Interview with Zuberoa Aznárez of Diabulus in Musica

photoshoot by Nat Enemede, edited by Heile

Symphonic metal has had an impressive start to the year so far with firstly the excellent album from Xandria and as equally impressively with the release of the new Diabulus in Musica album The Wanderer. The follow-up to their acclaimed debut Secrets the new release shows an even more defined and wonderfully structured sound from the band and a stronger and more dramatic combination of gloriously flowing orchestral symphonic sounds and formidable aggressive intensity. Needing to know more about the release and band itself we had the pleasure of having vocalist Zuberoa Aznárez answer our questions and tell us more about Diabulus in Musica.

Hello Zuberoa and welcome to The RingMaster Review. Thank you for talking with us.

Could you start by introducing the band members and give some history to the band?

Hi! Thank you for the interest and questions!

photoshoot by Nat Enemede, edited by Heile

Gorka (keyboard player) and I founded the band in 2006. We played together in another metal band and Gorka also played with Adrián (DiMs guitar player) in another band, we immediately thought about him when we founded. We started to write songs and we won some contests with them, so we decided to record our first album, Secrets. It was in that moment when our drummer Xabi joined us and a few months later Alex, our bass player. Secrets was released by Metal Blade Records in 2010. It received many great reviews and we had the chance to play in big fests such as the MFVF or Metalfest. Now we have just signed a contract with Napalm Records and our new album The Wanderer has just been released by them on February the 29th.
I am sure you are asked in every interview but please tell us about the band name Diabulus In Musica, the inspiration for it.

There are two reasons why I chose this name for the band. On the one hand, because Early Music is my favorite period in music (and what I usually sing apart from metal), and ‘Diabulus in Musica’ is a medieval music term. On the other hand, it sounds a bit dark, as our music sometimes. We like this dark romantic aesthetic as well as Early Music, so we thought Diabulus in Musica was the name that fitted us the best. The duality of our music is perfectly described with the term.

You have just released your excellent new album The Wanderer, what were and are the emotions as it takes its early days in public view?

Thank you! We feel very excited about the release! The reviews are being really awesome and the feedback from fans could not be better, we are very happy with the reactions so far! Now we cannot wait to spread our music live everywhere!

Did the album turn out as you envisaged going into the studio or did it hold some surprises for you too?

The result has been as we expected in almost every field. We did the recording in our home-studios. We learnt a lot during the recording process of our first album Secrets, so we decided to work on our own on the production and recording of the new album.
For the mixing and mastering process we sent the tracks to the great Jacob Hansen, a guarantee of a powerful sound! He did great!
For the new album, we wanted to try a different way of working and it worked out really well. Before writing any song we sat all together around a table and we discussed about how we wanted the next album to be. I think it is easier to work when you know exactly what you want to achieve. This way everything flows much better.
How has your sound evolved between debut album Secrets and The Wanderer?

Being a conceptual album, the way we worked was totally different from what we had done before. It was much more challenging because we were searching for something more like a soundtrack. Music had to fit what we wanted to tell in each song, it had to recreate the atmosphere we had in mind in each scene.

I think The Wanderer is a very passionate album. All the feelings are perfectly captured. I would say that ‘The Wanderer’ is denser, more bombastic… but also more refined than Secrets. The arrangements play a very important role in all this, so we paid special attention to them.

I would say that this album is more eclectic, the orchestra and the choir are bigger, the guitars are harder and there are new instruments (lute, flutes, percussions, acoustic guitars…).
We tried to give space to each section in order to be heard in the right moment and let sound the other instruments when needed.

Can you tell us about the premise behind The Wanderer?

The whole concept is an allegory of Mother Earth, Humanity and Corruption and the shock between people who stays pure (and linked with nature) and modern society. It is not easy to reconcile this way of being with all the changes that society is suffering, and above all, with human corruption. All these special people are unfortunately starting to disappear and in my view, they are the last hope to change the World. It is so sad that human beings are forgetting where we come from!

It is also kind of odd that after thinking about the concept, I’ve seen many artists talking about something similar in their works. It seems that many people perceive that society is not walking towards the right way… It is clear that some of us have this kind of apocalyptic thoughts… Maybe that’s a good sign and we can still change?
The blend of a harder metal and symphonic sounds lies easily side by side, has this emerged naturally or do you have to layer it carefully?

Yes, the album is plenty of different feelings. We prepared each song before writing it, I mean, we didn’t start writing only songs, but also the idea of how they should sound, what was the feeling we wanted to transmit with each song… Then after one of us wrote a complete song, we started to work on the arrangements all together until we all felt the song was completely finished.
In short, the music came naturally when we thought about the feeling needed, but after that, we worked carefully on the arrangements.

There is an eclectic range of sounds on the new album which offers multiple possibilities for your sound ahead. Do you have a defined direction for your music or do the songs evolve it themselves?

I would say the second. I sometimes have a clear idea about what I want, but sometimes it turns into a very different thing hehe.
Our music is eclectic, because all of us are so. I mean, we don’t have only a musical influence, we like different stuff and we have no boundaries in creating music. Besides, all of us have a different musical background… You cannot imagine how many different music styles we listen to.

It sounds like a cliché but we do what we want to do and we don’t think whether it’s going to be too hard, too poppy… We only think if we like what we have done or not. Music is above all self-expression, and you do not feel always in the same mood, so does happen with our music…

In our review we got the impression that your more aggressive edge attack was kept more subdued in the symphonic glory of songs like Sceneries of Hope and only allowed to be really unleashed in the likes of No Time For Repentance and especially in the mighty Shadow of the Throne. Are we being slightly unfair?

Hehe not at all! Being a conceptual album, every song was made to tell a part of the story. We used aggressive sounds when the story needed it and the same with the soft parts. The climax of the story comes with No Time for Repentance that’s why it sounds darker. Shadow of the Throne is the song when the bad character of the story and his slaves are introduced, that’s why there are only male voices… Anyway, I think the duality is well represented in other songs too and when they are not it is because it didn’t fit the story.

photoshoot by Nat Enemede, edited by Heile

At the beginning it was only Adrián, Gorka and me who did the songs. Now all the band-members are involved in writing the music. It is usually one of us who writes a complete song and then forward it to the rest. It’s in that moment when we start to work on the arrangements all together until we consider the song is completely finished.
As for the lyrics it is me who writes them, although in the new album there is one song written by Alex.

Where do you draw your inspiration, lyrically especially?

My inspiration comes from the World itself and I usually write about my personal worries usually related with Nature, Freedom, spirituality and social problems. I am a very nonconformist person and always think a lot about every aspect in life, although I rarely arrive to a clear conclusion hehe
I consider myself as a complicated personality, with sometimes rare ideas rounding my messy brain (I suppose this is normal among artists? hehe)

Your vocals as always are amazing on The Wanderer, at times even more staggering than ever before. With such a powerful and skilful voice does it bring an extra element to the song writing to consider?

Thank you so much for the compliments! It is weird but we rarely think about the voice when we are writing a song hehe Well… in my case, I usually start a song with the vocal-line, but the guys usually start by the music, so the vocal-line is the last thing I make in those cases. Sometimes it’s even more challenging for me, because I have to adapt to the tones they chose.
It appears that a comparison to Epica is inevitable when you are reviewed or talked about. Has it got to the point yet where the generally well meant compliment is wearing thin and you wish they heard you as distinctly Diabulus In Musica?

Comparisons are always inevitable when you are a young band. The same happened to Epica when they started. Everybody compared them with Nightwish or After Forever. Now they are a big band, so smaller bands are compared with them. It is the logical process, although I don’t understand very well why it must be like that… I think people should enjoy music if they like it and forget about so much tagging. We can be similar to Epica because we play the same genre: symphonic metal which is obviously metal, with choirs and orchestra. We could also say that a death metal band is similar to another death metal band, or a hard rock one similar to another hard rock band. Sure! They play the same genre! Then, for people who compares: does only one band per genre has the right to exist? Hehe I do not think so!
Anyway, it does not bother us… We like the music Epica does. I think that maybe we were compared because Ad Sluijer and Sascha Paeth worked with us in our first album. Anyway The Wanderer sounds pretty different (it was mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen). Besides, I think we have many other differences: we use more electronic and ethnic sounds, we use different instruments as for example the Renaissance lute, the baroque flute, whistles, the cajón, Early music choirs… So I guess there are enough elements to have our own sound.

Secrets had notable guests on it does The Wanderer also hold extra talent alongside the band?

Yes! We were honored to have Mark Jansen from Epica grunting and screaming in the track Blazing a Trail. We invited again our friend Maite Itoiz (for the choir, for a duet and to play the lute in one song) and her husband John Kelly (Elfenthal) who is singing in the beautiful ballad Sentenced to Life.

We also invited some great classical soloists for the big choirs, most of them colleagues from classical ensembles I sing in. And well, I invited myself too hehe to play the baroque and traverse flute as well as some Celtic whistles.

What is the Spanish music scene like for not only symphonic metal but metal in general? Other rock bands seem not to be impressed with it right now.

Metal in general is not the most popular style in Spain. I guess the same happens in the rest of Europe…  Also Spanish metal-heads like better the national old school heavy metal, sung in Spanish. Nevertheless, there is a rising new metal scene, although these bands aren’t well-known.

Do you see Spain as always your base or could there come a time as success follows you that you may have to relocate to be able to grow as a band?

We hope so! Haha just kidding, of course our dream would be to live on the band and be successful, but nowadays I do not think it is necessary to move. Europe is very small if we compare it with North and South America and there are also many low cost flight companies, so we could manage it.

photoshoot by Nat Enemede, edited by Heile

The 31st March it will be The Wanderer official release party in our hometown. We are also working in a European tour. We hope we can visit many countries this year!

Many thanks for talking with us and good luck with the album.

Would you like to leave us with any last thoughts?

Thank you so much for your questions. Of course thanks to all the readers and fans! We hope that you like The Wanderer and we hope to see you all on the road!

And finally could you give us an idea of the sounds that fire up your day the same way The Wanderer does ours?

Thanks! Well what usually fires up my day unfortunately is my clock alarm! Hehe Well… It depends on the day and on our mood… as I said before we listen to so many different styles that it would be difficult to select them! If I need energy I usually listen to any kind of metal, but if I need a rest, then classical or ethnic music are my faves!

Read The Wanderer review @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/diabulus-in-musica-the-wanderer/

The RingMaster Review 14/03/2012

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Vera Grace offer free download TODAY!!

There is a brewing force from Oxfordshire and in the very near future they are going to explode upon the senses with their debut release.  This mighty event comes in the shape of Oxfordshire rock band Vera Grace and their EP Rotations which will be unleashed on May 14th.

But before then to whet the appetite the band are going to make a brand new song not on the EP available as a free download. The song Dark Hearts is available from today for free on their Facebook profile and is sure to raise the anticipation for Rotations tenfold.

www.facebook.com/veragraceband

Dark Hearts strikes at the heart with intimidating riffs, thunderous aggression and a melodic skill which inspires one  to open up even more to their stunning sounds. The song and band offer something different to the usual metalcore approach and this song alone makes the wait until May 14th and Rotations an impatient one. The RingMaster Review

Formed at the foot of 2011, Vera Grace are quickly scaling the ranks and making new friends. Hailing from rural Oxon and featuring school mates Aaron (Bass), Chris (Guitar), Steve (Vocals), Josh (Drums) and Jonjo (Guitar) the eager quintet took no time in penning new tunes for their eagerly awaited debut record. To help make their distinct mark on the metalcore Vera Grace set loose a debut single in the shape of Living Forever Isn’t Living At All to great hearty support from a grass roots level and earned the band a cluster of new fans.

The eagerly awaited debut release of Rotations is sure to raise the bar with its five meaty slabs of hardcore infused metal. Sparking glowing comparisons to and taking cues from the likes of Underoath, Oh, Sleeper, and Parkway Drive, Vera Grace offer up an altered take on metalcore and in turn have produced a debut record loaded with guile, intensity, and true promise. From the melodic riffage and beefy climax of Wasting Away, through to the experimental synth and guitar work on the title track Rotations, Vera Grace have set loose a real beast of a debut. The UK metalers also plan a full blown gig onslaught set for summer, hit up www.facebook.com/veragraceband  for show updates and that free download.

ROTATIONS TRACKLISTING: 1. Wasting Away; 2. Lost; 3. Esther’s Imagination; 4. Rotations; 5. I Am The Earth.

Capitals: Jealousy/Sinking Ships double-A Single

Photograph by Tim Zweistra and Marten Van Gelder

Photograph by Tim Zweistra and Marten Van Gelder

Partly haunting, fully atmospheric, touchingly emotive, and completely consuming, the impressive weave the debut official release from Edinburgh duo Capitals lays upon the heart.  Just released their double A sided single brings a warmth and chilled tingle to the senses with a measure and skill as concise and far reaching as any laser. It tantalises and coaxes whilst wrapping caring arms around the ear to create an unsettling yet safe place to immerse within. Dark and electronically driven the single is a deeply engaging and satisfying release, music to lighten up the dark but also to add provocative shadows to one own light.

Capitals consist of Angus Carbarns (ex The Cinematics and Theatre Fall) and Keir Macculloch (ex Araya, Benbecula Records).  The pair has already instigated much attention through their live shows and festival appearances, including taking in a short European tour and headlining club NME in Berlin. This was strengthened with the critically acclaimed free downloads Hello World and A Spectre is Haunting Europe the duo released last year and now with the new single made up of the two songs Jealousy and Sinking  Ships, they are rising up to even stronger and sure to be more intense heights of attention.

Jealousy‘ soaks the senses in sparking keys and darker morose tones. The guitars sound down hearted offering a weary grace to temper the light elsewhere yet they equally ignite the song with their emotive feel and perfect understanding with the lyrical passion. The vocals drip the same unfettered emotion, the song sprawling within the heart bringing up deeply laid emotions and pushed aside thoughts. It is wonderful stuff, beautifully crafted and expertly delivered.

The intriguing ‘Sinking Ships‘ is a companion which is similar in its unbridled emotion but diverse in its unveiling of the breath within. The song is bleaker and less vibrant than its sister song but just as impressively wraps itself around its recipient. It feels stark and cold at times though the sound is full and expansive. Both songs are an imaginative creation where they offer a minimal flavour but actually carry a wealth of ideas and thick atmospheric sounds, the evidence of accomplished songwriting and inventive vision. The track often dips into drone like essences whilst at other moments lifts the ambient spirit within into grey but radiant skies.

One can listen to both songs all day, their inviting hands leading one to immerse wholly into their shadowed worlds and hearts. To make songs as infectious and yet as dark, bordering on disturbing, as this is the proof of a great band and songwriters. The world will hear a lot more of Capitals, maybe one should warn your emotions.

Get the new single @ http://capitalsmusic.bandcamp.com/

RingMaster 14/03/2012

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Cynical Existence – A Familiar Kind of Pain

Photo - Martin Tzr Niklasson

Anything with the name Fredrik Croona attached and it is worth more than just a cursory glance, as chances are you will be delving into something that in the very least will rile up the senses and inflame the darkest corners of the soul. With his new solo project Cynical Existence he does that and much more. A Familiar Kind of Pain is the debut EP from the venture and a release that invades and clings with the greatest of satisfaction whilst twisting and manipulating for the deepest pleasure. Across eight tracks the release rampages and stomps incessantly, and from start to finish provokes and taunts to inflame the ear and far beyond every second of the way.

From Göteborg, Sweden, Croona has constantly kept the ears of industrial and ebm fans challenged and fulfilled as formerly part of Menschdefekt and more distinctly since with his band Project Rotten, as well as collaborations with varied artists most recently with the likes of Washington duo Scream Machine. He began Cynical Existence in 2011 with the intent of bringing old school harsh ebm and industrial into a more emotionally driven sphere. Croona himself states that the project “does not intend to create something new and unique, just something personal.” Released April 1st on dark electro label Engraved Ritual the release leaps at the ear with an intention and passion that can only be organically inspired from within, its infectious conjurations forging a deep and unrelenting connection to its listeners.

The EP opens with Always and Forever’a pulsating and bewitching track which paces itself from the off. Straining at but never let off the lease the song taunts and prowls around the ear, its dark electro veins twitching around crystalline flashes of sound and resourceful melodic infections which finger the senses with acidic energy. The song is a strong opener if not one to overload the senses, that pleasure is left for the following tracks to bring.

A Familiar Kind Of Pain leaves no emotion and feeling untouched or scorched. The likes of the mesmeric and shadowed Dead Eyes (See No Future), Release Me a song that lays wanton and intrusive razorblade sharp melodies through the ear before expanding into migraine inciting heavy cranial thumping like a aural version of Scanners, and the blackened recessed Licking My Skin all gather one up with a leech like grip and consumption which is glorious. Varied and unpredictable the release drains and ignites the senses at the same time, the result an irresistible experience that though one is left a lifeless shell has to dive right back into the experience immediately again.

The EP grips hard and impressively from the off and only ascends from there on in but there are two tracks which make the release an essential have alone. Insecure is a snake charmer of a song. It hypnotises and captivates with dazzling and caustic melodies that exploit and incite limbs and heart into capitulation whilst stomping with thunderous beats on a shattered body. It is a deranged puppeteer with the devil in its soul and probably the best song heard in a long time anywhere. Paradox comes very close to rivalling it though with its anthemic fist thrusting unrelenting heavy electro raging. The song sweeps one up in its surging waves of blood pumping energy whilst all the time plundering and blistering the ear with tempestuous slithers of lethal melodies and delicious sonic molestations.

A Familiar Kind Of Pain is immense, a stunning play with light and dark in sound, emotion, and heart. It avoids any formulaic moments by sheer ingenuity and the allowing of instinctive thought and emotions to drive its course. Without taking away from his fine musical exploits to date this might well be Fredrik Croonas finest moment, it is certainly one of the best things to hit the genre in a long time.

RingMaster 14/03/2012

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