December 21, 2011

Band Horn: Dawn Of Valor (Minnesota)


I am going to end the year 2011 with the old and not the new, very apt for Air Guitar’s featured band, Dawn of Valor!

Hailing from Minnesota, Dawn of Valor, throw out a thrashing number of tracks all with the NWOBHM element present as well as a great whiplash of pure 80’s Heavy Metal.
The vocals are deep, powerful, crisp and melodic as such are shredding of instruments.

The new line-up of Dawn of Valor, spent much of the 2011 summer recording their second EP entitled Immortal Flame which has led to better reviews and much more attention, the band now prepares for the 2012 full length debut album followed by touring.
Dawn of Valor shall also be releasing the Immortal Flame EP on 7" vinyl via Iron Shield Records out of Germany in the following months. Iron Shield Records will also be the band’s distribution label in Europe and Japan for their upcoming full length CD due out in 2012. On their continuing metal crusade these men have shared the stage with such metal allies as Primordial, Primal Fear and Korpiklaani to name a few.
I am highly impressed with the band as they are indeed quite refreshing amongst the growls and screams of Metal. Perfect for when you want to just ease into the traditional side of pure Heavy Metal!  
Visit the Dawn of Valor for more information at their official website or Myspace or Reverbnation or Facebook!

An awesome thank-you to Jaden Adair for making me aware of the band – cheers for the information and all the best for Dawn of Valor in 2012!





December 13, 2011

Exclusive Band Horn: Illnath (Denmark)


The Maddening of Awesome


Danish symphonic black metal band, Illnath, is no stranger to the music scene. Their riveting line-up has changed over the years with only one original remaining member yet their sound remains as impeccable as ever!
Recently, Illnath have signed to Pitch Black Records which has allowed the band to bite back into the Metal scene with their latest offering Third Act in the Theatre of Madness. With the addition of a female lead vocalist, Illnath have become a sensuously powerful band as well as a band exuding great potential.

Air Guitar has been fortunate to converse with Illnath as the band tells us about their evolution, Angela Gossow and the Danish Metal scene.

Illnath has been a very busy and progressive band since the humble beginnings in 1999. Several Band members have changed with only Pete being the original remaining member – this question is for Pete: How have you evolved since then in terms of character and musician?

Pete: Well, It has been a long time finding the right members. As a person you will evolve all the time during your life. I think I have become more calm and realistic. It’s easier for me to accept small issues and I see possibilities instead of troubles in almost every decision I take.  Back in 1999 I was young and a very busy/fighting musician. I would not let anybody stand in the way and my word was law.
Today I concentrate more about enjoying being in a band and more about the music.
During all the years I have been inspired of many different styles of metal. Sometimes I write a power-metal song, sometimes a black-metal riff, and sometimes some completely different stuff. For me the style of Illnath evolves as who is playing in the band. I always try to give the other members room and space to add their own personality in the music, and the most inspiring for me is the other members. The line-up we have now is for me the most harmonic ever.         

Congratulations to Illnath for signing with Pitch Black Records. How did the band get signed to Pitch Black records and how has it been working with them?

Thank you very much. We sent them some tracks from the new album, and they replied quite fast. The terms of the contract was the best one we were offered and we haven’t regretted it once since we signed. It has been fantastic to work with Pitch Black Records, they are very professional and we are very happy with our cooperation.

The addition of Mona as the vocalist has been quite extra-ordinaire. How does Mona feel about being placed in the same league as the likes of Angela Gossow?

Mona: I am very fond of Arch Enemy and I think Angela Gossow does a very good job; I have listened to them for years and seen them live a couple times. To be compared to someone with that kind of format feels amazing. I am honoured to be placed in that league, truly.

The line-up for Illnath seems to be stable at the moment; are all the band members happy to be in this position?

Kenneth: Yes. The chemistry in the band is amazing right now. We are working on new songs at the moment and we are all on the same creative wavelength which makes this the most powerful constellation of Illnath.

Let’s talk about the release of Third Act in the Theatre of Madness, is the band satisfied with the album? How did the concept come about?

Mona: I am very happy with it considering how limited my timeframe was. From the day they told me I was in the band until I started recording I think I had like 10-14 days to write the entire album. I have always admired lyrics that tell a story or have a message in it, so that comes natural to me and that’s what happened. I found the cover art through a friend and soon everything fell into place. I sort of had the concept before the cover art was found but that picture is just perfect… very few changes were made in order to match the album. The title reflects some of the turbulence involved in the whole process regarding earlier recordings, line-up changes and so on.  

How would the band describe Illnath’s latest album to an audience that might have never heard Illnath before?

Kenneth: Melodic, atmospheric and very thorough… everyone plays well on the album. It’s an album you can listen to many times…
Mona: I listened to it so incredibly much during writing, recording and afterwards that I totally lost my view on it. It’s melodic, a bit symphonic, very varied… I scream a lot…

How important are the lyrics for Illnath? Who writes them and what kind of themes inspire the lyrics?

Mona: I write them. To me they are very important. For some of the other guys they are less important. I know that the lyrics to Third Act means a lot to Pete, I wrote it for him. When I write it is always personal, there is always an emotion behind it. So there is a theme in every song that reflects something I have gone through, something I admire, hate or feel.
Kenneth: I always enjoy reading the lyrics for a song, especially if there is a meaning in it. Normally I just read them but with Mona’s lyrics we spent a lot of time talking about them, so they have also become quite personal to me since I know what she thought while writing them. They didn’t mean so much earlier.

What does Illnath think of the Danish Metal scene and how does this affect the band?

There are some very talented bands on the scene here, but mostly we get our inspiration from bands outside of Denmark.

Will there be any tours/shows/gigs planned for Third Act in the Theatre of Madness?

We can’t reveal too much since we haven’t announced any future plans yet, but we are working on some different possibilities, so stay tuned on our Facebook page for news!

Any last words from Illnath?

We would like to thank all our fans out there. Thank you for listening to our new album and showing your support, we really appreciate it very much! We also want to thank everyone that took their time to write a review on the album. Last but not least we also want to thank Pitch Black Records for doing an amazing job!
Illnath can be found at Myspace or Facebook or the Official Website or at Pitch Black Records

Awesome thank you to Pete Falk, Mona Beck, Kenneth Frandesen and Pitch Black Records for organizing and contributing to the interview!

December 10, 2011

Band Horn: Seventh (Norway)

Northern Diamond In The Rough

The Norwegian Metal scene is thriving; there is no doubt about that, great potential and swell artistry but none as close as the latest diamond in the rough. Seventh!

Seventh are blistering!

We're still getting used to people giving us compliments for our music! It's a fantastic feeling when people tell you how much they love what it is you do! We really haven't gotten all that much press yet, but the ones that have written about us have all been supportive and positive. And people keep turning up to our shows, so that's gotta mean something good, right?” questions Bass player, Thomas Sivertsen.

Rightly so! The five band members have been actively shredding their instruments and stirring crowds at JuRoTo Open Air Festival in Germany and HOVE Festival in Norway. The latter festival saw Seventh grinding their licks of creativity alongside bands like Architects and Soilwork.   

As Sivertsen states, “We are quite familiar with HOVE festival, seeing as it's located right in our own home town. It was absolutely awesome! Even though the weather was awful (it was raining like hell!) we enjoyed ourselves very much! And it seemed like the fans that showed up had a great time too! It's a very unique experience, playing a stage that size for the first time!”

In addition to playing a bigger stage, the members of Seventh are currently putting the ‘metal to the recording room’ as Sivertsen explains; “We earlier had the general idea that our songs should relate to the end of the world in different ways, and Goddess of the Sun is actually a reference to the nuclear bomb! Our fans can expect a release date as soon as we find a music company willing to work with us! Until then you can enjoy 2 songs from the upcoming release on our [official] web-page, Facebook page or MySpace page, produced by our dear friend Baard Thorstensen, the guitarist from Clawfinger, whom did a great job with our songs!”

Seventh’s released songs, "Usurper" and "Metamorphosis", which are available for streaming on their official pages is deliciously contorted and brutally unforgiving. From the above video, one can hear, the the thunderous drums, infusion of crusting vocals, ravishing guitars and a neat bass. In fact, it shocks me that the band has not been plucked by a recording company as yet. However, the same cannot be said for their fans that seem to be spluttering with euphoria from various corners of the earth as Sivertsen adds, “We have had some interest from other countries, like right now! [of course!] And just a while ago, we found out that we have fans in Iran! That was pretty incredible! Norwegian metal fans are pretty awesome! They usually always support their "local heroes", and as soon as something big happens, they're there to help you along. We wouldn’t be anywhere if not for our friends and early fans!”

However, Seventh won’t stand to be repressed musicians; they embody focus and gusto. “We try to set ourselves bigger and bigger goals for the future, and divide into smaller ones, so it seems easier getting ahead. Though there's no denying its hard work. Bands don't just play music anymore. We do economics, business planning, marketing and product development, while still having tons of fun on stage! But of course, we still have our “childish” dreams and hopes for the future. I think the ultimate goal for all of us is being able to make a living playing our music live and selling records,” clarifies Sivertsen.  

Hardly “childish” and far from having pipe-dreams, Air Guitar wants to be the first to say, Seventh marvels on paper and stereo!

To find out more information about Seventh and the corresponding band members, Dag Haugland – Vocals, Thomas Sivertsen – Bass, Magnus Duedahl Pedersen – Guitar, Andreas Valenzuela – Guitar, Joachim Walle Michalsen – Drums, visit the Official web-page or Facebook or Myspace or Twitter.

Takk to Thomas Sivertsen for agreeing to do this interview! 

December 08, 2011

Music management: The Metallica Way!


How fitting; Metallica celebrates their 30th Anniversary in 2011! With that mentioned, 4 Days of pure epic history takes place at the Fillmore as I type! Metallica reaps the souls of their fans, again, as they play at a special Anniversary gig in San Francisco, CA.

Enter Night, Metallica’s biography has to be one of my top shelf reads; not only because it’s about one of the most loved [or reviled after the release of Lulu] metal bands around the Globe but because it’s exceptionally written by renowned writer Mick Wall.

After having read the book thrice, I noticed some great music management tips streaming out of the dialogues between Mick Wall and the members of Metallica; namely Lars Ulrich. Here are my top 7 music management tips extracted from Enter Night:
  • ª       “Lars immediately struck me as being completely different. Unlike most drummers he was articulate and it was clear he and James had a long-term vision for the band. They were not going to be here today then serving pizza tomorrow. Lars had a vision of the band being big.” – Malcolm Dome

Management Lesson: Having short-term and long-term goals are a MUST for any band. As Paul Allen mentions in his book Artist Manager, “Generating specific goals takes out the ‘pipe dream’ aspect of goal setting and creates accountability for both artist and manager.” Lars had a vision and a strategy which was strong and clear.
  • ª       “For Lars Ulrich, though, it wasn’t about ditching Jonny and Marsha [Zazula]. They had ‘always been good people’. But ‘if we were to go next-level’ they would have to take drastic steps, as they had previously with Ron [McGovney] and with Dave [Mustaine], and as they would again in the future when it came to others in their rapidly expanding organisation.” – Mick Wall [narrative]

Management Lesson: Artists need to mature and expand continuously. Unfortunately, that means having to leave people behind, sometimes. In order to avoid a nasty split between manager and artist; ALWAYS draft a contract, furthermore plan an exit strategy which will remove personal matters from professional concerns. This was definitely not practiced by Metallica’s former manager or members – evident with Mustaine. 
  • ª      “It’s always helpful if you’ve got one guy in the band who has his business head screwed on. So many bands haven’t a clue. Metallica always kind of knew where they wanted to go. They had one guy who was great doing the interviews and the business. It left the others time to take care of the music.” – Martine Hooker

Management Lesson: It must be understood that the Artist is the business but to have an understanding of the business is crucial. Lars could not match Cliff Burnstein or Peter Mensch with business savvy but he attained such knowledge of: a) good communication b) brand management c) marketing d) salesmanship e) awareness of music trends
  • ª      “Metallica found their own Derek Riggs in one of James’ skateboard pals: Pushead.  Mainly, Pushead was to concentrate on designs throughout every leg of the tour. So cool was Metallica’s Pushead-designed merchandise considered, that he quickly became designer of choice for other bands; Mötley Crüe and Aerosmith.” – Mick Wall [narrative]

Management Lesson: Merchandise selling is a great potential income bracket for Artists. However, there is a line to draw between meagre merch and classy merch as this makes a crucial statement about the branding an image of the Artist. Learning from Iron Maiden’s imminent use of Eddie, Metallica found a way to brand their merch using quality designs that match with their target audiences’ taste. Furthermore it was easy to spot the person who likes the same ‘type’ of music as you do.
  • ª      “Practising on an average between four and six hours a day, every day, even after joining Metallica, Cliff’s musical philosophy was explained by Jan [Burton] as, “ There’s somebody in their garage that hasn’t been discovered that’s better than you are.” [Mick Wall narrative with Jan Burton]

Management Lesson: Artists need to remember that at the end of the day; their exploiting their talents for money. If they want to make good money – they need to make sure their talents are on par. That cliché: Practice makes perfect worked for Cliff [R.I.P]!
  • ª      “[Dave] Thorne cites this readiness to always meet the media halfway as one of the major contributing factors in Metallica’s later popularity with such temperamentally metal-hostile magazines...up to the present day and their current elevated status among the broadsheet newspapers.” – Mick Wall [narrative with Dave Thorne]

Management Lesson: The media makes-up the largest portion for an Artist’s advertising. The media also has the power to discriminate, excite, destroy and credit! Learning to interact with other people can be of intrinsic value. Lars, the mouth-piece of Metallica, knew how to interact with the media with his good “human relations” character.
  • ª      “I was the one who went out and bought all the tapes. I was the one who sat down and copied them. I was the one who sent them out to people. That’s where it started. Somebody had to do it.” – Lars Ulrich

Management Lesson: Lars boasted the above in a Rolling Stones interview; so maybe he exaggerated as there was indication of help but the essence remains. “Somebody” has to do the grimy work and be ever so resourceful otherwise chances of going anywhere are slimmer than an anorexic on a diet. After all, successful actions will be rewarded.