Here at Don't Count On It Reviews, you can read reviews from different artists from different styles.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Diocletian - War of All Against All

From The Depths of The Extreme.

Diocletian is a blackened death metal group from New Zealand. The band released their debut full-length last year and this album has garnered some praise from more underground media, which is how I discovered them. This will have been my first encounter with the group so I can't say how this album will compare to previous material.
This is an album that sounds live, straight from the opening riff on Black Dominion. There's a lot of reverb on the entire record, making it sound very cavernous and filled with echoes that only serve to increase the intensity of each track. There's also a use of feedback during these tracks, especially the slower ones, hear Death Tyrant, but is also evident in the "transitioning" between each song and build-ups as well. The production does have it's flaws however, for how raw and live this thing sounds, it is also quite muddy sounding, blending the guitars, bass, and some of the drums together into this odd bassy mess of distortion that kind of just irritated me.
Another thing to bring up is the song lengths, until the final track, the epic sixteen minute closer, Fortress of The Inconquerable, the longest of these songs is just over four minutes. Due to the muddiness of the production, some of these songs end up sounding similar to each other, luckily the song lengths make it so that doesn't become that big of a problem in the end. Tracks kind of move from style to style, including the above genres of death, black, doom, and a bit of thrash as well, while rarely ever giving you a chance to breathe, which can grow tiresome if you want something a bit more diverse.
The epic track, mentioned above, in fact is the one track that doesn't really sound like the rest of the album, for me, the only REAL stand-out moment. This track was so monolithic and heavy and slow, not funeral doom style, but the reverb and echoes just helped to make this track sound massive. The production on this track also sounds a bit cleaner and clearer compared to the rest of the album as well, allowing things to just come out and be heard much easier. This track also manages to shift around into a few varying degrees of sounds, from a more brutally heavy and slow section to a more noisy ambient one, including a few different things along the way as well.
Overall, this record was quite entertaining, if not a bit muddy. While I think that this record certainly deserves praises, and it has, this isn't really something that I found myself totally immersed in, but that's just me. If you enjoy some gritty extreme metal from down-under, this should be something you want to hear right away.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: All Against All, Nuclear Vomited, Fortress of The Inconquerable

Krieg - The Isolationist

Time Spent Alone Isn't Always For The Best.

Krieg is a black metal group from New Jersey. The band formed in the mid-90s slowly releasing material through splits, demos, EPs, and several albums. This is the bands return after taking a hiatus for a few years.
This is my first experience listening to Krieg in quite a while, I'll say that right now. Originally discovering the group when I went through a phase of listening to groups like Xasthur, Leviathan, and Nachtmystium, discovering America's own brand of black metal, and getting into the self-titled debut from super-group Twilight was how I first came into contact with the band. I can't say that I was overly impressed, as at that particular time I was still getting used to the production aspects that were less than stellar on some of the aforementioned groups recordings, and the songs that I had heard didn't really stick out to me at the time. A few years down the line and I find out about this new album, with a title that I particularly find intriguing, so why not listen to it.
With a title like "The Isolationist" I can't imagine anyone thinking that this is going to be uptempo, cheery, or bright sounding in the least; but then again, with what this album brings to the table, you really don't need any of the above. This album sounds like it was written by someone in a time of isolation away from people. This thing is aggressive, morose, depressive (but not in the sub-genre way), and violent, while retaining an atmosphere that recalls that of the genre's older generation while being meditative, if that's the right term, enough to capture a more modern generation.
Yet, for how aggressive and malevolent this album is, it maintains a melodic streak that stops it from becoming a parody of all things that Norwegian founders based the genre on, hear All Paths to God. The depressive and atmospheric elements found on the album however are far better exhibited and vocalized on here than on almost any other album, as they don't sound like every other bedroom project out there and the music behind the vocals is actually quite dreary and downplayed. The rest of the album also keeps a pretty good grasp at the core sound of the band while making each song different from the next, ultimately making an album that is well-crafted and diverse. There are more then a few songs on here that are more mid-tempo rather than all-out aggression, hear And The Stars Fell On; songs like these prove to be the more accessible side of the band, as more melody is usually integrated within these tracks.
Overall, I'd call this an incredibly solid album that should be able to appeal to a lot of people. While this is not my favorite black metal record, I can now see why Krieg is so respected within the black metal scene and I can now say that I am a fan. If you like black metal that's a little melodic, a little atmospheric, a little depressive, then check this out if you haven't already.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: All Paths to God, Blue of Noon, Decaying Inhalations

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Interview - Periphery's Misha "BULB" Mansoor

I recently hand to opportunity to interview one of modern metal's most creative minds, Misha Mansoor, the founder of the progressive metal band Periphery. Since the album was released I have become a total fanboy of his work and this was totally a cool experience.

Ian: I guess I'll just start with the obvious question first, how did you get the nickname BULB?

Misha: Bulb was the name of my first band that broke up right as I made a Soundclick account for it. I figured I would just post stuff up on there and people assumed that was my personal name or my band name, it kinda stuck!

Ian: How would you compare the band bulb to what eventually became Periphery?

Misha: Bulb is almost just a depository for all my ideas for me to sort through and work on later. The ideas that the boys and I think are good enough end up as Periphery songs.

Ian: Who would you consider to be your main influences back then and who inspires you now?

Misha: Back then id say Meshuggah, Deftones, Sikth, Dream Theater and Nobuo Uematsu. Nowadays its a bit more varied, artists like Allan Holdsworth and Guthrie Govan, Telefon Tel Aviv and BT, The Dear Hunter and Karnivool and Nobuo Uematsu still.
Ian: Your album was released back in April, what kind of responces have you gotten since then?

Misha: It has generally been good, but of course I seek out the bad reviews as well, but overall we have been really happy with the response we have gotten, especially from our peers and people who we look up to. So I would say that from the people whose opinions actually matter to us, the responses have been excellent!

Ian: You've toured with bands like Fear Factory, Kittie, and Asking Alexandria, how would you say that fans of those groups responded to Periphery?

Misha: Differently to say the least. You know we are kind of always the weird band on the lineup, but we are happy to play with anyone and happy to gain even just a few fans from each shows, so playing outside our comfort zone is something we think is healthy to do to broaden our range, and it helps us grow as musicians as well. But we also obviously love playing to our base, so we try to mix it up!

Ian: You've gotten criticism on Spencer since the album was released, but newer tracks (revamped version of The Walk and the Haunted Shores track Passenger) have showcased an even greater range than the album did. How did Spencer come into Periphery and what made you choose him over others?

Misha: We hired Spencer on his potential. Apart from being very talented he has something that no other singer of ours had: Drive. He was determined to work as hard as he could to get what he needed to get done, and has made such a tremendous improvement in such a short time. He entered our band with a near impossible task, and had to work with very little, im amazed that we even pulled it off honestly, and I am very proud of the album. But I will say that since we recorded the album in January he has evolved in every direction and is so much better. We are working on new material, which he can finally write for entirely and fulfill his true role as our vocalist with, and I'll just say you guys are in for a treat! We are so proud of him and having worked with him in every capacity on and off the road, I can safely say that he is the guy we have always been looking for!

Ian: Even though Periphery's debut album was released in April, you've still been posting demos on your soundclick page and have expressed a want to record a new EP for later this year and another full-length next year. What makes you want to constantly release music on a steady basis?

Misha: I just write, I love writing, I love creating. Even with the bands I produce I let them know that they should only come to me if they want me to create with them, not just record. Its one of a very short list of things that I happen to be decent at and enjoy doing as well, so I just do it and hope that people enjoy! We have a ton of material to choose from already and we want to tweak some old stuff and write some brand new stuff as well, it keeps things fresh and gives me more songs to choose from!

Ian: How much new material are you planning to include on these upcoming releases since you have enough material already for a few albums.

Misha: I don't know, it will really come down to the feel and vibe of the album and what we decide we want to go for at that point in time. Our first album was 73 minutes long, and we ended up releasing over 80 minutes of music with that release if you include the bonus tracks we did, because we wanted to kinda put a ton of stuff out there and say "Here we are guys, sorry for taking so long, so here is a ton of music!"
But in the future i dont know if our albums will necessarily be THAT long...or maybe they will be, who knows!

Ian: Ever since the track Icarus Lives! was released, there's been a buzz around it, what do you think makes this track so special?

Misha: I am not really sure. As a writer I find it very difficult to predict what will go over well and what won't. That was definitely a song that i was proud of but not in any super special sort of way but I guess people found it catchy. Listening to it objectively now, I think its just that, its definitely one of the catchier if not the catchiest song on the album despite the fact that it is not the best. There are other songs on the album that I believe dont shine as bright at first, but with repeated listens would get appreciated more!

Ian: The two tracks that stick out as my favorites on the album are Jetpacks Was Yes! and All New Materials, could you talk about how those tracks originally came together and your own take on them?

Misha: Strangely enough, those are two tracks that although i was very proud of them when i completed them I was unsure how Periphery fans or even Bulb fans would react to them because of how different they were. They still sound like me writing but its just in a very different context. I honestly thought that everyone was going to hate those songs but the band wanted them to be Periphery songs and they have also resonated well with the fans. I think the vocals on those songs take them to a whole new level as well!

Ian: You've stated that you and Jake (Bowen) wrote Racecar together, how did that song become the epic that it eventually became?

Misha: Jake and I have good writing chemistry, that was our riff fest, we just kept on having ideas and ideas that were thematically linked and just kept recording. We wrote the song in 3 days and 3 sessions, the ideas came out fast, it was probably getting the arrangement just right that took the most work.

Ian: Why did you release Captain On as a bonus track and what inspired you to update the track Eureka?

Misha: Captain On was an experiment I wanted to try where I was going to write a very angular song with almost awkward accents and time signatures but with catchy chord progressions, and the real trick was that I told Spencer to write vocals that would make this very progressive song sound catchy and almost fool you into thinking it was very simple. I think he nailed it, it was incredible that he pulled it off, you can sing along to the chorus even though it's in some absurd time signature that I would never even bother to count.
Eureka was a song that we felt would be a nice slow and crushing song, and I just revisited it and found myself toying with a few new ideas, Spencer was able to come up with vocals in no time for that one and we were really happy with how it came out?

Ian: Onto another topic, how did you originally start producing music?

Misha: By accident, I produced and co-wrote the Animals As Leaders album with Tosin as a favor to him and then people started contacting me to produce their albums.

Ian: How have groups like An Obscure Signal, Born of Osiris, and BEING get in contact with you and what do you think you added to those groups?

Misha: I actually bought an 8 string on craigslist from Walter the guitarist from An Obscure Signal, and turned out he was a Periphery fan, I told him that produced bands and thats how that started. I knew both the BOO and Being guys from before, and they contacted me asking if I was interested which I was of course!

Ian: What's your relationship with Tosin Abasi like and how did the two of you start to compose what would become the self-titled Animals As Leaders debut?

Misha: I have known him for like 4 or 5 years now. He used to live 10 minutes away and we used to jam all the time because we loved the same music and just enjoyed talking about gear and guitars and jamming etc. We locked ourselves into my apartment for about a month and wrote and recorded that album. We also had very good writing chemistry because we both have very similar taste in sounds and music, so it was a ton of fun honestly!
Ian: I guess onto your side projects now, how did you and Mark Holcomb originally start working together?

Misha: He originally asked me to record Haunted Shores as a studio project since all the other band members had left for different reasons. When we started recording, we realized that we too had very good writing chemistry and I ended up just becoming a member of the project since I was writing so much for it!

Ian: What is the status of the Haunted Shores debut album and how did you decide on all the singers that are on it?

Misha: Instrumentally we have maybe 3-4 more songs we need to write, and I think 3 or 4 songs have vocals pretty much done or demoed at least. We are still working all the singers out, it really just comes down to what we think of their audition, but we have so many talented singers on board, its actually very exciting.

Ian: What's the status of OMNOM (Of Man Not Of Machine) and are we ever going to see a full-length album from that project?

Misha: That has been on hold for a bit due to both Elliot and I being busy with other projects and work, but I started that project to showcase his voice and because I love writing with Elliot. I think he has one of the most unique and amazing voices out there and it needs to be heard. A full length will come eventually but there is no due date set, we still have a handful of songs to write for that project.

Ian: When can we expect more material from Four Seconds Ago and The Djentlemen?

Misha: The Djentlemen is just a joke. Four Seconds Ago is really just Jake and I working on electronic stuff, but we have a lot of Periphery work we have to focus on.

Ian: What kind of gear are you currently into at the moment?

Misha: Fractal Audio Axefx, any software by Toontrack, Bernie Rico Jr. Guitars, Ernie Ball Guitars, Blackmachine Guitars, Atomic Amps and Wedges, RME interfaces, Spectrasonics, Steinberg and Propellerhead Software.

Ian: What piece of gear would you consider the most useful to you right now?

Misha: Either my Axefx Ultra or Toontrack Superior Drummer 2.0

Ian: Besides Periphery, what other bands do you think need more exposure?

Misha: Chimp Spanner, The Dear Hunter, Karnivool

Ian: How have the shows you've done with Devin Townsend and TesseracT been?

Misha: Absolutely amazing. Apart from being phenomenal live bands and the highest caliber of musicians they are also some of the nicest and fun guys out there. Good times, wish we could have done the whole tour, but im grateful for the two dates we were able to share with them!

Ian: What can we expect from you and your projects in the near future?

Misha: More. Just more!

Ian: Thank you so much for the interview, it's been a pleasure to interview you. The last words are yours.

Misha: Thanks for the interview. We will have new music shortly. In the meantime come check us out on our next US/Canada Tour with Revocation, Veil of Maya and Darkest hour from Nov12th to Dec12th. Dates are up on www.myspace.com/periphery
And if you like what you hear please be sure to pick our album up!
If you want more music go to www.soundclick.com/bulb and www.myspace.com/iambulb
Thanks guys!
I'd like to say that interviewing one of my favorite current day musicians has been truely a highlight of my life. Thanks to Misha and check him and all his projects out!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Sailors With Wax Wings - Sailors With Wax Wings

He Went From The Ground Up.

Sailors With Wax Wings is the project of Pyramid's mastermind R. Loren. The project was formed after an experience Loren had while reading poetry by Stephen Crane. This debut album came from what he imagined would suit his poetry as well as the experience.
Being up front I've never listened to Pyramids before, though I've found their artwork to be intriguing, I've never given the band a chance, my bad. I also knew relatively nothing about that band or this one even being related to it until I read an interview with Decibel magazine. Having found their album interestingly described both there and on various sites, this was my experience with this debut album.
Having never heard Pyramids I can't really say if this compares to what that band does closely or not, but the opening track, Soft Gardens Near The Sun, Keep Your Distant Beauty on this album certainly reflects a very sombre, ambient-like sort of vibe more then anything rock or metal. The rest of the album continues in a similar way, making use of slow tempos with minimalistic, and at times almost tribal, sounding drums. While guitars sometimes move into a more mid-paced sections, the rest of the instruments, including vocals, never move past their more ambient states. The ambient state of which I'm referring to is where most of the album lies involves what I consider to be the closest thing to shoegaze or dream-pop coming from a post-rock/ambient music that I've heard all year.
This brings up my next topic for the album, whether intended or not, this album flows wonderfully, each track just ebbing into the next. I don't think one track really stood out that disrupted the flow of the album, as most tracks are very ethereal and dream-like it can be a bit difficult to pull one track from another, but that often happens in albums like this. I think that a lot of people might be turned off by the lack of heaviness, or distortion in general, of this album, but the track There Was One Who Sought A New Road brings an almost black metal sound to most of the track.
Overall, from an album that I knew absolutely nothing about when I got it, this thing has completely blown me away. I've not heard something this ethereal, yet captivating for a long time. I can't say that this would be for everyone, since it rarely gets even close to heavy, but for those that want something a little different, definitely check this out.
Overall Score: 8.5
Highlights: There Came A Drooping Maid With Violets, God Fashoned The Ship of The World Carefully, Strange That I Should Have Grown So Suddenly Blind

Cyclamen - Senjyu

Those Fellows.

Cyclamen is a tech metal band from the UK. This is their full-length debut following a split earlier this year with Haunted Shores and re-recorded EP. I was lucky enough to interview Hayato, the main-brain of the project last week and he provided some insight into the album.
As one that is vaguely familiar with Japanese music, the rock and metal side anyway, I had a vague idea of what to expect with this album. For those that haven't listened to Cyclamen's previous works, they were pretty much based in a similar realm of sound as groups like Sikth or Converge, but this full-length certainly shows that Hayato wanted to push the boarders for the group outwards. The concept album would have called for a more developed and varied sound, which this album delivers, but having the band founder come from a land where the music is varied anyway adds a certain hint of difference to it that makes it feel, maybe a bit more natural.
But don't fret if you're a fan of the crazier and more frenetic side of the band's sound, the opening two songs on the album, excluding the intro here, The Seeker and Thirst are short, sweet, and frantically paced all the way through. Once those tracks are finished however, the rest of the album begins to expand by utilizing multiple styles, such as post-rock in the title-track, Senjyu, jazz, Comfort, and even a bit of metalcore, With Our Hands, which creates a very diverse, as well as unique sounding album that is certainly a break away from their usual style. Personally, I found the more experimental tracks to capture my imagination more so than the technical and fast tracks mainly due to the fact that the technical, crazy songs are usually very short and don't reach three minutes a majority of the time; another reason for this is that these more frenetic tracks are what we've heard from the band before, and the more experimental tracks sound fresher and more expansive. Though the shorter tracks still hold weight, some proving to be quite catchy, as they are better than most bands attempting to do this sort of style right now.
I found the performances on here to be excellently captured by Hayato, who also produced the album. The guitars are loud and technical, but I wouldn't go so far to say that this is a guitar-based album, as there are several tracks where the guitars are slower and used more for atmosphere, hear Hellrise. The bass playing is also very well done, on some of the shorter tracks there's some very prominent bass-lines audible in the mix that end up just getting lodged in your head. The vocals have also shown a good leap in both screaming, utilizing a lower growl in a few tracks as well as some higher, almost chanting in the title-track.
Overall, I'd say that this is a release that the band should really be proud of, as it's diverse yet manages to sound very cohesive and together. I would have to say that from what I've read about this being a bit difficult to get into would be true, this is indeed an album that requires a few listens to really get into. If you like experimental metal with some more eccentric moments, definitely check this out.
Overall Score: 8.5
Highlights: Comfort, Devoid, Full Moon Night

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Artep - Thy Will Be Done On Earth As Is Done In Hell

The Fortress of Dimmu Stands Strong Still.

Artep is a symphonic black metal band from Canada. The band had it's beginnings in 2006, steadily building their fan base and honing their style. This is their full-length debut, having released a demo and EP before hand.
Let's set it straight right off the bat, this thing opens like a cheesy 50's movie score, with a title like Birth of The Antichrist, another check for cheesy, these guys don't exactly make the best first impression. Other song-titles don't fair as well either, you have your typical black metal titles like Antichrist, Armageddon, and Black War; yet I found that the music is quite solid despite this. There is some solid playing on here and the record is pretty consistent and unrelenting throughout.
Probably the biggest gripe I have with this thing, besides it being overtly cheesy in some spots, is the production on the drums. The drums sound like they were recorded on tin-cans, seriously, after a while the sound from the snare just begins to become a grating experience. The bass-drums fare better because they sound because they are triggered, and unfortunately, lower in the mix then the snare. As for the other musicians, the drummer can be included as well, they are all fine players, crafting some cool melodies while keeping things aggressive.
But, like the title above says, there is more than a little influence from Dimmu Borgir on here, circa "Spiritual Black Dimensions." The keyboards on here often are used to add dynamics that would otherwise most likely be missing. The keyboards also add quite a few things to this album, aside from the standard symphonic backdrop. On tracks like Eruption and Crossing The Acheron, while the symphonic touch is still there, a more prominent touch of atmospheric black metal is used, the latter track also makes use of some really cool neo-classical parts as well.
Overall, this is a rather decent release, some cool parts, some bland ones as well. This is still a new group so you can't hold it too hard against them for sounding like their influences, but there is definitely some cool riffs on here. If you like symphonic or atmospheric black metal, you should check this out, might be your surprise of the year.
Overall Score: 6.5
Highlights: Eruption, Crossing The Acheron, Eye of The Serpent/Oko Hada

Grotte - Existence Is Futile

Let's Calm Down, No More Wrist Slashing On This Cover.

Grotte is a Spanish depressive black metal project founded by Nargassh. This album is somewhat a compilation, as it is essentially his 2008 album, under the same name, with a track from a 2009 demo title Melankoli. Nargassh has recently decided to end the project and thus making this his last release.
Let's make it clear that this is the first time I have ever actually heard a Grotte song, let alone album, though I have seen the cover for the original release of this album, and find it to be one of the darkest covers that the genre has ever released. Saying that, the music on here doesn't astound me nearly as much as the covers have, though there is something there. After a rather boring intro track, the album gets off to a rather usual start, with buzzing guitars, slow-paced drumming, no bass (or audible bass), and shrieked vocals, not giving the best impression.
The thing I have to give to this project is that for how similar it is to others in the genre, at least the songs made don't drag on into forever, most tracks are barely even five minutes long. While there is still monotonous playing and rather uninspired, the shear darkness that this recording contains is enough to keep a listener tuned in at least. Though most of the tracks are rather uninteresting with very little actually happening, the production on here is enough to at least make them listenable. Songs rarely break out into an interesting section that captured my attention and made me want to put this on for repeated listens, while tracks like Blood and Melankoli did intrigue me a bit, they didn't really have anything that stood out and grabbed me.
Overall, this is about as generic an album to come from this scene as I've heard, rather uninspired and it's just there. Fans of the genre will probably hate on me, but this isn't an album that really makes me want to check out the other releases that were put out, this doesn't have anything that I couldn't get from another band really. If you're into this style of music, you might want to check this out, but I'd suggest going for something else.
Overall Score: 2.5
Highlights: The Only Way Out, Blood

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Just Don't Call Them Duck.

DÅÅTH is an experimental death metal group from Georgia. The band have steadily been increasing in stature thanks to some high-profile tours with bands like Cynic, Goatwhore, and Unearth. This is their fourth full-length and the second to feature lead vocalist Sean Z.
Opening up with Genocidal Maniac, the album then bursts into it's intense one-two combo of Destruction/Restoration and Indestructible Overdose. These two songs are not only the shortest on the entire record but also some of the most intense songs, never stopping or giving you a break by going all melodic. The latter track contains an almost black metal vibe to it while the former has a more typical sound for the band, with a few grinding parts included as well.
Sean Z, and really all the vocalists that DÅÅTH has used, in my opinion, are my kind of death metal vocalist. Though be biased in my liking of his style, I have to say that there is quite a bit of variation on the album vocally, as well as musically, while retaining a death metal style. Throughout the record you'll hear brutal death metal grunts, black metal screams, and his usual shout, all of which are amazing, but then again, I'm partial to them.
Onto the music on here now, this is easily the most diverse and eclectic record the band has produced yet. There are elements of other styles of metal, from black metal, in the track mentioned above, groove, Manufactured Insomnia, prog, Oxygen Burn, and even other styles including fusion, psychedelic music, and even bits of industrial. Both guitarists, Eyal Levi and Emil Werstler craft uniquely technical riffs that are both brutal and head-scratching, hear Exit Plan. Besides that, this album sounds extremely epic in comparison to their past releases, with guitars that sound gigantic, bombastic drumming, by none other than Kevin Talley, and heavy grooving bass, performed by Jeremy Creamer. Honestly though, after listening to this record, personally, I just needed a break, as this thing is relentlessly intense from start to finish.
In interviews leading up to the album, Levi had stated that this album was recorded using only natural guitar tones and that gives the album a more raw feel, something that is more comparable to other releases from the band, as it's not as raw as other bands. But that's all a matter of opinion because, as stated above, this album sounds massive and really doesn't really lend itself to being under-produced. But I can see where more real sounding parts are used on here, whether it's the obvious use of feedback or just a less mechanical sound in the guitars.
Overall, this is a really good record that's just filled with great riffs, aggressive vocals, and just massive sounding. While some fans may be dismayed at the lack of "experimental" tendencies present on this record, this is easily the most angry record the band has produced yet. If you like extreme metal with a foot in other experimental music genres, you should definitely check this out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Double Tap Suicide, Arch (Enemy) Misanthrope, N.A.T.G.O.D.

All That Remains - For We Are Many

We Are All The Same.

All That Remains is a melodic death metal/metalcore group from Massachusetts. After recording what many considered to be a safe, as well as drift from the heavier sound of their previous releases, with 2008's "Overcome," they claim to have returned to the more metal side. This album also sees the return of their long-time producer, Adam Dutkiewicz (Killswitch Engage).
Starting off, this album certainly does open in a heavier manner, the title-track, For We Are Many, beginning with a track that is complete with growled only vocals as well as a more melodic death metal styled riffing. This track is one of the few that makes use of growling vocals as the main vocal style, but there is enough variation throughout the song between different styles to keep it entertaining, if not more so than some other tracks. The rest of the album then picks up in a manner that does take pieces from their last two releases and puts them together, to varying degrees of success.
Fans of the band's usual style don't really have a lot to worry about, as the band tend to stick to a pretty structured formula for the majority of the album. Probably the thing that makes this album most similar to the last one is the use of radio-friendly, if not more arena-oriented, choruses that just stick in your head. Tracks like Won't Go Quietly or the first single Hold On fit into that box perfectly, with huge sounding melodies that just make you want to hear them over and over again.
Fans of darker and heaviest aspects of 2006's "The Fall of Ideals" will also find this release to appeal to them as well, with vocalist Phil Labonte bringing back the lower, pig-growled vocals in tracks like Some of The People, All of The Time and Dead Wrong. However the majority of the vocals on this record are done cleanly or his typical growling style. While being a fantastic vocalist, Labonte makes use of the odd style from the last release where he sings cleanly and has screaming underneath him, a style that just doesn't appeal to me at least. But to reiterate here, the choruses throughout this record are just fantastic and have great melodies that just stick in your head.
Overall, I have to say that this is a good, solid record that has plenty of catchy melodies. I don't think that long-time fans or newer ones will be disappointed by this album, as it's a nice middle ground between their heaviest side and their melodic rock side. If you like melodic death metal with a foot in more mainstream rock music, definitely check this out.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Some of The People, All of The Time, From The Outside, Keepers of Fellow Man

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Circle of Animals - Destroy The Light

And Now For A Resident's View of Chicago.

Circle of Animals is an industrial/psychedelic rock duo from Illinois. The project was created and consists of Sanford Parker (Minsk, Buried At Sea) and Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) and a rotating circle of drummers. After releasing a 12' single earlier this year, they decided to put out their debut full-length as well, coming out on Relapse Records.
Speaking for myself, not knowing a lot about Chicago's industrial music scene, or industrial music in general, I can't say how true this record is to that. What I found on here though is close enough to the artists that I do know from that scene for me to recognize that this is definitely what it claims to be, industrial music with a focus on driving beats and hypnotic repetition. The music on here definitely makes me think the late 80s and early 90s industrial groups, that I know, through their use of almost machine-like drumming and slow patterns presented by the guitars, bass, and keyboards. There are several times where the music broke out of being industrial based and utilized some elements of post-punk, psychedelic rock, and even freak folk music, hear All Spirit/No Mind.
Sanford's production, as always, is stellar in making the music sound good while keeping it authentic and real sounding. The production on here compliments the sounds of industrial music on here, keeping it very mechanical and robotic most of the time. The production, to my ears anyway, kind of made this album feel like an early 90's industrial record rather then a 2010 industrial record, which is not that bad a thing, but just something that struck me.
Overall, not being the biggest fan of this style of music, I can't really comment too heavily on it, but I found a good portion of this record to be quite interesting and entertaining. While I can't see myself really putting this on repeat over and over, though in the end I probably will anyway, this is definitely a duo who I would like to hear more from. If you like industrial or post-punk stuff, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't check these guys out.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: No Faith, ...And Together We Are Forever, Destroy The Light

Look to Windward - Fortunes Haze I: Assemble EP

I've Never Been To An Assembly That Was This Interesting.

Look to Windward is a progressive metal project New Zealand. This is their debut EP and showcases some extremely talented songs in a relatively short format. The band has stated that these tracks are also going to appear on an upcoming full-length that is currently in the works.
I give these guys a lot of credit for stuffing a lot of ideas into only three songs and making them sound as solid as they do. On here there are hints of djent/tech metal groups like Meshuggah and Periphery as well as traditional stuff like Dream Theater and them there's some weird stuff that could be referenced to Mike Patton. In any case, this is progressive metal that is modern but still harks a bit back to old-school groups, and then throws in some of it's own flare into the mix as well thanks to their use of keyboards.
This band has definitely won my approval, as you can blatantly see, showcasing an extremely unique approach on progressive metal, something that isn't all that's becoming harder and harder these days. The songs on here are all over five minutes but manage to fit a decent amount of ideas, from the symphonic sections in Vad Askan Sade, the cleaner parts in Assemble, and the more straightforward moments in Danger Eyes.
Overall, this is a band I'm extremely excited to hear more from, as they have definitely impressed me. I think a full-length will only increase the awareness of this group as well as hopefully expand on the ideas present on this EP. If you like progressive metal, definitely check these guys out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Assemble, Danger Eyes

Here's Their Bandcamp Page:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Assimilated Mind Phase - Involuntary Deconstruction EP

Groove Out With Your Sister Too.

Assimilated Mind Phase is a collaboration project between tech-metal guitarists Kevin Suter and Mark Hawkins. Kevin Suter has released numerous singles, a full-length and an EP this year alone, while Mark Hawkins is currently working on his debut full-length. This is the duo's first collaboration together under this name, and have already released another single at the time this review is coming out.
Personally, to start off, I've only listened to Suter's material so I can only compare it to his and the samples of what I've heard from Hawkins, but this album certainly appears to blend their sounds together. As this is a guitar oriented album, the focus is on that more so than on anything else, just to point out. Both players have about an equal share in the sound, you have the groovy djent riffs from Suter's work while you have the more technical and progressive leads from Hawkins, being demonstrated in the opener Journey Beyond Oneself. While I can't say that the two together really create as unique a sound as they do apart, their sound is a nice take on what could essentially be described as a technical/progressive death metal album.
It might seem a bit odd how Suter's solo work can range into six and seven minute territory, yet only of song on here extends past three minutes, I'm not including the six minute electronic closer, Involuntary Deconstruction. I can understand since this is an EP, but I would have enjoyed the duo making some longer and more elaborate pieces. However thanks to short tracks, and essentially the shortness of this EP, things don't drag on as they could have, as this is really, in all honesty, a shred album.
Overall, this is a fairly decent debut, if not a bit one-dimensional at times, but still quite good. This style isn't really something that regular people will probably get into, the whole instrumental shred stuff is a bit boring after a while. But if you like either of the guitarists performing, or if you're just a fan of progressive or technical metal, check this out.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: Perilous Void, Robotocization

Star One - Victims of The Modern Age

They Called Him A Space Man, Well He's Come Back Home.

Star One is the progressive metal project of progressive master Arjen Anthony Lucassen, of Ayreaon fame. This is his second full-length under this project, after having released a highly acclaimed debut, 2002's "Space Metal." After having released a softer, more atmospheric record last year, his project Guilt Machine, he decided it was time to get heavy again.
As many who are aware of Lucassen's past work, and various other projects, this record is most definitely his heaviest yet, even living up to the heavy sound of the debut's sound. Lucassen himself had stated that after the quieter and more ambient sound of Guilt Machine he wanted to just write some heavy, balls-out metal stuff, thus, Star One's second album has finally come out, and not without a few surprises. This record makes use of more guitars than even the debut, which had a pretty equal focus between guitars and keyboards, but this record can safely be called a heavy, guitar album while still containing Lucassen's trademark use of 60s and 70s mellotrons and Hammond organs.
Onto the vocalists, with every project Lucassen has ever created he was always made use of a wide variety of singers from various styles of music. While fans of that may be disappointed somewhat by the lack of new vocalists on here, the four returning vocalists are some of the best out there and are on here for their outstanding work on not only the debut record, but in their own bands as well. The four vocalists, for those that don't know, are Damien Wilson (Threshold), Floor Jansen (ex-After Forever, ReVamp), Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Nightingale), and Russell Allen (Symphony X), all very talented and unique sounding singers, each providing their own sound to these songs. As a bonus, for me at least, the one thing I was disappointed by on the debut was the lack of singing from Swanö, a problem which has been immediately corrected, by his vocals being the first to appear on here, Digital Rain.
For those that have never heard a record that Lucassen has created, you are sorely missing out as this is some of the best and most original progressive music to have been released in the last two decades. But focusing specifically on this record, like every other one he's done, this record, while being progressive, there is plenty of room for hooks and catchy melodies, hear tracks like the title-track, Victim of The Modern Age, or Cassandra Complex. In the case of this album being progressive, it's not in the sense of being overly technical or having multiple solos, they're in here though, but more in the case of having a song take priority over having ambitious playing and solos. There is also a tendency, due to his background in the scene, have some parts, especially the chorus of the latter track mentioned above, sound very poppy and 80's metal-esque.
Overall, I can say with certainty that this is one of Arjen's best works yet and definitely lives up to it's predecessor, if not tops it. Once again, this is a heavier record, a lot more distorted guitar riffs while still maintaining that signature synthe sound throughout. If you like progressive music, this should be the next record you check out for sure.
Overall Score: 8.5
Highlights: Digital Rain, 24 Hours, It All Ends Here

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Terraformer - Terraformer EP

They Can't Quite Shape The World Yet.

Terraformer is a post-rock/hardcore trio from Belgium. This is their debut release and sets them on the edge of both genres just mentioned and poised for something new. I discovered this group through a friend who recommended I check them out.
The first thing that pops out when listening to this album is that it is in fact a mix of hardcore, post-rock, and math rock. The riffs are technical and aggressive sounding but they don't feature enough distortion to make them metallic enough to be metal or hardcore. I'm actually surprised as to the guitar tones on this album, as they lie between the crunch of heavier rock and metal but are very fluid and clean sounding as well. This is easily one of the most unique sounding albums I've heard all year.
Another thing I found to be rather interesting on here was the use of electronics, hear the beginning of Leave The Ship, as they aren't dominating or overly used, but spice up the part. The production really does allow all three members of the band to shine on here, while the guitar, I think, is the main focus, the bass is very groovy in the background while the drums keeps a nice rhythm and lay down some great fills. The band also make sure that things never get boring by always moving around, making use of a lot of different riffs and styles within their songs.
Overall, I have to say that these guys have some real talent for writing some cool, intricate music. This is definitely not for those that don't like music that moves at a quicker pace and has a lot going on and whatnot. If you like more technical or progressive groups, definitely check these guys out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Zephyr, Leave The Ship, Highway Rabbit Versus Darwin

Beyond The Dune Sea - Beyond The Dune Sea

Glide Across Songs And Beyond.

Beyond The Dune Sea is a post-rock trio from Canada. This debut full-length is their first recording and features several improvisations that have been recorded as oppose to songs. The band state that they are without boundaries, willing to explore all realms of music.
First off, while this is labeled as a full-length album, all ten songs on here add up to less then thirty minutes. I'm not quite sure if you could consider this as a full-length record just based on that, but there have been shorter records from other groups that decide to label a fifteen minute album a full-length, so I guess it doesn't ultimately affect the listen as much as the money you pay for it, if you pay at all that is. But onto the music, it is what the label described it, post-rock, it's not straying too far away from that sound, though there are some tricks here and there to that do keep things interesting. Not much on here is heavy, things are very laid-back and relaxing at some points.
I'd say that one of the most interesting things on this record would have to be the drumming. The drummer on here really just plays a lot more energetically than the other two members of the band on guitars and bass. In just the opening song, The Dune Sea, the drums go into some really pounding parts while the guitars just slowly cradle the sound. I also found the fills and jazzy bass lines in Time Is of The Essence to also be a bit surprising as well. But with the occasional surprises, there also comes a bad, the guitars don't really pop out as something all that interesting in here; also, the electronics that pop up in certain songs also prove to break up the flow to a song which proved a bit irritating.
Overall, this album didn't really have a whole lot that interested me, I often found myself losing focus during these songs. The fact that these tracks were improvised kind of makes these tracks feel like the just wander without any direction at all which proves tiring after the first few songs. If you like improvised music, post-rock, or electronic influenced rock check this out, otherwise there won't be a lot here for you.
Overall Score: 5
Highlights: The Red Tide, Embryo, Final Solution

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pet Slimmers of The Year - ...And The Sky Fell

Along The Edges Of Sleep.

Pet Slimmers of The Year are a post-metal/rock trio from the UK. This is the band's second release, following up their debut self-titled release last year. This album doesn't appear to do much that that record didn't but should still be able to bring in some new fans.
I don't think that there's a lot on here that would defy the norm of post-metal/rock for anyone, sad to say. The trio have their sound down and can clearly play it well, but nothing original isn't going to get them much credibility. You have your mellow parts, sections that lead to builds, and slow heavy riffs, that's basically everything you need to form a foundation in this genre, but there isn't much else that this band really does to expand upon that. It might just be that I've been listening to a lot of this style lately that makes me feel so indifferent to this record.
There are some cool parts mind you, I Am The Ocean, but for the most part it kind of just blends together. I honestly found this record to be most entertaining when used as background music. Having said all this, I have to say that several of the bass-lines on here are very interesting and cool sounding, very fluid and melodic.
Overall, this is just another post-metal record that doesn't really go outside of the box to make itself known. I know there are plenty of fans that will and have already enjoyed this album a lot more then me, but this album just didn't cut it for me. If you like the whole "post" scene, check this out, otherwise, there are plenty of other good bands out there to start with.
Overall Score: 4
Highlights: Weir, I Am The Ocean

Heaven In Her Arms - Paraselene

Dream Streams.

Heaven In Her Arms is a post-rock/screamo group from Japan. The band have come to be known as the almost, little brothers of heavy hitters Envy. This is their second full-length and is promised to be even more adventurous than their debut.
I honestly can't say a whole lot on the Envy comparison, as I am only vaguely familiar with their work, but I can say that there are a lot of elements on here that would definitely appeal to metal fans. The music definitely recalls moments of post-metal/rock while the vocals have a more black metal vibe to them. This thing sounds a lot more metal than I would have assumed it to be, but it still has a lot of moments that are completely post-rock and have an almost ambient quality to them.
The heavy moments on this album are definitely sludge, doom, and post-metal influences, as they are heavy and usually slower. There are times where the band go into a hardcore/mathcore kind of break where they just bust out into insanity and noise, but that isn't all that prominent on here. But beneath all those crushing riff often lies some more melodic, clean guitar parts that just flow through the wall of noise coming from the distorted guitars. As one might expect when looking at the song lengths, the longer songs on here do happen to focus more on more melodic and atmospheric passages rather than the heavier and aggressive, though they're in there as well, most of the songs are dominated by soundscapes.
While I don't really have a lot to gripe about concerning this album, probably the thing that got to me the most was how repetitive some of the parts on here were. Yes, there is plenty of much that is slow and repetitive, and yes, the music grows increasingly more textured and layered as they go on, but I could help but feel a bit bored during Echoic Cold Wrist. The two final tracks, which both top ten minutes, fully encapsulated my attention however.
Overall, I can safely say that this was an enjoyable album that definitely has a lot of really cool parts. I think that if the band perhaps hone their songwriting a bit more for the next album, they could create something really unique and powerful. If you like this sort of post-metal/rock with a Japanese touch, definitely check this out.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Morbidity of White Pomegranate, Butterfly In Right Helicoid, Veritas

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Last Days - When The Tomorrow Is A Grey Day EP

We Are Sad People.

The Last Days are a post-rock/depressive black metal group from Mexico. This EP is their debut release onto the scene and has turned a few heads to their direction for their intriguing mix of the genres above. Not knowing a lot about the Mexican black metal scene, or metal scene in general, I am curious as to how this sounds.
Starting with some low-key guitar chords being played alongside some background noise, this record is a modern representation of depression in the city. This opening track, the title-track, When The Tomorrow Is A Grey Day, acts as little more than an introductory soundscape that should draw the listener inwards. The bulk of the album's material is the three tracks in the middle of this release, with all three tracks clocking in at around nine minutes.
The sound of these tracks is quite different than how a depressive black metal project usually sounds, and this is a positive. Instead of buzzing, distorted guitars taking the front of a song, they instead fall into the background while clean melodic guitars swirl around and around the listener's ears. I can't really say that these tracks really provide anything new for the post-rock influenced black metal scene, but I'd definitely say these guys are closer to post-rock then any sort of metal with this release anyway, which works in their benefit. Vocals also don't play that big a role in this band either, only appearing on the track Soul of City.
Overall, this is a solid debut from a band that has potential. I think the fact that they lean towards post-rock more than black metal, while still having both contained within their sound gives them a bit of an edge on bands that take black metal over post-rock, but that's just me. If you like either of the genres mentioned above, definitely check this one out.
Overall Score: 6.5
Highlights: The Time Will Never Come Back, A Vague Look

At The Soundawn - Shifting

To The Science Wing!

At The Soundawn is a post-metal/experimental rock group from Italy. This release was released several months ago, but I only recently discovered it through a recommendation from a friend and have since checked it out. This album has gained a decent amount of praise from the sludge/post-metal scene due to the experimental routes taken on this, their sophomore, release.
This record starts off by immediately trying to distance itself from others that are labeled as post-metal by using a simple idea that just stands out, that one idea is making the guitar melodies more upbeat. This opening track, Mudra: In Acceptance and Regret, is a nice started to this album as it showcases this band's adventurous spirit by mixing in several different music ideas together. Beginning rather heavy and pretty average on a musical front, the band then moves into a post-rock type of thing, making use of clean vocals, before adding in saxophone that just glides over the top of the whole band when they go into a jazzy section.
This opening song kind of sets the tone for the entire record, whether you like it or not, because this is a post-metal album, but in every song there's a part that just sticks out as being different. More often than not the band use soft, atmospheric, and at times jazzy, sections to counter their more aggressive metal tendencies, as upbeat as those moments are anyway, just hear Caofedian. I actually found these softer sections to be more intriguing, as well as entertaining, than the heavier ones, I really thought that the band did an excellent job at creating spacey atmospheres while not ever doing all that much. Tracks like Drifting Lights and Hades do a nearly perfect job at keeping a very experimental sound while making the band sound like no one else.
Setting aside all the above, the band still know how to write some catchy parts, Black Waves in particular. This song really captures both the mellow and the heavy, the catchy and the aggressive, the beauty and the ugly sides of the band, the hook near the end of the song really just grabbed me the first time I heard it and it didn't let me go. I'll admit that not every track on here has a big hook, but that doesn't detract away from the impact that most of these songs have. I have to say that while the clean vocals on here aren't particularly metal sounding, having more in common with post-hardcore styled vocals, they actually make the band a bit different and add a certain catchiness to the vocals that probably wouldn't have been there otherwise.
Overall, I can certainly see why this album has received the praises that it has gotten now that I've listened to it. This is certainly a band that is willing to take chances and experiment with their sound while knowing how to not stray too far away from their core. If you like progressive rock, post-metal, experimental music, I'd suggest you check this out.
Overall Score: 8.5
Highlights: Mudra: In Acceptance and Regret, Black Waves, Prometheus Bring Us The Fire

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Intersphere - Interspheres/Atmospheres

If This Is The Inside I Don't Need To Hear The Out.

The Intersphere is a progressive/alternative rock quintet from Germany. This is their first album and shows a diverse amount of influences on it while still being able to write concise and catchy songs. I only recently discovered this group thanks to a recommendation from a friend and have taken quite a fancy to this debut.
After a short and mellow introduction the band's first single, Prodigy Composers, opens up and punches you in the face, not in a metal way though. This track is a short and catchy that serves to just pull you in while the rest of the album proves more progressive and experimental. I can't really say much about this one song as it doesn't really explore lots of ground stylistically, more it kind of serves as just an introduction that people, even those not into progressive music, can latch onto easily.
Aside from that single, the rest of the album, as stated above, explores more ground from simple pop, Early Bird, to more atmospheric, Floydian kind of territory, In Satellites, as well as the occasional metal bit, Snapshot. Honestly, this band leans more towards the Radiohead and Muse side of things then the King Crimson or Dream Theater side, but it's nice to mix things up, and this band certainly has it's own fair share of bits that are more experimental. The songs on here probably won't fancy those that consider themselves prog elitists simply because most tracks don't ever cross the five minute mark.
Like most pop, alt. rock, etc. records, these songs are quick and fill album with just over fifty minutes worth of music, that goes by surprisingly quickly. Songs keep with a pretty simplistic pop-structure using verses and choruses that is easy to follow and keeps the hooks popping up within every song. This type of style may get monotonous to those that like a little diversity within their albums, but when you're listening to albums that have lot of varied structures, sometimes they have no structure at all, this does provide a bit more of a grounded kind of listen.
Overall, this is a very catchy record that has really impressed me despite the fact that this is pretty different than my usual tastes. I think that this band should be able to appeal to fans of experimental rock or modern prog rock groups as well as more mainstream listeners. If you like music that is adventurous while maintaining a very pop style of writing, definitely check this one out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Early Bird, I Have A Place For You On Google Earth, State of The Divine

The Advaita Concept - Ontology EP

Not Quite A Shining Star Yet.

The Advaita Concept are a tech/progressive metal group from Florida. The group have gained a small following from releasing music on their web-pages up till now, this is their debut recording. This short release is sure to impress fans of the genres listed above due to their songwriting abilities.
This short EP really goes about to showcase an interesting mix of Meshuggah influenced grooves, Dream Theater riffs, and a Periphery styled approach to the entire thing. I can't say that a whole lot of bands are really doing exactly what that one band are doing right now, but this band is certainly influenced by Bulb and crew's work up to now. The riffs move from hard-hitting grooves to technical riffs quickly, showcasing a sense of good playing, but I found that there whole of this record lacked songs that stuck in my head and made me want to come back.
With all of the above said, it is clear that these guys are on their way to writing some very cool stuff, as the title-track, Ontology, proves, these guys do have potential to write music that is melodic, progressive, and groovy. But there are still a few songs, out of the six on here, that don't really go anywhere for me, Make Like A Circle. Having said that, I can't say that there was a track on here that wasn't well played or performed, they just didn't do any for me personally.
Overall, this is a promising debut recording that shows a lot of potential for the future. While only about half of this EP has material that is unique and interesting, I don't think that any of this isn't worth listening to though. This band is definitely worth taking a look at if you're into progressive metal.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: Ontology, City 17

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Interview - Cyclamen's Hayato Imanishi

Recently I was able to interview Hayato Imanishi, leader and founder of up-and-coming tech-metalers Cyclamen. Their debut full-length Senjyu is set to be released next week. Hope you enjoy!

Ian: With the release of Senjyu less then a week away how do feel about it?

Hayato: Relieved! I am pretty impatient person and it's been more than 2 months since I finished recording the CD - It's a long time for me.

Ian: Lets start with how Cyclamen originally formed? Who were some of the influences that made you want to start playing this style of music?

Hayato: It formed with frustration from my previous band for not allowing me to write something I thought was great. I'm always experimenting with different styles and at the time I was studying technical writing of SikTh and polyrhythmic writing of Meshuggah. My style of writing is pretty diverse because everything is result of experiments and accidents rather than something I aim to achieve.

Ian: How did you originally view Cyclamen, was it intended to be a band in the beginning or as a solo project?

Hayato: I was so fed up with being in a band, so I definitely did not plan to make Cyclamen into a band at the beginning. The idea was that I would be responsible for everything, so no one can mess up what I wanted to do!

Ian: What made you want to sing/scream in Japanese instead of in English? How do think this has effected your fanbase?

Hayato: I always aim to create something that only I can do - and whether I like or not, I was born as Japanese. I accept what I am and I feel Japanese culture and language has something to contribute to music too. There are very few who can do that.
Choice of language was always going to shrink number of people who would want to listen to it (number of English speakers >> number of Japanese speakers), but for me it's more important to create something that I can be proud of than to create something compromised in order to be commercially more successful. I see like a disability - I was born with taste and skill that appeal to only few people, and there is not much you can do about it. It would have been better if I loved writing commercial music, but I know I would suck at it and more importantly, I would not enjoy it.

Ian: Could you speak about what the themes were behind the Dreamers EP?

Hayato: The main theme of the EP is about fighting for your dream. Our society will always try to force us to stop dreaming and make you into a machine that just does the job for it. And in most cases people will just let it take over their life.
I felt that this was happening to me, and needed to express that we must be brave enough to fight against it, otherwise we will forever be slaves to our society, and when we have only one shot to live our life I think we can do so much better than that.

Ian: How did the split EP with Haunted Shores come about?

Hayato: I was a fan of Haunted Shores since their old line up (when it was still a full band), and was looking to release a split EP since we were recording a couple of tracks with new members of the band. Mark (of Haunted Shores) also liked Cyclamen stuff so it naturally came together after I asked them if they were interested in doing a split EP with us.

Ian: You've covered both Princess Mononoke and Castle In The Sky, why did you decide to cover these songs?

Hayato: I am a big fan of Studio Ghibli animations - I watched these animations whole my life. They are something I feel Japan can be really proud of, and I always enjoyed the music in them. As I already said, I always aim to create something no one else can do, and I felt covering those songs would definitely be one of things that only very few people can do, and would do - So I tried to see if I gave these tunes a go and the rest is history.

Ian: What made you want to re-record the Dreamers EP?

Hayato: Cyclamen becoming a full band, and wanting to hear real benefit of having an acoustic drums in recording (provided by Travis Orbin) compare to using midi drums.

Ian: You've worked with Travis Orbin (ex-Periphery, Sky Eats Airplane) in recent recordings, how did he become involved with Cyclamen? What is your working relationship with him?

Hayato: He has been offering lessons and session works for long time, and I couldn't find any drummer who had affordable access to recording acoustic drums. So I messaged him on Myspace and we went from there. He is very talented musician with hard working ethic. You don't find many people like Travis.

Ian: You had Mikee Goodman (ex-Sikth) provide vocals on a track titled Sleep Street early on in Cyclamen's history, how did that come about?

Hayato: One day I wrote a tune as a song writing exercise. I uploaded it on Myspace and it received really positive reaction from people around me. At the time Mikee had left the band and he didn't seem to be doing much so I messaged him on Myspace asking if he would be interested in working with me, while knowing that he would most definitely not reply. To much to my surprise he replied and seemed interested, so we negotiated for a while, and exchanged ideas. It took us around 4 months to complete the vocal idea!

Ian: Onto the new album, Senjyu, how was the recording experience? I know you worked with Dan Weller and Justin Hill who were both in Sikth, how was it working with them and what do you think they added to the recordings?

Hayato: No, I worked with Dan and Justin for Haunted Shores split EP. The album was self-produced! Working with Wellerhill was a good learning experience though. I have learnt lots about being a producer and certain techniques that helped me to make the album sound a lot better. It was interesting to put my creation into someone else's hand to produce recording too. There were many decisions I wouldn't have made myself, but it was good to see how others would see my music as.

Ian: How would you say that Senjyu differs from your earlier material?

Hayato: Senjyu being an album, I had bigger "canvas" to "paint" on. Which meant that I could afford to have songs that act as transition song - You could combine multiple songs to create one big effect. In EPs songs need to be self-contained and it limits on what you can do. I don't see Senjyu as collection of songs, but one big story told by multiple songs. You can't really do that in EPs, just not enough space.

Ian: What is the overall concept on Senjyu?

Hayato: The album is a conceptual album based on a story, although I don't put strong emphasis on this because any album should be enjoyable without the knowledge of what it is about (most people wouldn't bother finding out what it's about anyways).
But rather than telling a story itself, I focused on emotions the main character experiences through the story because I feel music is a way of expressing emotions, and it is not something you use to describe or explain factual things. It would be pretty difficult to express "kinfe" by music, but it would be easy to express "aggressive desire to kill using a knife" by music (done in so many horror films).

Ian: Why did you decide to re-record the track Revenge (Of The Geeks) for Senjyu?

Hayato: It would be weird to have one recording out of the whole album that's recorded 2 years ago...

Ian: You recently posted a bonus track for Senjyu, What Are You Waiting For, which featured Tesseract vocalist Dan Tompkins on it, how did that collaboration come about? Why is that track not on the album?

Hayato: As I already explained Senjyu is not just a collection of good songs. All songs are in that order, written in that style for a reason. You can't just throw in any song you produce. What's the point of releasing it as album if that's the case, you might as well release every song as single separately. As for how the collaboration came out, the same as any other collaborations, you send this person with a track that s/he might be interested in, and if that person replies something might come out, a lot of time it won't. Dan liked the track and he had a bit of time before he goes out for Devin Townsend tour so timing worked in favour of me too!

Ian: Now to discuss the rest of the band, how did they come into the picture? What do you think they add to Cyclamen's sound that wasn't there before?

Hayato: My previous band (which included Ed(bass)) did a UK tour with Duncan(drummer)'s band, and Duncan was in music college where he met our guitarists. That's about it really!
They obviously enabled Cyclamen to do live shows, which is very cool. As for sound we are still experimenting. Working with more people always takes longer time to do things unfortunately.

Ian: What's next for Cyclamen? Are you writing for more music, are you planning on touring for this album?

Hayato: We are trying to tour next year, so get in touch with us for any offers ;) As band, live shows are something we definitely need to keep working on more. It's a big change after spending years locking myself in a studio and it takes time to get used to.
And of course we'll be writing. It's almost like compulsion rather than a choice I make.

Ian: I guess that's it, thank you for the interview, it's been a pleasure. I wish you the best of luck with Cyclamen. The last words are yours.

Hayato: Our album is out on 25th October 2010, Buy it :P And thanks to all those loyal fans for their generous supports. They means the world to us.
Once again, I would like to express my appreciation towards Hayato and Nathan at HoldTight PR for allowing this interview to happen. If you haven't checked out Cyclamen yet, you really should.