Epica Live » Ekko - Utrecht - October 23 2003

Source:  Lords Of Metal
Ekko - Utrecht - October 23 2003

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Text by: Evil Dr. Smith

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Lords of Metal review » Tiamat - Prey

Source:  Lords Of Metal

Tiamat - Prey
Century Media

Tiamat - PreyMichiel B.: During a listening session in Amsterdam mid August the European metal press was introduced to the new Tiamat album “Prey”. This was quite remarkable while Tiamat's last album “Judas Christ” originated from only 1 year ago. Personally I wasn't that charmed by “Judas Christ” as well as it's predecendent “Skeleton Skeletron” so I was quite curious what Tiamat had made of it this time.

Singing birds open the album with the band's new single “Cain”. Vocalist Jonah Edlund's singing is once again very introvert. During “Wings Of Heaven” the emotion comes dripping out of my speakers. Great song! The album takes its listener away from the beginning and all songs seems to fit perfectly together. In “Carry Your Cross And I'll Carry Mine” Jonah gets vocal support by a female vocalist which makes this song remind me of Theatre Of Tragedy's Aégis. The title track then reminds me of Anathema. A song which easily could be released as a single is “Clovenhoof” (which is introduced by the similar sounding intro “The Garden Of Heathen”, something which confused many people including me). The album concludes with its longest song "The Pentagram" in which immediately comes clear that no less than Pink Floyd have been responsible for the inspiration of this song (a thing a German colleague – Cheers Gunnar!! - and yours truly made decide to start spontaniously singing "Shine On You Crazy Diamond") and confirmed by the guitar solo which could easily be played by Mr. David Gilmour himself.

The listening session was held at a small coffeeshop (those shops where The Netherlands are famous for). After hearing the album there I wondered why they had picked that specific location because in my opinion “Prey” itself already contains lots of elements to drag its listener to higher grounds. I dare to conclude that “Prey” is Tiamat's best album since the legendary “Wildhoney” already originating from 1994. And this when both albums aren't comparable at all. Tiamat once again show again one of their many faces.

Judge M.'s verdict: 87/100


Lords of Metal review » Dimmu Borgir - Death Cult Amageddon

Source:  Lords Of Metal

Dimmu Borgir - Death Cult Armageddon
Nuclear Blast

Dimmu Borgir - Death Cult ArmageddonPeter B.: What could possibly be a better way to promote your new album than by giving away free candy with little pentacles on it? Yes ladies and gentlemen, Nuclear Blast has started the promotional circus to promote Dimmu Borgir’s upcoming album “Death Cult Armageddon”. Everything is being done to make sure everybody knows that this is the album they have to get hold off, starting on September the 8th. As Dimmu Borgir have placed themselves in the top of black metal world with their brilliant album “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” it’s hard to imagine that they can even go further than that and so the expectations are high. No worries. The line-up has been steady for a few years now and they had all the time to create something special, and so they did. They even used a nearly fifty piece orchestra from Prague for most of the songs.

Basicly, Dimmu Borgir succeeded in doing three things. One: holding on to the course they set with the previous album. Two: they didn’t forget where they come from and used elements from their past. Three: they used new elements like the orchestra to make it all even more real. This, together with the excellent capacities of the musicians in Dimmu Borgir results in Nicholas going berserk in songs like “For The World To Dictate Our Death”, Shagrath going ‘industrial’ again in “Blood Hunger Doctrine”, a doomy slower song. Norwegian lyrics in “Vredesbyrd” and “Allehelgens Dod I Helveds Rike”. Simen singing with his great clean backing vocals again and of course the very tight guitar play of Galder and Silenoz. The orchestra is really impressive, especially in the song “Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse” and you just know that this sounds more authentic then using ‘plain’ synths.

Dimmu Borgir recorded “Death Cult Armageddon” in the Swedish Fredman Studios with Frederik Nordstöm. The album sounds great and the mix between the ‘normal’ Dimmu Borgir instruments and the Philharmonic Orchestra Prague is nearly perfect. It’s never too much and just all makes sense. Really, I can’t find a weak moment on “Death Cult Armageddon” but I’ve got to stick on my 90 out of 100 because maybe their next album will even top this one, who knows?

Rating: 90/100


Lords of Metal review » For My Pain... - Fallen

Source:  Lords Of Metal

For My Pain... - Fallen

For My Pain... - FallenAernout: September 2003. The latest Lords of Metal issue is on line, and you are reading this review. Mummyish metal heads can stop reading. Those who are only interested in thrashing, pounding, battering, bashing, hacking, tearing, moshing, screaming, grunting and the subtle double bass. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but this album is just not your thing. Same goes for people who don’t enjoy easy listening, almost rock-like, very accessible metal (which reminded me of Him from time to time). ‘Fallen’ is not a difficult album, but it is a strong album for those who are into this style of music.

Let’s go back to autumn of 1999. Altti Vetelsäinen and Petri Sankala (both Eternal Tears of Sorrow) start tossing around the idea of puttign together a new gothic oriented project. When the bass player and drummer think of how to complete the band the names of keyboards player Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish) and guitar player Lauri Tuohimaa (Embraze / Maple Cross) soon emerge. Everyone agrees that this is a fine plan, but since they are all very busy with their own bands, they decide to keep the idea in the back of their heads.

2002. Second guitar player Olli-Pekka Törrö (Eternal Tears of Sorrow) and vocalist Juha Kylmänen (RefleXion) are persuaded to join the band, and the all star team can start recording the songs, that were mainly written by Olli-Pekka, Juha en Lauri (the arrangements were taken care of by the entire band). Jarmo Kylmänen (Scyron) is responsible for the three other songs and has taken care of the male backing vocals (together with Lauri). The female vocals are (brilliantly and only in one song unfortunately) done by Miriam Renvåg (Ram-Zet).

July 2003. I receive a package by mail. Four CDs. One of them immediately sticks out. Outstanding art work, professional appearance, and when I leaf through the booklet, it soon becomes clear that we are talking about a collection of the best musicians. For My Pain... is the band’s name. ‘Fallen’ is the title of the CD. And when I hear this album, my smile is ear to ear.

The problem with a first class record such as this one, is that it’s hard to speak of individual songs sticking out. Still I think it wouldn’t do “Dancer in the Dark“ justice not to at least try to. If only because of Miriam Renvåg’s gorgeous voice. In this track she sings a duet with Juha and seems to be the winner. Unfortunately, unfortunately, unfortunately she never again is this prominent on the CD. Of course, For My Pain... doesn’t run the risk of being instantly compared to bands such as Nightwish, Within Temptation and in the Netherlands also After Forever, this way. Still I wouldn’t have minded hearing more of Miriam’s voice. Because Juha uses his voice in an alternating way, the music is very diverse and flirts with heavier metal every now and again, and because For My Pain... isn’t yet another clone of what we already had, this turned out to be a worthwhile record, which will be played frequently. “Dancer in the Dark” will get an extra turn every time I play the album. 

Score 80/100


Interview with Dimmu Borgir 1

Source:  Lords Of Metal
Issue 29 - September 2003


Dimmu Borgir is uitgegroeid tot een van de heersende en meest populaire bands in het Blackmetal genre. Met elk album wat ze uitbrengen lijken ze weer meer populair te worden. Nu "Death Cult Armageddon", hun nieuwe album, op het punt staat om uit te komen (de 8e September) is het tijd om meer te weten te komen over Dimmu Borgir. Wat hebben ze uitgespookt in de afgelopen jaren sinds de release van hun brilliante album "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" en wat ligt er in de toekomst? Ik bel met een zeer vriendelijke en relaxte Shagrath...


Dimmu Borgir has grown to be one of the leading and most popular bands in the Blackmetal scene. With every album they release they seem to gain more and more popularity. Now “Death Cult Armageddon”, their new album, is about to be released (the 8th of September) it’s time to learn more about Dimmu Borgir. What have they been doing in the past years since the release of their brilliant album “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” and what’s in the future. I’m calling with a very friendly and relaxed Shagrath…

Text: Peter B.

How are you guys doing?

We’ve been very busy the last week, we’re on the promotional tour right now, interview sessions and stuff, so you could say it’s very hectic on the moment. But we’re doing ok actually, yeah!

Your new album hasn’t been released yet isn’t it?

That’s right, it’s going to be released the 8th of September in Europe

Are there any reactions already on the new stuff? Maybe on the internet?

Well, basicly it’s not out yet, so not so many people have heard it yet actually. But our close friends and fans are all very positive about the album. Also all the people that interviewed us are very enthousiastic, so that’s all going very well actually. It’s going to be very cool to see what the crowd’s reaction is going to be, but sofar it’s been very, very good.

The new album sounds very ‘Dimmu Borgir’ to me. Did the new line-up have any influence on the material?

Well, we basicly have the same line-up for a while now, like we had on the first two albums and of course it’s a good thing to have a steady line-up because you all know eachother much better. It just works a lot better. It’s a good thing.

But did it affect the music?

Of course it does. It’s always like that with new people. We’re actually writing the music with four people and everybody has a different style of writing music. It’s nice to combine those things in the music.

I think it’s nice that there are two songs on the new album with Norwegian lyrics again. Is there a special reason for doing that?

Basicly we want to keep the old tradition alive, like we did before. We used Norwegian lyrics on the first two albums and we want to keep the old-school feeling alive. It’s a bit of going back to the roots, also with some of the music. Some songs have that ‘old’ Dimmu Borgir feel to it. Some people like it and some don’t. I think it’s good to vary with these things.

But what do you prefer? I guess you’re writing all the lyrics. Do you personally like English or Norwegian lyrices better?

Actually it’s Silenoz who writes most of the lyrics these days. I concentrate more on the music myself... so ehm.. what did you say? Hahahah!

Ehm well.. hehehe! I’m just wondering what you guys prefer. Do you prefer the English lyrics more or the Norwegian, because I can imagine that it’s easyer for you to express yourself in your mothertongue.

Ah, ok. Ehm... well, for us it’s a good thing to sing in the Norwegian language, because it’s more ‘harsh’ and straight to the point. Singing in Norwegian makes it more real I guess. But actually it’s more normal to sing in Norwegian but better to have English lyrics also. The best thing is to combine them. The old school fans like it very much that we do this.

Yeah, it’s almost like the original black metal needs the Norwegian lyrics to make it sound authentic.

Yeah, it seems like although they originally don’t understand the lyrics, it seems that a lot of people are getting into them.

Maybe it’s a challenge for a lot of people?

Maybe, but it’s also that some of the lyrics are very hard to translate to English because it’s rather strange Norwegian. If people translate them it could come out the wrong way. It could be the wrong statement.

Something completely different. Your recordcompany sent us the promo of your new album on traditional audio-cassette. Is there a special reason for that and did Dimmu Borgir have anything to do with this dicision?

Well, the reason must be because a lot of releases that are sent to journalist are put on the internet right away. That’s not supposed to happen. There’s a reason why there are release dates but sometimes albums can be found on the i-net months before they’re officially released. Basicly, it’s more difficult to put it on the internet when one receives the promo on cassette so... ok, it might not be the same sound-quality but a professional journalist will have a tape-deck too, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

Hey, I’ve got one!

Yep, so you are a professional hahahah! But anyway, the cassette wasn’t our idea. It’s the recordcompany that decides how to spread the promo-packages. They tried it with cd-copy-protection stuff earlyer, but then people start to complaint about not being able to play the cd on their car-stereo and stuff so I guess they just found a different way to do it.

So, the new album is set to be released soon, yet you don’t play any summerfestivals this year. Why is that?

Basicly because we’ve been working for an entire year on this album, and an additional three months in the studio recording it. I mean, that’s really hard work you know and we can’t be in different places at the same time so we basicly have to concentrate on one thing at a time and do things as good as possible. Furthermore it’s better to wait until you release an album and then go on the road again. It’s going to be a very big world tour from September on untill the summer festivals of next year.

Ok, I see. Something completely different now: You worked with an orchestra from Prague on the new album. How was it working with them?

Hahaha I don’t know. I wasn’t there hahhaha! Everything was arranged and prepared before by the producers and the conductor went to Prague to record it, so I wasn’t a part of the actual recording. However, I was working with the recordings after they returned from Prague because it was a lot of hard work to add it to the mix. It took us two weeks.

So the Orchestra got all the music on sheets then?

We wrote all the melodies that the orchestra had to play and the conductor recreated it into a structure so that the orchestra can play it. That’s basicly how it works.

Is there a special reason why you choose for the orchestra in Prague?

Well, it was the conductor who chose the orchestra because it’s all about the prizes. It’s a very expensive thing to work with an orchestra consisting of 50 people. We had to choose the cheapest place with a good sound. So it was the conductor’s choice.

Your last album was recorded somewhere in the end of the year 2000. Why did it take you guys so long to write a new album?

Because every time we release an album we go on tour right away. This lasts for almost a year. We’re not a band that writes new stuff on the tourbus. We prefer a relaxted and quiet enviroment to write music so we only can start writing new stuff when we return from a tour.Also, the more time you have the better quality the songs will be in the end.

But don’t you get some small ideas on tour yet?

Actually no... we can’t do that.We really need the quiet and relaxted enviroments. It works better for us.

You’re considered being one of the biggest Blackmetalbands on this moment. What do you think of new, young bands in this genre. Can you name a few bands you like?

It’s kind of hard for me to tell, because there are so many bands out there. I’m sure there will be lots of promising bands out there but I haven’t heard that much of them, because personally I’m only listening to old school Blackmetal.

So what is the rest of the band listening to at the moment. Do you have any idea?

Old school heavymetal, blackmetal and deathmetal. But also non-metal stuff. We’re quiet openminded actually so we listen to different stuff.

Can you give me an example of non-metal bands that you’re listening to?

Tanging Green, Devilgold (? Not sure if I got this right – PB) hmm... yeah, lots of different stuff.

If there’s anything you could change regarding to Dimmu Borgir, what would that be?

I wouldn’t change anything. We’re perfectly happy with the way things are going.

So Dimmu Borgir is your dream come true?

It’s not like a dream... it’s very hard work and it’s tough sometimes, but we’re very pleased with the position we’re in.

When I was looking at your homepage earlyer this week I saw a poll on there. The question was “Do you consider yourself being a goth?”. Is this something you wanted to know or a joke from the webmaster?

Well, we don’t have anything to do with gothic, so maybe it’s a joke? I don’t know.

So you’re not into gothic, but on your last tour you were wearing this long black skirt on stage. What does that mean to you?

Basicly I want to recreate some of the old Hellraiser feeling. You know Pinhead used to wear a black skirt. It’s not meant to look gothic. I fucking hate gothic music so...

But maybe the audience don’t get that and consider it as a sort of flirting with the gothic scene? For instance, it’s clear that some of your audience are wearing gothic clothing and stuff.

I don’t have a problem with that. People can do and wear whatever they want. It’s just that I have absolutely nothing incommon with the gothic scene or it’s clothing or music. For us it’s about pure blackmetal. If the fans want to dress as goths, so be it.

The reason i’m asking this is, is because I think that a lot of metalfans are very narrowminded when it comes to how one is dressed. If a band is dressed somehow different then the traditional heavymetal outfit, they often start to say things like “this is gay, they must be gay” and stuff.

Hahaha! I dress exactly how I want. I don’t listen to people when it comes to things like this. They can say whatever they want. If they want to call me gay, fine. I don’t care what they say. I’m perfectly satisfied with who I am, and i’m defenately not gay hahah! It’s hard for some people to accept new things sometimes and they can talk a lot of bullshit about things they don’t know anything about so...

So your going on tour in September. That’s going to be the start of the worldtour. What’s going to happen?

Yeah, we starting out with 8 to 10 Norwegian shows, after that it’s Europe for one month. Then it’s going to be America in November and South-America, Japan, Australia in the next year. And of course the summerfestivals next year. It’s going to be busy!

With what bands are you going to tour Europe?

Ehm, it’s going to be with Hypocrisy in Europe. In the USA it’s going to be with Nevermore and Children Of Bodom.

Ok, I seems like i’m through with all my questions. Thanks a lot for your time!

Hey no problem. Take care, bye-bye!


Lords of Metal review » Nightwish - From Wishes to Eternity (DVD)

Source:  Lords Of Metal

Nightwish - From Wishes to Eternity (DVD)

: Nightwish may not be Finland’s biggest export product when it comes to the music industry (Apocalyptica are), they are nonetheless one of the big names in the world of metal today, which saves me an introduction. I have been impatiently anticipating their sixth album for some time now. However, before it will be released, the second DVD (‘End of Innocence’, July 7th in Finland) will hit the stores. Until then, or before then, rather, a review of their first DVD, ‘From Wishes to Eternity’ might be worthwhile.

This DVD has music videos (two of them are live), a complete concert, interviews (a short one with Tarja and one with Tuomas), the discography, a photo gallery and last but not least: off-stage footage. Great off-stage footage, mind you. When we were watching these so-called “Deleted Scenes” we had the time of our lives. Things to remember: “Pipari!” and the sequence in which the Children of Bodom colleagues drop by and together they discover that having 6 penises and 3 arms might mean you are a mutant. Sinergy, too show they can be very funny. I think one of the best aspects of these deleted scenes is that they have this home-made quality about them, which makes them so much more intimate and spontaneous.

The show itself: No complaints at all. The sound is excellent, and the images are sharp and continue to be interesting to me. They show how much fun the band has when they are performing. This is important for both the fans (they get a great show) and the band (no disputes equals no reason to quit). This show’s complete set list has 15 tracks. They originate from mostly ’Wishmaster’, some are taken form ‘Oceanborn’ and finally there are a few ‘Angels Fall First’ songs as well. Before they play the fantastic “Beauty and the Beast” Tarja asks for some special attention for a guest performance of Sonata Arctica’s singer and keyboard player, Tony, with whom she will sing this duet.

It’s often hard enough to rate a CD, but somehow I think rating a DVD is even worse. There is notonly sound but also the video footage to take into consideration. Above all, DVD is a medium which can offer great extras. I once read or heard it is possible to put some 8 hours of data on one DVD. Does that mean that every DVD with any less material isn’t worth the effort? Of course not. That would also imply that a 70 minutes CD is better than a 40 minutes CD, which is of course utter nonsense. ‘From Wishes to Eternity’ offers more than enough, with its 150 minutes worth of material. I think it is a very complete DVD and it didn’t even cost me all that much. And boy o boy, this DVD sure makes you yearn for a Nightwish concert…

Score 90/100


Lords of Metal review » Evanescence - Fallen

Source:  Lords Of Metal

Evanescence - Fallen

Evanescence - FallenEvil Dr. Smith: “Now that ain't workin' that's the way you do it. You play the guitar on the MTV. That ain't workin' that's the way you do it. Money for nothin' and your chicks for free. Money for nothin' and chicks for free. I want my MTV!”

Do you remember that song the Dire Straits did with Sting? Almost twenty years after its release, this song’s sarcasm holds as much ground as ever. I mean, every music lover with any self-respect can only watch that station with the sound turned off and trousers down to one’s ankles whenever yet another parade of black, shaking female flesh dressed in nothing but in miniscule thongs display an R&B-version of Sodom and Gomorra that makes the (so-called raw yet censored to death) Tiroler sex pay-TV broadcasts look like a children’s program. MTV show us different types of music, but definitely doesn’t play music for the average music lover, let alone us metalheads. Nothing new here, of course. Yet, among all those silicone-sluts, commercials and infantile real-life soap-geezers we were able to spot a glance of the original principles of this station: good music!

They seemed to have come out of (almost) nowhere; Evanescence from Bill Clinton land: Little Rock. Just when I had settled down after that one good song on the ‘Daredevil’ soundtrack (archives) this band releases its first full length (11 tracks). The format of their sound is as logical as it is strong. Logical, since they cleverly mixed all popular alternative styles of music. Rough yet catchy post grunge-like nu-metal is linked with the more gothic appearance of singer Amy Lee. And everyone who has seen their MTV-hit “Bring Me To Life” (you know, the one with the useless furbishing about on the ledge of a flat) knows that this singer has quite a voice! There still is a hint of childishness in her voice, but that’s not annoying (like it is with Avril Lavigne). Moreover, it is a surprising CD since it’s not a collection of songs to accompany that one strong single. The songs are clever, independent due to the good hooks and melodies, and have been produced in both a powerful and clear way. Most of all, those songs contain Amy’s beautiful voice. This girl, who only just turned 20, really is quite something. The different vocal lines that run through one another are interpreted in a beautiful way and give an extra dramatic edge to the songs. I compared her to Tori Amos in my review on the ‘Daredevil’-soundtrack but she also reminds me of Sharon den Adel’s younger sister at times (Within Temptation). Especially when she sings the ballad “Hello” accompanied by piano and violin, in the ‘Our Farewell’-style. The band is furthermore backed up by a string orchestra from time to time and the so-called Millennium Choir that make it all a tad more ‘gothic’ (as in ‘Whisper’). Too bad that Paul McCoy (from the band 12 Stones) only uses his Linkin Park singing style only on the aforementioned hit single. That was a golden combination.

The CD-cover, almost frightening steel blue eyes of a very pale Amy Lee make it seem like we have an alien on our hands.... Maybe we do. An almost extraterrestrial beautiful voice which makes me check MTV and other music stations, desperately looking for those “Blue eyes baby´s got blue eyes / Like a deep blue sea / On a blue blue day / Blue eyes / Baby´s got blue eyes / When the morning comes / I´ll be far away…”

Evil Dr. Smith diagnoses: 83/100


Lords of Metal review » Epica - The Phantom Agony


Epica - The Phantom Agony
Transmission Records

Epica - The Phantom AgonyMichiel B.: After we could have got acquaintance with Holland's latest gothic metal revelantion through the interview and listening session right now it's time or what it's all about: the debut album “The Phantom Agony” by Epica, the new band formed by former After Forever icon Mark Jansen is about to be released. All troubles regarding his forced departure from After Forever should be known by now. Back and forth blames have been made but finally what it's all about is the music of course.

And to say it straight: the music is solid as a rock! “The Phantom Agony” continues where After Forever's “Decipher” stopped. The album opens with the omnious intro “Adyta” which has the sub title “The Neverending Embrace” with which the “The Embrace That Smothers”-cycle from the first 2 After Forever albums is continued. Once again a choir performs Latin hymns and in the end the piano-intro of “Sensorium”, song 2 on the album, is started. Now (mezzo-)soprano Simone Simons comes into play. Her angel-like vocals fit perfectly in the mainly orchestral accompany. This puts the guitars more backwards and later in this song the choir and grunts enter the song. Next up is “Cry For The Moon” ("The Embrace that Smothers - Part IV") which was already released on the demo. The intro reminds me a little of Ravel's “Bolero” and futher in this song the first heavy passage of the album is found with some nice Iced Earth-like guitar riffs. Song 4 is the ballad of the album entitled “Feint”. This song is remakably easy listening while the included message (this song was written after the murder of Pim Fortuyn, a(n) (im)popular politician in The Netherlands – MB) is rather heavy duty.

The album continues with “Illusive Consensus”, also previously released on the demo. This earlier version hasn't been changed much. Next up is my personal favourite “Façade of Reality” ("The Embrace that Smothers - Part V"). This song is not only the heaviest song on the album, it's also the one with the moest variety inside. Especially the sampled speech by Tony Blair and the whispers of the 'suicide commando's' (“It doesn't matter where we die... It doesn't matter that you cry.... We will take you with us...”) add a lot of impact to this song. After this one in “Run for a Fall” Mark writes off all his frustrations regarding his split with After Forever. It's too bad I don't have the full album here (one day after our deadline I received a cd-r by one of the band members – thanks a lot for that – to be able to still write a review for our June issue) because I would love to read the lyrics of this song as well as the other ones by the way. With the Arabic sounding “Seif Al Din” ("The Embrace that Smothers - Part VI") and the movie score-like title track one of the best debut albums in the past years comes to an end.

I'm fairly impressed although I still would like to make some remarks to album (Michiel B. wouldn't be Michiel B. if he didn't have something to complain about). There where the keyboard and orchestral parts are really magnificent, in my oponion the guitars slightly fail. In the first place this is partly due to their place back in the mix compared to the keys and the orchestra but also regarding the melody aspect and themes in which they reduce themselves too much to power-chord riffs. It's obvious that the main composing instrument while writing this album was the keyboard. Also the efforts of cover model Simone, who is only 18 years old, are really impressive although I'm convinced she hasn't reached her top by far. Her voice is really pretty but unfortunately she isn't yet able to give me the goosebumps because in my opinion her voice doesn't have enough 'body' yet. But well. Epica now is a short cutting with the ability to become a beautiful flower in the future.

After Forever now are up to play ball. I sincerely hope this band won't undergo the 'Tristania-effect' who released a rather mediocre album with “World Of Glass” after they parted ways with their inspirator Morton Velend who stole my heart with Sirenia's “At Sixes And Sevens”. With that I think “The Phantom Agony” will also be well received by people who normally detest metal and prefer classical music.

The road is open for Epica and now they have signed to The Netherlands' biggest concert company I think they'll have a good oppotunity to promote this gogious debut album with many live shows. Furthermore I would like to speak out my hopes that with all the enthusiasm the band will take the time to write their follow-up album. “The Phantom Agony” seems to be mainly Mark's creature and therefor I'm curious what the influence of the other band memebers will be in the future...


Judge M.'s verdict: 92/100


Interview with Epica 1

Source: Lords of Metal
Issue 26 - May 2003

Not often there was so much to do about a new band as with Epica. In chronic order: in April 2002 after 7 dedicated years vocalist/guitarist/composer/lyrics writer Mark Jansen gets fired from After Forever due to, as it was mentioned, musical differences. Mark decides to go on and forms a new band which he names Sahara Dust. After some starting problems with the line-up (former Trail of Tears vocalist Helana and ex-Silent Edge drummer Iwan nearly left as soon as they joined the band and finding suitable replacements for them turned out to be harder than expected) the band was completed around October 2002. Because Mark had lots of song material originally meant to be on the third After Forever album the band built up their repertoire rather fast. In December 2002 they release their debut demo and perform live for the first time as a support act of Anathema and the band gets signed by Transmission Records. After that the band enters the studio and leaves it 2 and a half months later with their debut album recorded and a new band name: Epica. Because Lords of Metal was invited to have a pre-listen to some tracks of this new album (release date in May 2003) we gladly accepted this generous invitation and therefor yours sincerely traveled to Reuver in spite of a week packed with exams..

Text: Michiel B.

Your family can be of a huge importance when you have your own band. When I arrived at the small railway station of Reuver mother Jansen was already awaiting me and she transferred me to the house of grandma Jansen where not only the band rehearses twice a week (just like After Forever did in the past) in grandma’s basement but where also this pre-listening session would take place this afternoon. Arriving there I was welcomed by singer Simone. Grandma made me some coffee and after keyboardist Coen Janssen (no family) and 2 colleagues of our Belgian printed brothers of MindView had arrived it was time to start the listening session. We were treated to 4 songs of the upcoming album which will be entitled “The Phantom Agony” in this order:

Run For A Fall:
This rather long song starts off nice and easy with some string arrangements (real ones!) and the bright voice of Simone. The second part of this song is heavy with lots of double-bass parts, freaky rhythms, guitar breaks and aggressive screams by Mark as we know them from his After Forever period. He song has an, how typical, epic ending..

Façade Of Reality (The Embrace That Smothers part V):
The “The Embrace That Smothers” concept, dealing with important social issues relating to various religious convictions and originating from the first two After Forever albums will be continued by Epica. This song is the follow-up of “Estranged” from AF’s “Decipher” album. A loud intro fill the living room and also a choir appears (I apologize for not being able to translate their Latin lyrics. Grammar school was too much for me..) and the chorus sounds rather catchy. Embedded in this song is a speech by British Prime Minister Tony Blair in which he reacts to the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001. The bridge part with whispered lyrics making clear this song handles about suicide attackers gives me goose bumps. This really varied and rather long song (8 minutes) appears not to be the longest one to be featured on the album. ”We also have one of 10 minutes”, Mark tells us proudly..

Cry For The Moon (The Embrace That Smothers part IV):
This one we already know from the demo… At least I thought so.. Compared to the demo version some changes have been made to this song. For instance now the song opens with a ‘Bolero/Conquest Of Paradise’-like intro and the vocals enter way earlier. The song seems to be shortened compared to the demo. Besides that the Arabian keyboard lick has been changed a little, some breaks (with ‘ah’s by the choir) have been added and in the end the final theme has been transposed upwards..

According to Mark this song will be the ballad of the album and this becomes clearly audible. Starting off easy and remaining easy with a mid-tempo middle part. What strikes me are the enormous orchestral parts in this song. The chorus is also rather catchy and therefor I dare to make a bet that this song will be released as a single version in the future.

After hearing these 4 songs a long silence falls down over the couch with me and the 2 MindView colleagues on it. The band members are looking hopeful towards us while MindView chief Peter is still finding his breath.. ”Amai…”, the kind Belgian speaks softly. ”This sounds even more musical than After Forever does. Broader with more aspects from the several musical genres..”. I don’t think I could have described it better than this myself. I’m fairly impressed. In less than 10 months a new masterpiece has been created and the band did an excellent job in the studio to smoothen things the right way. Simone pours us in another drink while Peter gets his tape recorder. Time to start the interview! Interview?? Damn.. I didn’t prepare anything with my exams. Oh well, then I’ll listen carefully and point some additional questions here and there…

First an introduction of the other band members starting with soprano Simone Simons..

Simone has been my girlfriend for the past 2 years now. When I was still in After Forever I had side project where she was did the female vocals. Since one year now she has started to take singing classes and she has improved a lot ever since. That’s why I felt confident enough to add her to the band when Helena left us. She’s really capable and I am very satisfied with the result.

Keyboardist Coen Janssen

If I was to say Coen would have been the replacement for Jack Driessen when he left After Forever in 2000. But the band didn’t agree and therefor Lando van Gils became Jack’s follow-up. Now I’m happy with that decision because this means that we have him now *smiles*. Coen studies at the Rotterdam Conservatory and besides a good classical background he also has amazing arranging skills.

Bass player Yves Huts

Yves has joined rather by coincidence. He told me he had always been a huge After Forever fan and that even though he is a guitar player by origin (Yves plays in Belgium’s Axamenta) he wanted to give it a try. Things turned out to be rather well. From all the bass players who came to our auditions he was the best. And besides that he is really good for the atmosphere in the group and he has some excellent song writing skills.

And finally our duo from Zeeland: guitarist Ad Sluijter and drummer Jeroen Simons

I know Ad and Jeroen for about 3 years now when we did a short club tour with After Forever, Horizon and Ad and Jeroen’s former band Cassiopeia. Ad was also the guitarist in my project band and the first one to join the ranks of Sahara Dust/Epica. Jeroen was the last one to join the band.

Then the band name Epica. A first thing I think of is the latest album by Kamelot..

Haha.. You’re right about that one. We are all enormous Kamelot fans and besides that Kamelot/Rhapsody/Blind Guardian producer Sascha Paeth has produced our album and we are very satisfied with the corporation and the final result. Sascha exactly felt where in the songs something was missing and if so he immediately proposed a suggestion to improve it. Besides that Epica is a star in the galaxy where all answers to important questions in life can be found. And this fits perfectly with our lyrics so therefor we decided to choose the name Epica.

And did the band members of Kamelot already respond to your band name?

Yes they have. Recently I got this e-mail from Thomas Youngblood:

Hello Mark,

Great name for a band with your sound!! Really, when I thought of the album title Epica I thought "Hey this would be a cool band name too". Funny thing is we almost did not choose Epica. We had 5 different titles to decide on. Glad we did. The MP3 sounds killer! We hope to meet in Holland if the schedule permits. We should know by next week. Keep up the great work!

All the best,

So that’s all sorted out..

Let’s go back one year in time. Very unexpected the news that you got fired from After Forever reached us. Can you tell us more about his?

Everything went pretty fast. Two of the band members made clear that they didn’t want to go on with this style of music and they wanted to perform live less often while I wanted to do many live shows. After that things went pretty fast. Our guitar roadie Bas Maas was added to the line-up on an incredible short notice and shows at the Pinkpop festival and the European tour with Nightwish slipped through my fingers. Those were things that have hurt me a lot. Also because they didn’t grant me a goodbye performance to the fans. I ended up empty-handed after 7 years of hard work for the band I had founded myself…

But you went on immediately..

I surely did. On this specific evening I immediately decided to go on. I had loads of song material originally meant to be on the upcoming After Forever album. Now the band rejected that I could use it for my own new band. The same night I called Transmission Records chief Hans van Vuuren who immediately showed his confidence in me. That was just what I needed. Also the reactions and support from the fans made me decide that I had to go on.

Are you still in contact with your former band mates?

I talk to Lando (keys), André (drums) and Bas (my replacement) every now and then. I never had any problems with them and they weren’t in favor of firing me. The other 3 band members are a whole different story but if you don’t mind I’ll keep that to myself. I rather look forward instead of looking back.

Back to Epica then. One of the most striking things is the continuation of the “The Embrace That Smothers” cycle from the first 2 After Forever albums.

The idea behind it is once again a very hot item which inspires me to write new lyrics. Now with the war in Iraq you see the danger can come from anywhere. If we don’t behave ourselves the way George Bush wants us to we might be the next to be attacked..

Still the most striking thing is the both textual and musical resemblance with After Forever. Don't you think many people will consider this a rather cheap act?

The After Forever sound we know from their first two albums is my favourite kind of music. Musically spoken Epica and AF are not alike anymore these days. AF has decided to change their musical style and we have tried to extend the style I was so familiar with. That's why I think both bands will be geting in each other's way. Lyrics have always been something rather personal and intimate and therefor it speaks for itself that I decided to continue the way I was used to write my lyrics. I would be a cheater to myself if I wouldn't...

But even on the album cover of “The Phantom Agony” I find some resemblances with AF. 1 central color (now it's red after the blue "Prison Of Desire" and green "Decipher"), the font "The Phantom Agony" is written in and I get the strange feeling I have seen those snakes before as well....

You're absolutely right. It has always been my idea to give the covers one central color. I have always been into the artwork and I still am. The snakes were the designer's idea. 'An eyewink to After Forever', he called them..

Is that Simone on the front cover?

Yes, she is! We thought now we have a beautiful female vocalist, why not show her!

Being in the studio for 2 and a half months. I don’t think many bands can tell the same for recording their debut album..

No indeed. We have been very lucky regarding that. Transmission records has offered all the possibilities to make this a killer debut album. Not only they arranged the studio, the producer, the orchestra and the choir but when we exceeded the recording budget they found it worth because of the upcoming result. We also learnt a lot from the demo recordings because this was the first studio experience ever for Coen and Simone. Hans Pieters from the Excess Studio helped us a lot back then…

Now that we mentioned Transmission again let’s continue about them. What made you decide to sign with them and have there been other labels that offered you a deal?

When I was still in After Forever my corporation with Hans of Transmission was already great. This guy knows how to do his business with both his bands and the media. Not many independent labels have everything worked out that well the way he has. Besides that they immediately showed their confidence in me when I got fired from After Forever and the promise they would support me in whatever I was going to do. Indeed I have been approached by other labels but Transmission remained my first choice because of their confidence in me…

But now you are label mates with your former band. Is there a possibility of a tour together according to you?

Yeah sure, why not? Whatever happened has happened now and we both have to look forward now. I think his would make a great tour for the fans..

And what do you think of the future?

I think we’ll have to wait and see about that. First let’s see how the album will be rewarded but according to your positive reactions this afternoon I feel very confident about that. Furthermore we are going to perform a lot live starting in April and I don’t think I need to say that we are really looking forward to that..

And so this nice afternoon ends. After having swapped a CD with AF-guitarist Sander I travel back to my hometown. Anyway, I was fairly impressed by what I had heard this afternoon and I can’t wait until I get my hands on “The Phantom Agony”.. And what I think of that album will be featured in one of our upcoming issues. That’s for sure..



Zelden was er zoveel ophef over een nieuwe band als dat het geval was bij Epica. In chronologische volgorde: in april 2002 wordt na 7 jaar trouwe dienst bij After Forever zanger/gitarist/componist/tekstschrijver Mark Jansen bedankt voor de moeite vanwege volgens de officiële lezing muzikale meningsverschillen. Mark gaat niet bij de pakken neerzitten en richt meteen een nieuwe band op welke Sahara Dust gedoopt wordt. Na wat aanloopproblemen in de line-up (voormalig Trail of Tears zangeres Helena en ex-Silent Edge drummer Iwan gingen weer net zo snel als ze gekomen waren en vervanging vinden voor deze 2 viel niet bepaald mee) is deze rond oktober 2002 compleet. Aangezien Mark nog bergen songmateriaal op de plank had liggen wat eigenlijk bedoeld was voor een derde After Forever album bouwt de nieuwe band binnen no-time een behoorlijk repertoire op. In december 2002 verschijnt kort nadat de band haar podiumdebuut maakte als voorprogramma van Anathema in de 013 in Tilburg de eerste demo getiteld "Cry For The Moon" en wordt de band getekend door Transmission Records. Vervolgens verdwijnt de band voor 2 en een halve maand in de studio en verlaat deze met een compleet album op zak en onder een andere naam: Epica. Aangezien Lords of Metal in het selecte gezelschap van onze gedrukte broeders Aardschok en MindView in de gelegenheid gesteld werd reeds 4 nummers van dit aanstaande album (release wordt verwacht in mei 2003) te komen beluisteren, greep ondergetekende deze kans met beide handen aan en reisde, ondanks een drukke tentamenperiode, af naar het Limburgse Reuver...

Dat je familie je ook veel kan helpen met je bandje bleek maar weer eens. Toen ik rond kwart over 1 met het dieseltreintje aankwam in Reuver-city stond moeder Jansen me al op te wachten om me vervolgens naar oma Jansen te rijden alwaar de band (en in het verleden After Forever ook) niet alleen 2 keer per week in de kelder repeteert maar waar deze middag ook de luistersessie bij oma in de huiskamer plaatsvond. Nadat zangeres Simone me al welkom geheten had en oma voor koffie had gezorgd en naast 2 collega's van Mindview ook toetsenist Coen Janssen (nee, geen familie) gearriveerd was, kon de luistersessie beginnen. Na even wat bijgepraat te hebben, kregen we 4 nummers van het aanstaande album, wat als titel "The Phantom Agony" heeft meegekregen, voorgeschoteld te weten:
Run For A Fall:
Dit vrij lange nummer begint vrij rustig met strijkersarrangementen (jawel, echte strijkers!) en de loepzuivere stem van zangeres Simone. Het tweede deel is hard met veel double-bass werk, tegendraadse ritmes, gitaar breaks en agressieve screams zoals we die van Mark nog kennen uit zijn After Forever periode. Het einde van het nummer klinkt, hoe toepasselijk met zo'n bandnaam, zeer episch..

Façade Of Reality (The Embrace That Smothers part V):
Het concept "The Embrace That Smothers", handelend over maatschappelijke misstanden voortkomend uit diverse geloofsovertuigingen, van de albums After Forever albums "Prison of Desire" en "Decipher" zal niet door AF zelf worden voortgezet door Epica. Dit nummer borduurt voort op het nummer "Estranged" van het "Decipher" album. Het snoeiharde intro knalt al meteen hard door de speakers, ook een koor maakt wederom haar opwachting (voor het gymnasium was ik niet slim genoeg dus vergeef me dat ik hun Latijnse tekst niet heb weten te ontcijferen) op dit album en het refrein klinkt pakkend. In dit nummer zit tevens een speech van de Britse prime minister Tony Blair verweven welke hij gaf als reactie op de aanslagen van 11 september 2001. Kippenvel krijg ik bij een bridge waarin een stuk tekst gefluisterd wordt waarbij al meteen duidelijk wordt dat dit nummer gaat over zelfmoordaanslagen. Dit bijzonder lange en zeer gevarieerde nummer (een dikke 8 minuten) blijkt nog niet eens het langste nummer te zijn wat op het aanstaande album zal gaan verschijnen. "We hebben er ook nog een van 10 minuten", glundert Mark trots..

Cry For The Moon (The Embrace That Smothers part IV):
Deze kenden we al van de demo.... Dacht ik.. Vergeleken met de demoversie zijn er toch wel wat aanpassingen gedaan aan dit nummer. Zo opent het nummer nu met een ‘Bolero/Conquest Of Paradise'-achtige intro en wordt de zang al een heel stuk eerder ingezet dan op de demo. Het nummer lijkt wel wat verkort ten opzichte van de demo. Ook het Arabisch aandoende toetsenloopje is wat veranderd, er zijn breaks toegevoegd (met "ah"s van het koor) en het laatste thema is wat getransponeerd naar boven.

Dit nummer zal volgens Mark de ballad van de CD gaan worden en dat is ook goed te horen. Het nummer begint rustig en blijft met een mid-tempo middenstuk tamelijk rustig. Wat wel opvat is de enorme orkestratie in dit nummer. Het refrein is redelijk pakkend dus ik durf er wel een weddenschap op af te sluiten dat er van dit nummer nog een single-versie zal verschijnen..

Na deze 4 nummers gehoord te hebben, daalt er een grote stilte neer over de bank met mij en de Mindview collega's erop. De bandleden kijken ons vol verwachting aan als Mindview chef Peter nog even zit bij te komen.. "Amai.. ", stamelt de sympathieke Belg. "Dit klinkt precies veel muzikaler dan After Forever.. Breder en met veel meer aspecten uit de diverse muziekgenres.." Beter dan dat kan ik het ook niet verwoorden. Ik ben bijzonder onder de indruk. In nog geen 10 maanden tijd is er een klein meesterwerkje tot stand gekomen en de band heeft in de studio werkelijk alles tot in de puntjes verzorgd. Simone schenkt ons nog wat te drinken in onderwijl Peter zijn cassetterecorder tevoorschijn tovert. Tijd voor het interview.. Interview? Oei! En ik had eigenlijk helemaal niks voorbereid. Dan maar even goed meeluisteren en hier en daar wat aanvullende vragen stellen...

Allereerst een introductie van de overige bandleden aan de pers te beginnen met zangeres Simone Simons..

Simone is al bijna 2 jaar mijn vriendin en toen ik nog in After Forever zat, had ik er al een projectje bij. Simone was daar de zangeres. Sinds een jaar is ze ook zanglessen gaan nemen en is ze bijzonder goed vooruit gegaan. Vandaar dat ik het aangedurfd heb om haar als zangeres bij de band te nemen nadat Helena ons in de steek liet. En ze kan het helemaal aan en ik ben bijzonder tevreden met het eindresultaat..

Toetsenist Coen Janssen

Coen was als het aan mij gelegen had de opvolger voor Jack Driessen geworden toen deze in 2000 After Forever verliet. Alleen was daar in de band niet iedereen het mee eens en zodoende werd Lando van Gils Jack zijn opvolger. Achteraf gezien gelukkig voor Epica want nu hebben wij hem *grijnst*. Coen studeert aan het Rotterdams conservatorium, hij heeft een goede klassieke achtergrond en hij is ook erg goed in het schrijven van arrangementen.

Bassist Yves Huts

Yves is eigenlijk bij groot toeval bij onze band gekomen. Hij vertelde me dat hij altijd een groot After Forever fan geweest is en ook al is hij eigenlijk gitarist in het Belgische Axamenta wilde hij het toch proberen om auditie te doen als bassist. Het pakte wonderwel prima uit. We hebben vele bassisten op auditie gehad maar Yves was gewoon de beste. Yves is een hele goede voor de sfeer in de groep en hij heeft ook bijzonder goede kwaliteiten als songwriter.

Als laatste de Zeeuwse tandem: gitarist Ad Sluijter en drummer Jeroen Simons

Ad en Jeroen ken ik al ruim 3 jaar toen we met After Forever een korte clubtour gedaan hebben met Horizon en de voormalige band van Ad en Jeroen Cassiopeia. Ad was ook al gitarist in mijn project en met hem ben ik Sahara Dust/Epica begonnen. Jeroen kwam als laatste bij de band.

Dan vervolgens de bandnaam Epica. Een eerste associatie die het bij mij oproept, is het gelijknamige laatste album van Kamelot..

Haha.. dat heb je goed inderdaad. We zijn allemaal ook enorme Kamelot fans. Daar komt dan nog eens bij dat Kamelot/Rhapsody/Blind Guardian producer Sascha Paeth ons album geproduceerd heeft en we heel tevreden zijn over zowel de samenwerking als het eindresultaat. Sascha voelde niet alleen meteen aan op welke momenten er nog wat in de nummers ontbrak maar hij droeg ook meteen een pasklare oplossing ervoor aan. Daarnaast is Epica een ster in het universum waar alle antwoorden liggen op prangende levensvragen. Die omschrijving past weer perfect bij onze teksten dus vandaar dat we gekozen hebben voor de naam Epica.

Heb je ook al een reactie op de bandnaam gehad van de leden van Kamelot zelf?

Ja. Ik kreeg laatst een mailtje van Thomas Youngblood:

Hello Mark,

Great name for a band with your sound!! Really, when I thought of the album title Epica I thought "Hey this would be a cool band name too". Funny thing is we almost did not choose Epica. We had 5 different titles to decide on. Glad we did. The MP3 sounds killer! We hope to meet in Holland if the schedule permits. We should know by next week. Keep up the great work!

All the best,

Dus dat zit wel snor allemaal..

Dan wil ik toch nog even een klein jaar terug in de tijd gaan. Als een donderslag bij heldere hemel bereikte ons het bericht dat je ontslagen was uit After Forever. Vertel hier eens wat meer over.

Ja dat is allemaal heel snel gegaan. Met name 2 leden hebben duidelijk te kennen gaven niet verder te willen met de ingeslagen muzikale weg en ze ook minder wilden gaan optreden terwijl ik juist veel wilde optreden. Daarna is het allemaal enorm snel gegaan. Gitaarroadie Bas Maas werd in no time als vervanger binnengehaald en ik zag optredens op Pinkpop en de Europese tour met Nightwish in rook opgaan. Daar ben ik toch wel even goed ziek van geweest. Zeker ook omdat me niet eens een afscheidsoptreden gegund werd. Ik stond met lege handen na 7 jaar met ziel en zaligheid me voor de band te hebben ingezet die ik zelf nog heb opgericht.

Maar je bent niet bij pakken neer gaan zitten..

Nee zeker niet. Op de bewuste avond heb ik meteen voor mezelf besloten om verder te gaan. Ik had al genoeg songmateriaal geschreven wat eigenlijk bedoeld was voor het derde After Forever album dus dat kon ik nu zelf gaan gebruiken nu zij het toch niet meer wilden hebben. Ook heb ik diezelfde avond meteen Hans van Vuuren van Transmission Records gebeld en die heeft meteen zijn vertrouwen in me uitgesproken. Dat deed me erg goed. Ook de reacties van de fans en hun steunbetuigingen hebben me enorm veel geholpen en zodoende wist ik vanaf het eerste moment dat ik door moest gaan..

Heb je nog wel eens contact met de After Forever leden?

Ik spreek Lando (toetsenist), André (drummer) en Bas (mijn opvolger) nog zo af en toe eens. Met hen heb ik ook nooit problemen gehad en zij waren er ook niet voor om mij uit de band te zetten. De overige 3 zijn wat dat betreft een heel ander verhaal maar daar ga ik verder niet op in. Ik kijk liever naar de toekomst in plaats van het verleden.

Terug naar Epica. Een van de meest opvallende zaken is de voortzetting van de "The Embrace That Smothers" cyclus van de 2 eerste After Forever albums.

De inhoud ervan is gewoon enorm actueel momenteel en dat inspireert me weer tot nieuwe teksten. Ook met die oorlog in Irak zie je maar weer dat het gevaar overal vandaan kan komen. Als we ons even niet gedragen zoals Bush het wil, loop je meteen het risico dat je de volgende bent die aan de beurt is..

Toch een van de meest opvallende zaken blijft de grote gelijkenis met After Forever. Zowel muzikaal als tekstueel.. Denk je niet dat dit door veel mensen als goedkoop beschouwd zal gaan worden?

De After Forever sound die we kennen van de eerste twee albums da's nu eenmaal mijn favoriete muziek. Muzikaal komen Epica en AF niet meer overeen, AF is een andere weg ingeslagen en wij hebben gepoogd de stijl waar ik zo verwant mee ben verder uit te bouwen. Daarom zullen beide bands elkaar ook niet voor de voeten lopen. Teksten zijn altijd een heel intiem en persoonlijk iets, het is daarom ook vanzelfsprekend dat mijn eigen tektsen verder borduren op mijn oude teksten, ik zou mezelf verloochenen als ik het niet zou doen.

Maar zelfs in de hoes van "The Phantom Agony" tref ik gelijkenissen aan.. 1 centrale kleur (rood in dit geval na het blauw van "Prison Of Desire" en het groen van "Decipher"), het lettertype van "The Phantom Agony" en zelfs heb ik het idee dat ik die slangen ook al eerder gezien heb....

Daar heb je gelijk in, maar het was ook mijn idee om alle hoezen van een centrale kleur te voorzien. Ik heb me altijd veel met de hoesontwerpen beziggehouden en doe dat nu nog steeds. De slang was een idee van de ontwerper zelf, 'een knipoog naar After Forever' noemde hij het.

Is dat trouwens Simone die we daar op de hoes kunnen herkennen?

Ja het is inderdaad Simone op de cover. We hadden zoiets van als we een mooi boegbeeld in huis hebben dan mogen we haar ook gerust laten zien.

Twee en een halve maand in de studio... dat vertellen weinig bands jullie na voor hun debuutalbum..

Nee we hebben het heel goed getroffen wat dat betreft. Transmission Records heeft ons alle mogelijkheden geboden om er een goed debuut van te maken. Ze hebben niet alleen de studio maar ook een koor en een orkest geregeld en we dreigden zelfs het opnamebudget te gaan overschrijden maar het eindresultaat maakte bij hen veel goed. Ook van de demo opnames vooraf hebben we veel geleerd aangezien het voor Coen en Simone hun eerste studio-ervaring was. Hans Pieters van de Excess Studio heeft ons ook prima geholpen destijds...

Nu wederom de naam Transmission gevallen is, gaan we hier ook maar even op door. Vanwaar de keuze voor hen en zijn er eigenlijk ook nog wel andere labels in beeld geweest?

Ik had bij After Forever al een prima samenwerking met Hans van Transmission. Die man weet precies hoe hij zijn zaakjes moet aanpakken naar zijn bands en de media toe. Er zijn slechts weinig onafhankelijke labels die zo goed hun zaakjes voor elkaar hebben. Daarnaast kreeg ik al meteen de toezegging toen ik uit After Forever ontslagen werd dat ze volledig achter me zouden staan met wat ik ook zou doen. Ik ben indertijd nog wel door andere labels benaderd maar ik heb Transmission altijd de eerste keus gegeven gezien het door hun getoonde vertrouwen...

Maar nu ben je labelmaatjes met je oude band.. Zit er in de toekomst een gezamenlijke tour in wat jou betreft?

Ja hoor, als het aan mij ligt wel. Wat gebeurt is, is gebeurt en we moeten gewoon allebei vooruit kijken. Het zou voor de fans een prima tourtje zijn lijkt me zo.

En hoe zien jullie verder de toekomst?

Tsja dat wordt afwachten natuurlijk. Eerst eens zien of het album aan zal slaan maar gezien jullie positieve reacties heb ik daar wel vertrouwen in. Verder gaan we veel optreden vanaf april en we hebben er allemaal enorm veel zin, dat moge duidelijk zijn...

En zo kwam deze gezellige middag weer aan zijn einde. Na nog even een Cdtje geruild te hebben bij AF-gitarist Sander kon de terugreis naar het Brabantse land weer beginnen. Ik was in elk geval bijzonder onder de indruk van wat ik deze middag gehoord had en ik kan derhalve ook niet wachten tot ik "The Phantom Agony" zelf in handen heb.. En daar zal ik in een van de komende issues u ook zeker mijn bevindingen van kenbaar maken...

Lords of Metal review » Sonata Arctica - Winterheart’s Guild


Sonata Arctica - Winterheart’s Guild

Sonata Arctica - Winterheart’s GuildFerdi: From their first cd on, the band Sonata Arctica has been the main dish in the banquet of every self-respecting powermetalfan. Winterheart’s Guild is their third cd, not counting two mini’s, a live-album and a handful of singles – and has become another masterpiece. But alas, even masterpieces have their faults.

The most striking aspect of this cd is the fast that the band has let off some steam and doesn’t play all the songs as fast as they used to. Obviously, Sonata never were a band who’d play an entire album at the same neck-breaking speed. But this cd contains more mid-tempo songs than any other album. The instrumental parts benefit a lot from this new angle of approach. All of the songs are literally stuffed with epic string-arrangements by Tony Kakko. If the previous cd’s were notable for their melodies, this one is for it’s atmosphere.

Don’t let these words trick you into thinking that there are no fast songs, though. That would be a fault, because the band does pull off a couple of those too. The terribly fast song ‘The Cage’ is a mighty fine example of this: a stupendously-fast track, with a catchy chorus and amazingly dubbed choirs to boot. But for each ‘The Cage’ there’s a song like ‘Victoria’s Secret’: a slower song with more nuances in the compositions.

To still label Sonata Arctica as a typical speed metalband would be very short-sighted. In that respect, this third album is likely to be an essential cd for the band. They’re noticeably trying to break the chains with their Stratovarius-laden past and are clearly trying to establish a sound of their own; despite not finding it through this cd. The urge to make musical developments has resulted in a cd that’s a tad schizophrenic and aimless. What, for example, is the band trying to accomplish with the off-beat composition ‘Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited’? And what to think of the slightly eccentric ‘Champagne Bath’ or the annoyingly unpredictable ‘Broken’?

You hopefully see my point, dear readers. The new Sonata Arctica contains so much experimentation that it borders on an identity-crisis. Not a terrible crime of course, but it surely underlines the fact that this band still is learning. It also means that for all its strangeness, Winterheart’s Guild lacks the unity that made the previous two cd’s so great. It’s still a terrific album in it’s own right, but it pales in comparison to the other material of the band, both past and future. Because believe me, there’s still a lot of untapped potential in this band. Sonata Arctica have yet to record their ultimate masterpiece, and that’s an encouraging prospect.


Rating: 90/100


Lords of Metal review » HIM - Love Metal


HIM - Love Metal


HIM - Love MetalYvette: “There we were. Gas a hopeless Slayer addict and Burton completely hooked on Tchaikovsky. Mige getting high on Brian Eno and Linde tripping on Jimi Hendrix on a regular basis. Me, I was curing my hangovers with shots of Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison.” - Valo’ Who would ever think that this bunch of guys would invent the genre ‘Love Metal’ A drummer who fancies Dave Lombardo doesn’t cover songs of Chris Isaac, does he? He does!

I can imagine that the term Love Metal may cause some people urges to puke their guts out but this is not entirely justified. The Finnish Him based the name of their fourth and new album on this genre after all, they are the kings, or I prefer to say, the princes on the white horse of the Love Metal

Him acquired their fame with the single ‘Join me’ which scored high in many hit parades in Europe. The accompanying album ‘Razorblade Romance’ is full of catchy Gothic Rock and was a great success. The first album ‘The Greatest Lovesongs vol. 666’, achieved success among others because of the Chris Isaac-cover ‘Wicked Game’. The album which we’re talking about now may be the best album in this row. Him showed their listeners already that they can write infectious, soul crushing songs, now the time has come to explore the Rock ‘n’ Roll side of love

Listening to the opening song, ‘Burried Alive by Love’, it seems as if the guys are over with the sensitive songs. A Stoner rock-like guitar riff almost slingshots me out of my chair. I think Valo has heartache and is really angry. Anyhow it sounds way heavier than the former work by the band. Also the song ‘Soul on Fire’ makes you wander if the other gender did the guys any harm, because they get wicked but soon on the album I hear that Him has kept their charm and the image that they’ve built the past few years. ‘The Funeral of Hearts’ and ‘The Sacrament’ sound old-fashioned heartrending and pure. The horny hiccups and puffs which singer Valo gave away so easily on the former work are reduced to a more realistic amount. Only after a few listen sessions the songs begin to get straight-in-the-face and catchy. That’s what I find the best thing of ‘Love Metal’, they don’t give away the songs for free like on ‘Razorblade Romance’ though it are very cool sing-along-songs. These songs have more foundation then the former creations of the band, I would almost say that they have more character and will hold longer because of that. One of my favourites is ‘Beyond Redemption’ a speedy song, Himmish because of the synthesiser sounds, ‘foul’ because of the guitar riffs and convincing because of the powerful voice, that last thing you’ll find on every song of this album also caused by the production of the record which is done in the celebrated Finnvox studio in Helsinki.

It’s all amazing, the new songs, the sound, the video of ‘Burried Alive by Love’ in which femme fatal, Juillet Lewis (Natural Born Killers) has a part, the attention paid to the artwork. Him exceeds itself. This is the best album they ever made! All the other stuff was foreplay…This is real Love Metal!!


Rating: 90/100


Lords of Metal review » The Gathering - Souvenirs


The Gathering - Souvenirs
Psychonaut Records


The Gathering - SouvenirsEvil Dr. Smith: How long can a certain band be relevant for metal-zines on basis of its reputation? This is a question which has been asked over and over in the last couple of years when it comes to The Gathering. Ever since Anneke became a member of the band in 1995 when the gothic-metal record Mandylion was released, the band lost more and more contact with its “fairy-tale”-metal roots. Their music became undeniably psychedelic when ‘How To Measure A Planet’ (1998) saw the light and there isn’t the slightest trace of anything that even remotely resembles metal on this first full-length release of their own label ‘Psychonaut’. This review, therefore, will be brief, because I might as well be reviewing the latest Massive Attack, Radiohead or Tori Amos albums. There are, without a doubt, large groups of metal heads who openly or not, think that’s great music (Both Tori and Coldplay were in our Lords Of Metal Top 50 of 2002), so, apparently, we’re not that narrow-(metal)minded after all. But there are other magazines for reviews on those records.

But the new The Gathering album is brilliant! Again! Let this be clear to everyone. Laat daar geen misverstanden over zijn! The examples I gave earlier, Massive Attack, Radiohead en Tori were not chosen coincidentally, since The Gathering ended up somewhere in between those bands. For now anyway. A striking example is the fantastic ‘Monsters’, which is some sort of threatening trip hop combined with comforting piano-lines and uninvolved electronic rock-beats. There’s even less guitar music on this album than there was on ‘If_Then_Else’ but the sound has been taken better care of, is more subtle, more balanced and simply has better songs to work with. IN fact, René Rutten the band’s guitar player had better look out for a new job, for if there he can be heard, like in the title track, the sound has been covered in such dense layers of psychedelics, that it can hardly be heard. On the other hand, he is backed by a second guitar player (Wouter Planteijdt) in ‘These Good People’. Ulver’s Trickster G. Sings along on ‘A Life All Mine’, but unfortunately, that song does not feature on this 8-track demo. Other musicians that have lent a helping hand are D.J. Kid Sublime and trumpet player Mathias Eick, among others. Their cooperation gives the song ‘We Just Stopped Breathing’ that little bit extra. It all has been turned into one by Zlaya Hadzich (Motorpsycho en Sonic Youth, among others) who produced this record in a remarkably spherical way: rich yet pleasantly suffocating. Spacious, yet claustrofobically breathtaking. Anneke, finally, sings with more inspiration than ever before, without turning all attention towards herself. She finds herself and her voice continuously trapped in the atmosphere of the songs. Their ‘Black Light District EP’ which was released last year was – not only due to the impressive title-track – quite a showpiece, their new full-length is a souvenir anyone can take home with his or her head held high. Except, maybe, the stubborn purists who still think there’s nothing besides old doom-death like ‘In Sickness And Health’ and ‘The Mirror Waters’ and therefore think The Gathering are a bunch of uninspired, uninspiring slow-coaches nowadays. Those frenetic ‘Subzero’s’ are none of our concern: one can’t ‘Always’ do the same trick. After some dispute with record companies, The Gathering are now steady on their legs. And, to say it in the words of their own final track, these are ‘Golden Grounds’.


Evil Dr. Smith diagnoses: 90/100


Anathema + Sahara Dust Live » 013 Tilburg - December 15 2002

Source:  Lords Of Metal

Anathema + Sahara Dust

013 Tilburg - December 15 2002

A pretty risky bill this afternoon in the big hall of 013. Headliners Anathema hadn't played in such a big concert hall in The Netherlands for quite a while and support act Sahara Dust plays their very first live show this afternoon. In spite of that this combination was good for a good number of visitors which was certainly due to the cusiosity for the new band...

Text & pics by: Michiel B.

Sahara Dust treated us with a very tight and musical set. Their 6 own songs were drowned in musical influences as we know them from After Forever, which can easily be explained by the fact that guitarist/vocalist/composer Mark Jansen is responsible for at least half of this sound. From time to time the band members seemed to be a little uncomfortable on such a big stage but the crowd didn't care. In between the songs their hands really found their way together and when the After Forever cover "Follow In The Cry" (with a nice "I Will Survive"-like piano intro) was played all hell broke loose in front of the stage. Female vocalist Simone has a bright voice that unfortunately still misses some force and body. Nevertheless I have never seen a band making such a strong debut the way Sahara Dust did this afternoon.. You will here more of them!

And then it was time for today's headliners: Anathema! With the third Cavanagh-brother, bass player and identical twin brother of vocalist Vinnie, Jamie back in the squad the band made a strong impression. The band (and Jamie in particular) were very enthousiastic and the crowd sang along with the set, mainly consisting of material from the past 3 albums. Though it were the old songs that made the crowd go wild mostly. At the end of the set the band surprised with a piano version of the title track from "The Silent Enigma" followed by the really sensitive "One Last Goodbye" and the always present "A Dying Wish" and "2000 And Gone" for this occasion with lyrics. After this the band left the stage in order to return to play "Sleepless" and Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" (H.E.L.L. Y.E.A.H.)

Despite the terrible sound every now and then this had been a marvellous Sunday in 013.. I'm dying for the next releases of both bands...

Lords of Metal review » Sahara Dust (Epica) - Cry For The Moon (Demo)


Sahara Dust - Cry For The Moon (Demo)


Sahara Dust - Cry For The MoonMichiel B.: Shit happens. Being founder and one of the leading composers and writer of lyrics in After Forever and on the eve of the band's big break they tell you you're fired. And instead of playing the big Pinkpop festival and sharing many stages in Europe with Nightwish you end up empty-handed. In a case such as this one you can do two things: either you start and keep being sad or you put all your energy in forming a new band just the way Mark Jansen did. And the last thing happened. Sahara Dust was born and the expectations were quite high in advance...

Despite a few starting problems (a reliable female vocalist and drummer were harder to find as they hoped) on this 2-track demo CD there is a band with a lot of potential and experience as well. Guitarist Ad Sluijter and drummer Jeroen Simons learnt the job with Cassiopeia, bass player Yves is also in Belgium's Axamenta and we all know Mark's story by now. Newcomers in metal are mezzo soprano Simone Simons (not related to..) and keyboard player Coen Janssen (no family either..)

In less than 12 minutes Sahara Dust proves that the high expections were correct. Mark follows the musical path he started in After Forever. The material really reminds me of "Prison Of Desire" with here and there some Iced Eath-like guitar riffs and Arabic melodies and the continuation of Mark his textual cold war againt organised religions (especially Islam) entitled "The Embrace That Smothers" in "Cry For The Moon" ('Follow your common sence, you can not hide yourself, behind a fairytale. For ever, and ever..'). The cards are on the table now. This demo has been produced really professional (they even hired a real choir!) and while I'm writing this review, the band has entered the studio to record about 12 songs for their debut album which will be released through Transmission Records (After Forever, Ayreon) later on this year.

Many people might see Sahara Dust being an After Forever-clone or the next gothic metal band in line, but the band won't have much of a problem with that. Former Tristania's vocalist/guitarist/composer Morton Velend sounds quite familiar to his former band on his new project Sirinea so as long as the music is alright it wont bother the band that much and they probably consider it a great honour I guess.. A band that enters the scene so strong really deserve a spot in our Deadly Steel galley ...


Judge M.'s verdict: 90/100


Lords of Metal review » Edenbridge - Aphelion


Edenbridge - Aphelion

Ferdi: Edenbridge has often been compared in the press to the Finnish band Nightwish. Wrongly, in my opinion. Although both bands utilise female vocals, the differences are obvious to anyone who cares to listen. Whereas the music of Nightwish is based on theatrical parts with a lot of bombast, Edenbridge cares more about atmosphere and melody. The only thing they have in common is the sex of their vocalists, but it reeks of narrow-mindedness to call one band an imitation of another just because the singers happen to be of the same genre.

So let’s hope that Edenbridge’s new album will end those unjustified comparisons once and for all. Because comparing the two would be disrespectful for the beautiful music of this band from Austria. On their third release they’ve taken their own sound a bit further than on Sunrise In Eden and Arcana by adding more progression to the sound. Nevertheless, the core of Edenbridge is still made up by the enchanting vocals of Sabine and the musical depth provided by keyboardplayer and guitarist Lanvall. Just try to listen to the CD through a headphone, and you‘ll be absorbed in the detailed musical landscapes this band has created. On their third album the band sounds slightly more progressive, and the added orchestration makes you wonder if Lanvall has been listening to a huge pile of Howard Shore-soundtracks.

Aphelion is typically one of those CD’s that you need to listen to a couple of times to truly appreciate it’s musical depth. On the surface the music might not seem very deep or emotional, but delve into it a bit deeper and you’ll discover that it’s strength lies in enchanting the listener with it’s beauty. This makes Aphelion a crafted CD that no fan of intelligent power metal should go without.


Rating: 86/100


Interview with Kamelot 1

Source: Lords of Metal
Issue 22 - January 2003


Kamelot mag toch zo langzamerhand gerekend worden tot één van de groten in het powermetalgenre. Hun nieuwe cd Epica is er werkelijk waar weer ééntje om in te lijsten. Progressieve composities, geweldig gitaarspel en wonderschone zang. Die laatste wordt natuurlijk verzorgd door de uit Noorwegen afkomstige zanger Roy Khan, die de LoM te woord wilde staan.


Now that Kamelot is about to release their sixth CD I think it is pretty safe to declare them one of the best bands in the powermetal genre. And their new release Epica is once again a classic of mythical proportions. Progressive compositions, amazing guitarplaying and warm vocals make this one of the best CD’s that you’ll hear in 2003. Those warm vocals are of course done by none other than Roy Khan, who functioned as a sparring partner for your LoM-interviewer.

Text: Ferdi

Earlier this year you cancelled the last show of your tour. You were supposed to play in the Dutch town Zoetermeer. What went wrong?

Well, what happened wasn’t funny at all. We had to cancel the last show of the tour because I had severe troubles with my voice. When we go on tour I always bring some penicillin, just in case I get a flue. This time I got a heavy vocal chord infection halfway across the tour. I used my penicillin for that, but unfortunately ran out of it after a week or so. And because it’s not healthy to stay dosed up on penicillin all the time I choose not to get some new medicine. So at one point I was feeling very positive and thought that I could easily carry out the whole tour. But it turned out that I didn’t feel that good anymore towards the last days. In fact it was so bad, that on the night before the last date I needed to be rushed to the hospital. Two doctors got me all drugged up, so I was able to perform that night. But unfortunately I wasn’t able to do the same thing on the last night of the tour in Zoetermeer. It got to a point where I had to choose between playing a show and trying to save my voice by not damaging it any further. I hope that people understand this, because I still feel very bad about our fans who travelled all the way to see us that night. But I’m no guitarist who can easily replace a bad string. I am a singer and I have only one voice. And therefore I had to choose, and I chose to take care of my voice. It wasn’t easy because this was the first time we ever had to cancel a show.

I was actually there on the night that you did play, and despite your problems it was an impressive gig.

That’s true, it was a very memorable evening. I might have had a better evening myself if I was feeling better. But there was a really good atmosphere that night. The audience was really supportive by helping me out with the vocals, and in the end the people in the crowd saved the gig. I think that that performance was one of the best we’ve done so far, despite my problems. The atmosphere was right.

I’m glad you feel that way. Let’s talk about your new album Epica. It will be released in January next year. What do you think that people will think of it?

I hope they like it. This was a really tricky album to make, and that shows. We normally write music and then we write the lyrics. This time it was the other way around. We had the lyrical concept ready, and based the music on it. All the time we were trying to make a perfect blend of the music and the lyrics, and tried to find ways for the music to support the story. That made it a very complex production. We started the pre-production in March, and finished the album last October. That’s certainly the longest time I’ve been working on a CD.

Lords of Metal

By making a concept-album you’re exploring new territory, aren’t you?

Yes. This is the first time that Kamelot did a real concept-album. We intended to make the previous CD Karma a concept-album, but somehow the concept didn’t came out the way we planned. It did have a red line through the lyrics, but not a concept as such.

Just like the two albums before it, Epica relies on the Kamelot philosophy. What that philosophy is? It’s about developing ourselves as humans, instrumentalists and songwriters. It’s about making your own choices in life, not shutting any doors but keeping an open mind. Everything you do, everyone you meet influences you in a way and gets back to you sooner or later. When you meet a new person, it changes you and enriches your life.

This philosophy is also represented in the concept of your new CD?

Yes it definitely is. Epica is a concept-CD a about Goethe’s character Faust. He is a very wise person, but still not nearly as wise as he wanted to be. He spent his life searching for answers to his questions, answers that he did not find in society, religion or philosophy. So he went out on his own, going out on his own path to find out what he thought was right. We based the CD loosely on this character. I say loosely, because it’s hard to fully explore this character. The story about Faust was Goethe’s lifework, and it’s impossible to do such a story justice in a 60 minute CD. That’s also why there will be a second CD about Faust. At the moment Thomas and I are working on two CD’s simultaneously: on Epica II and a regular Kamelot-CD. The creative process never stops for us. Even when we’re not actually working on songs we’re combing up with useful ideas. At the moment we don’t know which CD will be released first, although it would probably make more sense to release Epica II first and then work on the new Kamelot-CD.

Why did you choose the title Epica for this albums?

There are three reasons for that. The first is the fact that Epica is a physical place, whereto the main character will venture in part two. The second reason is that in his book, Goethe describes mankind’s thoughts, dreams and hopes, and that’s why we call it the epic centre of the universe. And the third reason is to be taken quite literal: this is our most complex album to date, with a really epic approach towards the music.

This album sounds more progressive than your last CD Karma, and is literally stuffed with different things.

We are always trying to bring new elements into our music. We want to express ourselves as musicians within the concept of still being a heavy metalband. That’s why we put a lot of the money we make with the band back into the music. That’s meant as a gesture towards our fans, because it’s thanks to them that we’ve got this far. And Epica is a very progressive album. We’ve added more progressive elements to the music, and also emphasised on the theatrical CD. We’re trying to give the listener a full album where they can hear something new every time, if they’re willing to pay close attention. All of the songs are linked together. That was the whole idea of Epica, to give you a full production with everything on it.

How big was the influence of producers Sasha Peath and Miro?

Very big, I’d say. You can see the progression that we’ve made between Siege Perilous and Fourth Legacy, and that’s mainly thanks to them. When I write music I do it on a guitar and on my keyboard. And when doing so I already try to have in mind what Sasha would do to it and how a perfect string arranger like Miro would handle the arrangements. Those two guys are able to take a raw idea and turn it into something truly amazing. I wouldn’t want to work with anyone else but them in the near future, because they’re right for this job.

Lords of Metal

Your last album Karma was a huge success, both artistically as well as commercially. Did you feel a lot of pressure when you worked on Epica?

That depends what you’re talking about when you say pressure. Of course we wanted to make a great album, and of course we tried to come up with a CD even better than Karma. But we try to be realistic about it. It’s impossible to make every album better than the one before it. That’s a law of nature, that’s physically impossible. Because no matter how good you are, once you’ve made the best possible album you’ll write a lesser album after it. But as always we did our best to make this our best CD. And if you do your best, then you can always be comfortable knowing that at least you’ve tried. And that’s a comforting thought.

Your last album sold more than 100.000 albums in the first six months after it’s release. Looking back, do you think that you had to work very, very hard?

Not VERY hard, but we certainly put a lot of time and effort in making the band what it is right now. And in the end it paid off. But to be honest we also had luck with meeting the right people at the right time. Our aim has always been to be at the top of the genre, although we obviously know that such a thing is pretty much impossible: there’ll always be someone better than we are.

Are you able to live of off Kamelot right now?

Yes. Some time after the release of Kamelot I was able to live from the money we earned with the band, and that’s a great position to be in. I don’t know if I keep on living like this forever, but for the moment it’s a very soothing thought that I’m able to make a living from my hobby. Of course we aren’t exceptionally rich, hahaha. None of us drives a Ferrari, we’re not exactly living the big life. But it’s manageable to make a decent living.

Okay, cool. By the way, did I hear that you were working on a solo-album?

Well, actually I’m a bit tired of working on it right now. I’ve got about 30 to 40 songs finished but I’m holding them back at the moment. Kamelot keeps me very busy at the moment. And, as a main songwriter for Kamelot, I don’t have a lot of things that I artistically can’t put into a Kamelot-CD. And my ego doesn’t need a solo-album... yet. I’ll probably release the songs someday, but how and when is still a mystery, even to me. But there’s certainly enough material. My first solo-album will definitely be a metal-CD, somewhere between Kamelot and my old band Conception. Perhaps a bit less classical than Kamelot is, but similar in most ways.

Talking about your old band Conception.. most people have never heard it. What can you tell us about it?

Well, it was my band that I founded in ’92. We released one album, also at Noise by the way. It was quite successful for a traditional heavy metalband, especially if you consider when it was released. But after that we changed our sound a lot. Too fast said some people back then, and looking back I’d have to say that they’re right. But the album is really cool and it’s still available if you look hard enough. You should check it out, because it has a lot in common with Kamelot.

Okay, that was my last question. Do you have any last things to say?

Yeah, I have something to say especially to our fans in the Netherlands. I still feel sorry about cancelling our show in Zoetermeer on the Karma-tour. I feel really bad about it, because it was the first show that I cancelled in my life. But I hope that you’ll understand that we really didn’t have any other choice, it was the show or my voice. So we promise to make it up to you once we play in your country again! I don’t know yet what we‘ll do, but you can bet that we’ll have something special in store for you next time we’re in the Netherlands.

Okay Roy, I’ll hold you to that!

Epica, Kamelot’s newest masterpiece has been released on January 13. The band is planning to kick off a headliner European tour in March or April.

Lords of Metal review » After Forever - Monolith Of Doubt (CD single)


After Forever - Monolith Of Doubt (CD single)
Transmission Records

After Forever - Monolith Of DoubtHorst: Things are going pretty well for these Dutch Gothic Metal talents. Their latest album ‘Decipher’, which was released in 2001, has done very good in the Metal world and resulted in a lot of touring (with Nightwish among others) and appearances on a lot of important festivals last summer. Recently the second single of this album, ‘Monolith Of Doubt’ was released. People that own the album surely will know this tune, for it is on it, but this is the single version. Also the track ‘Forlorn Hope’ comes from ‘Decipher’.

More interesting therefore are the other tracks. ‘For The Time Being’ is a pretty cool track in the best possible After Forever tradition, with lots of orchestral parts and a devastating middle-piece, in which the members of the band really let it loose. ‘Imperfect Tenses’ already featured on the first single, with as guest singer Damian Wilson (also present now), but has been granted another go. This time however it is a complete orchestral version.

Basically this is a pretty nice single, especially ‘For The Time Being’ justifies a potential purchase. But there is one thing nagging me in the back of my mind. All these tunes are written or co-written by Mark Jansen, the guitarist who left After Forever somewhere this year. The loss of the most important songwriter is something which caused a lot of trouble for a lot of bands in the past, so I am quite curious about how After Forever are going to deal with this when the song writing for the new album starts.


No score


Lords of Metal review » Within Temptation - Mother Earth Tour DVD


Within Temptation - Mother Earth Tour DVD (DVD)

Within Temptation - Mother Earth Tour DVDHorst: The year 2002 saw the big break of the Dutch Gothic Metal band Within Temptation. After years of surviving in the (Metal) underground their latest album ‘Mother Earth’ was picked-up by the masses all of a sudden, and what followed is best to be described as ‘a dream come true’. The album went platinum in Holland (more than 80,000 sold) and did very well abroad also. The band played on every important festival in Holland and Belgium this year. Ozzfest, Parkpop, Waldrock, Pukkelpop, Rock Werchter, Dynamo Open Air, Lowlands, I mean, everywhere you went you were confronted with Sharon, her boys and the inevitable inflatable forest. Now personally I thought it was a bit overdone (after two shows the trick becomes a bit boring), but most of the festival visitors seemed to have a great time, and that is what really counts, right? To close this year in style the ‘Mother Earth Tour’ DVD was put out recently, with which the fans are treated on a nice flashback of this very successful year for Within Temptation.

I do not think that I have to talk about the music, for I guess all of you regular LoM readers quite know what WT are and where they stand for. Also the lost surfer who accidentally stranded in this review will probably know the band from MTV or some other pathetic music-channel, and if you are still drawing a blank, then I guess you lived a life of solitude for the past few years on some forgotten mountain top in the Himalaya. The Box has three components, two DVDs and one audio CD. Let us take a look at them, shall we?

On DVD 1 you can find live-footage from three festivals the band played this year. If you choose to play them in the standard running order it looks like this:

Lowlands (Holland) : Deceiver Of Fools, Caged
Pukkelpop (Belgium) : Mother Earth, Enter
Lowlands (Holland) : Our Farewell (with a guest-singer), The Dance
Rock Werchter (Belgium) : The Promise, Dark Wings
Lowlands (Holland) : Restless, Deep Within (with the inevitable George from Orphanage on grunt), Neverending Story

The live material ends with the WT hitsingle ‘Ice Queen’, which is brought to you as a mix of images from the three different festivals. The quality of the images is excellent by the way, just as the sound quality. I really wonder in relation to the latter how much time they spent in the studio to patch things up. Anyway, in essence it is all a big flashback to last summer. The images of festival visitors in the sun and in the rain, Sharon’s typical mimicking, her fancy-dress parties, the enchanted forest, the fire, the zillions pieces of paper, everybody who happened to catch them this summer probably knows what I am talking about.

Besides the live footage you will also find three video clips on DVD 1: ‘The Dance’, ‘Ice Queen’ and ‘Mother Earth’. It is kind of funny, but in essence these three clips kind of represent the progression of the band through the years. ‘The Dance’ is nothing more than a rather silly and sometimes even hilarious computer animated cartoon (done on a Commodore 64 or something?). With the clip from ‘Ice Queen’ things are going the right way, although up until this day I have never quite understood the role of that blond teenage girl in the clip, but then again, pretty girls dressed in underwear are always a sight for sore eyes to us male chauvinists, right? ‘Mother Earth’ really was their first video that made sense, with nice images fitting the lyrics of the song very well.

DVD 2 is filled with a lot of extras, but I am afraid that, unless you are a big WT fan, you won’t make it through the whole show without using the ‘fast forward’ button on your remote control. What is on the menu then?

Broerenkerk : Two songs (‘Deceiver Of Fools’ and ‘Ice Queen’), taken from the gig the band played at a church in Zwolle (Holland) this year, when they performed a set with a complete choir. I must admit that it looks quite impressive, but regarding the sound it doesn’t make much difference if they use a choir or the usual DAT-tape. Maybe it was quite a happening if you were part of the crowd, but on DVD it is not a killer really.

‘The Making Of…’ : ‘The Making Of The ‘Mother Earth album and cover’ is a real bummer. I expected to see some kind of Rockumentary about the recordings and design process, but instead the viewer is confronted with three minutes worth of home-video footage of the band in the recording and photo studio, supported by a piano tune. Relevant value: none whatsoever. ‘The Making Of The Mother Earth Video’ was more fun to watch, with (again) home video images of their trip to Sweden (where the clip was shot). Because this footage is larded with comments from the band members the amusement value is way higher.

‘Ice Queen’ – Multi Angle Version : The Lowlands version filmed from different camera angles. Just a nice live video-clip.

Backstage : A collection of images which where shot during different tours and festivals. Among others you will find stuff from the Mexican tour, Pinkpop (Holland), Tivoli (Utrecht, Holland) where they received a golden record, Ozzfest (Holland), Rock Werchter (Belgium), Lowlands (Holland) and Parkpop (Holland) where they received a platinum album. It is nice to see this kind of material once, but it isn’t really something I will put on a lot in the future.

Impressions & Interviews : A collection of interviews and stuff from local and national Dutch and Belgian TV & Radio shows. Highlights: the acoustic version of ‘Ice Queen’ in the Belgian TV show 2MXL (really strange, when Sharon doesn’t sing ultra high for a change) and the interview with a Dutch TV hotshot by the name of Jan Douwe Kroeske during the Lowlands Festival (honestly, I really think that JD didn’t know how to deal with the band). The DVD ends with a photo-gallery, which contains about twenty pics. As a bonus the DVD-box comes with an audio CD with the complete Lowlands 2002 gig. The sound is excellent, and with twelve tracks the CD is filled quite nicely.

Well, all said and done I think the conclusion is obvious. This DVD-box is a must-have for every Within Temptation fan and all the others who think WT is a cool band and like to have a visual souvenir from the festivals they visited this year. For the objective viewer there is surely enough to enjoy, especially the live images are cool – and like I said, the sound is just as good – but I don’t think they are longing for all the extras on DVD 2. So it is up to you to decide if you are willing to pay 24 Euro for this product…


No score


Lords of Metal review » Kamelot - Epica


Kamelot - Epica
Noise Records

Kamelot - EpicaFerdi: Kamelot is no stranger in the world of heavy metal. What used to be synonymous to the castle from which King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table gave fuel to legends, has become synonymous to high class progressive powermetal by a subtle change of the first character of the name. After a somewhat tough period with a different singer in the first half of the nineties, and after a badly produced album with vocal maestro Roy Khan, the group developed into a really special entity through The Fourth Legacy (’99) and Karma (2001).

With their new release Epica, Kamelot’s status as one of the most respected metal bands of the moment can only grow. This is, in many respects, Kamelot’s most progressive release to date. Epica is an ambitious concept-CD, bast on Goethe’s literary masterpiece Faust. The music and the lyrics of this CD are subtly though thoroughly connected to each other, which makes the CD come across as a truly complete piece of music. Whereas Karma was a fairly traditional CD in terms of lyrical content and song structure, this CD tends to throw al common rules regarding common songwriting overboard. This leads to a spellbinding collection of songs with which Kamelot has reinvented itself once again. In some songs the contrasts between the chorus and the verses have disappeared completely, making this a difficult CD to get grips with at first. But give Epica some time, and its beauty will unfold like the leaves of a flower after the midsummer rain. Most songs work on different levels, making them a true challenge to even the trained listener. At this point I feel that I should mention the lyrics as a part of Epica’s beauty as well. Kamelot has always been at the forefront where it comes to writing great lyrics, but this time Roy Khan has really outdone himself. The lyrics are evocative, slightly decadent, partly romantic and overall very descriptive; and manage to retain the dignity of the original story. All of the above can lead up to only one conclusion: that Epica is one of the best CD’s in this genre. Ever.


Rating: 92/100


Lords of Metal review » Paradise Lost - Symbol Of Life


Paradise Lost - Symbol Of Life
Gun Records

Paradise Lost - Symbol Of LifeFerdi: The controversy that Paradise Lost caused with the provoking album One Second (’97) made the band the subject of many conversations between shocked fans. When the two albums Host and Believe in Nothing were released, those conversation shrunk in number. Something happened that might be the worst thing that could happen to a band: the old fans in the metalscene didn’t develop an opinion on the subsequent records. Not a positive one, not a negative one, no opinion at all. Disappointed by the deception that was One Second people ignore Paradise Lost, not caring about a new release and focussing on the thousandths of other great cd’s instead.

In some respects this is the make-it-or-break-it album for Paradise Lost. My prediction? It’s a break-it album. That is, for the metalscene. Because there’s not much on Symbol Of Life to please fans of the old gothic/doom sound of the band. Granted, this cd sounds a bit heavier than the last two efforts. But the band has added lots of electronic elements to the sound that subsequently set it apart from traditional rock/metal. A lot of the songs use a drumcomputer, some even have dancebeats and most of them use samples. With this cd the band proves once and for all that they’re much closer to being an alternative rockband than to being a metalband with a metalsound. Knowing this I think it’s safe to say that Paradise Lost has little to offer to the fans of the old material, even less than on the last three records.

There’s a lot of untapped commercial potential for this band in the alternative rock-scene, and I really believe that that scene has more to offer to Paradise Lost than the metalscene. If the band manages to get their break in the scene of bands like Marylyn Manson and Rammstein, then I wouldn’t be surprised if this band’s following again rises in numbers. But somewhere deep inside I feel like these muscisians, all in their thirties, are to ordinary and not shocking enough to appeal to a teen audience. And that’s a bloody shame. Because despite the changes in the sound, Symbol Of Life is a really good cd. The songs follow a clear pattern, have a decent structure, and still manage to surprise. The added electronics add an extra dimension to PL’s typical sound, and at times even makes it danceable. But I wouldn’t call it commercial, the music is much to melancholic to be labelled as poppy. And the production is very good, even my rough mixed promo sounds excellent. For the band it would be a blessing if for once the metalscene dropped all prejudices and opened their minds towards other styles of music. Because if you stop looking as Symbol Of Life as a conventional metal-cd you might even find it very enjoyable. But unfortunately I don’t really see that happening. Narrow-mindedness and the metalscene are connected to eachother as bread and peanutbutter. And that’s not even a bad thing. The tragedy for this band though, is that they’ve made a good record, but one that will be unnoticed by the general record-buying audience.

Paradise Lost’s case is in that respect comparable to that of Moonspell, Samael and Tiamat. Those three bands have all had their experimental phases, and kept making changes to their music, not caring about how many old fans they’ve lost with it. People who’ve always liked those three bands are probably the same people who’ll also appreciate Symbol Of Life. Those who were hoping that Paradise Lost would return to the sound of their cd Gothic are probably better off buying the new cd from the Finnish band rapture. Paradise Lost is one of the bands who have done great amounts of good work for the metalscene in the past, but who’s audience turned their backs on them when they radically changed their style. A bummer for the band, but at the same time it’s completely understandable. 




Lords of Metal review » Therion - Live In Midgard


Therion - Live In Midgard
Nuclear Blast

Horst: A few months ago I laughed my ass off about a remark Manowar singer Eric Adams made during a press conference in favour of the new Manowar release "Warriors Of The World". Eric was proudly boasting about the fact that Manowar was the first heavy Metal band ever to mix Metal with Opera… Apparently no one of the journalists present was brave enough to tell the little man about the existence of Therion. A band which does this trick for about ten years by now. With lots of success.

Anyway, our Swedish friend Christofer Johnsson together with his band of musical pretty skilful friends has released about nine full-length CDs by now. The first of those releases - ‘Of Darkness’ – could be labelled as pure Death Metal, but since ‘Beyond Sanctorum’ (1991) the band started to experiment more and more with different kinds of vocals, melodies, orchestration, Eastern and classical influences, which via albums like ‘Lepaca Kliffoth’ and ‘Theli’ materialised into the music we encounter on recent CDs like ‘Deggial’ and ‘Secret Of The Runes’.

After 14 years and different studio albums the time was ripe for a live record. Surely, those of you who have visited a Therion gig in the last three years must know what a cool event it is, with a truly unique interaction between band and choir – especially the trickery with the stage lights looked pretty clever. And the fact that half of the music (the classic parts) came from a DAT-tape… Well, it did not really bother me that much, although I would love to see Therion play some day backed-up by a complete Symphony orchestra. Too bad that this costs so much money…

Anyway, enough with the daydreaming. ‘Live In Midgard’ is doing its spins right now in my CD player, and I until so far I quite like what I hear. The recordings where made during the ‘Secret Of The Ruins’ tour on different locations in Germany, Hungary and Columbia. It all sounds pretty spontaneous, and even somewhat raw. As far as I can hear there isn’t too much done in the studio (you still can hear some little mistakes), but I would not have mind if they had pushed the audience a little bit higher in the mix, now it’s just like the band stood in front of only 100 people. The double-album is filled with 24 songs, which together give an excellent view of Therion’s development through the years. Every studio album – except for the first one – is represented. Now the majority of the songs come from the last six years, with as a result that the albums ‘Theli’, ‘Vovin’, ‘Deggial’ and ‘Secret Of The Runes’ each deliver four or five tracks. Nevertheless the gray past also gets a piece of the action through three tracks from ‘Lepaca Kliffoth’ (The Wings Of The Hydra / Riders Of Theli/ Beauty In Black), two from ‘Ho Dragon Ho Megas’ (A Black Rose / Baal Reginon) and even the antique tune ‘Symphony For The Dead’ (originally to be found on ‘Beyond Sanctorum’ from 1991) was dug out of its grave.

Besides the 22 self-written tracks there was also some room left for two covers, like that beautiful ballad from Accept – entitled ‘Seawinds’, and the super well-known Abba hit ‘Summer Night City’. Not a bad tune, but I had rather seen that absolute concert killer-track Therion used to play the last few times they toured Holland. Those of you who visited those gigs surely will know what I am talking about: ‘Revelations’ from Iron maiden. Man, the crowd at the 013 Club literary went insane when that tune as played, an awesome sight!.

…*sigh*… Ah well, you just can’t have it all I suppose. Right, the conclusion is simple. ‘Live In Midgard’ is a very good live album which captures the atmosphere of a Therion gig quite good. A must have for the fans…and for one Mr. Adams…




Interview with Therion 1

Source: Lords of Metal
Issue 20 - November 2002

Vijftien vragen van Horst. Een nieuwe rubriek in Lords Of Metal waarin we de heren (of dames) artiesten eens een keer wat anders vragen dan de geijkte zaken ontrent nieuw plaatwerk en optredens. De spelregels: Op mijn lijstje staan 50 vragen. Daaruit heb ik er zelf 15 geselecteerd die de artiest in kwestie mag beantwoorden. Hij/zij mag echter ook gewoon op goed geluk 15 cijfers tussen de 1 en de 50 roepen en de daarbij behorende vraag beantwoorden. Deze maand was Christofer Johnsson, de grote man achter Therion, aan de beurt. Hij ging voor de vragen die ik had uitgezocht...

Fifteen questions from Horst. A new and exciting column on Lords Of Metal in which we ask the Metal artists something else for a change than the cliché things about new albums and tours. Rules of the game: I’ve got a list with 50 questions. For each different artist I personally select 15 of ‘m which they may answer. It’s also possible to ignore my list, and just ad random choose 15 numbers ranging from 1 to 50, and answer the questions under those particular numbers. Victim this month was Therion’s Christofer Johnsson. He went for the questions I selected...

Text: Horst

1. If you are allowed to chose another job, what would it be?

Another job…that is a tough question… Pimp? I do not know really, but it would be something that has to do with music I think. Maybe I would have been a sound engineer or something. Or maybe even be a guitar tech you know, and touring with bands. I have had one job before I started my musical career though, and that was in a printing office, and that was not really a job I could imagine doing for another ten years. In that time I kinda set up a record label. That was doing pretty good, but when Therion was doing better and better I had to make a choice, and that was Therion. If it has to be something completely outside the music scene it is a very tricky question. When I was really small I wanted to be a battle pilot, like every other little boy. My father was an airplane mechanic in the military when he was young, and later when I was a kid he worked as a mechanic for the SAS. He always told me stories about fighter jets, and we had a summer house near a military base so I saw a lot of jets flying over our house, and I thought it would be great to fly such a machine myself one day. Later I realized that a good physical condition was needed, you had to be some kind of an elite sportsman, no problems with eyes, everything had to be perfect…well, it was too tricky. My eyesight is far from perfect, and I hated sports hahaha…

2. What would you never throw away?

A CD with music, no matter how bad it is. I really have something against throwing away CD’s, because someone believed in it while making it, it was a part of their wishes and desires. It feels very arrogant to throw such away, even if it sucks completely in my opinion. If someone would give me a bunch of CD’s from some useless bands I still could not throw them away. Maybe give them to someone else, but my principal is never to throw it away.

I guess you’ve got a large CD collection at home then?

Yeah, well, I’ve got about thousand CD’s, and about 700 vinyl’s.

3. Which piece of art (book, painting, sculpture, song, CD) would you like to have made?

I guess Richard Wagner’s ‘Nibelungen Ring’. The best piece of music ever done in history. It was the best Wagner ever composed, and with it he changed the entire opera scene in his time. In the old times opera was someone who was standing and singing, they were not very good actors. Wagner wanted to have everything. He wanted to have a very good scenery, he wanted a very good story – a real good theater play, not some ridiculous love-story where they always die at the end – and he wanted to have real good actors who could sing and move well. Also he was the one who brought the symphonic orchestra into opera. Before they were only playing some background stuff, and the singing was the most important. Wagner came up with long musical passages, always very long overtures, a strong ‘leitmotiv’, and the quality of the play was much better. I visited Bayreuth this year, where they have the ‘Wagner Festspiele’, and that was amazing. I’ve seen four opera’s there. They really have the best place and singers, and the acoustics there are the best in the world. The guy even built his own opera-house just be sure he had the right environment and acoustics for his opera ‘Nibelungen Ring’. He also invented instruments like the ‘Wagner Tuba’, an instrument especially designed for his own opera’s, and it is very rarely used by other composers, only Richard Strauss I believe used it once or twice.

4. Of which company or ....would you like to be general-manager?

Microsoft…so I could make sure that it go bankrupt. You know, you’ve got Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and all these other mass-murderers and than you have Bill Gates to slay humanity.

You really hate that guy right?

Yes. I use Mac only. I mean, nothing works in that Microsoft shit anyway. I mean, after ten years finally they get something to work but it’s like it is a big security risk. I hate this kind of monopoly. I would be like someone would say: ‘Unless you have a Volvo you can’t drive a car.’ That is bizarre. Microsoft used a lot of gangster methods to get rid of the competition. I’m a very hybrid person when it comes to this marketing thing. I believe in a development where even someone with empty hands and almost empty pockets cab come with a very good idea and realize it. Like as a musician, you save some money, buy your first guitar, follow your dreams and built something up. I don’t like when you have this huge companies who buy out people or other companies who come up with great ideas. Or even worse: buy out the great ideas just to put it away somewhere thus to ensure they can continue selling their own shit. So, Microsoft is actually the image of plain vulgar capitalism.

5. If you suddenly weren't afraid of anything anymore, what would you do first?

I’m not really an afraid person, but ehmm…maybe diving. Not that I am afraid of water, but I have a lot of respect for it. It should be a really fascinating experience for me to dive in a tropical sea. That would be really amazing. I think I would not do it right now, for there are sharks and stuff…but maybe when I am completely fearless I would eventually do it, though I would never get to the point of actually doing it.

6. What is your worst habit?

Too much work on my back combined with bad planning. I am always too optimistic with things and in the end things always take twice as much as time as I expected. It is something that is incurable. A typical example is when we made the album ‘The Secret Of The Runes’. We had this idea to build our own studio, and reckoned it would take us two months or so…well, in the end it took us six months… we literally had problems with everything.

I guess it was easier to do the live album?

That wasn’t easy either. We went like: ‘Yeah, let us record some stuff on different shows and mix it ourselves, should be great.’ Well, it took us six months to mix it… But to be honest, we took it easy, we did not work hard at all. We just tried some different things, and did not really had a deadline or something. The whole idea with the last tour was like…we played two hours and twenty minutes…for there were songs that have to be in a Therion show, but after one gig you realize it is pretty long.

Well, about the new live album, I kinda miss one song: the Iron Maiden cover ‘Revelations’ you always play at the end of the show, at least here in Holland. Instead you recorded Accept’s ‘Seawinds’ and Abba’s ‘Summernight City’.

We don’t play it always, we sometimes do Accept’s ‘Balls To The Wall’, like on the last tour. With former tours we gave people a choice between a Maiden song or a Judas Priest tune, but on the last tour we didn’t offer the public a choice, we just did the Accept song.

I remember you guys playing the Maiden tune, the crowd went absolutely berserk…

Yeah, it is wonderful to play that song. The audience really gets going from it, but it also one of my favorite songs from the days I was a kid. I dreamed about going to be a Heavy Metal musician. I had tons of posters on the wall, listened to Heavy Metal songs like ‘Revelations’ and ‘Balls To The Wall’ (which was my real first encounter with Metal), and now the boy dream has come true. Anyway, we have so many covers in the set, and I think we will never gonna play the Abba cover live again, that was a one-off thing. Christian insisted on playing it, so we agreed. It isn’t really the best Abba song, but it was fun to play it. The ‘Seawinds’ cover we didn’t play for all these years, but a lot of fans were asking for it so we decided to play it again this tour, and who knows we might play it again some time. I do know that we will continue doing Maiden and Accept covers when playing live.

7. On which do you spend most of your money?

CD’s and books.

Well, CD’s…that is kind of obvious, but when it comes to books, what writer or genre has your interest?

I very interested in esoteric and occult literature. I’m also very much into historical literature, because you can learn so much of mankind’s history. Unfortunately too little people have discovered this, because history is repeating itself all of the time. I also love to read books about Wagner, and stuff that Wagner was writing himself. He did not write text as good as he wrote music, but it is interesting to have it. Besides this I like Russian literature from guys like Solojev and stuff like that. I don’t have time to read as much as I would like, but I’m doing the best I can to catch up with that kind of literature. And I read a lot from Herman Hesse.

Sometimes I indulge myself even in political literature from guys like Komski. Normally I am not really that left-wing type of guy. I would say I am very varied in my political opinions. It depends on what topic is discussed, I think it is bad to say up front that I am this or that. It is better to use the head, to read a lot and know what you are talking about. Use the head, think in every situation and be open minded for another one’s opinion. Things both left and right can be interesting. The fact that I read Komski and that I am very much into protecting the environment doesn’t automatically mean that I’m a lefty, like a lot of people assume instantly. When it comes to culture I am completely the opposite. I hate these modern version of classic things, I am super conservative. I want stuff to be exactly like when Wagner wrote it, or whoever wrote an opera. I don’t want it to be changed, not on one single point.

So like an alternative version of an ancient opera or stuff like that is out of the question?

Not in the opera house! I mean, if you make a cover version, and you make your thing additional on top of the other stuff, it is okay. But if I go to the opera house I want to see the real deal, not some horrible modern version. I attended a modern version from a Verdi Opera once, and his ‘pleasure girls’ were played by transvestites…Verdi would have hated that! It is a kind of sacrilege to the guy who wrote it. This is just a typical example of too much pot-smoking left-wing types saying: ‘Ooohh, what a great idea, let us make them transvestites.’

So, for example, if someone takes a Therion song and twists it into like a Punkrock song, or a Nu-Metal song, you would oppose to it.

No, not really, because although it is something different, and the real thought is still there, and you still have a choice of either listening to the fucked-up Nu-Metal version or the real Therion thing. But with the opera you don’t have the choice. The composer is dead, so he cannot conduct it anymore, and other people have to make an interpretation. If you only got these vulgar versions to choose from… I mean, if you have this transvestite version but also a different one, a normal one so to speak, then you have a choice, and that would be fine by me. But when you have an opera ‘boss’ who only makes opera’s in this weird ultra-modern versions you don’t have a choice. I mean, what should I do? Should I fly down to Germany every time I want to see a good opera? No, I want to see a good opera here in Stockholm were I live. But if you have a bad opera boss it ruins everything. No wonder that less and less people go the opera.

True, people expect to see the real thing, but instead are given something they do not desire. It’s like going to a Metal gig and be confronted with a House-DJ.

Right. I remember the opening of a new stage, and they invited Entombed to play there. Now I’ve got nothing against Entombed, they’re a good band and did a good job, but why should a Death Metal band play in the opera house? They added some ballet to it, but it was completely fucked-up. I mean, the people in the ballet had not got a clue about what was happening, no clue at all. If they had understood it I would have said like that it wasn’t really my cup of tea and that they should have done it somewhere else than in the opera house, but now it was a disaster. Though there were people actually applauding and saying like that it was great, a new way of thinking, just like the comments a day later in all those left-wing newspapers. They all wrote it was so great… Come on! What’s so great about it? The orchestra played one song, than they were lifted out of sight (the floor can move) so only Entombed was left to play one song. The inventors defended it by saying like: ‘Yeah, but this is forbidden, and we have to do what is forbidden’. Well, why not piss on the floor then, that is also forbidden. But is that good art? To give you an example, the same people who came up with this idea earlier traveled around in Sweden, reading classical poetry to cows…. Probably they have rich parents and never had to work in their lives, don’t know what to do with it… I mean, I am very liberal when it comes to drugs, but some people just look too deep into the pipe.

So I guess you can imagine now that I am a super-conservative when it comes to art, but on the other hand you have to let the new stuff come. Wagner for instance, he was a rebel of his time. He completely changed the opera, and he had a lot of conservative forces against him. So, it is important to preserve the old in a good way but also be open for the next generation. I mean, the music has to develop, and that’s where Therion comes in one way. A lot of young people are not interested in opera anymore, so we do something they can understand. I really hope that we brought some people into discovering classical music.

8. Which TV show should be removed immediately from the screen?

Bingo-Lotto! That is the worst plague since the Black Death haunted Europe. This is really the symbol of braindead TV watching. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with TV as an invention, but the problem is all the crap there is been broadcasted. The really sad thing is that people actually admit that it is only crap on TV, but they are still watching it, because they have nothing better to do but zapping between channels to look for the least shitty one. What kind of live is that? Watching shit for the sole reason that it’s less shitty than the other shit? Whatever happened to hang around with friends and talk over some beers? Or read a good book or whatever? It’s very sad, and I think Bingo-Lotto really symbolizes this, because it has this really bad entertainment program plus the hopes of people to earn some money. I think it is so sad that people don’t have any other goals. Sure, money isn’t bad, you can fulfill not all but quite a few of your dreams with money, but if people don’t have any other goals than spending their hard earned money on and watching Bingo Lotto…it is pathetic. Julius Caesar was right: ‘Food and play for the people’. As long as people have food in their stomach and see Bingo-Lotto on the telly they are kind of happy. At least happy enough to don’t make some revolution or whatever.

9. Which part of your character would you be liked to remembered for?

Being an open-minded musician. If you look on the history of what we did, we never sold much records in the beginning. We did very weird records that very few people bought, but we never stopped believing in what we did. Once we started to sell records we continued to change, instead of saying: ‘Oh, this is constant work, let’s copy this album to preserve the success.’ I would like to be remembered as the musician and composer who always did his own thing.

10. What would you like to do better?

There are plenty of things I could have done better, but you always have to see it from the perspective where you once stood. We did the best we could in every situation, but if I could go back in time with the knowledge of today I could improve every album. No matter how experienced you are, you will always make mistakes, and one year later when you listen to a record and go like: ‘Fuck, I should have done this or that.’ I mean, it’s less today but if you listen to our second album for instance… I like the songs on the second album better than those on the first album, but as a whole I like the second album least of all the records we did, because the mix was so fucked-up. When we recorded the first album had no experience going into a real studio, and the producer we had always did things his own way. We suggested enough ideas, but he wasn’t really the open-minded type of guy, so everything was done his way, just to make sure everything went okay. Sometimes that is good with inexperienced bands, and I guess for us also. When we recorded the second album we where in a studio with a guy who was really a sound-engineer, not really the type to produce, and when we said like to this and do that he did it, literally. Looking back I don’t think we where ready for that yet. He had a very good ear actually, but he didn’t understand the sound character of Death Metal.

11. Who do you admire (besides Wagner)?

Well, there a lot of people I admire, but not to the same extend as Wagner. I can’t think of any that influenced me in a similar way. Maybe Michael Bulkakov and Herman Hesse, they are very interesting persons, not only for what they write, they are also interesting as persons as well.

12. What was your worst ever made decision?

I guess signing our first record deal. That was really the shittiest deal one could have. Okay, it was only for one record, but it caused so many problems for our career. In fact, we still have problems with it, because they licensed the rights to Nuclear Blast and still don’t pay us. It’s like, you either need to go there with a hammer or with a lawyer to get anything out of it. I really don’t understand some people from record labels. I mean, they know they have to pay up in the end anyway, so why make so much fucking problems over it, it’s peanuts for them anyway. And this time it is really peanuts money, it’s just a matter of principal. I think if we had signed with Nuclear Blast in the beginning it would have saved us so much troubles. We changed record labels for every record until the fourth album when we signed with Nuclear Blast. I mean, we have had our troubles with them also, but always solved it in a civilized way. They realized that we are musicians and we need freedom and resources and a lot of this and that, and we realized that they are a company who needs to make a profit. You once have to sit down and see what’s realistic, and in they end we made solutions both party’s could live with, and over the years we became personal friends.

13. What is the biggest frustration in your work?

Well, nowadays we are doing quite fine, but in the old days we always had problems with the budget. It was just like feeding a baby bird. No matter what you feed it, it still has its mouth open. Budgets could not be big enough, but now we have found a good way of working. Our budget has been increased of course, we will get 75.000 Euro for the next production, and we are going to record the orchestration and choir in Russia I think, which means more value for money, so we can triple the size of the orchestra and at least double the size of the choir. So money isn’t really a problem anymore, like it was in the old days. Back then I could have a vision of what I wanted to do, but I was limited to what was possible financially. That was the frustrating thing. It is like you are a painter, you have a vision to paint this or that in green, but the only available paint is blue…you can’t use such crap as an artist, but unfortunately that is the way the world works. Everything costs money.

14. What has been your most frightening experience?

I think that was the time I cut up my left hand. I was afraid I was never able to play an instrument again. It was that time I just was beginning to learn to play the bass. I wanted to play Heavy Metal, and the first instrument I picked up was the bass, but then I smashed my hand into a window. I cut some major muscles in my hand, and the doctors had to sew it back together (still got a big scar there). I honestly sat their just kissing my musical career goodbye you know.

15. Would you rather be blind or deaf?

To go deaf is probably my biggest fear. I’d rather go blind than deaf. If you turn blind your life becomes pretty difficult, but if you turn deaf… It means no music anymore, and I think I’d probably buy a gun and shoot myself. For me there is no life without music, it would be so frustrating…not being able to write it or listening to it. I’m just too much of a music-aholic for that.


Lords of Metal review » Sonata Arctica - Songs Of Silence (Live in Tokyo)


Sonata Arctica - Songs Of Silence - Live In Tokyo

Sonata Arctica - Songs Of Silence - Live In TokyoFerdi: In 2001 Sonata Arctica spend about a week in Japan. During that week the band played wo sold out performances in the country’s capital, Tokyo. During two nights the band recorded their shows, and the best one of these two has ended up on cd. ‘Songs Of silence – Live In Tokyo’ has twelve songs, taken from the two full-length cd’s that the group recorded. The thing that strikes me most about this cd is the incredible sound: the audio is superb. Very clean, transparent and at the same time very solid and heavy. The keyboardparts and guitarparts all sound very clear, even when the two are solo-ing at the very same time. I’d even go as far as saying that I actually prefer these recordings to the originals. By no means am I trying to imply that SA’s cd’s sound bad (they don’t), it’s just that these recordings sound more spontaneous and sincere. The only drawback of this cd is the singer who doesn’t manage to hit all the high notes towards the end of the set. But then again, he DID have a large cold when this album was recorded, and it’s only a small price to pay for such a good cd. The band is playing at the peak of their powers, and that – in combination with the great sound and the good setlist- is reason enough to give this cd a chance. Without a doubt one of the best live-cd’s that I’ve heard this year. Buy this motherfucker!


No score

Nightwish Live » Paradiso - Amsterdam - August 28 2002


Coming soon

Text by: Evil Dr. Smith

English version will be online shortly

Interview with After Forever 1

Source: Lords of Metal
Issue 17 - June 2002

With their well-received second CD ‘Decheiper’ and a lot of shows for this summer everything goes fine for this Dutch Gothic Metal Band. I talked to guitar player and singer Sander after their gig at the Borstrock Festival. The band is already looking ahead, but we also look back at the switch of their second guitar player.

Text: Tormentor Erich

You play a lot of gigs, Pinkpop, Graspop, Sjwaampop, does it become a routine already?

Sander: Every gig is a challenge. Without audience the gig would be a paid rehearsal. Pinkpop was fantastic with 8000 people in the tent, and today is it again exciting to see to which degree we can get the public supporting us. We always want to impress as many people as possible.

Do you watch other bands today ?

Sander: Yes, today I want to see Uriah Heep and Highway Chile. I know Highway Chile via stories from the past. It’s nice to get a change today to see it for myself.

Do you still learn from other bands ?

Sander: For sure. I always watch for their technique, and I notice their way of communicating with the audience. The joy of playing is very important. I myself have some difficulties with this sometimes. I’m still trying to find the perfect combination between joy and routine.

What are your plans for after the summer ?

Sander: After the summer we go on tour for two weeks with Nightwish, and we’ll write new songs.

What will the new CD sound like ?

Sander: It will be a concept CD ! But I’m not going to tell more at this moment. The music will be more intense. The classic parts, and the heavy parts will be more intense. The Death-grunt will be in the music as long as it fits the atmosphere, and this will definitely be the case on the new CD. We’ll never become like Sentenced or Paradise Lost who sound completely different from their first 2 records now.

I think it was good to release ‘Decheipher’ on LP also. How where the reactions to this ?

Sander: The vinyl version was an idea of the record company. They put out some picture discs as well. We get positive reactions mostly, and I understood that most copies are sold out by now, although I have to admit both the LP and the picture disc are limited editions.

I would like to hear some songs like ‘My pledge of allegiance’ being played together with a big symphonic orchestra. Do you like that idea ?

Sander: Well yes, I thought about it myself sometimes. We would love to work with such an orchestra, but in the near future there´s no chance, sadly.

Today I also talked to Ernst van Ee (Highway Chile) about the pros and contras of the internet.

Sander: The magic about a band can disappear when you get all their info from the Internet. It’s less exciting to see a band that has no surprise for you. On the other side the Internet is a perfect medium to meet quick many people. This of course can be to your advantage.

Back to your roots now, how did you come ìnto the metal`?

Sander: About 1985 I was completely impressed by Europe. Since then it stayed with me and I explored my taste.

You all are relative young, in what way does your home situation influence the band ?

Sander: Our parents always liked the fact that we were very into our music. Although not all our dads got Deep Purple records, they show understanding. Besides that they know how to see things in perspective concerning us, which is good for our development apart from the band. I want to make an exeption for the dad of Marc at this point (Marc who has left the band – TE) he used to play in a band himself, and he really helped us a lot with the paperwork an stuff.

A lot of people compare you to Within Temptation. What do you think of this ? And would you also want to have such a chart success ?

Sander: I didn’t think Within Temptation was metal, at first. But they ‘found’ themselves, and what they do now is 100 % Within Temptation. That’s the case with After Forever also, we got our own thing going. I think their roots are a lot different from ours. Their big single success is good for metal music to get more air-time on regular radio. Even if it turned out to be a one hit wonder, we would like the same as long as we don’t have to make any concessions to our music.

Why is Marc no longer in the band ? And who is Bas ?

Sander: Well, if Marc would not be out of the band, there would be no more After Forever. I will not explain what happened. I’m not into mud throwing. Marc is now working on a new band and I really wish him all the best, seriously. (At this moment Bas peeps in for a short introduction) : I play the guitar since the mid-nineties. I started in a cover-band. We played songs from the Stones etc. but also Ozzy and Purple. I came in contact with After Forever via my sister, she knows Floor, and that’s how fast things can go. Last week we played Pinkpop, and today we are here, its great! But let me make one thing clear: at this moment I’m like a session player. After the tours we will see if I’m to be the full-time second guitar player.

Last question, with Occult, Suppository, Callenisch Circle, Form, Inhume, SunCaged and After Forever the south of The Netherlands (Limburg) has a lot of good metal in different styles, so it seems that the scene’s okay over there.

Sander: Limburg has a group of fanatic metalheads. They go everywhere and they ‘do not keep to 1 style. And because of their interest and fanatism a lot of different bands get possibilities to develop. Although I must admit that Limburg hasn’t got a big concert hal to play in.

Sander, thank you and any famous last words ?

Sander: Yes, this is very important: “BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL !”


Met de goed ontvangen tweede cd ‘Deceipher' en veel optredens deze zomer gaat het prima met deze Nederlandse Gothic Metal band. Ik sprak gitarist en zanger Sander na afloop van hun optreden op Borstrock. De band kijkt alweer vooruit, maar we kijken natuurlijk ook nog even terug naar de recente wisseling van de tweede gitarist.

Jullie spelen veel, Pinkpop, Graspop, Sjwaampop, wordt het al routine ?

Sander: Ieder optreden is een uitdaging. Zou er geen publiek zijn dan is het een betaalde repetitie. Pinkpop was fantastisch met 8000 man publiek in de tent, en vandaag is het weer spannend om te kijken in hoeverre we dit publiek mee krijgen. We willen altijd zo veel mogelijk mensen overtuigen.

Kijken jullie ook naar wat er nog meer speelt ?

Sander: Vandaag wil ik Uriah Heep en Highway Chile graag zien. Highway Chile is bij mij bekend via verhalen over vroeger, leuk om dat nu zelf toch mee te maken.

Leren jullie nog van andere bands ?

Sander: Jazeker. Ik kijk altijd naar de techniek van een andere muzikant, en ik let op de houding van hen naar het publiek toe. Spelvreugde is heel belangrijk. Ook ik heb soms moeite hiermee. Ik zoek dan ook nog naar de ideale mix tussen routine en plezier.

Wat zijn de plannen na de zomer ?

Sander: Na de zomer gaan we twee weken op tour met Nightwish, en er worden dan nieuwe nummers geschreven.

Hoe gaat het nieuwe materiaal klinken ?

Sander: De nieuwe cd wordt een concept cd, maar meer inhoud geef ik nog niet. Wat de muziek betreft willen we zowel de metal als de klassieke stukken nog intenser maken. De grunt zal blijven zolang hij in de sfeer past, en dat zal bij nieuwe cd zeker zo zijn. Wij zullen geen Sentenced of Paradise Lost worden die nu compleet anders zijn t.o.v hun eerste 2 platen.

Ik vind het goed dat ‘Decheipher' ook op lp is uitgebracht. Hoe waren de reakties hierop ?

Sander: De vinyl versie was een idee van de platenmaatschappij. Er zijn ook nog enkele picture discs uitgebracht. We krijgen er voornamelijk positieve reacties op, en ik heb begrepen dat de meeste exemplaren ondertussen zijn verkocht. Daar moet ik wel bij vermelden dat het zowel voor de lp als ook bij de pd om een gelimiteerde oplage gaat.

Sommige nummers zoals ‘My pledge of allegiance' zou ik wel eens graag willen horen in samenspel met zo´n groot orkest. Lijkt jullie dat wat ?

Sander: Ik heb hier zelf ook wel eens aan gedacht. Wij zouden deze samenwerking zeker willen, maar dat zit er voorlopig niet in, helaas.

Ik sprak vandaag ook Ernst van Ee over de voor en nadelen van internet.

Sander: De magie rondom een band verdwijnt wel met alle info op internet. Het is minder spannend om een band te zien waar je alles al van weet. Aan de andere kant is het wel een perfect medium om snel veel mensen te ontmoeten, hier kun je weer je voordeel uit halen.

Terug naar je roots nu, hoe ben je in de metal terecht gekomen ?

Sander: Rond 1985 werd ik helemaal gegrepen door Europe. Dat is me altijd bijgebleven, en sind die tijd ben ik ook mijn smaak gaan verbreden.

Jullie zijn allemaal nog relatief jong. Welke rol speelt het thuisfront bij de band ?

Sander: Onze ouders vonden het altijd leuk dat wij zo met onze muziek bezig waren. Niet al onze vaders hebben Deep Purple in de kast staan, maar ze tonen wel begrip. Daarbij weten ze ons wel te relativeren, wat weer goed is voor andere persoonlijke ontwikkelingen. De vader van Marc (Marc ... die ondertussen niet meer in de band zit-TE) moet ik hier trouwens wel even uitlichten. Hij heeft vroeger zelf in een band gespeeld, en hij heeft ons veel geholpen met b.v. de boekhouding.

Veel mensen vergelijken jullie met Within Temptation. Wat vind je hiervan ? Zou je ook zo´n bekende band in de top 40 willen zijn ?

Sander: Ikzelf vond Within Temptation eerst geen metal, maar ze hebben zich gevonden en wat ze nu doen is volgens mij 100 % Within Temptation. Dat is bij ons ook zo, we hebben ons eigen ding. Ik denk wel dat hun roots heel anders is als bij ons. Hun grote single succes is goed voor de metalmuziek op de radio. Al zou het een one hit wonder blijken te zijn, wij zouden dat ook wel willen zolang we maar geen enkele consessie hoeven te doen in onze muziek.

Vanwaar het vertek van Marc ? En wie is Bas ?

Sander: Waarom Marc niet meer in de band zit ? Omdat er anders geen After Forever meer was geweest. De uitleg laat ik verder achterwege, ik wil geen modder gooien of zo. Marc is bezig met een nieuwe band en ik wens hem oprecht succes. (Op dat moment schuift Bas even bij en stelt zich kort voor): Ik speel sinds halverwege de jaren 90 gitaar, en ben begonnen in een coverband. We speelden Stones e.d. maar ook Ozzy en Purple. Ik ben met After Forever in contact gekomen via mijn zusje, want die kent Floor weer. Zo snel kan het gaan ! Vorige week stond ik op Pinkpop en vandaag sta ik weer hier, het bevalt prima. Voor de duidelijkheid , ik ben voorlopig zeg maar sessie-gitarist. Na het touren gaan we kijken of ik de plek voor vast ga invullen.

Tot slot: met Occult, Suppository, Callenisch Circle, Form, Inhume, Sun Caged en After Forever Heeft Limburg veel goede metal, voor elk wat wils. Is er een goede scene ?

Sander: Limburg heeft een harde kern die altijd overal naar toe gaat en niet zo meedoet aan de hokjesgeest. Hun interesse is groot en hierdoor krijgen veel verschillende bands mogelijkheden tot ontwikkeling. Het valt me wel tegen dat we in Limburg niet echt een grote zaal hebben.

Oke, Sander bedankt voor dit interview en zijn er nog Famous last words ?

Sander: Jazeker, en deze zijn heel belangrijk: "BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL !"


Lords of Metal review » My Dying Bride - The Voice Of The Wretched (Live at 013 Tilburg)


My Dying Bride - The Voice Of The Wretched (Live at 013 Tilburg)

file under Death metal / Grindcore

Michiel B.: Collectors of My Dying Bride material can get busy again. On behalf of label Peaceville's 2 albums entitled "Meisterwerk I & II" were released and this time we are treated to the DVD "For Darkest Eyes" (nice link to "For Darkest Skies") including all released videos of the band,together with a huge collection of pictures and the live performances at the Dynamo Open Air festival in 1995. (a limited edition 4-track bonus-CD has been released together with "The Angel And The Dark River") and one at Krakow , Poland from 1996 (of which an official video has been released already) As well as the live album "The Voice Of The Wretched" containing the concert the band held at the 013 club in Tilburg , The Netherlands on behalf of the Peacefest last year March.

Coincidence or not: This show was definitely one 1 of the best live shows I have ever witnessed. The typical My Dying Bride live show atmosphere is hardly done by any others and therefor it's a hard job to get this atmosphere on CD but I think the band has really succeeded. While listening to this album I drift away back to the time I was listening to this extremely good and tight performed gig. Once again the intro's of "She Is The Dark", "The Cry Of Mankind" and "Symphonaire..." bring back loads of shivers and goosebumps. And this time the surprise of the new song "A Cruel Taste Of Winter", which was released on the latest album "The Dreadful Hours", has been replaced by a feeling of recognition (the live version is completely identical to he album version). Both the mix (I haven't hardly heard a live album which had such a bright mix) as well as the specially for this occasion made set-list (nearly all albums are represented) are balanced perfectly, all 10 songs are performed brilliantly (although Martin Powell can never be replaced for 100% by the keyboards) and after 75 minutes of heavy and melancholic sounds my hunger to see the grandmasters of doom metal live again has only grown stronger.. I can't wait for this Summer!!!

By the way, my promo copy (both the cover as well as the CD) contains misprints: the songs "Turn Loose The Swans' and "The Snow In My Hand" have been changed in the play-list. Hopefully this error has been fixed with the actual release.. 


Judge M.'s verdict: 90/100


Lords of Metal review » Theatre Of Tragedy - Assembly


Theatre Of Tragedy - Assembly
Nuclear Blast

Tim: We are all familiar with the term “everlasting love”, but I am not so sure about this anymore. The love between myself en Theatre is losing its passion and starting to show signs of wear and tear. Did their previous CD ‘Musique’ still manage to induce moderate enthralment, there was no such reaction to this one. Mind you, they are considered the founders of the notable Angel versus Death (grunt) vocals. This album again combines Electro influences and unforced Gothic metal. The number of new fans exceeded those clocking off when they took on this new style, so they must have decided to apply the general rule ‘never change a winning formula’. I am not too pleased with this course of action myself, actually. This CD provides eighties pop-music with a bit of guitar thrown in, to put it bluntly. That is why ‘Envision’ (cover) emerges as such a sublime choice. It sounds agreeable enough, but so does Britney Spears (or am I confusing sound with looks here?). This once again proves that an image-change (Liv does her best to be sexy) does not necessarily work to one’s advantage. Reinforcements such as producer Hiili Hiilismaa (Moonspell, Apocalyptica) and Vegard K. Thompson on guitar failed to contribute to a more satisfying result.


Rating: 55/100


Lords of Metal review » Edenbridge - Arcana


Edenbridge - Arcana

Jack The Jester: Within Temptation, After Forever, Nightwish, The Gathering, Tenk, in a nutshell, Symphonic Metal with Gothic influences and female vocals, that is something which in general quite turns me on, and Edenbridge is a good runner-up. With Sabine Edelsbacher the band’s got a real winner. With her ‘classic’ like voice and a feel for drama this band is a cool addition in this genre, which they call 'Angelic Bombast Metal'. This Austrian formation gained a lot of good reactions with their debut album "Sunrise In Eden", and I think they’re close to a real breakthrough with ‘Arcana’. Just as with the debut LanVall (guitars and keyboards) is in charge of the music and lyrics, and he’s pretty good at it. By the way, if there are musicians among you who’re looking for a job, check their website, for there it reads in capitol : -----KEYBOARDER WANTED!!!------ Anyway, I don’t do this very often, but in this case I’ll make an exception and tell you that this album is a must-buy! It's a beautiful album, and it’s very likely that you also will become enchanted by this wonderful angel like voice, a voice supported by excellent guitar work and keys at the right time at the right place.


The Jester screams: 88/100


Interview with Sonata Arctica 2

Source: Lords of Metal
Issue 12 - November 2001



Sonata Arctica timmert aan de weg. Het is publiek geheim dat hun nieuweling ‘Silence' zo onbeschoft goed is dat iedere fan van melodieuze powermetal die deze cd nog niet bezit zich diep hoort te schamen. Ik sprak met gitarist Jani Liimatainen, die een paar dagen eerder terugkwam van een korte Japanse toer waar een live-cd is opgenomen.


Sonata Arctica is on the uprise. Their second cd 'Silence' is so insanely good that any self-respecting metalhead should own at least one copy. Lords Of Metal spoke to guitarist Jani Liimataine, after his return from a Japanese tour where the band recorded their first live-album.

Text: Ferdi

Hello Jani , how was the Japanese tour last week?

“The Japanese tour was most unbelievable. The Japanese were the best audience that we’ve ever had, although we didn’t even play our best shows there. You see, our singer Tony was very ill during those shows and his voice suffered from it. But the fans didn’t care, they went nuts ant treated us like gods. Almost to the point of annoyance, because was someone on every moment of the day asking if you are alright. Hehehe, but that’s part of the deal I guess. We played four headliner shows, each one was 90 minutes and we had an extra day for promotion. We got back two days ago and I’m still suffering from the jetlag. So apart from sleeping I haven’t been up to much since I got home. But it was a great experience and I can’t wait to go there again.”

You were supposed to record a live-CD in Japan. Who came up with the idea of recording one and how did the recordings turn out to be?

“Our record company proposed us to record a live-CD and of course what better place to record it than Japan? We recorded two shows last week, but up to this point aren’t sure what to do with it. I listened to the recordings from the first night, but don’t know if they are good enough to release it. Like I said, Tony was suffering from both a fever and the flue and he had a very hard time on stage. I haven’t even listened to the recordings from the second night. But when we all have the nerves to listen to it we’ll decide if we’ll release it and which songs we’ll use. We will select the best songs and have about 70 minutes of music.”

And is it an option to record the vocals in the studio and use redubs?

“That’s an option, but I’d rather not do that. I want to keep it as pure as possible, but it is really to early to say anything about that without having heard the recordings first.”

How important is the Japanese market to you?

“The Japanese market is our biggest market at the moment. People there are really crazy about us. For this reason we released a special EP before we went on tour and released our last album ‘Silence’ in Japan first.”

Please tell me something about the Japanese EP.

“It is called ‘Orientation’ and was released several weeks ago. It includes the song ‘Black Sheep’ from our album Silence, the Iron Maiden-cover ‘Die With Your Boots On’, the Bette Midler-cover ‘The Wind Beneath My Wings’ and an acoustic version of ‘Mary Lou’. This release was meant as a gesture towards our Japanese fans, so this CD will not be released in Europe in the same way. The Europeans will get the ‘Tear Drop Falls’ EP in this month. It will be released in Finland on the 24th of September (This interview took place before the release of the album –ED) in Finland and possibly on the same day in the rest of Europe and it will include the Maiden-cover and the acoustic version of Mary Lou.”

Can you tell me something about the bonustracks?

“Our record label asked us to record the Iron Maiden-cover for an upcoming tribute. Tony came up with the idea of covering the Bette Midler-song because he liked the melodies and the lyrics. We played the song in our rehearsalroom and liked it all. We changed the arrangements a little to make it more metal, but the change is not as radical as the Scorpions-cover we did. Mary Lou is an old song. The song dates back from when the band was still named Tricky Beans. The song was originally a ballad, but we speeded it up when we recorded it as a b-side for our first single. On this version we’ve slowed it down again, so in fact it is the same version as Tony intended it to be when he wrote it four years ago.”

What do you think of this album yourself?

“Well, this is an interview and I guess that I have to say that I like it, hehehe. No, without joking: the album is a couple of months old and I guess that we could’ve done several things otherwise. But in general I’m still pleased with it. We grew as musicians and as persons and released a more mature sounding record. Tony has improved a lot as a singer and the songs are much stronger. So I really think that its a step ahead from Ecliptica.”

How did you record the album and how long did it take you?

“The album was recorded over the course of six months. We recorded a handful of songs, then went home and wrote some new material and then recorded those, etc. When we were reaching the end we felt like we had too many really fast song; the album was already a lot faster than the first CD. So we consciously slowed some other songs down and recorded some slow songs. In the end I think that we managed to write a very balanced album with a big variety of songs.”

You said that Tony improved as a singer and I wholeheartedly agree: he has become an awesome singer. Has e ever had singing-lessons?

“No, not that I’m aware of. The improvements just came natural. On the tour with Stratovarius he didn’t have to play keyboards so I he could focus completely on singing and I guess that helped him too. Tony has got a very delicate voice, that can’t handle too much pressure. He has got asthma, so when there’s too much smoke in the audience it kills his voice.”

In the past you’ve always had various editions of your albums. Silence appeared in no less than four different versions in different area’s in the world. Don’t you think that, in this day of age when napsterclones and ftp-sites are common, it is old-fashioned to release Japanese-only bonustracks?

“Well we are in a kind of awkward situation when it comes to Japan. On one hand we don’t want to let down the Japanese fans in any way because they are our prime target at the moment and at the other hand we don’t want to insult our European fans either. As for mp3, we fully support people downloading the bonustracks from the various editions. If people can’t get hold of an expensive imported copy and still want to have that one special song then they can download it and that’s okay. As long as they don’t download our full albums.”

But why bother to issue different releases then? If everyone downloads those tracks anyway, surely there’s no point not to put them on all of the versions?

“It is a complicated issue. You have to imagine that the prices in Japan are generally higher than elsewhere in the world. So much higher in fact, that it is cheaper for Japanese stores to import albums from Europe than to buy domestic versions. That's why we put an exclusive track on the Japanese version so that it becomes worthwhile for Japanese stores to sell the Japanese version.”

So in the end the Japanese fans end up paying more for the same. If you would release one version of every album the Japanese fans could buy imported copies and pay less and the European would have every song without having to look them up on the internet or download them.

“That’s true, but we would be hurting the Japanese market that way.“

Why are you guys so anti-internet? You’ve done three songs about how bad the net is.

“I don’t have an internet connection myself, but I like to surf the web every now and then. We have got a lot of visitors on our website and we love to communicate with them that way. We have a messageboard on the homepage and love to read what people think of our music. Sometimes we try to respond to their messages their, but unfortunately don’t have the time to answer every message. As for the internet in general, it has its plusses and minuses. It speeds up communication between people, but also makes lies and rumours spread faster. The song ‘Falls News Travels Fast’ actually deals with this topic. And I think that mp3 poses a real threat to the music-industry. I don’t mind if people download some of our song, but people who want our full albums should just go to the stores and buy them.”

This year you’ll go on tour with Gamma Ray. How did you get to be on it?

“Well I‘m not exactly sure, but I believe that there was a poll on the Gamma Ray mailinglist about which band should be the support for Gamma Ray. Somehow we managed to come out on top of the list and Gamma Ray’s management approached our record company. Spinefarm asked us if we wanted to do the tour and we instantly said yes. We were waiting for a chance to go on tour to come along and this was exactly what we were waiting for. We are the second band on the bill. Vanishing Point starts off, we’re second and Gamma Ray is a headliner.”

You guys recorded a version of the Helloween song ‘I Want Out. What does Kai think of the song?

“I don’t know. I guess that I’m gonna ask him on tour, hehehe.“

You’re not gonna play the Helloween-cover live, are you?

“No, we wont play it. We’ll only play it on the last show of the tour, in Helsinki.”

You guys have got two CD’s and a handful of covers ready. How do you decide the setlist?

“The setlist changes from day to day. An hour before we go on the stage we ask ourselves which songs we feel like playing the most. We’re able to play every song live that we have recorded, so there’s enough to choose from.”

Last year you went on tour with Rhapsody and Stratovarius. Some people say that that tour was integral to your current success. How do you see this yourself?

“Well, I don’t know. In Japan we were already very successful before the tour. But yeah, I guess that in Europe we gained a lot of fans on that tour. That’s the main purpose of touring: to gain new grounds. And a lot of Rhapsody and Stratofans probably liked our sound.”

Was it also a learning-experience, as it was your first tour?

“Oh, definitely. It was our introduction to touring and to live on the road. Stratovarius turned out to be a great band to tour with. They’re very professional and serious about what they do and certainly thought us a good number of tricks. We especially spend a lot of time with their drummer Jorg Michael who knew a lot about the business itself. He taught us important stuff about how the record industry works and for example learned us that you should never, ever, give away the rights to your merchandising. That kind of stuff. It helped us a lot to get an insight into how it works being a musician.“

Can you live off the band now?

“Yes, we can. We don’t have a lot of money so we cant live like the rich, but we certainly don’t have to work besides the band and none of us goes to school anymore. And that’s a good thing, because with all the touring, recording and promoting going on, there s barely time for us to do anything else.“

How old are you by now?

“I myself turned 21 last week. The other guys are either 20 or 21, only Tony is 26.”

You guys are very young. Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

“That’s a hard question. I hope that in ten years time I will still be making music on a professional level. Perhaps not with Sonata Arctica, but in one way or another I hope that I’ll be doing the same thing as I am doing now.”

How far do you think that you can push this band?

“That’s also hard to say. I’ve been taught never to be too optimistic, because if you are disappointment lurks just around the corner. We take things on a step-by-step basis. We’ll release a single this month, go on tour, perhaps release a live album and start working on the new record by the end of the year. It is hard to look ahead further than that because by its nature this industry is so predictable.”

You’ve got a point. I can imagine that two or three years ago you never imagined to be this popular.


Back to Silence for a moment. You re-recorded the song San Sebastian from your previous EP. Why?

“Because we felt this was a very strong track and thought it a waste to have it on the EP and nothing else. So we re-recorded it and I think that it worked out rather well. This version sounds much tighter because we used click-tracks and they keyboard have a more prominent place.”

Why didn’t you rerecord the song ‘Shy’?

“That’s kind of a strange story, but it comes down to it that we didn’t think the song fitted in with the material on the rest of the album.”

But I love that song!

“Yeah, so do I. The song was written when we were still named Tricky Beans and we dusted it off for the Sucessor-record. But I think that it was too slow and since we already had two ballads, we didn’t put it on Silence.”

When is Dana gonna return to your albums?

“I’m sorry to break this to you, but Dana will not return anymore. Probably. We’ve used her on two songs, but Dana is buried for now.”

Hmm… perhaps you could bring her back from the dead.

“Well, there’s a thought. Dana coming back from the dead to hunt people down. I’ve got to ask Tony about this one (laughs).”

But now that we’re on the subject, you’ve had a couple songs dealing with horror-topics. Are you guys into watching movies?

“Tony is the big movie freak in the band and also comes up with most of the ideas for the lyrics. And yes, various lyrics were influenced by films. For example ‘Full Moon’, ‘Wolf & Raven’ and ‘Destruction Preventer’. When you listen to those songs and close your eyes you can imagine the story taking place as if you were watching a film.”

The song the ‘End Of This Chapter’ on Silence also has a very soundtrackish quality. Was it influenced by any film?

“No, it was a story that we came up with ourselves. It is a story about a man and a woman having a relation, but the guy is really sick. He goes into a mental institution and disappears from her live. The girl gets away, starts a new life elsewhere with a new partner. The song starts a couple of years later when the guy is released from the institution and calls her on the phone and for her the nightmare starts all over again.”

Is the song part of a bigger concept? Will you, for example, ever translate the preceding story into another song?

“No, but we might do a sequel. There’s another song in the works that continues where this song left off and perhaps we’ll put those two songs on an EP with some bonus-material. But that’s unsure at the moment how and if this will take place, so you’ll just have to have patience.”

We talked about Tricky Beans a couple of moments ago. What was the story behind this band?

“Tricky Beans was the name of Sonata Arctica before we got a contract, our record company suggested that we changed the name to something cooler. It was a kinda silly name. With the band we played a strange mix op pop/rock and we released several demo’s. Some of the older demo songs were re-recorded with Sonata Arctica. We drastically changed our style on the fourth demo, the one that got us signed.”

And what made you decide to change the music?

“Stratovarius! We heard their CD and decided that that was what we wanted to do too.”

Your last single Wolf & Raven’ reached the third place in the Finnish single-charts. How the hell do metalbands manage to get into the Finnish charts, because that seems unimaginable in a lot of other countries.

“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. Bands like Stratovarius and Nightwish frequently end up high in the charts and I have absolutely no sensible explanation why they do so well here and so bad in other countries. There must be a reason, but I can’t think of one.”

Perhaps because the media pay more attention to metal in Finland? Do you get a lot of airplay with sonata Arctica?

“No, that’s the strange part. We don’t get any airplay on the radio and television. They only showed our video on a chartshow, but never during regular programmes.“

You will release the ballad Tear drop Falls on a single this month. Is it going to be your first number one hit in Finland?

“Hahaha, who knows! But seriously: I would be very happy if it did, but I try to keep my expectations low. But I think that we have a very big chance to. The song is very strong and will probably appeal to a large audience and with two unreleased songs it is good value for money top our regular fans too. We’ll see!”

Lords of Metal review » After Forever - Decipher


After Forever - Decipher
Transmission Records

Michiel B.: Things can go pretty fast for a band which has been proved by the from Limburg (NL) originated melodic metallers of After Forever. In April 2000 the band released their debut album ‘Prison of Desire’ and ever since the band’s career has been accelerated up to gear 5. With performances at festivals such as Eurorock (B), Bospop (NL, at both festivals in both the year 2000 as well as 2001), Lowlands, Metalfest 2001, nearly all Dutch clubs, the band was booked as one of the first bands for Dynamo Open Air 2001 (R.I.P.) and recently shortly after recording this new album ‘Decipher’ they did a mini-tour in Mexico. Besides that the band’s popularity in both their native country as well as in counties like Belgium, Mexico en Brazil is considerable.

And my expectations are that this will only get better with the release of their new album because my God, what a great album this is!! Where many people feared that After Forever would slow down on their second album just like Within Temptation did have been wrong because this album is the best example of a band who have grown more mature without losing any of their power. Ever since I received the new album (with many thanks to the band members and hereby a small sneer to the record label who can easily send 10 copies to our printed brothers of Aardschok and Mindview but keep ignoring a decent e-zine) this CD has been in my CD player nearly without any interruptions and still the album keeps surprising me. Although the album certainly shows some parallels with the debut album ‘Prison of Desire’ (once again the album opens with a nice orchestral intro, a story line is to be found on the album once again consisting of 11 strong tracks taking approximately 54 minutes altogether), ‘Decipher’ beats ‘Prison Of Desire’ on every occasion. The band has clearly given more thought to the compositions and therefore they are more complicated as on the previous album and the band members are obviously better used to play with one another.

After the intro the album opens strongly with the first single to be released namely ‘Monolith Of Doubt’ (I just read a press release in which was announced that a no-grunts version of this song will be added to the single) which was the first song the band wrote after the release of ‘Prison of Desire’ and they play this song live since September last year. The album continues with ‘My Pledge Of Allegiance part I’, sort of the follow-up of ‘Follow In The Cry’ from Prison Of Desire with once again an Arabic sounding intro this time performed by a sitar player. After these 2 heavy songs unfortunately the album seems to lose a little of it’s heaviness to strike back merciless from song 7, ‘Estranged’. The album strikes best in the last 5 songs which are absolute pearls. When a sample of the speech former Israeli president Rabin held on the night he was shot to dead in 1993 is included in the last song of the album ‘Forlorn Hope’, the young band (all members are in the early 20) ones again states that both their music and lyrics show some real in-depth passages and that other bands should stick with elves and trolls.

Also it is quite noticeable that the individual band members have developed themselves quite well. After the recordings of ‘Prison of Desire’ the place behind the drum kit of Joep Beckers (nowadays playing in Triple7) was handed over to André Borgman (ex-Blind Justice) and on this new album it is quite obvious to hear that André has had much influence in the writing of the new material. In my opinion the drums (sorry Joep) sound way tighter, heavier and more varied then before. Also has André’s drumming allowed the band to vary their music more with the uses of tight breaks, varying and awkward rhythms. Also the keyboards (nowadays played by former Wicked Wizard keyboard man Lando van Gils) have been put back a little further behind in the mix which has created more room for the guitars. The vocals have improved as well on a certain points. Floor Jansen shows she is gifted with an extremely varied voice and no longer has to carry the label of only soprano (Although her higher reaches once again give me tons of shivers and goose bumps) by being also very strong in the lower regions. In my personal favourite, the musical-like ‘Imperfect Tenses’, Floor gets vocal assistance from tenor Rein Kolpa and for one moment I imagine myself being on Broadway. Also guitarist Mark Jansen’s screams in ‘My Pledge Of Allegiance part II’ (part of a 2-piece in which After Forever once again delivers a good note of criticism on oppressing people in the name of religions especially Islam which is a very hot news item these days, just as they did on the previous album) sound way more intense as in for example ‘Yield to Temptation’ from ‘Prison of Desire’.

Conclusion: With this After Forever is ready to rock the world and they don’t have to look up anymore to bands such as Nightwish, Within Temptation en Therion (every comparison with these bands have no more ground from now on Because After Forever once again shows all narrow minded people to have developed their very own style) although here and there some minor improvements can be done in my opinion. On the previous album the keyboards were a little dominating the album and now they appear to be a little too thin so in my opinion the band should find some sort of way in between of these 2 opposites and if they manage to keep the album exciting from the first till the last moment the I think my 100% score can be within reach for the next album. But in spite of the great album the band still hasn’t reached their actual top by far so they will have to be satisfied with a few points less and I think I already know my album of the year 2001..


Judge M.'s verdict: 96/100


Lords of Metal review » Tristania - World Of Class


Tristania - World Of Class
Napalm Records

Tim: Look, this here’s Gothic like Gothic Metal’s meant to be. Relaxed and laid-back passages varied with heavy and bombastic parts, grunt voices battling with angel like whispers, the excellent use of violins, the list is endless. If I’m compare this album to it’s predecessor than I think the conclusion is just that it’s all a bit more relaxed and quiet. Now don’t get me wrong, for it isn’t a complete transformation as with Theatre Of Tragedy, but the band decided to explore more of the vocal capacities of Vibeke Scene, probably because singer Morten Veland left the band. His place btw will be taken by one Kjetil Ingebrethsen on the coming tour. In a nutshell, if you’re a Gothic fan, take some time out to listen, you won’t be disappointed.


Rating: 90/100


Lords of Metal review » Therion - The Secrets Of The Runes


Therion - The Secrets Of The Runes
Nuclear Blast

Horst: The classical Metal orchestra led by conductor Christofer Johnsson released with ‘Secrets Of The Runes’ yet another very strong and powerful album. The music is in the same vain as on the albums ‘Vovin’ and ‘Deggial’, but this new album is considerably heavier than its predecessor ‘Deggial’, and I don’t mind that one bit, because it only makes the album more dynamic. Of course all the Therion trademarks are included: the hind of classical compositions, the opera choir, Metal parts varied with orchestra elements, just about everything that makes Therion such a unique band in the Metal world. Nice detail: ‘Secrets Of The Runes’ is a concept album which deals with the Nine Worlds from the Scandinavian Mythology (more info about this subject you can find on http://noorse-mythologie.boogolinks.nl). One might say that Therion isn’t surprising anymore, for musically seen there’s nothing new happening, but I don’t think that people who are into Therion give a rats ass. And I’m way into Therion…


Rating: 91/100


Lords of Metal review » My Dying Bride - The Dreadful Hours

My Dying Bride - The Dreadful Hours

Michiel D.: After the swindle of the two Meisterwerk albums is here the long-awaited real meisterwerk of My Dying Bride titled The Dreadful Hours. The band had given us at the Peacefest a foretaste of the new album in the shape of the new song A cruel Taste of Winter. In my opinion The Dreadful Hours is equal or maybe better than The Light at the End of the World. On the new album the band play more then ever before with blackmetalvocals and evil synthparts en sometimes the band play almost a blastbeat. The structure of the songs is great! From restrained modest melodies the songs reached to brutal bombastic pounding parts with growling vocals. The band have also done a re-recording of the classic The Return of the Beautiful which is for this opportunity turned into The return to the Beautiful. With a total playing time of 70:55 is this a compelled purchase for every My Dying Bride fan....


Rating: 98/100


zJasper: After the "Best of" CD’s 'Meisterwerk 1' and 2, 'The Dreadful Hours' is passed onto us from the bleak Midlands of England, a CD which second title might just have been 'Meisterwerk 3' as far as I'm concerned...for how beautiful this album turned out to be! Like many others I had given up hope a bit after '34.788 %...complete', which does contain rather enjoyable parts after multiple listening, and for a while it seemed that the band would split up, having lost a guitarist, drummer and violin/keymaster. Until the beautiful 'The Light at the End of the World' came out, full of drama, melancholy and deathgrunts. While that album leans a lot on the melancholical side, the band does the same on 'The Dreadful Hours', in a much, much darker way. The whole CD breathes a very obscure and eerie atmosphere and on top of that the pedal is pressed to the metal at times. 'The Raven and the Rose' for example contains a fast part which could almost be described as black metal, and the doublebass and chords heavy as shit are almost continuously present. 'La Piglie della Tempesta' could be described best as a dark variation on 'The Cry of Mankind' with the same kind of constant guitar melody and a strong compelling rhythm. The song is overall somewhat different from the rest of the songs on the CD. It's remarkable how much singer Aaron has grown, he sings at much more pitches than before. And keymistress Yasmin has become a worthy successor of Martin Powell, but gladly there are no attempts of simulating the violin on this album, because live the result was a bit disappointing actually. The concluding song 'The Return to the Beautiful' could fit perfectly on the band's debut 'As the Flower withers'. Uhm hang on, it ís an old song, the band has re-recorded 'The Return of the Beautiful' from that album. This is one of my MDB-favorites and I hope that the band will play it live, after 'Sear me III', 'Symphonaire Infernus' and this recording anything could be possible. This version is not very different from the original, only difference are a few added breaks with dark sounds (and a bit from 'The Bitterness and the Bereavement' in the background, another hint?), and even the blastbeat has been left in its old glory! So it's actually a sincere tribute to the past of the band, I have already been speculating with a friend of mine, which old song would be picked up next by the band! My Dying Bride has made another full-scale return, the sun sets again like in the old days over the Midlands. It's ironic how all this somber sadness can make me so happy!


Rating: 92/100


Lords of Metal review » Sonata Arctica - Silence


Sonata Arctica - Silence

Ferdi: Sonata Arctica’s first CD ended at the number one spot of my top 15 of 2000. Their debut sounded very youthful, almost naive in the way that it had a childish charm that is rarely to be seen these days. Their second cd is a huge step toward maturity. And it may not be the surprise hit that ‘Ecliptica’ was eighteen months ago, nevertheless this Finnish band has succeeded in recording a classic metal cd. The songs are better structured, contain more original ideas and the orchestration has improved. Tony Kakko has outdone himself as a vocalist and truly adds another dimension to the already superb melodies. The result of these improvements are the thrilling ‘The End Of This Chapter’, the dreamy ‘Sing In Silence’ and the splendid ‘The Power Of One’. These three songs are slightly slower than most of the other material, which is fast. REALLY fast. The typical Sonata-songs such as ‘Webballergy’, ‘Falls News Travels Fast’, ‘Black Sheep’, ‘San Sebastian’ en ‘Wolf & Raven’ are played at the speed of light and still contain the strong melodies and memorable vocals that this band is known for. Every song, from the first one till the last, has its own identity and is a classic unto itself. Even the two ballads, ‘Last Drop Falls’ and the Europe-ish’ are beautifully executed. ‘Silence’ is a cd full of highlights, and I am not overreacting when I say that this cd, together with Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia, is the best thing I’ve heard this year so far.


Rating: 96/100


Lords of Metal review » My Dying Bride - Meisterwerk II


My Dying Bride - Meisterwerk II

Michiel D.: Uhmm….What can I say about an album of which a band isn’t happy at all. Those who read the MDB interview in one of the LOM issues should remember that guitarist Andrew wasn’t very happy with the Meisterwerk releases. Singer Aaron took almost every opportunity to tell people not to buy this album, and in the eyes of MDB the Meisterwerk albums are a pure swindle. That’s no surprise because a real MDB fan will have this recordings still in his CD-rack and will perhaps only buy this album for the ‘For You’ video for keeping his collection complete. I think that I don’t have to tell you that the musical part is good as usual. The one and only reason why I give Meisterwerk not so many points is the fact that it is a redundant release and the band is not happy with it..


Rating: 30/100


Lords of Metal review » Finntroll - Jaktens Tid


Finntroll - Jaktens Tid
Century Media

Horst: If there’s something I enjoy a lot the last few years is has to be the mixing of traditional folk music with the well-known heavy guitars ‘n drums. Bands like Laberinto (South-America), In Extremo (medieval), Skyclad and Chruachan (Celtic) managed to surprise me a lot in the past, and the next in line to shock me must be the Finish band Finntroll. And yeah, you guessed it alright I guess, these blokes are returning to their Finish roots en are responsible for a nice mix between Metal and something called ‘Humppa’ (Finish Polka or something like that), varied with ‘Joik’, an ancient kind of singing done by Laplanders. Now I’m not an exert on ‘Joik’ or ‘Humppa’, but this combinations swings like hell. ‘Jaktens Tid’ is this band’s second CD, and the ancient rhythms are working surprisingly well with the standard metal riffs, which vary from rather traditional Heavy Metal to Black Metal like riffs. The vocals are ‘blackish’, but as soon as the ‘joiking’ starts the contrast is hilarious (in a positive way). Most of the songs are up-tempo and every now and then supported by intro’s which can be used easily as music for a movie or something (the instrumental track ‘Bakom Varje Fura’ by the way sounds a lot like the theme music from the moving picture "Beetlejuice’). Also an accordion (or keys that sound like that) is often used, which only contributes to the overall party atmosphere on the album, check out Vid Blödsalv’ of ‘Kitteldags’, and try to sit still in your chair. Now I haven’t got a clue were the lyrics are all about, for my Finish is quite rusty these days, but I bet that it deals with ancient story’s about Trolls and shit from Finland. Yes, this is a rather good and intriguing album which will do quite nice on a cool party, and most certainly worth taking some time out at the record shop to try it out. In the meantime I’ll go and look for the debut album…


Rating: 87/100


Contents : Killer Web Sites


That naturally belongs to the author of the book !

Ett universitets webbplats

      Se på en webbplats för ett universitet, där variationen av innehåll och konsumenter spänner över ett brett spektrum. Fysikern vill kommunicera och dela data med andra fysiker. Dramaklasserna vill skapa "teaterytor" på webben. Administrationen vill ha en databas med med bokning av lektionssalar och formulär för att fylla i ansökninar om allt möjligt. Olika "live cams", dvs videokameror kopplade till webben, dyker upp runtom på universitetsområdet. Laboratorier utför experiment som intresserade världen över kan ta del av. Idrottssektionen vill sälja biljetter till matcher. Biblioteket vill att man skall kunna söka efter boktitlar, de vill dessutom lägga några tusen böcker på nätet och visa videomaterial online istället för att låna ut och hantera ömtåliga videokassetter.Olika grupper vill annonsera ut sina fester. Studentgrupper vill ha live-utsändningar med sina tillställningar. Handikappade studenter vill ha kursmaterialet online. Teknikgruppen har kopplat varuautomaten till webben. Studenter på andra platser vill delta i klassrumsdiskussioner. Studentföreningen vill skapa ett varuhus medan andra vill lägga lunchmenyer online och låta eleverna designa sin egen pizza. Samtidigt vill de som erbjuder webbanknytning att alla, även de som är ointresserade av det visuella, skall uppleva allting. Administrationen vill att hela webbplatsen känns igen, är navigerbar, sökbar och att ingens rättigheter eller rykte påverkas av processen. Och HTML förväntas klara allt detta?

Innehåll i korthet

 1  Form eller Funktion
 2  Tredje generationens webbplatser
 3  Bildbehandling
 4  Sidlayout
 5  Visa text
 6  En sidöversyn
 7  En personlig webbplats
 8  Ett butiksfönster
 9  Ett galleri
10 Kreativa designlösningar
11 En CSS-introduktion
12 Övergångsstrategier
13 En blick framåt
Kapitel 1: Form eller funktion
In kommer Microsoft
Den virtuella smältdegeln
Fokusering på Design
Kapitel 2: Tredje generationens webbplatser
Första generationens webbplatser
Andra generationens webbplatser
Tredje generationens webbplatser
Fjärde generationens webbplatser
Förändring är bra
Metaforer: utforskandets handledning
Tema: Inredningsdesign för webben
Informationsbaserade webbplatser
Kapitel 3: Behandla bilder
Anpassa bilder till färgkuben
Minska filstorlekar
Minska paletten
Adaptiva färgpaletter
Påverka ett histogram
Läsa av paletten
      Om cache-minne
Progressiv visning
      Antal bilder kontra bildstorlekar
      Den Gyllene regeln för Filstorleksminskning

Kapitel 4: Utforma sidor
Kontrollera tomma vertikala ytor
      Tomma ytor med "mellanslag utan radbrytning"
Lägga in vertikalt tomrum
Förbjud horisontella linjer!
Horisontellt tomrum
Skapa marginaler
Flera spalter
Indragna listor
      Mellanrum mellan meningar
Mellanrum mellan ord
Mellanrum mellan bokstäver
Förskjutning och justering


KILLER WEB SITES  -  Hur du skapar de bästa webbplatserna
David Siegel

                     Behandlar teknik och metoder för att bygga webbplatser anpassade
                     till dagens 4.0-läsare och de kommande 5.0-versionerna.

                    Innehåller massor av tips, information om nya verktyg och ett fokus på
                    kompabilitet hos alla webbläsare.

                    Tre kapitel om strategier webbdesigners måste känna till, inklusive en
                    detaljerad genomgång av arbete med formatmallar.
Prentice Hall
(c) 1997 Hayden Books, an Imprint of Macmillan Computer Publishing USA

Contents : MySQL & PHP from scratch

Contents at a Glance

  Chapter 1    Prerequisite Operational System and Software
                  2   Obtaining the Software
                  3   MySQL
                  4   Apache Web Server
                  5   PHP
                  6   IMP
Appendix A   PHP Language Reference


Chapter 1  Prerequisite Operational System and Software

                     Red Hat Linux 6.0 or Greater Recommended
                           How to Check for the Presence of an Installed Package
                           How to Install a Needed Package from a CD
                           Standalone Usage: How to Verify Required services Are Installed and Working
                     Network Functionality
                           General Network Connectivity Guidelines
                           Testing Your Network Connection
                     System Security
                           Initial Security Steps
                           Application Upgrades
                     Apache Web Server
                           Verifying Apache Installation
                           Testing the Web Server Locally
                           Testing the Web Server from Another Computer
                           Verifying sendmail Installation
                           sendmail Configuration
                           Testing sendmail
                     GNU C/C++ Compiler
                           Verifying GNU C/C++ Installation
                           Testing the Compiler
                     Optional Local Network Usage
                           How to Connect to an Existing Local Area Network
                           Network Usage: Windown-Based Clients
Chapter 2  Obtaining the Software
                     How to Obtain Red Hat 6.2
                           Where to Purchase or Download
                     How to Obtain MySQL, PHP3, and IMP
                           Required File List
Chapter 3  MySQL
                     A Brief History
                     What is MySQL?
                           MySQL Description
                           How Ti Works
                           What It Does for You
                           Getting Online Help for MySQL
                           Installing the RPM
                           A Quick Test of the Install
                           Troubleshooting the Install
                     Configuration for Use with IMP
                     Database System Concepts
                           Database Design Tips
                           System Design Overview
                           General Database Desing Issues
                           Relational Databases
                           Data Identification Techniques
                           Database Design Helpers
                           Correct Utilization of Data
                           Modifications to the IMP Database
                           Graphical Database Representations
                     The IMP Database Structure
                     SQL Overview
                           MySQL Implements a Subset of SQL
                           SQL Keywords
                           Typical SQL Statements
                     MySQL's License
                           Free Use Within Limitations
                           Implications and Examples
 Chapter 4  Apache Web Server
                     Apache License
                     PHP Configuration Overview
                     IMP Configuration Overview
                     CGI and PHP Server Pages Overview
                           How CGI Works
                           How PHP Works in the ESL Mode
                           Testing the PHP and IMP Configuration
                     Security Issues
                           Running PHP with Minimal Risk
                           Apache Configuration Issues
                     The Next Step
 Chapter 5  PHP
                           A Brief History
                           PHP Worldwide Use
                     The GNU Public License
                           What It Means
                           Use of PHP Under the GNU License
                     What Is PHP?
                           How It Works
                           What It Does for You
                           Getting Online Help for PHP
                     The Software Packages to Obtain
                           Apache Development RPM
                           PHP3 Source Code
                           IMAP Development RPM
                           Freetype Development
                     Troubleshooting the Installation
                     PHP in a Nutshell
                           General Format
                           Strings and Parsing
                           Web Page Use
                           Apache Web Server
                     PHP Use
                           Database Interfacing
                           Using PHP in HTML Documents
 Chapter 6  IMP
                     GPL and GNU Library General Public License
                           Use of IMP Under the GNU Public License
                     What Is IMP?
                           IMP Description
                     IMP Installation
                           Obtaining the Software
                           Configuring the Pragram
                           Installing IMP
                     Testing IMP
                           Setting Up User accounts
                           Connecting to IMP
                     Using IMP
                     How IMP Works
                           What IMP Does for You
                           Getting Online Help for IMP
                     Troubleshooting the Install
                     Everyday Use of IMP
                           Customizing IMP
                           Email Inside an Office
                           Email on the Internet
Appendix A  PHP Language Reference In this Appendix
                           Basic Syntax
                           Variables and Types
                                 Floating Point
                                 Type Casting and Conversion
                                 Predefined Variables
                                 Variable Scoping
                                 Variable Variables
                           Constants and Expressions
                                 Comparison Operators
                                 Execution Operaters
                                 Assignment Operators
                                 Logic Operatos
                                 Reference Operators
                                 String Operator
                           Program Flow Control Statements
                                 The if Statement
                                 The else Statement
                                 The elseif Statement
                                 The while Statement
                                 The do/while Statement
                                 The for Statement
                                 The switch Statement
                                 The break Statement
                                 The continue Statement
                                 The require and include Statements
                           User-Defined Functions
                           Built-In Functions
                                Apache Server-Specific
                                Calendar and Date / Time
                                Data Manipulation
                                New Image Functions in PHP 4
                                PHP Information and Options
                                String Functions
                                URL Functions
                                Variable Functions


MySQL & PHP from scratch - Wade Maxfield

Integrate Linux, MySQL, Apache, PHP, and IMP into a Web-based email application

MySQL and PHP from scratch is designed to teach these programs in the context of building a real, working application. by designing and implementing a secure Web-based email service from beginning to end, you will learn how to develop Internet databases and email servers. Through the use of unique teaching icons -- such as How To Pronounce It, Geek Speak, and Excursions -- Wade Maxfield teaches you key concepts and terminology as well as interesting subject-related side notes that pertain to the topic at hand.

¤ Use the RPM to install prepackaged programs under Linux
¤ Set up and design an effective MySQL database
¤ Install and customize PHP to create a dynamic interface for your application
¤ Learn how to install a Web-based email service
¤ Follow tips to make your server more secure
¤ Configure and install sendmail effectively
¤ Arm yourself with the tools necessary

Wade Maxfield is president and CEO of Central Telecommunications, an ISP based in Fort Worth, Texas. He has more than 15 years experience in the ISP, communications, and consumer software industries. His company runs Linux and uses Apache, MySQL, PHP, and IMP. Wade's clients have included Mobil Oil, the State of Minnesota, the U.S. Navy Federal Credit Union, GTE, and RTEC Systems.

ISBN: 0-7897-2440-5
First Printing: November 2000

Lords of Metal review » Dimmu Borgir - Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia


Dimmu Borgir - Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia
Nuclear Blast

Michiel D.: Dimmu Borgir...What can we say about them... Once started as the such –and –such ramshackle blackmetal band from Norway with catchy synthesizerparts and an evil image. With 'Stormblast' they got the attention from the audience and I think that I don’t have to tell you the rest of the story. 'Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia' is the title of the new album and it shows us a fresh and innovative Dimmu Borgir. Those who thought that after 'Spiritual Black Dimensions' Dimmu Borgir got bogged down in endlessly repetitious solos and fan out synthersizerparts will be brought down to earth with a shock. With 'Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia' Dimmu Borgir have made a hell-bent album. In the first place we can hold Nick Barker responsible for that. With deadly accuracy he pounds the songs in an inimitable way to eachother and he shows that his skills are higher than he had shown us at his former bands. The departure of guitarplayer Astennu and the arrival of "Old Mans Child" mastermind Galder results in less guitarsolos and more riff-oriented songs. It seems to me that Dimmu Borgir have a look at The Kovenant from ex-colleague Nagash witness the industrial influences in the music and voice-distorted voice of Shagrath. The band has made of the benefit of an orchestra. The compositions are yet written by Mustis but for the most part performed by the orchestra, and in particular in the songs 'Indoctrination' and 'Puritania' the orchestra have a prominent role. Obviously the standard Dimmu Borgir elements such as IC Vortex’ powerful clean voice and the catchy melodies, but in my opinion sometimes some of the melodies are too cheerfully such as in 'The Maelstrom Mefisto'. A stranger in the midst is the bonustrack 'Burning Hell' from glamrockers Twisted Sister. If you were afraid that Dimmu Borgir would become soft and commercial you can buy this CD with confidence.


Rating: 90/100


Lords of Metal review » Narnia - Desert Land


Narnia - Desert Land
Nuclear Blast

Snoep: I always thought that religious rockbands were a sort of hippies with electric guitars, who had to get their fame from the people at evangelic festivals. But this prejudice soon dissappeared when I got to know Narnia. The third CD of these Swedes can best be described as neo-classical melodic rock like Europe and Malmsteen. It is larded with the amazing guitarplaying of masterguitarist Carljohan Grimmark. That’s an artist! Solo here, solo there, like it’s nothing. The lyrics are very christian with songtitles like ‘Inner Sanctum’ and ‘Angels Are Crying’, but do have more content than the lyrics of earlier CD’s. Songs like ‘The Witch And The Lion’ or the pulsating ‘Walking The Wire’ are very good and keep spinning around in your head for a long time. But.. I hate silences at the end of a CD. What is it good for, filling? Twelve minutes you listen to absolutely nothing. only to discover a crying baby at the end. Maybe fun for the musicians, but not for me.


Rating: 80/100


Lords of Metal review » Theatre Of Tragedy - Musique


Theatre Of Tragedy - Musique
Nuclear Blast

Evil Dr. Smith: Feeling like deja vu? That can be right, because this cd was already reviewed in another Lordsofmetal-zine (see archives). But the record company send us another copy, this time as a digipack (with the same industrial-like artwork), that has a bonus track as well. We don’t want to be a advertisement-source in disguise for this record company or Theatre Of Tragedy, so I’ll keep it short and restrict myself to the bonustrack. ‘The New Man’ is an uptempo rocker that throws me back to the very early 80’s of the new wave of Blondie. Doesn’t have a fuck to do with metal, but is in this style not too bad, only a bit old fashioned. Furthermore I can agree with my colleague in his review (don’t forget the obvious Die Krupps-sound in ‘Crash/Concrete’!), besides the fact that I’m completely in love with that brilliant bright voice of Liv Kristine. That’s why I’ll give them an extra half point (also because of those great, hitpotential songs like ‘City Of Light’, ‘Commute’, ‘Retrospect’ and ‘Radio’). The Norwegian and better version of Paradise Lost’s ‘Host’ should I said…


Evil Dr. Smith diagnoses: 80/100


Lords of Metal review » Theatre Of Tragedy - Inperspective


Theatre Of Tragedy - Inperspective

Michael: For some of you who already knew about the drastic musical changes of Theatre of Tragedy, this won´t come as a surprise. I already knew about it but had not heard the cd yet… This change of style is something I can´t believe and they always say after changing, well this is the real us… well damnit all the other times you fooled us and tricked us into buying cd´s so you could make some money? Ok, works for me, after all the other cd´s were good. However I am not sure if I am the right person to discus this cd, cause besides the guitars it has absolutely nothing, I repeat, NOTHING to do with metal. This cd is probably great in the ears of Dance and Trance lovers but to a die-hard metalhead like me, this cd is a worthless piece of work.


Rating: 35/100


Lords of Metal review » Various Artists - A Tribute To ABBA


Various Artists - A Tribute To Abba
Nuclear Blast

Horst: Look, you've got Tributes, and you've got Tributes. 'Is there any difference than?', I hear you think. Yes indeed, allowe me to explain. Almost all Tributes released in Metal land are honouring more or less legendary Metal bands (and the expression 'legendary' is debatable). Sometimes this is a guarantee for great records, like the two Judas Priest Tributes (Legends Of Metal Vol. 1 en 2), or 'Nativity In Black - A Tribute To Black Sabbath'. But alas also a lot of crap is being released by too much labels just to earn an easy extra buck by hitchhiking on the succes of others, with as all-time lows the 'Tribute To King Diamond' and 'Metallic Assault - A Tribute To Metallica' (see the archives for the reviews). Something that's less common (or even hardly excisting at all) are Tributes with Metal bands who only cover Top 40 bands. Maybe this particular album, 'A Tribute To Abba' might trigger off a new fashion in the world of Tribute albums. Do I mind something like that? Mwah, not really. The big advantage of covering popmusic is that you've always got the element of surprise, you know. And let's be honest here, did you ever hear a song like 'Thank You For The Music' in a pounding double bass drum supported version? I don't think so, and these kind of things makes this Tribute worthwile. I mean, I'm an old fart, and grew up in a time when Abba was very popular, and every time you switched on the radio, an Abba song was playing. In those days I regarded their music as awfull and wimpy, but through the years (and it's about 18 years ago since they've split up) I've become to see it as kind of a sentimental journey (back to my schooldays hahaha) and fair is fair : they knew how to wite good songs. I guess that someone at the Nuclear Blast office thinks a bit like me, so he came up with the idea to create an Abba Tribute. The result : hilarious! The CD kicks of with Therion's version of 'Summernight City', including the classic choir, and it sounds great. The biggest joke of the album is (alas already) track number two, in wich Metalium completely thrashes the ballad 'Thank You For The Music'. Only the into is played like the original, but then it's double bass pounding all the way (with even some uncivilized belching in the bridge...). Sinergy resumes the party with a heavy version of 'Gimme, Gimme, Gimme', sung in a great way by Kimberly Goss. After that it's At Vance's turn (a band I wasn't familiar with) to kind of rape 'Money, Money, Money'. It is played in the same tempo, but I don't recall screaming vocals in the version with Agnetha or Anni-Frid. Despite the fact that Lefay no longer excists they still appear on this Tribute with a metallic onslaught on 'Voulez-Vous'. Does anybody remember Paradox? I must admit I kinda lost track of them, but appearently they still excist (or are ressurected, I don't really know), and turned the fragile ballad 'S.O.S.' into a classic Speed Metal track. That there was a band called Rough Silk was also unknown to me, but their, every now and then Rammstein like, version of 'Take A Change On Me' is very amusing. Btw, I once saw in a documentary about Abba that the song 'Chiquitita' was origally written in four versions, including one rock version. I never would have thought that it would ever be recorded, but the guys from Spiral Tower can easily get away with it (although the vocals are off-key from time to time). Sargant Fury split-up years ago, but appearently they've recorded 'Eagle' somewhere down the line, and it eventually ended up on this album. Now I think that this particular song is most suitable for transforming into a Metal/Rock anthem, but I don't like this version that much. It is played a bit faster than the original, wich has a negative effect on the atmosphere of the song. That it can be done much better was proven by Rob Rock, who covered this track for his solo album 'Rage Of Creation' wich was released last year. Too bad that it's not on this album. The only Abba ballad wich remains a ballad on this tribute is the song 'One Of Us', done by Flowing Tears, but it's not really thrilling. In fact, it can easily be added to the playlist of a middle-of-the-road radio station. The same goes for the soft, happy metal version of 'Waterloo', done by Nation. It sounds thus sweet it could easily enter the European Songfestival (were the glory for Abba started with the same song) and even win this faggotfestival. Things are cheering up a bit when Custard gives 'Super Trouper' a metallic skin, and Tad Morose succeeds in transforming the classic 'Knowing Me, Knowing You''into an almost Doom like Metal track (wich even reminds me of Nevermore!). The album ends with Glow, who prove that you can easily make a punkrocker out of 'Dancing Queen'. I don't think it would make much sense to rate this album, for it's a bit to weird for my usual criteria, but I guarantee lot's of succes and laughter if you play this at party's. As far as I'm concerned this is gonna be THE party disc in Dynamo Open Air's 24-hour bar.




Lords of Metal review » Paradise Lost - Believe In Nothing


Paradise Lost - Believe In Nothing

Tim: While visiting a record shop in Antwerpen I stumbled across the new Paradise Lost, and actually I never knew that it was out hahahaha. I guess that says enough about my relationship with the band (wich was very close soem years ago). After their last, and terrible album 'Host' I gave up all confidence in the band, but I still was a bit curious so I decided to take a listen to 'Believe In Nothing'. And to my surprise I heard a guitar again, and real drums instead of a louzy computer. After listening I reached the conclusion that the music is somewhere between "One Second" and (with a bit of imagination) "Draconian Times". This means some improvement, but the band still isn't on the desired level, for the songs are not that great (but also not that bad). If the band decides to get heavier with every album from now on I hope that it will sound like 'Icon' within a few years again. This album is a good step in the right direction.

Rating: 75/100


Interview with Alyson Avenue 1

Source: Lords of Metal
Issue 39 - July 2004

archiveer onder : Hardrock / AOR


Alyson Avenue bracht onlangs hun tweede cd ‘Omega’ uit. Deze werd door de pers goed ontvangen. Mijn collega Guus beschreef de sound zijnde een kruising tussen Vixen, Heart en Witness. Na enkele luistersessies kan ik het daar alleen maar mee eens zijn. Mijn gesprekspartner is Niclas Olsson, de verantwoordelijke voor de drums, keyboards en vele van de composities.


Recently the Swedish band Alyson Avenue released their second album called ‘Omega'. It did very well in all kind of reviews all over the world. My colleague Guus did the review for Lords of Metal, and he described the sound as being a mix of Heart, Vixen and Witness. After a few listens to the album I came to the same conclusion. Now Niclas Olsson is the big man behind the band. He plays drums, keyboards and writes most of the songs. The perfect bandmember thus for me to interrogate...

Text: Eddy

Hi Niclas, finally we talk to each other. Our mutual friend Kurt Vereecke from the upcoming Belgian AOR sensation called Frozen Rain introduced me to your band, and actually helped me out quite a bit with questions for this interview. This second album from Alyson Avenue gained you some marvelous reviews from all over the world. So it is about time to introduce the band to the Dutch melodic rock lovers. To kick off, I like for you to introduce the band to our readers.

Thanks a lot Eddy! Alyson Avenue is a female fronted AOR/melodic rock band from Sweden! We started this thing in -89 and were just some friends who wanted to play good melodic rock! The line up has changed a few times over the years but in front we still have Anette. The line up on "OMEGA" is: Patrik Svärd, guitars, Christofer Dahlman, guitars, Thomas Löyskä, bass, Anette Blyckert, vocals and me, Niclas Olsson on keys and drums.

Was it difficult to find the perfect line-up for this band?

Hmm… No it wasn’t actually! It might have seemed that way if you’re thinking about the time of four years till album number two. We broke up after the debut and then we tried to put it together again. The time wasn’t right and we called it a day once more. Anette had so many other things to do so we tried to find another girl on vocals. We tried out a few but with no luck. Then the rest decided to go apart to do our own things. Later me, Thomas, Christofer and Patrik started to record some songs of mine and I called Anette up to see if she wanted to put vocals on it. She was thrilled about it and 'OMEGA' was recorded short after.

When you started Alyson Avenue, was it clear from second one that you preferred a female vocalist for this band or did it came out that way when you held auditions for vocalists?

We had a male vocalist from the very beginning. When we recorded our first demo I called Anette (which is my half sister) up to see if she could do some harmony vox. She did and thought it was that fun she stayed with the band.

The name Alyson Avenue sounds great, how did you come up with this name and has it some deeper meaning to it?

It came up when we were about to do a gig on a club in Sweden. The name was Avenue at first. Some weeks before the gig we decided to change the name to Alyson. But when the newspaper gave the news about the gig they wrote Alyson Avenue. That was a pain in the ass at first but we kept it and now it sounds great. It has a meaning as a band and lifestyle for many years. I will have the OMEGA logo tattooed on my shoulder shortly.

When you were shopping around for a record deal you managed to get the interest from the AOR Heaven label. How did you come in touch with them?

Almost every indie label in the AOR/Melodic rock business contacted us. AOR-Heaven didn’t. The other labels thought we were too wimpy with our female fronted AOR. A friend, Christian Rechling, gave me the tip to contact AOR-Heaven and we did.

As I see on your website you also got some great press in Japan with your first CD. How can you describe Japan as a market for AOR and melodic rock? Can you recommend this country to all the new artists in this genre as a goal for sales?

I don’t think it’s that easy anymore. The CDs are very expensive and the outlaw pressing is huge. I think it’s just to accept the sale figures and do want you like for free. Cause you don’t get rich with this stuff.

Some artists like to sit down in a studio and write, others get ideas wherever they are and then work them out. I would like to know how and where are those amazing compositions from Alyson Avenue are written?

Thank you very much. I just like to sit down and play different melodies and clear my mind. I don’t read books or writing in a diary, I just play my thoughts out. Then rhythm comes out very different. I like pumping basses.

Can you offer some advice to new bands that are looking around for a record deal?

Be honest with your music. That gives attitude and something you stand for. The audience will hear if it comes from the heart or not. Have patience.

Okay Niclas, some questions about you now. When did you start to learn playing instruments?

I have grown up with it but didn’t practice that much for a while, due my ice-hockey career.

Where and when did your professional musical career start and which artists or bands did influence you to give it a shot yourself?

The professional career has been up and down for many years. I even played in a Big Band for a while. Desmond Child gave me very much in the eighties. Bands like Magnum, Journey, Streets and so on have also influenced me a lot.

You play several instruments (drums, guitar, keyboards). What kind of instrument do you prefer?

I don’t play the guitar. People laugh at me when I try cause they think I look stupid with it. I like the keys best cause the harmonies can be huge.

Are you already a fulltime musician at this moment or do you still have a regular job to pay your bills?

I have a regular job that I like very much, but right now I feel like I have too much to do with the music that I should be a full timer.

Can you remember some of latest CD’s that you bought?

To be honest I haven’t bought any CDs for years. But my friend Christian does send me CDs sometimes, and the latest is ALTARIA.

Are there any new bands/artists you like?

This is an answer I shouldn’t say, but.... SHIVA did the best album I’ve heard for years. Powerful, melodic and so very good. The reason why I shouldn’t answer is that I know them and rehears with them for gigs later this year.

Imagine you get the chance to form an all-star band around you with all your dream musicians. Can you tell me who will be in that band of yours?

Mike Portnoy on drums, Kee Marcello on guitars, Steve Perry/Kevin Chalfant on vocals and Mike Porcaro on bass.

Do you also have hobbies besides making music?

My family is everything beside music. I have two daughters that I love so very much and a girlfriend who gives me the time I need to my music. I have no time for anything else.

As I am well informed you have a new project called Second Heat. Please tell us some more about this band. I like to know who are the players in that band, the style of music we can expect from them and is there already a deal for this project?

We have signed a three-album deal with AOR-Heaven. This isn’t AOR!!! This is melodic hard rock with lots of hooks and groovy stuff. Even some small progressive parts can be heard. The band is: Thomas Bursell, vocals, Patrik Svärd, guitars, Roger Landin, drums, Thomas Löyskä, bass and me on keys. I have written all material except for one that I wrote together with Patrik.

What is the difference in working with Second Heat and Alyson Avenue?

This feels like something I have wanted to do for years. Me, Patrik and Thomas B have talked about this since the mid 90s. Second Heat is a band that will play fun hard rock cause we think it’s fun. We believe very much in this and have fabulous reactions from friends in the business.

What do you think about the actual music scene? How do you see the future for melodic rock and AOR?

I think AOR will get a new meaning with a modern touch like ARENA Sweden for example. The melodic rock scene will strike back with some modern touch too I think. I believe in the genre, as long musicians don’t listen to what modern reviewers have to say. They call the Sweden Rock Festival retro!!!! They sell more tickets than both Hultsfred and Roskilde. Why can’t they accept it? As a genre!? Sorry.... I get a little upset, ha ha.

To get back to Alyson Avenue, What are the next steps for Alyson Avenue in recording and live shows?

As we are right in the middle of a record session with Second Heat there will be no live shows before the next album. We know pretty much what we are looking for till the third studio album. More like the debut with a better production.

Okay Niclas, it has been a pleasure to get to know you a bit more, thanks for your time and success with all your plans.

Thank you very much and take care.


Interview with Sonata Arctica 1

Source: The Metal List Websine

SONATA ARCTICA is the band, which became popular already with the debut album. I liked their first CD "Ecliptica" so much, that became their fan, and next album "Silence" was in my player for 2 weeks non-stop. Talented Finnish metallers prepared for us their fifth studio album "Unia". About the new CD, SONATA ARCTICA activity and about music we talked with band's singer Tony Kakko.

Scorpio: Hello Tony! Congratulations with the new album "Unia"!

Tony Kakko: Thank you, Vladimir!

What can you generally say about your new full-length?

SONATA ARCTICA - Unia Well, it's our new album, hehe. It's slightly different from what we've done earlier, the average speed is slower than on the previous albums. The songs variety is wide, the songs are different from each other. The production is better.

And will there be nice ballads like Tallulah or Last Drop Falls?

The song Under Your Tree is a beautiful ballad with real strings and few vocal parts, so it's very minimal. Don't Say a Word type song is Caleb. It's actually continuing or beginning the story that Don't Say a Word is telling.

And what about speed/power metal songs?

We don't have that many speedy songs on the album. Black and White – the first track of "Unia" is pretty speedy, it's the fastest and the hardest composition of the album. "Unia" is not like the huge speed metal parade, but the sound is heavier.

Many fans of you consider your first two albums "Ecliptica" and "Silence" the best albums by SONATA ARCTICA. How do you think, what is the reason?

Honestly, I don't know. I understand why many people like "Ecliptica" and name it the best album. If you take any band you can find many people, who say, that their very first album was the best, because that album was done before they became famous. It's OK. I have my own opinions about many-many bands' albums. For example I think, that "Visions" is the best album of STRATOVARIUS, but there are many people who won't agree. Everybody's free to have opinion.


You also have filmed the new video…

It's number 2 track on the album - Paid In Full. We shot the video in our hometown Kemi, where we still have a lot of snow like 1 meter, and sea is covered with ice. We played on the ice there, we put drums and instruments on it. Also we take the pyro-technician with us. He was blowing up dynamite, so we have like 25-30 meters high ice columns in the air. Really great! It was sunny day and we played until the sun went down, and we have wonderful sunset in this video. You have to see it!

Will it be available on your website for downloading?

Yes, I think it will be on our website pretty soon.

And what about its rotation on the TV channels?

I don't know yet, hopefully. It would be pretty nice.

What tour plan do you have? Will you come to Russian or Ukraine?

Hopefully we'll play in Russia. We live right next to Russia, heh. We had many plan to go there, even dates set, but something always went wrong. Local promoters had some problems and they can't do it now or we got huge tour somewhere, or something else. Something always come wrong. But still we have plans to come and play in Russia, Saint-Petersburg and Moscow. It would be terrible, if we won't come.

Yes, many Finnish bands often come to Russia. ENSIFERUM recently performed in Saint-Petersburg.

Yes, they're great. I like their music. Also NIGHTWISH, CHILDREN OF BODOM played in Russia.

You've just mentioned NIGHTWISH, your comments please about their break-up with Taria Turunen.

Well, first it was shock. I knew that it was something wrong in the band. Taria has launched her own career. I'm happy for her, because I always liked Taria a lot. But NIGHTWISH has already found new great singer.

Do you know who is it?

Yes, I know, but I can't tell, haha!

You've performed with Taria singing together. Do you want to continue this tradition and perform with someone else?

Well, it would be fun. If someone ask me to, I'll do this with pleasure. It's interesting to do something unusual, special.

SONATA ARCTICA SONATA ARCTICA also have presented nice cover songs Fade To Black (METALLICA), Die With Your Boots On (IRON MAIDEN), Still Loving You (SCORPIONS), and you always made nice own arrangements, presenting your vision. Especially Still Loving You has different tempo from the original version. Do you plan to record new covers and release them on singles and B-sides?

We've recorded two cover songs during "Unia" recording-session. First one will be on the "Paid In Full" single, it's Gary Moore song Out In The Fields. It's not really that different from the original. Other cover is still a secret, we're working on it and it will be released later.

How do you think what is harder: to play total copy of the original, or make own arrangement?

They're both hard really. But surely I say making your own version is much more fun. You can do everything you want, changes if you think it's necessary, you don't have to worry about the melody, because it's already there.

And what about vocalist? When you sing someone's song you must be copying him, but sometimes you can't physically reach his vocal.

Yes, it's hard sometimes but you have to find your own way of singing. Of course, if I would be covering NIGHTWISH I definitely wouldn't be singing like Taria, haha. The most important thing is the song and you have to make this song your own and not copy what the other one has done. You have to use your own voice and your style. That is the main reason why people do the cover-versions of other bands' songs – to find the own way of doing them, alternative way.

And have you ever taken vocal lessons?

No, I have never taken any lesson. I should, because I have a lot fouls and mistakes in my singing technic, but I have no time for that. So, I'm self-trained in art of singing. Maybe one day I will take some lessons and see what is really wrong, because I want to do this until I'm very old, and I don't want to break my "instrument".

What about keyboards? Is the thing the same?

Yes, I was studying keyboards for like two years, but I got tired, because they told me that I can't use some certain cord, because it's technically wrong. So, I've started playing in the band, where I can do what I want.

Many metal musicians are self-educated, but some of them take the professional study after getting some popularity.

Yes, absolutely, It's really important, when you have some access with the band it's became your profession more than a hobby. And of course when you do something for living it's good to improve your professional skills.


I've read your brief biography on SONATA ARCTICA's website and I've seen, that you were never playing in other bands except SONATA ARCTICA.

Actually I was, hehe. I had one band, it was totally different. We played in vein of WALLS, old people dance. We played in bars. It was long ago, it was fun and we got some money.

And do you have the plans about solo project?

I'd like to do some other things as well, but I don't want to start another band, because band is a lot of working. But maybe some day I'd like to have a solo album, but it's not today or even next year. Other projects like writing music for movies or something different from what I do with SONATA ARCTICA, because I like to do music and SONATA ARCTICA is not the only thing I like to do. I like every kind of music from classical to black metal. When I have time I write songs, which are totally different from what we put on SONATA ARCTICA's albums.

What young Finnish heavy/power metal bands can you mention? For example, I've listened to TWILIGHTNING (review for Plague-House Puppet Show (2004) album' )…

Yeah, they're cool, they're like a bit in 80s style, like MOTLEY CRUE staff. They were actually supporting us on the last show. And also we have rising new stars STURM UND STRAND. They're really young guys, 14-15 or something like that and they have one big hit at the moment. Will see what will comes up.

And what can you say about MACHINE MEN (read the interview with MACHINE MEN' )?

Yes, they're cool. It's good that you've mentioned them, because they were supporting us on European tour. I've heard their first album, and it's really great.

I've also heard "Scars And Wounds"' album. It's like heavy metal in vein of new IRON MAIDEN staff.

Yeah, it's something like Bruce Dickinson solo material. And the singer, Tony, can really imitate Bruce Dickinson voice.

What bands can you name best friends, with which you spend time not only on the stage or touring?

NIGHTWISH mostly. Tuomas is my good friend. Also Timo Rautiainen. You can go and have beer with many metal bands, ‘cause everybody knows everybody. But with Tuomas we go hiking once a year.

SONATA ARCTICA Now a global question. What will be with power metal in 5-10 years?

I don't know. What about SONATA ARCTICA, I can't name "Unia" traditional power metal album, it's far from power metal-clich?. But I'm sure, that power metal and metal in general have a lot of potential inside. What about Finland it's like pop music here, mainstream really. You can hear metal music everywhere these days.

That's cool! Your president is woman, so how is it to live "under the rule" of woman, heh?

She doesn't bother me in anyway. I like her, I voted her, because I think it was the best option. The role of president in our country is not big, she/he has not much power, mainly it's representing Finland outside. She does her job good and Finnish people like her.

You've told, that you go hiking, so describe please Finnish nature.

Well, we have hills and valleys…

...and thousand lakes, hehe…

… thousand lakes exactly. Lakes are everywhere: little ponds, large lakes. We have a lot of clear forest. Especially when you go to Lapland, the far North, you can actually drink from a spring with very cold and clean water.

And have you ever met Youllupukki in Lapland?

Yes, couple of times, when I was a kid, haha!

Haha! OK, Tony, your last words to your fans in Russia and Ukraine.

Ukraine. Hopefully one glorious day we will play there. Stay metal! I really hope to see you people on tour. And if we won't have an ability to visit Ukraine, come to see us to Russia.

Scpecial thanks to Florian Fink (Nuclear Blast' ) for organizing this interview.


SONATA ARCTICA из тех групп, кто громко заявил о себе уже в начале музыкального пути. Дебютник "Ecliptica" так запал мне в душу, что за творчеством группы слежу постоянно, а следующий альбом "Silence" слушал не вынимая из плэера недели две. Талантливые финские металлисты уже подготовили для нас свою новую работу - свой пятый альбом "Unia". Об альбоме, творческих планах и вообще о музыке мы приятно побеседовали по телефону с вокалистом и стержнем коллектива - Тони Какко.

Scorpio: Привет, Тони! Поздравляю с новым альбомом "Unia"!

Тони Какко: спасибо, Владимир!

Что ты в общем можешь сказать о вашем новом полноформатнике? 

Ну, это наш новый альбом, хехе. Он отличается от того, что мы делали ранее, средняя скорость медленнее, чем на предыдущих альбомах. Разнообразие песен шире, они отличаются друг от друга. Также выше качество записи и мастеринга..

Будут ли на альбоме отменные баллады как Tallulah или Last Drop Falls?

Песня Under Your Tree - прекрасная баллада с настоящими струнными инструментами и небольшим количеством вокальных партий, такая минималистическая композиция. Также есть песня в духе Don't Say a Word, которая называется Caleb. В действительности это продолжение или вернее начало истории, о которой идет речь вthat Don't Say a Word.

Ну а что насчет speed/power metal-а в новой работе?

У нас не так много скоростных песен в альбоме. Black and White - первый трэк на "Unia" достаточно скоростной, это самая быстрая и тяжелая вещь пластинки. "Unia" это не speed metal парад, но звук тяжелее.

Многие ваши фэны считают первые два альбома "Ecliptica" и "Silence" лучшими работами SONATA ARCTICA. Как считаешь, в чем причина?

Честно, не знаю. Понимаю, почему многим нравится "Ecliptica", и они называют его лучшим альбомом. Если взять любую группу, то найдется много людей, которые скажут, что их дебютник был самой лучшей работой, потому что он был выпущен до того, как группа достигла успеха. Это нормально. У меня своя точка зрения относительно альбомов многих-многих коллективов. Например, я считаю, что "Visions" - лучший альбом STRATOVARIUS, но есть много людей, несогласных со мной. Каждый волен иметь свое мнение. 

Вы также сняли новый видеоклип ...

Да, это песня под номером 2 в альбоме - Paid In Full. Мы снимали видео в нашем родном городке Кеми, где до сих пор лежит много снега, а море покрыто льдом. Вот на этом льду мы и играли, мы вытащили аппаратуру и барабаны на него. Также взяли с собой пиротехника. Он взрывал динамит, так что в клипе увидите 25-30 метровые столбы льда. Это здорово! Был солнечный день, и мы играли до того момента, как зашло солнце, дав нам возможность заснять для клипа великолепный закат. Вы должны увидеть это видео!

Оно будет доступно для скачивания на вашем сайте?

Да, думаю, что скоро оно появится на нашем веб-сайте.

А как насчет ротации на ТВ-каналах?

Еще не знаю, но надеюсь, что будет. Было бы здорово.

Каковы ваши планы касательно тура? Заедите в Россию и Украину?

Надеюсь, что мы отыграем наконец-то в России. Живем же, блин, недалеко, хех. У нас было много планов насчет приезда, даже оговоренные даты, но всегда что-то происходило не так, как надо. То у локальных организаторов были проблемы, то у нас по срокам не получалось, то еще что-то. Но у нас в планах приехать и отыграть в Москве и Санкт-Петербурге. Будет ужасно, если мы вновь не приедем.

Да, многие финские банды заезжают в Россию. Вот недавно ENSIFERUM отыграли в Питере.

Да, они великолепны. Мне нравится их музыка. Также NIGHTWISH, CHILDREN OF BODOM были в России.

Ты упомянул NIGHTWISH, не могу не спросить твоих комментариев относительно разрыва с вокалисткой Тарьей Турунен.

Ну, сперва это был шок. Я знал, что внутри группы нездоровая обстановка. Тарья начала собственную сольную карьеру. Я рад за нее, Тарья всегда мне нравилась. Но у NIGHTWISH уже есть новая отличная вокалистка.

Заешь кто?

Да, знаю, но сказать не могу, хаха!

Ты как-то пел с Тарьей совместно. Есть ли в планах продолжить эту традицию и выступить с какой-нибудь другой группой?

Ну, было бы весело. Если кто-то попросит, я с удовольствием это сделаю. Это довольно интересно - делать что-то необычное, особенное. 

SONATA ARCTICA в разные времена представляла отменные кавера на Fade To Black (METALLICA), Die With Your Boots On (IRON MAIDEN), Still Loving You (SCORPIONS), и вы всегда делали собственную аранжировку, представляя свое видение композиции. Особенно Still Loving You с совершенно отличным от оригинала темпом. Планируете ли записать новые кавер-версии и выпустить на синглах?

Мы записали два кавера во время рекорд-сессии "Unia". Первый мы выпустим на сингле "Paid In Full", это песня Гэри Мура Out In The Fields. Она не очень отличается от оригинала. Другой кавер пока является секретом, мы еще работаем над ним и выпустим позже.

А что по твоему мнению тяжелее: сыграть точную копию песни или сделать собственную аранжировку?

И то и то. Но точно скажу, что больше веселья приносит создание собственной версии. Ты можешь делать все, что пожелаешь, изменения, которые считаешь необходимыми, не надо беспокоится о мелодии, поскольку она уже присутствует.

А каково вокалисту приходится? Ведь когда поешь чью-то песню должно быть пытаешься копировать вокалиста, но порой чисто физически не получается.

Да, временами это тяжело, но ты должен найти собственный способ пения. Конечно, если б мы делали кавер на NIGHTWISH, я б не смог спеть как Тарья, хаха. Самая важная вещь - сама песня, и ты должен сделать ее своей собственной, а не копировать тупо то, что сделали другие. Надо использовать свой собственный голос и свой стиль. Это ведь и есть главная причина, почему люди делают кавер-версии песен других коллективов - найти собственный способ ее исполнения, альтернативный способ.

Ты когда либо брал уроки вокала?

Нет, никогда. Вообще-то считаю, что следует это сделать, потому что делаю много ошибок при песни, порой фальшивлю, но не хватает времени. Так что я самоучка в плане вокального искусства. Возможно, однажды я возьму несколько уроков, чтоб увидеть, что действительно неправильно в моем пении, потому как хочу заниматься этим до самой старости, и не хочу, чтоб мой «инструмент» сломался.

А с клавишными как? Дело обстоит так же?

Да, я учился играть на клавишных года два, но устал, потому как мне все время говорили, что я не могу использовать тот или иной аккорд, потому что это технически неверно. Потому я начал играть в группе, где могу делать все, что хочу.

Многие метал-музыканты самоучки, но некоторые из них совершенствуются потом профессионально по достижению популярности коллектива.

Да, верно, это важно, когда ты достигаешь с группой определенного успеха, то это становится больше твоей профессией, чем хобби. Ну а если ты делаешь что-то для заработка на жизнь, то это хорошо совершенствовать свои профессиональные навыки. 

На сайте я прочел твою страничку и увидел, что ты не играл ни в одной другой группе кроме SONATA ARCTICA.

На самом деле играл, хехе. У меня была банда, но это был не метал. Мы играли в стиле WALLS, старым людям нравилось, они танцевали под нашу музыку. Мы играли в барах. Это было очень давно, было весело и давало небольшой заработок.

Есть ли планы относительно сольного проекта?

мне бы хотелось заниматься и другим, но я не хочу основывать другую группу, потому что это тяжелая работа. Возможно в один прекрасный день я выпущу свой сольный альбом, но не сегодня и даже не через год. Что нибудь вроде нпаисания музыки для кинофильмов или что-то критично отличающееся от того, что я делаю для SONATA ARCTICA, потому что мне нравится сочинять музыку, а SONATA ARCTICA не единственная вещь, которой мне нравится заниматься. Мне нравится разная музыка: от классической до black metal. Когда я нахожу время, то сочиняю песни, отличающиеся от тех, что мы записываем для альбомов SONATA ARCTICA.

Какие молодые heavy/power metal группы из Финляндии ты бы хотел выделить? Например, я слышал неплохой коллективчик TWILIGHTNING (рецензия на альбом Plague-House Puppet Show (2004)' )...

Да, они классная банда, немного в стиле 80-х, чем-то смахивает на MOTLEY CRUE. Они играли у нас на разогреве на последней шоу в прошлом году. Также отмечу восходящую звезду STURM UND STRAND. Очень молодые парни, им по 14-15 лет или около того, у них сейчас имеется один крутой хит. Посмотрим, что из них получится.

А что скажешь о MACHINE MEN (интервью с MACHINE MEN' )?

Да, отличная группа. Хорошо, что ты их вспомнил, потому что мы вместе ездили в туре по Европе. Слышал их первый альбом, очень классный.

Я тоже слышал "Scars And Wounds"' . В духе последних работ IRON MAIDEN.

Да, напоминает сольный материал Брюса Дикинсона. И вокалист Тони может без проблем петь точь-в-точь как Брюс.

Какие из коллективов хорошие друзья, с которыми общаешься не только в туре или на концертной площадке?

В основном NIGHTWISH. Туомас мой хороший друг. Также Тимо Раутиайнен. Можно попить пивка со многими группами, каждый каждого знает. С Туомасом мы раз в год выбираемся в поход. 

А теперь глобальный вопрос. Что будет с power metal через 5-10 лет?

Не знаю. Что касаемо SONATA ARCTICA, то я не могу назвать "Unia" традиционным пауэром, он далек от power metal-клише. Но я уверен, что power metal иmetal в целом имеет внутри большой потенциал. В Финляндии метал - популярный мэйнстримовый стиль музыки.

Это круто! Ваш президент - женщина, каково жить под началом женщины-президента?

Она меня не достает. Мне нравится, я и сам за нее голосовал, потому что считаю, что это была лучшая кандидатура. Роль президента в нашей стране не так уж и велика, власти не много, основная задача - представлять Финляндию на мировой арене. Она хорошо справляется и финны довольны..

Ты говорил, что любишь ходить в походы, опиши финскую природу.

Ну, у нас есть горбы и долины ...

...и тысячи озер, хехе...

... тысячи озер, именно. Озера везде: маленькие пруды, большие водоемы. Много чистых лесов. Особенно классно в Лапландии на далеком севере, ты можешь испить воды из источника с чистейшей холодной водой.

А Ёлупукки (финский Дед Мороз - авт.) в Лапландии встречал?

Да, пару раз, когда был маленьким, хаха!

Хаха, круто! Итак, Тони, твои последние слова для фэнов в России и Украине.

Украинцы, надеюсь, что в один знаменательный день мы отыграем в вашей стране. Stay metal! Народ, надеюсь увидеть вас в туре. А если нам не удастся приехать в Украину, то обязательно наведайтесь на наше выступление в Россию!

Отдельная благодарность Флориану Финку (Nuclear Blast' ) за организацию интервью.


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THE WITCHING HOUR > Lives of the Mayfair Witches

On the veranda of a great New Orleans house, now faded, a mute and fragile woman sits rocking. And the witching hour begins...

Demonstrating once again her gift for spellbinding storytelling and the creation of legend, Anne Rice makes real for us a great dynasty of witches in this engrossing and hypnotic tale of the occult spanning four centuries - a family given to poetry and incest, to murder and philosophy, a family that over the ages is itself haunted by a powerful, dangerous, and seductive being.

Anne Rice

Official Website | Wikipedia



Interview with the Vampire
The Vampire Lestat
The Queen of the Damned
The Vampire Armand
The Tale of the Body Thief
Memnoch the Devil
Blod and Gold
Blackwood Farm
Blood Canticle

The Witching Hour

Vittorio, The Vampire

The Feast of All Saints
Cry to Heaven
The Mummy
Servant of the Bones

Exit to Eden

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty
Beauty's Punishment
Beauty's Release

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