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Interviews   

Ghost: from the pit to the pinnacle


Nameless Ghoul - GhostIn 2016 as in 2015, Ghost has established itself as one of the bands most exposed to the spotlight. They are part of the minority of bands who, from their beginning, have known exactly where they wanted to go, and how it should be done, while being as ambitious as possible. When we first met with them, almost three years ago, they showed a strong determination to succeed. Today, their third album, Meliora, gives them a massive and recognized force to continue the spread of their music worldwide.

This new interview with one of the Ghouls, a guitarist and keeper of the keys to the mysterious world of Ghost, attests to their immense appetite: they don’t want to rest on their laurels and would rather follow in the wake of the greatest bands, which they have done, for example, by getting a Grammy (best metal performance of the year), just a few days after our interview, which is a notable and rare feat for a Swedish band.

This interview was also an opportunity to address with them one of the most difficult moments in rock history and just in our history: the terrorist attacks of November 13th that occurred right in the middle the first stage of the Meliora tour, knowing that Ghost was expected to play in Paris two weeks later. Feeling that the threat had passed close to them, these tragic events have reinforced their beliefs, highlighting their subtle message about religion, although without turning them into preachers. After all, their main objective has always been to give their ever more faithful audience a good time.

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Interviews   

Dream Theater: the reconquest of the throne


James LaBrie & Jordan Rudess - Dream TheaterScene From A Memory, released in 1999, is not only one of the most emblematic works of Dream Theater but also one of the most recognized conceptual albums of the metal world. Therefore it’s not surprising that for years, the fans have been calling out loud and long for a new conceptual release of this caliber, especially after a series of albums in recent years, in which Dream Theater has more or less rested on its laurels. The group finally heard, offering this year what appears to be, on paper at least, the most ambitious album ever envisioned by the group, called The Astonishing.

Two discs, thirty-four tracks, an orchestra, various choirs and a complex history. In 2285, in a world where the rich Great Northern Empire Of The Americas (embodied by Emperor Nafaryus, Empress Arabelle, Daryus and Faythe) is opposed to rebel militia Ravenskill (embodied by Evangeline, Gabriel and Arhys) living in poverty, art no longer exists, replaced by “noise machines” called Nomacs. Gabriel is the hero who shows to people emotions, passion, happiness and hope that comes with the music, which obviously worries Emperor Nafaryus who fears an uprising.

The story has been conceived and written by guitarist John Petrucci and music composed by him and keyboardist Jordan Rudess. It’s the latter, with singer James LaBrie (unfortunately with mild laryngitis the day of our interview), who faced the challenge of incarnating no less than eight characters for the sake of history, we have met to talk about this monumental undertaking that has been theirs for two and a half years and which result is about to see the light of day.

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Interviews   

Pop Evil: towards the light


Pop Evil 2015

It is a fact of life that finally meeting success when you’ve spent years slaving away and trying to succeed by yourself is going to change your perspectives. You’ll see life in a new, brighter light. You stop pining and make the most of all the good things that are now available to you to keep the momentum going, because you know where you’re coming from. That’s exactly what Pop Evil are doing now. The band is back with Up, a new, much more positive and optimistic album. When they landed in Seattle to create their fifth record, alongside producer Adam Kasper (known for his work with big names of rock like Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, the Foo Fighters, or Queens Of The Stone Age), they were moved by a simple desire to have fun, collaborate, and refine their identity.

Pop Evil don’t take anything for granted, and know that they’re only at the beginning of the journey and need to keep going. That, in substance, is what singer Leigh Kakaty told us in the following interview, which mostly covers the genesis of Up. There’s no doubt this record will keep Pop Evil on American wavebands for a long time, and the delighted frontman sees that as proof of a job well done.

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Interviews   

Brian “Head” Welch (Korn): God and Metal


Brian "Head" Welch - KornThe Hellfest storm has abated, the wind has died down and the sand has settled. Calmly. Peacefully. Head, Korn’s co-founder and guitarist, who left the team in 2005 only to come back in 2013, has met God and His son. He has spent time away from the rock business to write and publish his first autobiographical book, the aptly named “Save Me From Myself”. Since then, long before he was even back in Korn, he’s been spreading the good word and sowing his Christian ideals in the metal world. At the end of the month, French-speaking people will be able to read his second book, “Stronger: Forty Days of Metal and Spirituality”, a collection of his favorite verses and the personal thoughts that go with them.

In the leather-smelling Gibson bus, Head is waiting to answer questions regarding his faith, his beliefs and his dogma. What are his thoughts on extreme metal bands? What is his position nowadays in the rock business? What do some of his tattoos mean? As you’ll see for yourself, the man doesn’t so much turn the other cheek as offer to hug the entire world.

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Interviews   

Oomph!: music for your body and soul


Dero - Oomph!You’d think that after twenty-five years, an artist’s creativity and sincerity would be a bit worn out by success and routine. We talked to singer Dero on the occasion of the release of Oomph!’s new album, the aptly-named XXV. To him, the band is all about permanent sincerity and soul-searching – more so than ever on this album, which seems to have been an outlet for Dero and made the band question their music, especially after the unidentified musical object that was Des Wahnsinns Fette Beute. Whether he’s expressing his emotions or just looking at the world, Dero strives to be as precise and subtle as possible, avoiding clear-cut opinions and Manichean analyses. When he talks about his life, he doesn’t leave anything out.

Oomph! have been around for twenty-five years now. During this time, the band built a rich and deeply varied discography, full of surprises and reinventions. And yet it was an offspring of theirs, Rammstein, that eventually appealed to a larger audience. As Rammstein’s historic influence, the comparison between the two projects was inevitable. And yet Dero describes two different approaches and states of mind, and his praise has a hint of sarcasm is it…

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Interviews   

Max Cavalera, archangel of metal


Soulfly 2015A little Soufly here, some Killer Be Killed there, a bit of Cavalera Conspiracy, and back to Soulfly – you just can’t stop Max Cavalera. Apparently, the man and his buddies are already planning a second Killer Be Killed record next year, and even some new Cavalera Conspiracy material. Cavalera is insatiable, but that doesn’t mean Archangel, Soulfly’s tenth album, shouldn’t be taken seriously. After all, it was Soulfly that helped him get back to his feet in 1998, after his painful departure from Sepultura.

As he explains in the following interview, he had a hard time and put a lot of pressure on himself. This new album had to be memorable, so naturally he picked the main themes from the Bible, added a certain celebration of metal to the whole thing, and engaged the services of producer Matt Hyde, who tackled the project most effectively.

Max Cavalera tells us all about Archangel, its conception, its themes, and its state of mind, as well as the importance of Soulfly in his life, since the band allows him all the freedom in the world and, according to him, “pushes back the limits of metal”.

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Interviews   

Soilwork: bound for life


Björn "Speed" Strid - SoilworkOnly a few weeks after we last talked to him, alongside guitarist David Andersson, we’re back on the phone with Bjorn “Speed” Strid – which makes sense when you realize the man has released two exceptionally good albums in quick succession, with The Night Flight Orchestra and Soilwork. Since we already questioned him about the former, this time we talked about the latter and The Ride Majestic, the new album. Released after the mastodon that was The Living Infinite, their double record from 2013, The Ride Majestic has benefitted from its predecessor from a creative point of view, and in the way the band redefined itself during the experience. But it is also a special album in its own way: not only is it the first without the band’s original bass player, Ola Flink, it was also created in rather tragic circumstances, as the musicians went through the death of several loved ones. Speed tells us how these events have left a mark on the music and the themes of the album, and even mentions his own vision of death.

A few days before this interview was originally posted, Speed made available an interesting two-part documentary on the conception of the album and the origins of the band. This gold mine for the fans, which sometimes delves into intimate details, has inspired a few of our questions, mainly regarding Speed’s ska/reggae past, or the fact that he liked to take naps listening to black metal when he came back from school in his younger years.

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Interviews   

The Dead Daisies: Spotlight on John Corabi


John CorabiConnoisseurs will be happy to see vocalist John Corabi once again fronting a band on par with his talent. Many of us discovered his warm, powerful, slightly rasping voice on Mötley Crüe’s excellent self-titled album, released in 1994. Some of us followed him with his band Union, featuring former Kiss member Bruce Kulick. But it was clearly when he replaced Jon Stevens this year in The Dead Daisies (a supergroup that features such musicians as mercenary bassist Marco Mendoza or current Guns N’ Roses members Richard Fortus and Dizzy Reed) that he was truly back in the spotlight.

It all started with a trip to Cuba for Corabi and The Dead Daisies. The band immersed themselves fully into the local culture and were deeply marked by it – so much so that they gave their new album a Spanish title, Revolución, and created a photo book and a documentary to go with it. Musically, Cuba’s influence isn’t all that noticeable (except through a few percussions), but the record is a collection of cheerful, authentic rock songs, with an undercurrent of soul music at times.

We talked to the singer about all this when the band stopped by Paris to open for Kiss. And even when he’s simply talking in that deep, slightly hoarse voice of his, you can’t help thinking that the man has one rare set of vocal cords…

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Interviews   

Symphony X: An album saved from the darkness


Michael Romeo - Symphony X“It used to be better” is something you hear with every new generation. Nobody can deny the music industry is changing; it has already changed, and some will say it hasn’t always been for the best. Faced with a trend of quick listening over which the single format reigns supreme, we can legitimately wonder what will become of the album format. Not the album as a collection of songs, mind you – the album as a carefully thought-out piece, as an indivisible whole. The kind that takes you on a small trip, or indeed a big journey you’ll remember years after, every time you listen to it. Does this type of album still have a future? Will so-called “classics” still exist in the years to come? Do they even exist nowadays?

That’s the kind of questions Symphony X tried to answer when they wrote their new album, Underworld. We in metal are lucky: our artists are still very much attached to that generous format, which allows them to develop their creativity. But what guitarist Michael Romeo really wanted was to consciously craft that format, taking inspiration in great albums that have gone down in history.

That’s in part what we talk about in the following interview, as well as the origin and the conception of this album, inspired by themes straight out of Dante’s Inferno or the myth of Orpheus, and peppered with references to the number three.

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Interviews   

Powerwolf: The crusade is escalating


Powerwolf 2015

Could Powerwolf take over heavy metal, as part of a new generation that will eventually replace the dinosaurs of the genre? If Falk Maria Schlegel and Roel Van Helden (the pack’s keyboardist and drummer, respectively) are to be believed, it could well be the case – and their ever-growing success seems to back them up. After all, Powerwolf work with all the best ingredients: a strong musical and visual identity, heaps of actual hymns, super entertaining shows, regularity, consistency in their musical offerings, etc. The band have recently released their sixth album, Blessed & Possessed, which comes after the very successful Preachers Of The Night. The fans shouldn’t be disappointed: this new album is in perfect line with the rest of their discography.

We talked about these subjects with the two musicians, and about the band’s trademarks: religious and horrific themes, their taste for cliché, their sense of entertainment, etc. This very laidback conversation also allowed us to witness how much they love to joke around and have fun. But don’t go thinking they’re a band of “jokers”: to them, music is serious business!

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  • Friday, 23 September 2016 à 4:32
    Therion against the tide
    Wednesday, 10 August 2016 à 11:25
    Tarja has moved on
    Monday, 1 August 2016 à 23:22
    Gojira: Joe Duplantier answers your questions
    Friday, 8 July 2016 à 4:28
    Final fireworks for Avantasia
    Saturday, 2 July 2016 à 11:06
    Johanna Sadonis makes a pact with Lucifer
    Monday, 6 June 2016 à 20:56
    BEHIND THE SCENES : THE OTHER AXL ROSE
    Friday, 3 June 2016 à 10:17
    GODVLAD: INTERVIEW WITH HUGO
    Sunday, 1 May 2016 à 21:07
    Jorn Lande: a nomad in metal land
    Tuesday, 26 April 2016 à 19:42
    Brian “Head” Welch (Korn): God and Metal
    1/3