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Interviews   

Sonata Arctica revive the young wolf


Sonata Arctica started out following in the footsteps of a Finnish national idol, Stratovarius. Step by step, the band grew without ever resting on their laurels. Through a mix of doubt and a will to prove themselves they could broaden their horizon, Sonata Arctica have taken a fresh look at their music, made it more complex, left their trademark fast tempi behind, and so on. Fans who had been following them since the very beginning might have been confused, but those initially resistant to the band had to change their opinion.

And still Sonata Arctica won’t stop reinventing themselves. Their previous album, Stones Grow Her Name, already put a stop to the progressive momentum behind Unia and The Last Of Grays, and the band is now ready to dive back into the style that made them famous. Pariah’s Child revives the wolfish imagery on both the record and the single covers, and the Finn’s old logo makes a comeback as well. Vocalist and main composer Tony Kakko describes this album as the one “that we would have written if we had continued on the path that was brought by the four first albums”. But don’t let this statement fool you: this is not so much a return to the past as the summary of a career that forever moves forward.

We talked about all this in the following interview with a very honest Tony Kakko, who didn’t hesitate, as usual, to go through a process of self-criticism and self-derision. It was also a good opportunity to mention the arrival of the band’s new bass player, Pasi Kauppinen, the impact the Finnish Donald Duck magazine had on his life, and the incredible story of Jordan Langlois, a French fan who travelled 4,000 kilometers on foot to join the band in their studio.

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Interviews   

Anette Olzon: The age of light


Anette Olzon is a sensitive woman. You just have to count how many times she uses the word “sad” to understand how the events of her personal and professional life have affected her. However, the singer shows real positivity today, at the dawn of a solo career that can finally bloom now that Nightwish is a thing of the past. Shine, Anette Olzon’s first post-Nightwish record, is an ode to optimism, a hymn to positive feelings, far removed from metal. After various collaborations, this is a second step forward that proves the singer has become rather sought-after.

Speaking of Nightwish, how could we possibly talk to the singer without mentioning her former band? Anette Olzon is sticking to her guns: like Tarja Turunen, she was “fired in a bad way”. She confesses feeling really close to her predecessor because of their similar stories and the fact that “many people still believe that we are the bad ones, [...] that we are the divas, etc”. But Nightwish belongs to the past now, and Anette Olzon readily talked to us about the genesis of her first solo album.

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Interviews   

Litterature, theater and Metal: the artistic trinity of Vanden Plas


Vanden Plas is one of the oldest bands of the progressive metal scene, albeit one that has never achieved the success it deserves. But that doesn’t seem to be a problem: Vanden Plas just keep going forward and doing the best music they can, hoping to get recognition from a wider audience one day. However, what recognition they already have comes from on high – more specifically from German writer Wolfgang Hohlbein, extremely famous in his country and relatively unknown beyond its borders, to whom we owe the Chronicles Of The Immortals saga. Andy Kuntz, Vanden Plas’s singer, is a huge fan on the author and has had the great honor of working with him on this double album (the second part of which will be out next year), entitled Chronicles of the Immortals – The Netherworld. Used as they are to writing rock operas, Vanden Plas deliver an album that remains true to their sound – no surprises there –, but this time, they also allowed themselves a personal treat.

Andy Kuntz explains the genesis of this record, the hows and the whys, and the way the band had to work this time. For the first time in their career, they composed music based on a libretto custom-written by someone else – Wolfgang Hohlbein himself – to create a story within the Chronicles Of The Immortals.

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Interviews   

Gus G. (Firewind) keeps his fire alive


After joining countless bands, playing as a guest soloist on countless albums and rubbing shoulders with a legend as the replacement for Zakk Wylde in Ozzy Osbourne’s band, Gus G. is finally getting his solo break. It was bound to happen one of these days – but for Gus G., it was a matter of finding time in his busy schedule, and to collect enough songs (written with the help of vocalist Mats Levén, known for his work with Candlemass and Krux, but also formerly with Therion and Yngwie Malmsteen) to make up a record.

In the following interview, Gus G. talks about this new solo album, its conception, the music it contains, the musicians and vocalists featured on it, etc. It was also an opportunity to ask him about the departure of vocalist Apollo Papathanasio from his main band, Firewind, about which he confesses: “Things were already going down in 2007”. Being part of a band full-time can be complicated indeed – even when you want to hire as talented a singer as Mats Levén…

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Interviews   

Mitch Harris (Menace): personal and complex mechanics


The least you can say is that Mitch Harris’s new project, Menace, fills him with enthusiasm. The musician, more used to the more extreme aspects of metal, surprises everyone, including himself, in his new, multi-faceted artistic environment. But as it turns out, the many colors of this project merely represent everything Mitch Harris stands for. Menace grew without a clear direction, but the entity eventually took on a life of its own thanks to drummer Derek Roddy (Serpents Rise), with whom Harris has already worked in the past. The project started out with Max Cavalera and Brann Daylor, and even though both had to stand down, Harris still hopes to collaborate with them one day.

The guitarist (and, for the first time in his career, vocalist) tells us about his feelings towards the recent album, Impact Velocity, which allowed him to explore new artistic processes, far removed from those of Napalm Death. The man also talks about his relationship towards the video medium, and introduces a talented young Ukrainian artist, Kseniya Simonova, who’s worked on the video for “To The Marrow”. And since we couldn’t possibly forget to talk about Napalm Death (who has recently started work on a new album), Harris tells us more about his special relationship with his bandmember Shane Embury, who followed him in Menace.

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Interviews   

Freedom Call: beyond the roots will you find Joy


German band Freedom Call classify their own music as “happy metal” – and “happy” is exactly what frontman Chris Bay is. You will never hear him sing about unhappiness in his band. To him, joy is everywhere; even sadness can be turned into something positive, and his art will therefore never be particularly dark.

Chris Bay is, to all intent and purposes, a happy man. The source of his happiness is to be found most notably in those little things that other people would see as a crisis, such as the latest line-up changes in Freedom Call and the return of one of the band’s original members – respectively drummer Samy Ali, a musician who’s apparently “full of surprises”, and bassist Ilker Ersin, who symbolizes in part a return to the band’s roots. And when he talks about the strength of women, far greater than men’s, there isn’t the slightest trace of bitterness or misogynistic resentment.

Joy underlines the whole interview, where the vocalist/guitarist talks about the band’s new album, Beyond, which comes in its limited edition with an acoustic live record – an isolated experience that he doesn’t intend to repeat, and explains why.

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Interviews   

The Treament: like a pack of wild dogs


What a terrific rise to fame The Treatment has known! In just three years, they went from opening for Alice Cooper for their first shows outside of England, to being a support band for Steel Panther, then Kiss, then Mötley Crüe in America. The band is high on rock’n’roll and sweeps the audience off their feet everywhere they go with their impressive energy. The Treatment are the new wave of old school hard rock, and that demands a lot of work and sacrifices, as singer Matt Jones reminds us. Times have changed, and the “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll” era is no more. Nowadays everything is more difficult and demands a healthier lifestyle. And yet, the band still managed to release their second album, Running With The Dogs.

With the help of Laurie Mansworth (the father of Dhani Mansworth, the band’s drummer), their manager, who teaches them everything there is to know about the business, this pack of wild dogs intends to make the most of life, and to enjoy success and luck. As an example, Jones mentions their meeting with Airbourne, a band they feel particularly close to. But life is not all rainbows and roses, as proven by the separation with Ben, their former guitarist, who left to take care of his dying father. That’s how their new henchman, Jake Pattison, came in the picture – in a most atypical way.

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Interviews   

Adrenaline Mob: honor in family


When Russell Allen talks about Men Of Honor, Adrenaline Mob’s latest album, with his three-year-old son Jack banging away on his drums in the background, things get a little complicated. But it also proves a fact: Adrenaline Mob is a family, a united spirit, a binding mafia with its own honor code. It therefore comes as no surprise that this album should, from its very introduction, be inspired by the image of the mafia. Despite Mike Portnoy’s rather sudden departure, Adrenaline Mob has never once considered giving up – on the contrary. Those musicians are totally committed to the band, love what they do (as the vocalist is keen to remind us), and felt the need to reassert their cohesion after the drummer left.

Russell Allen explained to us what the Mob really entails, in its substance as well as in its shape. The writing process, which is his responsibility as well as Mike Orlando’s, takes place in the shed-studio built in the backyard and is going at high speed – after all, big engines are just another passion in the Allen clan! The following interview is rich, sometimes funny and often friendly, and we even remembered to talk about his original band, Symphony X. So dive in!

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Interviews   

Moonkings: Adrian Vandenberg is painting a new picture


After almost two decades without hearing a word from him, we had a lot to talk about. Adrian Vandenberg’s trail vanished after the release of Whitesnake’s Restless Heart in 1997 – at least for rock fans. For the Dutchman is a jack of all trades: a guitarist first and foremost, he’s always doubled as a painter (he was behind the artworks for his solo band, Vandenberg, in the 80s, and for Manic Eden in 1994) and is currently considering becoming a sculptor. And when he’s not looking for musical inspiration in his workshop – and vice-versa –, he’s looking for it in the kitchen, cooking French cuisine.

Because now is “the right time”, he’s finally back in music with a new band, Moonkings, made up of unknown musicians. The point was not to create a super-group, but a great group, a band of brothers, who spend the better part of their rehearsals “rolling on the floor laughing” and won’t quarrel over ego matters. Don’t look for ego in the name either: the band is officially called Vandenberg’s Moonkings, but this is a temporary situation, scheduled to change when the band has made a name for itself. The goal is not to capitalize on the leader’s past, particularly with Whitesnake. If the first album features a cover of his former band with David Coverdale, it’s only a matter of friendship.

All these subjects are just the tip of a true iceberg of an interview, where we covered most of his career to this day. A generous talk, like the music Adrian Vandenberg offers with Moonkings.

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Interviews   

Blackfield: Aviv Geffen in the spotlight


What with Steven Wilson being a jack-of-all-trades in perpetual motion, fluttering from one project to the other, Blackfield has become a complex entity. Although Aviv Geffen, the actual man behind the band, takes care of composing the albums, it was Steven Wilson’s fame that put the first two records, Blackfield and Blackfield II, in the spotlight. But as Aviv Geffen himself tells us in the following interview, Blackfield’s fans know who he is now. What could be wrongly seen as Wilson’s umpteenth personal project began to be considered as something more with Welcome To My DNA.

Aviv Geffen will tell you all that himself. He also talks about the involvement of Brett Anderson and Vincent Cavanagh on the new record, and about his vision of pop music – a genre that would put the wrong sort of tag on his music, when his main goal is simply to deliver good songs.

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  • Friday, 21 March 2014 à 20:03
    Anette Olzon: The age of light
    Thursday, 6 March 2014 à 12:49
    The Devil’s Blood: Selim Lemouchi and death
    Thursday, 30 January 2014 à 14:00
    Nergal (Behemoth) : the monster running in his veins
    Friday, 24 January 2014 à 20:39
    Within Temptation: into the minds of Hydra
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