Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SHORA live in Athens 18jan09

18 JAN. 2009

I no longer feel gigs as I did a few years ago. I can watch a good gig, under good conditions & have a good time but it is very rare that it feels like the real thing, that I get mesmerized and carried away, that the music really touches me. This is why eventhough Shora are a proper excellent band on record, I didn’t show up with high expectations on this low profile Sunday evening in Athens.

For starters, I was pissed off with the high price of the ticket (35 euros at the entrance, 32 pre-sale) and with the fact that I had to pay more for a second band that I didn’t ask for. This is the kind of gig that we should pay normally no more than 20 euros. And let me tell you something, I was fucking right. The 2nd band on the bill, YNDI HADAL from the UK, is simply one of the worst bands I have ever seen live. “Pussy-ass post rock” is a description that does justice to the boring, pretentious, lifeless crap that they are playing. No riffs, no melodies, just some random notes played by cute young faces that the girls are supposed to fancy, and a … violin. I am not prejudiced with post-rock, it’s just that it’s fashion and there’s too many bands playing nothing. As a matter of fact I’ve already seen a post-rock act with a violin live, and it was very emotional and deep (that was THE EVPATORIA REPORT supporting RED SPARROWES @ Paris a couple of years back). The fact that they collected a lot of applause and that there were people actually familiar with their stuff, simply proves that the audience was crap too.

“What now? What comes next?”, I asked to myself like a modern day Raoul Duke with my wrists slit after YNDI HALLAL’s set finished. And then ze band started to play, everything shutted down and we took off immediately. A special moment, suspended in time. All our senses in alert, struggling to absorbe every millisecond of music, every gesture… SHORA transported us far away and beyond. I knew instantly that this was the gig I wanted to see for so many years. This precious special feeling that I forgot with the years, re-appearing majestically. Pure magic my friends, pure magic! A concrete proof that SHORA is a HUGE band, is that the tracks from “Malval” that they played, they played them in a very, very different way. Actually for most of the song you could barely recognize it as something familiar. A band that has the balls to fuck with original material that is certified gold, is my kind of band if you know that I mean. Comfortably happy in this heavy/psychedelic haze, shouting at my mates’ ears “Shitcool man!”, little did I know that these swiss knives had more surprises for us. What about the fact that unlike on record, these dudes actually played METAL for half of their set? And when I am talking about metal, I mean what we call around here “intelligent black metal” ( ®Tsamashi Toyo): Ved Buens Ende, Dodheimsgard, Thorns and company.

I can not tell for sure how much the audience actually appreciated this unique performance. I know that me and my friends were in heaven. My idea for an ideal SHORA audience composition would be 50% hardcore Pink Floyd fans and 50% intelligent black metal fans. Then we would have a good base for optimum interaction and maximum mayhem. I certainly hope to see those guys again soon enough, with a little bit of luck @ Roadburn/Tilburg in the good company of Mantas, Pascal Cretain and co. In any case, do not miss them for nothing in the world in they ever hit your town. If I was your lawyer I would even advice to bring over your women, friends, family and colleagues. Free post-show blowjobs guaranteed!

Raoul Argos 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

SHORA (2006)


Entering Aquarius

Exactly one week ago we had the privilege to watch SHORA live: we can confirm that it is one of the most outstanding bands in the known universe and this memorable show was amidst the best we have ever attended. Vincent de Roguin (who is no longer part of the band btw) had answered our questions a couple of years back.

Hi, first of all congrats for your new release .It’s awesome as a whole and its hidden small details continue to surprise me .Since this is the first time we talk can you tell us a few things about how Shora was born and what does your name mean ?

Thanks for the nice words ! Shora began its aimless voyage in the 1999 when its initial pilots decided to unite their strengths to built a stronger startship and eventually loose themselves in the pursuit of the unknown. The moniker Shora was chosen for its visual and aural qualities.

Throughout your career all these years you changed a lot of faces musically .Did you feel/imagine from the start that this band would change that rapidly through time ?

No, because we’ve always been focused on the present and also because thinking in the long-term goes hand-in-hand with concepts like “ambition” and “career”, which is something that doesn’t suit well our individual and collective frame of mind. Also I wouldn’t say that we had a fast evolution, being in your mid-20s and having spent seven years playing music with the same people sure does feel like a long time. 

How did you come up to the decision recording an (almost) instrumental record? Did you feel something like too much talking is cheap? That its all said?

Well, there are a lot more things to be said and sung about and we don’t have any issues with singing whatsoever. We love the sound of human voice and if we had found a singer that suited our music and vision, we would have definitely have incorporated her/him in the band. But there was no one in our immediate entourage that would have been the right person for the job so we went instrumental. There has been no decisive talk about the situation, it just happened naturally. But we soon realized that it gave us a space and a sense of musical freedom that eventually laid down the canvas on which we developed the ideas contained in Malval.

In addition to the previous question ; I saw your site ,, and it is as minimal as it could be .It gave me the impression that you don’t wanna expose yourselves that much through Shora .Agree and if yes how do you explain/justify this attitude of yours?

Agreed but I don’t think that we need to justify this anyhow. Well, it is good to keep some sort of distance between the people who do the music and the people who listen to it, to leave some space for the imagination. So we simply try to keep a little bit of mystery around what we do and not to give too much clues and keys. Although answering your questions might already be a blatant treatise to our ethic, haha. 

Why did you name you record “Malval”?What is the story behind it?

See previous answer. Malval is a location in Geneva where we spent some great time while making our album and it speaks to us as a symbol associated to a specific period of our lives.  
The artwork is great .Is there some kind of code in it?

No code per se. Again, it is up to the imagination. There might some meaning behind it but its not our role to us to give clues about it as we feel that it looks nice enough to stand on its own. 

In my opinion the orchestration in “Malval” is for seminar.You must have worked too much time on it ,what were the intentions of yours while constructing the material?

I don’t know if we have worked “too much” on it but we certainly spent some long days trying to make the whole record sound as coherent as possible. The orchestration and arrangements were pretty much the last thing we worked on after the initial composition period but it is sometimes the details that make things stick together. Again, this record is not very intentional; we were the first ones surprised by what we had created.  

Another thing that is truly amazing is the sound of the guitars .You seem to know each second what effect to use without harming the entity of the song .So can you tell us a few things about these great guitars ?

A few things about the guitars ? There is Travis Bean, a Fender Telesonic and an old Guild involved. Well, I can tell you about all the effects and the guitars we’ve used but I’m not sure that it would really help you. There was a lot of different amps and microphones involved as well. We simply made sure to obtain the sound we wanted. And that wasn’t always easy.  

I noticed the carefully expressed dynamics in your play ,in all instruments .The hit of the snare for example goes in parallel with the slightest bend in the guitar and the whole music sounds as powerfull and sensitive as an ecosystem.Do you agree and how much important do you think it is for a musician to use dynamics ? Are the dynamics a nice tool to imitate nature?

Thanks again ! You know, we simply play the music we love, following our intuition and some sort of ideal of greatness. We try not to over-analyze what we do because most of the time it takes us out of the actual beauty and magic of playing, which is ultimately what matters. There’s also a huge chance factor in Shora; we’re not completely in charge of what we create, which is an entity in itself, living by its own rules. To get back to your question, you can’t separate dynamics from the music, each and every sound has its own dynamic and moves a certain way, even the most static. And you can definitely use some dynamics in music that recreate or imitate nature (be it storm, waves and wind). John Cage wrote some interesting things about this issue.

I am really curious ,do you have any specific expectations from “Malval” ?

We had “some” expectations as far as distribution and promotion but everything has been going so unbelievably well that anything happening now feels like a bonus.  

Your country has some elegant bands , from Coroner to Knut .How do you see things going right now in the scene of Switzerland ?Any bands to recommend?

What always strikes me the most about Switzerland is the fact that its better bands have a very individual and unique sound. I’m thinking about The Young Gods, Voice Crack and Celtic Frost. Current bands that we enjoy are Honey For Petzi, Brazen, Monno… 

Are there any touring plans?

Not in the near future, sorry, we’re working hard on a new album right now !

What would you prefer ; being invisible for a week or being able to fly for a month?

Being invisible ! I can always use airplanes to fly, whereas no machine invented by man could help me do what I would do if I was invisible. Can we touch and move things when being invisible ? My activities for the week would probably involve girls and banks.

Thanx for the interview and once again congratulations .You can close this interview however you like .Cheers!

Thanks for the interview. Ars Longa Vita Brevis.

Interview by Qoupas 2006, originally conducted for a Metal Hammer Greece feature. Published with kind permission. Intro by Panos Agoros 2009.

INSISION “Revealed & Worshipped” / INVERACITY “Circle Of Perversion”

INSISION “Revealed & Worshipped” (Earache)
INVERACITY “Circle Of Perversion” (Unmatched Brutality)

It makes sense to do a joint review of latest INSISION & INVERACITY records. Not only because the two bands shared a split release -initially as a 10”EP by cult DM label Nuclear Winter rec, later as a MCD out by Revenge Prod-, but also because they have a common passion of american brutal DM & despite their european origin they manage to sound as competitive as the overseas masters.

INSISION is the kind of band that built up its name in the underground circuit via some excellent early releases like the “Revelation Of The Sadogod” demotape which eventually ended in a split release with greek squadron INVERACITY. Their perseverence was rewarded with a contract offered by Wicked World/Earache. 

This excellent new record proves that their potential is evolutive & goes beyond their much acclaimed debut album “Beneath The Folds Of Flesh”. Not resting on their laurels, the band improved as players. They play faster, with more precision. The structures are complex serving exclusively the interest of the compositions. Insision display certain songwriting skills knowing how to fit the pieces together. Their efficiency is the same when they pay tribute to all things old-school & thrashy (think Slayer, Malevolent Creation) in trax like “The Unrest”, or in the modern deathmetal forms they introduce – listen to “Imminent Vision” ‘s wicked midtempo riff. The way the blasts, the breakdowns & the thrashy parts alternate remind me the best rythmic moments of bands like Suffocation (=>“The Foul Smell Of Humans”!), Morbid Angel or even Cannibal Corpse. Birath’s vokills are definitely a highlight. I’ve already expressed my admiration about how he “spreads” his voice occupying a lot of space in the final mix, instead of trying to produce the most guttural growl possible.

All this is delivered in the best possible terms with a massive but unpolished production by Mieszko (NASUM) @ Soundlab studios. There is a fine balance between the crushing drums & the powerful guitars, which makes it really easy to absorb all this tremendous amount of brutality w/out any unpleasant 1st impression or adaptation time. It travels straight from your ears to your spinal column. 

Everybody who knows something can tell you that it is 100x easier for a swedish DM band to get things goin’ rather than a greek band. This is not the reason why I fiercly praise INVERACITY. Any sympathy & patriotism left apart, their debut album is by all points a very strong release in the worldwide brutal DM actuality. The production, while not at the Soundlab levels, is more than satisfactory & totally fucking surprising if you think it has been made locally. They share with Insision the same songwriting gift which makes them write compositions who flow smoothly while they brutalize with force the known universe. The evident SUFFOCATION influences are not an handicap, since instead of copy/paste’ing they have managed to get inspired for a result of their own. Compared to INSISION they have more breakdowns & moshable/danceable mid-tempo parts - to which they’re really good. Having only one guitarist is not a big problem with the awesome bass sound they have. How many times you notice the bass lines during a whole DM record, anyway? The drums have a personal sound, the snare has a lot of impact & it doesn’t sound like a bell (like it did on their demo-CD & split, think about Dehumanized drum sound).

OK, I think you got it, if you’re into brutal DM then you have some shopping (or downloading) to do… Support both bands, they deserve it!

Panos Agoros 2004

KONKAVE “Idiocy Mode”

“Idiocy Mode”
(Damaged Productions)

I don’t know what kind of music you’ve been used to expect from Greece but this is the kind of release that will change your mind (greeks included). In this debut-MCD is evident the appreciation of KONKAVE members for modern acts in the likes of BURNT BY THE SUN, CONVERGE, COALESCE, ZAO, etc. The songs sound actually pretty good & catchy numbers such as “Chronic Plague” are instant pitfillers. There is a lot of rythmic diversity & the band has in general an uptempo mood. I heard this material originally a couple of years back when it was unmixed & without vocals (the band kicked out their previous vocalist before the recordings – thus the delay); KONKAVE sure did a lot of efforts to complete this release. Christos’ vocal style is screamy (actually Tolis compared them to Maniac’s – I dunno though) & together with guest vocals by Labros INNERMOST they add a lot of power to the music, since it is filling out space in the recording like an instrument. Nikos SUN OF NOTHING did his best for a good sound & did well despite the calamitous studio it was recorded at. The only complain I have really, is the guitar sound who could be heavier. The bass sound compensates for that though. It is huge & the basslines are excellent! This promising debut release is rounded up by intriguing & interesting lyrics/songtitles (ie. “Chocolate Bars”), and the astonishing artwork of the digipak. All in all this is a powerful release. Those who’ve seen the band live recently performing new material (more evolved & diverse in the veins of Knut, Anodyne, etc, etc) know there is a lot more to expect from them soon.

Panos Agoros 2004

27 “Let The Light In”

“Let The Light In”

I came across 27 randomly. Actually I tripped on a sticker of theirs with two colibris - which reoccur often. This led me to order their “Songs From The Edge Of The Wind” MLP & eventually I became a fan. Their post-rock is soothing, relaxing & atmospheric. Maria’s supernice & expressive vocals have a lot to do with 27’s charms. This EP introduces them as a 4-member act. It also demonstrates a slightly different mood: I would describe it as summer/love music in fact. It has very nice, uplifting vibes. Some called it hippyish but I think it doesn’t exactly make justice of a record which is at the same time deep & suprisingly rich sonically. The artwork has been by Aaron Turner (Hydrahead, Isis, etc). The colors are very happily chosen to reflect the atmosphere of the material. He also does some relevant backing vocals to “The Light”, a track that might sound like a lighter version of Isis.

Panos Agoros 2004

BEADY BELLE “Chewbeagappic”

(Jazzland Records)

Still wondering how an initially underground phenomenon as nu jazz has swept over the whole modern music scene worldwide? Well Beate S. Lech and her orchestra of fine and inspired Norwegian players can easily explain the drill to you. Just press play. This is the second full effort of Bugge Wesseltoft’s “protégé” . This is really,really large. Never excessively academic and never too “clicky” , Beady Belle turn super catchy song craft into an internal journey towards the smoothness and class of jazz,funk,be bop…you name it! Sure, it’s easy listening music.But there’s lotsa gold to be discovered in here as far as sound input is concerned , combining the electronic with the acoustic ,groove against ambience, complexity versus easy steps , composition into improvisation. I really don’t know what you find best about nu jazz (or even jazz music in general) but this will positively hook people into Jan Garbarek’s “Places” AND dancing funkers who got into this deal listening to DJ Strangefruit fucking up Nils Peter Molvaer’s trumpet. Short and sweet ,this is music for thirsty ears.

Tsamashi Toyo 2004

BEADY BELLE “Chewbeagappic”

(Jazzland Records)

Still wondering how an initially underground phenomenon as nu jazz has swept over the whole modern music scene worldwide? Well Beate S. Lech and her orchestra of fine and inspired Norwegian players can easily explain the drill to you. Just press play. This is the second full effort of Bugge Wesseltoft’s “protégé” . This is really,really large. Never excessively academic and never too “clicky” , Beady Belle turn super catchy song craft into an internal journey towards the smoothness and class of jazz,funk,be bop…you name it! Sure, it’s easy listening music.But there’s lotsa gold to be discovered in here as far as sound input is concerned , combining the electronic with the acoustic ,groove against ambience, complexity versus easy steps , composition into improvisation. I really don’t know what you find best about nu jazz (or even jazz music in general) but this will positively hook people into Jan Garbarek’s “Places” AND dancing funkers who got into this deal listening to DJ Strangefruit fucking up Nils Peter Molvaer’s trumpet. Short and sweet ,this is music for thirsty ears.

Tsamashi Toyo 2004


“Goodbye Swingtime”
(Accidental Records)

The title could easily be a speaker for itself. But hey, we’re still talking about the same guy who constructed deep house tunes using a ticking clock for a beatbox and a frappuccino machine as a soundsource , right? So how’s a day in the life of the artist some of you out there know as Doctor Rockit when he doesn’t make music for the inquiring mind but more for the passionate heart? Well the guy of course still uses sampled noises as a basis for most of what he does. What’s so different about this one-off project is that he gathers up an jazz orchestra of 19 people plus the compositional aid of Arto Lindsay (yep, That Lindsay) on a track. So what you get is an awkward symbiosis of swinging themes, feelgood jazzy tunes with a sophisticated and at times political (still hard to explain) aura on them, and of course a few pinches of feet taping housey moments. Playful as much as it is lazy ,“Goodbye Swingtime” calls up a need for a liveshow experience. Matthew Herbert has managed to pull this off live including all the musicians but that’s all I know, I haven’t actually seen any footage from it. As he himself would like it, a good list of optional extras for “Goodbye Swintime” would be :A cozy seat by the pool, a mild afternoon sunshine, a strict selection of people who go 100% next to the “comfortable” category and well, anything you consider as cool. Shit, this triple vinyl version was so expensive that I could’nt buy the new triple vinyl from Dani Sicciliano (known for vocal duties in Herbert’s “Around The House”) too. But I’ll make it up to me . I promise.

Tsamashi Toyo 2004

ULVER “Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Svidd Neger”

ULVER“Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Svidd Neger”(Jester records)

Don’t just buy this.Apprehend this. 

Tsamashi Toyo 2004

AS ONE “So Far (So Good)…Twelve Years Of Electronic Soul”

“So Far (So Good)…Twelve Years Of Electronic Soul”

It’s really no wonder why certain names pop up when the tags of “eclectic” or “jazzotronica” are being discussed. Kirk DeGiorgio’s As One or Matt Chicoine’s Recloose being two of them. Sure, the list is long. But then the excitement and this golden “love in the music” feel can’t easily be beaten when it comes to As One’s unique blend of quality techno and jazz/soul .Some said that DeGiorgio is the reverse edition of pioneer jazzist Herbie Hancock. Well why not ,when all this soul soothing , heart feeding music comes in classy style with moogs and 808’s kissing the fender Rhodes smoothness on some starry rooftop .Or the beat that comes alive by soulful vocals (by guest ,Jinandu).

Here comes a two CD pack of a lovely catch up with a so impact -flexible artist and an appreciation range that could extend from Basic Channel up to Leo Records. Club- friendly? Maybe . But still extremely classy to be tagged as “plastic”. American label Ubiguity packs a mouthful of expensive listening beginning from 1992’s “Art 1” and reachimg out to 2001’s “21st century soul” lp’s. This.You.Will.Love.

Tsamashi Toyo 2004



If there are three things that Richie Hawtin’s listeners are used two then that would be minimalism , five-year gaps between the albums and ,well, Richie not being that much of a talker.

Yes , he is back. Larger . Even more “bassier “(with a cosy “bass frequencies have been eq’d for optimized sound over all listening systems” quote).Ok off with the technical shit. Let’s talk techno! Rumbling in the lightless corridors that 1998’s “Consumed” left him the Canadian musician takes off with his ambient bases and the minimalist dub/techno wrap-up,walks on through his “never-give-up-the -knob-twisting” family tradition of the 303 religion, and finally ends up subduing his graces to modern technology .As crafty as on his Detroit techno cut up extravaganza”DE9:Closer To The Edit”. Precision is the game here ,yes. Oh and ,mind you, a little bit of storytelling as tracks “Ask Yourself” and “Disconnect” bring up some…vocals! So he’s a talker after all . Yep, but not any o’ your usual stuff. Just Cold robotic phrase-dropping. If anybody out there still remember “Vokx” from 1993’s “Sheet One”, I guess you get the picture. ”Closer” is a perfectly good reason to still say you love real techno.

Tsamashi Toyo 2004

Wednesday, January 21, 2009



It always feels good to interview one of your underground heros. It feels like home if you know what I mean... Fronting the assault of the formidable DISCORDANCE AXIS back at the time, we didnt hear anything revorded from vokiller Jon Chang until recently with fantastic GRIDLINK debut "Amber Gray" LP & HAYAINO DASUKI's "Headbanger's Karaoke Club Dangerous Fire" EP. We definitely grabbed the chance to borrow some time from the man and have a little chat, asking him also questions about the independent video-game BLACK POWDER|RED EARTH that he's currently developping with his team.

In “A.G.” you do high pitched vokills, while in the past w/D.A. you used to have some growls as well. How come?

As time went on in DA I shed a lot of the low vocal parts because they didn't have the same emotional intensity for me. In GridLink, Matsubara and myself discussed the ideas of different vocal styles other than pure highs but we decided to make the first release as pure emotionally as possible, thus we tabled several songs and ideas for future GridLink projects.

Why did D.A. split up back at the time, was that because of Rob Morton ear problem as we’ve heard?
Yes this was pretty much the reason, though considering how many times we had split in the past there was no guarantee we would've ever completed another project.

GRIDLINK is obviously a new band and not D.A. v2. Did you have to reinvent your vokill & lyrical approach, or it was sort of natural continuation?
Well I am a different person than I was 7 years ago so a lot of the lyrics, artwork and emotions tied up in producing them are very different. I think DA was very much the product of 3 intense and conflicting personalities, while GridLink has a similar dynamic, though now we have a bass player *gasp*!

Tell us a few things about the other GL members… Their background, how did you hook up.
I met Matsu while DA was doing it's final Japan tour in May 2001. His band Mortalized blew me away. Months later, I still remembered their presence, speed and style, so I contacted him via Hevi from Corrupted and we started talking via email. At the time myself, Dave Witte and Steve Procopio were discussing the idea of a new grind band called War Chalking so I wasn't looking for a grind band. However, Matsubara and I both shared a love for Japanese heavy metal and we decided to do a ultra fast thrashing heavy metal band with screaming vocals. GridLink came up about a year later when we shut down War Chalking. GridLink started as band with a all Japanese line-up plus me. We cycled through several drummers before I called upon Dave Witte to see if he was interested. Dave was over booked and connected me with Bryan Fajardo. As it turns out Bryan, was up to the task. Then our bass player, Okada, had to bow out and we brought Ted Patterson, who I'd known from Human Remains and Burnt by the Sun, aboard.

GL music eventhough it ressembles to D.A. is a bit more hardcore-sounding in my ears, as well as with more of thrash background plus a tiny bit of subtle melody (kinda like mutated heavy metal melody if you know what I mean). Do you think that description fits and how would you define the musical differences of the
two entities?

Hmmm, I think of DA as Rob Marton and GridLink as Takafumi Matsubara. Both are very gifted musicians who are pushing our art form to some place it hasn't been. The analogy we used to hear all the time was DA = Voivod playing grind and GL = Slayer playing grind LOL

You have Brian Fajardo on drums, who I admire for his playing with Uphill Battle & Phobia. As I said in the previous question, the GL material sounds to me a bit more hardcore than DA, and some parts made me think about U.B. in particular. Do you discuss what you want to play or does Matsubara come come to you with the songs complete?
Matsubara writes everything and we build around that.

I don’t have the lyrics so please give us the general framework. I was also wondering what “Crash Logs” talks about – the title intrigues me because I’m a UNIX systems engineer and deal a lot with those damn logs!
I believe my audience is smart enough to find their own meaning in what I create :) You can probably find the lyrics with a little google-fu or better yet, buy the record LOL

Do “Pattern Recognition” lyrics have anything to do with William Gibson’s excellent book of the same name?
Not at all. I actually stopped reading Gibson after Idoru. He lot his edge after Mona Lisa  Overdrive IMHO.

Let me get one thing straight: the cover artwork is one of the best I’ve ever seen and my friends who’ve seen it agree that it is grand! It has the 8-bit video game edge, the japanese mask, the assault rifle… Did you have something  particular in mind? Is this a precise character or you just came up with a combination of elements in order to represent the content’s atmosphere, aesthetics and soundscapes?
Being an artist the art always has significant meaning regarding the content. I came up with the idea for the "image" of GridLink while I was working on my current game/book Black Powder | Red Earth. I wanted to create a scene that conveyed endless conflict, so I teamed up with Michelle Bowlin of Assassin's Boutique to design a character which combined modern military armor and weapons and elements found in Shogun era Japanese warriors. We also wanted to show that the world that this figure was protecting has changed in ways the soldier could never understand, hence the scarred and damaged world in the background he watches over.

I totally believe that eventhough “A.G.” lasts only 12 minutes, it has the consistency of a full-length album in terms of musical density and the feeling of fulfillment it leaves you with after the listening is over. Still, why havent you eleased it as a EP?Is HH worried about the timing? Do you want to join the Guiness book of records? ☺
That was the complete work of Amber Gray. Thus it was released as a complete project.

What’s exactly the deal with Hayaino Daisuki? I have the “Headbangers…” CD and think it sounds cool. Is this a tribute to japanese metal right? Who are the other members?
Hayaino Daisuki was the first project I worked on with Matsubara. We wanted to take the Japanese heavy metal sound and push it to the limits of what could still be called metal. Many of the songs were actually written to be used in Scratch Trigger Era, an anime miniseries I worked on a few years ago. Despite the content of the songs(mostly original ghost stories) when it came time to name the band and record, we actually went with stuff that would capture the fun of being an gaming and metal otaku rather than using more traditional bleak imagery, hence the Headbangers Karaoke Club zine that came with the ep. We are working on issue 2 right now! Re the members, we are currently, Jon Chang - vocals, Takafumi Matsubara - guitars, Eric Schnee -Drums, Ted Patterson - bass, Michelle Bowlin - vocals and we've recently added Dorian Rainwater as our 2nd guitar.

In the H.D. CD booklet and packaging there’s quite a few references to video games, so are they one of the influences? What do you think about the video game tribute music scene?
I love video game music. I'm not as interested in the pure tribute music scene though.

In the cellophane wrapping the H.D. CD there’s a sticker mentionning that there’s Mortalized+D.A. members but “no its not Dave Witte”. I guess each time a Dave Witte’s release is out and “featuring Discordance Axis,etc members” is mentionned as part of the marketing blurb, people have been asking you if that’s
you? What do you think about Dave’s carreer after D.A. anyway?

I came up with the stickers for both the HD and GridLink releases as a "joke". Basically there is nothing you can put on a marketing sticker that does not sound totally contrived and stupid. It's sort of like band photos. As soon as you take a photo it's a fashion shoot meant for customers to identify with you. With my music I like to avoid that as much as possible. Re Dave's career, it's Dave's career. The man dips his toes in many pools :)

What’s exactly your relation with japanese culture? Are you of japanese descent/education?I love anime and I go to Japan and blow all my money whenever I can LOL

Let’s talk a little bit about your carreer as game developper. Which finished projects do you have in your CV, and is there any way to get hold of them?
Currently I run a game design shop in Astoria, NY where we are working on a Unreal Engine 3 based first person shooter and Facebook title based around our core property Black Powder | Red Earth. This has been a full-time gig for almost 2 years now and keeps me very, very busy haha. A lot of what we do is figure out how to boot strap gaming products so we can produce them with little/no outside investment and then control the content/quality ourselves. We have a small but hard core shop of passionate guys working on it every day.

In the past I designed a game called KETM which was ported to the Dreamcast many years ago. I've worked on maps for Return to Castle Wolfenstein, a few failed mods, a few canceled games, and had bit pieces of my work show up in other titles (I think there was a Punisher game that used a bunch of weapons I had modeled and textured).

I visited the website of Echelon Software and was very interested by the press release of the project you’re working with currect, “Black Powder, Red Earth”. First of all, this is supposed to be more than a multiplayer online FPS game. You mention that “BPRE uses framework already found on the Internet in social networking and e-commerce applications” such as Myspace, Face Book, iTunes & Amazon. What’s the use of this framework? When you mention a virtual currency, will players that want to upgrade their weapons/skills have to convert real currency into virtual in order to do it?
The idea behind our business is that PC is the premier platform for FPS gaming and it is a platform far more robust than any console. We are designing products that take advantage of lessons we've learned creating products for other people, that also cater to the needs of gamers such as ourselves. Since the product is not released yet, it is premature to discuss any details of implementation, but people can sign up for our newsletter on our website and hopefully we will have more information for them soon.

Game(-ish) environments such as WoW, Second Life, etc have been know to be highly addictive & suck away many people from real life. Do you want/have to achieve something similar in order for “BPRE” to be succesful and commercially viable?
Not to tip our hand, but the core concept of our game is that we want the depth of RPG type games(Wow for example) without the overhead of time that has kept people like us from enjoying them. Essentially, we want character customization, item collection, item tuning, item trading, etc and we don't want to be locked into doing it when we are only in front of a set top box.

I am a Call Of Duty 4 trooper on Xbox Live. Eventhough it is a pretty complete and awesome multiplayer game, there are serious network connectivity issues. A lot of lagging, players have to be the host of the game, server disconnects are not handled properly, and at the end of the day, often the game is not fair depending with who you play and the line he and you have. For example when I play with my buddies from Greece against americans and they are hosting (most of the time they do), we have to score more hits than they in order to kill & they have advantage because for instance, when we turn around the corner they see us first. How will you handle the network part in order to avoid similar frustrating issues?
Honestly, compensating for lag around the world is an impossible problem with current hard lines. It takes time for the information to be sent around the world or even across a country. Many multiplayer games in the US break the players into Pacific, Mountain, Central and East coast servers. Within your region is whole different story. Unfortunately all I can say is, "We have top people working on it."

“BPRE” has a modern/sci-fi warfare concept. What me and some friends of mine find a little bit terrifying is that with such games kids or adolescents (or even young –immature- adults) maybe be led to consider war as something “cool”. Maybe not joining the army (eventhough “America’s Army” has been ordered by the US Army as a proper recruiting tool), but still getting it all wrong. Do you acknowledge this side effect and do you think game developpers have a responsibility towards the public, by presenting the real face of war/conflict/violence?
I think games about being a soldier are no more going to drive someone to join the military than movies or books. That said, people are influenced by positive experiences in their life, so who's to say that joining the military is a universally bad thing? At the end of the day, in a free world people are responsible for educating themselves and making their own decisions. How they go about that is there business. Personally I am more concerned about the treatment of children who are trained by their parents to believe in "god/gods". These poor children are raised to believe in some sort of omnipotent easter bunny that will take them to a better life one day if they recite passages about how great this being is until they die.

What do you think anyways about the war in Iraq?
I don't think there are enough pages in your magazine for me to provide anything more than a topical and meaningless answer to this question. LOL

When is “BPRE”’s release date? To which platforms will it be available?
Currently we are developing the title for PCs. A release date has yet to be established. How about the old faithful, "When it's done." ^o^

The video game industry is dominated by half-dozen huge companies. It must be really hard for independent developpers to breakthrough... I am happy though that independent developpers of a game like BRAID had some positive response, so there’s possibly a demand for fresh stuff. What do you count on in order to make it happen?
We have to do things differently the same way independent bands or movie makers approach the world. It drives innovation and creativity, but also allows us to embrace and pursue a lot of different ideas we would never have the luxury of exploring if we had signed on with a larger entity.

What’s your role exactly in the project? I guess there will be in the soundtrack references and aesthetics familiar to underground music fans – I mean maybe not blasts but some noise/ambient parts.
Actually I am the world designer and design lead. I don't have anything to do with sound
design or music in the game other than to make suggestions about the quality of the final sound I want to have ^_^;

Well thanks so much Jon for your time. Message of the day is yours…The message of the day is, "Read more books." And listen to Japanese speed metal hahahaha

Interview conducted by Panos Agoros in late 2008 for a GRIDLINK feature that has been published in Metal Hammer Greece.

Live photos credit: Scott Kinkade.



by Panos Agoros

We arrived on Saturday morning [I havent been able to get my day off on Friday], so obviously we will not be able to report anything about Friday. 

Having missed for only 30' the french unstoppable grind monster MORGUE (fuck), the very 1st band we caught was PAINT THE TOWN RED (ger) on the main stage (=MS). They played a convincing set of their old-school/rocking HXC & they're good live. The audience didnt know them but the reactions were rather positive, especially with crowdpleaser SOIA cover "Scratch The Surface" which was the occasion for some singalong. I like them better on record...

After PTTR I tried to enter the Velvet stage (=VS) where DEFDUMP were playing - a band that i really wanted to check out not only because Mantas ensured me that they rock but also because I have visited 3 times my gf @ Luxemburg this year & I was curious to find out what kind of band could hail from this lifeless technocrat city. At this moment of time I realized how hard was to enter the V.S. when it was packed & actually this was one of the rare inconveniences of the fest. Fuck, I'll see them next time...

I missed CALIBAN (ger) in Athens last December, so we made sure w/Nikos we would be there on time on the MS. Eventhough I'm not that much into the more melodic direction they took with ::Shadow Hearts::, I must admit that they're ultra-efficient live igniting some serious hard dancing action in the pit & the biggest wall of death I've seen so far (which reminded some combat scene from Lord Of The RIngs or sthing!). Andy is very good on the vocal department & has proved to be a perfect frontman for this kind of modern deathcore assault. The band has a new album in the works from which they presented a new track, more or less in the ::Shadow Hearts:: vein. 

CALIBAN having convinced everybody on the MS, everybody was waiting for DYING FETUS (us) who were next. In the meanwhile I took a walk to the VS where I DEFY (hol) were playing. If you're into old-school HXC, you should probably know them by now. This isnt the kind of music that I'm listening to these days but I have a couple of their CD's, which are nice - like their live performance. They put a lot of feeling into what they're doing & apparently they were happy to perform @ the Fury Fest. Another thing they're appreciative of is they support & exposure they get from Reflections rec., who the took advantage of the occasion in order to thank them.

DF @ the MS confirmed what kind of brutalization they're capable of both live + on record. The new line-up with a fulltime vocalist works well, the audience knows the songs, is amazed & begs for more. The HXC kids are out of the pit after CALIBAN but there's some metalhead moshing especially during the more destructive blastbeats. The tracklisting was focused on the two latest albums...

WALLS OF JERICHO (us) is one of my favorite HXC bands. I have already seen 2 or 3 videos of theirs but if you havent seen them live there's no way of explaining the intensity of their stage performance . Kandace (=goddess) is a focal point & one of the most impressive singers I've ever seen, she truly amazed me... She's the perfect combination of feminity+brutality. They played both their more metallik & their old-school trax, complete with the Pennywise-like choir of :: :: (which admittedly I found corny on record). A lot of people have seen them already & the VS being packed, there was little pit action - it's a shame they didnt play on the MS...

Maybe because I didnt know exactly what to expect from them live, or because their records never did it that much for me, SKINLESS (us) impressed me on the MS. To be honnest, I liked them even more than DF! They're four, which leaves a lot of space to superenergetic frontman to move all around & take kontrol of the audience. He speaks to them in french ("merci fucking beaucoup", etc), describes the Fury Fest as "an amazing experience", dedicates the last song to Dillinger & wears an EYEHATEGOD tshirt! It's already 17:30 & the lights are cool. The crowd response surprises me a little bit - apparently SKINLESS are a bigger name in the DM circles than what I thought they were. This is what explains the fact that they're playing old-tracks from ::Foreshadowng Our Demise::, ::Progression Towards Evil::, even from the demos, additionally to material from their latest, and more diverse, effort ::From Sacrifice To Survival:: (including the titletrack) which admittedly I didnt like that much. The drummer was incredible & in the 1st place I thought it was ORIGIN skinmaster who helped them out on FSTS, but having checked their website afterwards, I verified that it was their original drummer Bob "The Big Guns" Beaulac who's back in the band.

The formidable THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN is one of the reasons I took the ride to Fury Fest. They're an outstanding experience & w/ no doubt one of the best bands who play heavy music today. After the intro, mayhem is unleashed w/the band members are going berserk. It is scandalous how well they're playing & how hysterical their stage performance is. Newcomer Greg Puciato is super both as a frontman & a singer. Actually his voice sounds better than on the "Contamination" Relapse DVD. On the new trax from "Miss Machine", as well as on the two excerpts from the "Irony Is A Dead Scene" EP w/Mike Patton are displayed the full capabilities of his voice, eventhough he performs perfectly the "Calculating Infinity" cuts ("Sugar Coated Sour", "43% Burnt", etc). Fury Fest audience has been expecting them anxiously & is conquered from the very 1st track. This is victory...

Next were THROWDOWN (us) on the VS, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE (us) on the MS & ABORTED (bel) on the VS. We need some rest though & to be honnest next is SUFFOCATION playing so we couldnt care less.

Both Nikos & myself agree that SUFFOCATION were easily the best band of the fest. Their gig was pure bliss & deathmetal extasy, more devastating -as far as I'm concerned- by Cannibal Corpse, Malevolent Creation,Deicide & Morbid Angel allrolled into one. The band was apparently ultra-happy to be back & to play in France. They dissolved all kinds of fans' concerns about their return as well as about their latest album ::Souls To Deny:: which has been modestly received by the critics. 
New trax like ::Deceit:: ("this is about ex-boyfriends/girlfriends: kill them & throw them to garbage") & ::Surgery Of Impalement:: kill live & prove the value/quality of ::STD:: on the long term.

The old classics like ::Infecting The Crypts::, ::Pierced From Within::, ::Effigy Of The Forgotten:: ("Back then, we were out of hi-school, taking a lot of drugs & wanting to play the more brutal shit possible"), :::Liege Of Inveracity::, drove the audience into madness. The brutality that the band delivers is inhuman. Mike Smith's beats too. This dude's playing is amazing & one of the highlights of SUFFOCATION live. Frank Mullen was in a great shape, pretty enthusiastic, moving & moshing around. Terrance aligned solo after solo, Josh Baron was pretty solid in his playing & headbanging all the time & last but not least new addition Guy Beauvais didnt make us forget DOug Cerrito but at least filled out very well his role.

I totally ignored E TOWN CONCRETE on the VS (who cares about shit like that after SUFFOCATION?) & showed up for CHIMAIRA on MS. I'm not very familiar with them, I have some friends who liked their 1st album though. They're not bad, but their "modern" (ie.with nu-metal hints) heavy/thrash quickly sounds generic. They sound to my ears like a less good LAMB OF GOD. The crowd likes them but I quit at the middle of their set in order to be at the VS on time for MALEVOLENT CREATION (written "MALEVOLANT" in the fest's program).

Last time I saw M.C. it was with their old singer. The new one (also part of HATEPLOW) does some pretty decent job & has a good stage performance & throat. They play some trax from their new album as well as some older ones. Not bad, not bad at all. The VS is only half filled though...


by Nikos Melissourgos