still stays true to the gentler and synth side of Deified. Although non vocal, this is another favourite of mine. In my journey through this album, this track feels like a time of reflection during post destruction!

What would you feel after such an ordeal?

“Anthrobscene” has nothing on it that I can negatively critique. Deified have created an album that is sharp, tight and takes us through the issues we, as humanity, face and have long taken advantage of. Their sound is a blend of tones that I enjoy most during live and studio versions of music and they bring it to us without compromise and with power. I’ll be more than happy to recommend “Anthrobscene” and Deified to friends and to colleagues in the industry from now.

Killer album!

01. Prelude
02. Dark Desires
03. Broken Matrix
04. Enemies Within
05. Intermission
06. Apotheosis – Rebirth
07. Blood Under The Bridge
08. An Ode To Armageddon

Jamie Hughes – Vocals
Matt Pike – Guitar
Alistair Blackhall – Guitar
Tom Simm – Bass
Jordan Stanley-Jones – Drums


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Sheri Bicheno 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.