An artful splendour: Interview with Dani of Crimson Blue

Dani - Crimson Blue

Russian nu art metallers Crimson Blue is a band with a distinct and individual sound and one who released one of the more impressive and enthralling albums of last year in the splendid Innocence. Fusing nu-metal grooves with irresistible essences of symphonic metal and the unique character of art rock, the album was a thrilling and captivating engagement with a passionate imagination and invention. We had the pleasure of finding more out about a band, whose album was our first introduction to them, and their innovative sound and release by talking with vocalist and keyboard player Dominica “Dani” Hellstrom.

Hi, welcome to The Ringmaster Review and thank you for taking time to talk with us.

Firstly tell us about the members of Crimson Blue and how the band begun.

Hello everyone!

Well, let me introduce the band.

Dani — keys, vox, music, lyrics. Has been the part of Crimson Blue since the very beginning.

Alex — bass guitar and great stage presence.

Iggy — guitars, effects. Another veteran of the band operates an 8-string monster.

Jenn — drums and cool sympho arrangements.

Tim — guitars. Joined us recently

Back in 2009, we started as a progressive band and spent a lot of time looking for musicians with the same likes, King Crimson, Genesis,Crimson Blue Yes, etc. We tried to compose some complicated polyrhythmical pieces of music, and the result sounded like really bored Tool. Time passed, we learned to like groove metal riffing and symphonic beauty — and our music changed. We went through a period of djent idolizing Meshuggah then came some nu metal madness, and our guitars sounded like the ones of Korn — and so on. Now we’ve finally came to what may be named «the original Crimson Blue style», and I hope our second album will at last sound like true Nu Art Metal.

Are the inspirations which brought the band to life still as strong and active now or have they evolved into a different intent?

In some way, yes. They remain somewhere deep inside, and sometimes we have to fight them not to make our new song too «prog» or too «nu».

Looking more in depth at your introduction, your music is described as Nu Art Metal, can you elaborate on the term for us and how would you say your music has evolved since its beginnings to the release of your debut album Innocence?

It’s quite easy to explain. Imagine classical art rock harmonies, the soundscapes, ambient, but living atmosphere — and mix it with nu metal grooves and noises.

Actually, that was the main change in our music since the very beginning of the band — the hardest thing was to learn not to write 7-minutes epics one after another. We’ve learned to express ourselves more laconically, but still not primitive

The line-up in the early days of the band was quite unstable, is that fair to say?

It’s fair to say that our line-up is a bit puzzle. The three more-or-less permanent members of the band are me, Iggy and Alex. We’ve changed few drummers and more than few guitarists. The trouble is the working process in Crimson Blue has always been a challenge. You have to devote quite a considerable part of your life to make progress. Concerts, rehearsals, shootings, recording sessions, all the things…you learn to do all the things — or you’ll be left behind, that’s what we’ve learned.

Was this situation something which you would say held the band back or simply shaped its focus?

I think our course became more clear and distinct, despite all the difficulties that we’ve faced. We’ve learned a lot of things about the bands life here, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves, and now we’re ready to go on rocking whatever happens!

1608197713-1Was this the period of your demo Iceland? Tell us about the release and what it brought and you learned which helped with Innocence?

The demo period was the first time we faced the studio! We’ve recorded a few tracks, but the mixing process stopped, we couldn’t find a sound engineer to do the work. So the release had to be delayed. Then I came up with some electronic tracks that we also wanted to share with our audience. Still nothing happened; we kept making songs and doing nothing to introduce them. Then one day we said — ok, that’s enough, let’s finally do this!

The main thing that we’ve learned was like that — everything, absolutely everything including cover art, promo, etc. — must be done in time. It helped us to present «Innocence» very much.

When did the musicians who now make up Crimson Blue come together and did this ‘new blood’ and stability naturally give an energy and new direction to the band and Innocence?

The current line up gathered in summer 2012, when Jenn joined us. He brought some beautiful orchestral soundscapes along! We started using phonograms on our gigs; our sound became more fresh and aesthetic.

Tim came to us this autumn; he’s got a charming smile and plays terrific noises!

Tell us about the inspiration to the songs and also the recording experience for Innocence.

The inspiration is everywhere. Partly in music that we listen to, partly in some experience we get from life and each other.

The recording was like a factory work! We’ve been spending twenty-four hours a day in studio for a month. I’ve recorded incredible amounts of vocals. The guitarist had to work in shifts. The keyboard parts were recorded in the last two days in almost surreal atmosphere of forthcoming finale.

How do songs come to life within the band, what is the writing process generally?

Usually our songs start with melodies. I think of one, then harmonize it, then think of its name. Then it is being taken to our rehearsing studio where we work on the arrangement

The music within Innocence is a varied creature. What and who have been the major influences for you as musicians and band?

Let me remember… Well, some of the names are Tool, Yes, Korn, Pain Of Salvation, Meshuggah

Our favourite track on the album is L.M.A.; a song we felt was a raptorial encounter which brought essences of Korn, Animal Alpha, and The Faceless into a new invention. Tell us more about the song and its seeds.

Well, L.M.A. is an example of how the music you’re listening to may generate a new track. It started with the chorus, and firstly there’s been a Russian version, translated just about «me, I’m rising from ashes, I’m rising from ashes». It was a period when female-fronted alternative in Russian was very popular, and we were really sick of it! So the song came as a protest. Then we thought, why not make it in English? And so we did. L.M.A. is one of the few songs born during the rehearsal.

Many bands with a renowned strength in their live performances, which you have, fail to translate that to their recordings. Do you feelCrimson Blue you have managed that or see them as different faces to the band which need a different approach?

To be a cool band you need to perform cool and sound equally cool in the studio, I think. We are not scared of the album work and we’re going to do or best in gaining impressive and rich records.

You recently linked up with GlobMetal Promotions/management, how has that impacted on the band to date?

We’ve received a lot of reviews for «Innocence»; the promoter also helps us much with some gig arranges. This is our first experience in such kind of cooperation, and we like it. We hope GlobMetal will help us get our music all around the globe.

How is the metal scene in Russia right now in context to European metal which seems on a real high?

There are a lot of great metal bands here, although it’s really hard to get to the audience. The thing is the tradition of going to clubs for a live show is not quite Russian. So you have to think of something really dramatic to get your fans out of their flats!

What are your hopes and plans for Crimson Blue in 2013?

We’re going to release our 2nd studio album somewhere in the Autumn, make a few videos, maybe some electronic internet-singles. We hope to go on tour at last, we’ve been dreaming of travelling with our music since the very beginning of the band!

And of course we will keep on playing live and making our shows more and more impressive. It’s the best thing that you get from music — the response from your audience.

A big thank you for taking time to talk with us.

Any last thoughts you would like to leave us and the readers?

Thank you for the interview!

And to all of you readers — get art, stay metal, take care!

Lastly tell us where you dream of playing one day and the bands which would make it the perfect gig line-up.

One day you’ll see us performing at Wembley, joined by Meshuggah, Nightwish and Korn. That will be a good day!

The RingMaster Review 25/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Cambion: Virus

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    If like us you thought Cambion was the business with their Last Rites EP of 2011, then be prepared to be a whimpering fully bloated with pleasure wreck as their new EP Virus wreaks its havoc on the senses. The UK metallers have left the previous triumph looking almost pale against the new onslaught of technical and progressive metal found on the EP. The Devon quartet has not ventured far from their already established sound on Virus but honed it into an even more lethal and expressive beast which gnaws, chews, and teases the senses for a simply sensational confrontation.

Formed in 2009, the band pulls its influences from the likes of Meshuggah, Fear Factory, and Divine Heresy but has distilled them into their own aggressive and inventive tonic. It is aggressive and corrosive but equally is an incendiary engagement melodically and emotively. The past years have seen Cambion tour with US rockers Fozzy as well as share stages with the likes of The Defiled, Malefice, Blaze Bayley, Fury UK, Revoker, The Fearless Vampire Killers, and The Dead Lay Waiting, and light up festivals like Bloodstock with the line-up of vocalist/guitarist Elliott Alderman-Broom, guitarist Liam Neary, bassist Colin Beale, and drummer Frank Dennis impressing continually. The band has reached into another level of depth in their already expansive and impressive creativity so that where the previous EP had like us many drooling Virus just ignites sheer rapture with its immense presence and sound.

The release opens on the atmospheric and stark corrosion of society through varied news sound bites and a serpentine presence; it 480282_10151163818991971_2129231106_nis a cinematic introduction fitting the theme of the release and pulls Virus Part 1 (Outbreak) into immediate focus. The emergence of the band is a step back, the brewing intensity seemingly another world as a guitar glows with sonic elegance in an open clear sky. Soon though towering rhythms add their sinews for an imposing stature elevated again once the band badger with debilitating riffs and a hungry abrasion. The storm is a building intensity with the great vocals sending warm shards through the tempestuous ambience and eventually erupts into a charged and overwhelming maelstrom of technical violence and enterprise. It is also unpredictable and beautifully surprising, the Latin blush of guitar mesmerism sensational as the riot subsides for brief moments. It is a compelling and stunning start which leaves all previous thoughts of the band as lacklustre praise in comparison to those generated from the first track alone.

Virus Part 2 (Infection) was first featured on the previous EP and was stunning then but within the encasement of the new release feels even more impressive. The song is a caustic ravaging spawn of the industrial metal craft of Fear Factory and the exhausting and ravenous intensity of Static X bled into an electrifying abrasion all Cambion. Like all the songs on the EP, it rewards as deeply as it gnaws away at the listener and their psyche, the melodic fires enflamed and aggressive violation unleashed, metal at its very compulsive best.

The brutal entrance of Virus Part 3 (Death) with sheer malevolence to the squalling vocals and heart stopping beats from the drums, brings the world to a juddering halt such its intimidation and power. It is a mere one minute of physical barbarity which leaves one shell shocked yet ready to face the next part of the Virus in (AfterLife). If you thought moving on from this plain would be all beauty and peace, the erosion of light and expulsion of civil tranquillity let free by the track soon corrects and sends one to their knees. Combining a contagion of acute grooves with crippling rhythms and further technical savagery, the track is a persuasive assailant and one which with its melodic flames hitting mesmeric heights and additional impressive clean vocals and harmonies, one which provokes and evocates the strongest passions and emotions.

Virus Part 5 (Resurrection) continues the sonic viciousness with sheer mastery of sadistic intensity, unforgiving sounds, and glowing melodic beauty. The track scores and depletes the senses until numb but at the same time energises and inflates the heart with a melodic enterprise and touch as magnificent as the quarrelsome ruin surrounding them.

Completed by a hidden track which is as stunning as all the others, Virus is just outstanding, a release which declares Cambion firmly as one of the most important bands in UK metal and a delicious violation all should allow to rampage inside.

http://www.cambionofficial.co.uk

RingMaster 25/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

 

Lost in Wonderland: Against the Sun

   Against the Sun Artwork

    Guildford band Lost in Wonderland first came to our notice here in 2011 with their impressive performance at local venue The Boileroom. Out of the three or four bands playing they were the ones who grabbed a lingering attention on the night and stayed as a thought in the mind since. The recent release of their debut album Against the Sun offered up the chance to find out how they had evolved from that more than decent performance and appealing sound of eighteen months or so ago.

The first thing notable as Against the Sun unveiled its passionate and superbly crafted songs, was the band still had the breath and flavoursome presence from our first introduction.  Lost in Wonderland and their music has certainly grown in maturity and strength but still retains the expressive heart and emotive fire which marked them all those months ago. Formed and led by songwriter, vocalist, guitarist Alexis Demetriou, a graduate of the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Guildford, the band is one which has gigged extensively with acclaim and a strong continually growing fan base in its wake. In many ways it is a surprise they have not earned a wider awareness and recognition before now but as the album treats the ear the sense that things might change soon fill the air.

Completed by fellow ACM graduates Max McPherson (lead guitar and backing vocals), Kim Griffin (bass) and Stephan Seiler (drums), Lost in Wonderland takes seeds and influences from bands such as Creed, Pearl Jam, Tool, Nickelback, Shinedown, Staind, and Alter Bridge, their inspirations open and clear as they fuse them with Middle Eastern vibes which hold a lure all of their own and melodic grooves that leave lips licked and emotions entangled. The band also is also no stranger to punctuating their rich sound with metallic muscle and forceful heavy rock intent; the finely shaped combination music which captures the imagination with ease. Whether it is a sound and album which has discovered its distinct voice and presence yet can be argued but both stand with heads held high in the company of bands mentioned.

Emerging squalling guitars register the first impact on the ear, a response soon elevated by the firm rhythms and probing basslines which follow as well as purely mesmeric fiery guitar play as the opener Rise Again steps forward. The vocals of Demetriou are as expressive as the music and share the passion driving the song. The melodic enterprise at times wrings spicery of Alter Bridge and Nickelback into its impacting flames and though it holds a familiar taste it is come with a unique flavouring.

The following title track rises like the breaking day sun, its warmth and melodic caresses wrapping around the ear as sturdy rhythmic sinews and crisp emotive intensity veins the encounter. Like the first, the track blends shadows and light musically and lyrically with impressive craft and grace, the songwriting and its realisation earning nothing less than acclaim and enthused focus. As the thread and representation of social and personal life emerges through the loosely attached theme inspired by Lewis Carroll’s timeless creation of Alice and her descent through a dark and seedy underworld, the album and tracks like the heartfelt No One Else to Blame and the exotic Enough bring stronger inventive pleasure. The second of this pair of songs is a riveting merger of muscle and melodic eloquence bringing thoughts of Audioslave and Stone Sour to the fore. It is an excellent track with those Middle Eastern teases loud contagious whispers and the perfect gate way to this equally impressive album.

The album continues to impress as each song unveils its heart and craft. Further highlights in one overall thrilling level come in the vibrant shapes of previous single Lost In Wonderland with its Poets Of The Fall like beauty, the Finnish band often coming to mind across the album, the potent and emotionally scenic Where Will You Be, and the pulsating Unwanted. The last is the closing track and leaves one with no alternative but to enter the world of the release right away, the song an infectious and sensational sunset on the album whilst at the same time turning the key to a new dawn with the release.

Against the Sun is an excellent album which melodic rock fans, especially those with a grunge and hard rock heart, will devour with eagerness. Lost In Wonderland has left those thoughts and impressions earned many months ago confirmed yet a big underestimation. This is a band all should become acquainted with.

https://www.facebook.com/liwmusicuk

RingMaster 25/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Nightfall: Cassiopeia

Nightfall_2013_Photo

    There can be very few who do not know of the Greek dark metal weavers Nightfall or be aware of their continuing legacy to metal in general let alone their chosen genre of creativity. From deeply impressive and acclaimed albums and putting Greek metal on the wider world map, the Athens band has also nurtured and brought forth many musicians who have moved on to other high profile bands, such as Bob Katsionis and Mark Cross (Firewind), George Kollias (Nile), and George Bokos (Rotting Christ). After a seeming break the band has returned with their new album Cassiopeia via Metal Blade Records, and a senses awakening piece of accomplishment it is.

Formed in 1991 by the now only original member, vocalist Efthimis Karadimas, Nightfall took little time in grabbing attention, their initial four track demo bringing them to the attention of French label Holy Records and leading to the signing with them. The following year saw their debut Parade Into Centuries released to enthused responses whilst the next mass of years saw its success and acclaim repeated and exceeded through albums Macabre Sunsets, Athenian Echoes, Lesbian Show, and Diva Futura. During this time many line-up changes challenged but brought fresh spices to the sound of the band, their original death metal breath honed into an even more atmospheric and melodic wind upon the ear and heart. Via Black Lotus Records, the albums I Am Jesus in 2003 and Lyssa: Rural Gods And Astonishing Punishments a year later were open and impressive realisations of this direction change. In 2005 though as the band ceased performing live and with members leaving, there was a ‘hiatus’ of sorts for Nightfall.

The announcement of a new line-up and the following release of Astron Black & The Thirty Tyrants in 2010 through Metal Blade, showed the band was back stronger than ever, the album the recipient of immense praise from critics and fans whilst their further evolved sound was a passionate and rich soundscape of blackened death metal malevolence weaved into a melodic and dark symphonic grandeur. Cassiopeia is drawn from the same inspiring well of imagination and one which dances with the passions. Whether it exacts the same rapture as its predecessor will be arguable from individual to individual but the release certainly mesmerises and intimidates with equal craft and magnetism.

Alongside Karadimas the band consists of guitarists Evan Hensley and Constantine, bassist Stathis Ridis, drummer Jorg Uken, and 039841516821Stathis Kassios on keys, and again as is notable across its existence, it is a collection of musicians which perfectly fit and further the heart of the band. The album as its title suggests, takes essences for its theme from the constellation and the mythical character of Andromeda’s mother but more so refers to and investigates the arrogant characteristic of the human race. Opening with Phaethon, the release immediately holds attention in its majestic palms, the beckoning weaving of the guitars lighting the way into the shadows of the song which then swamp the senses with the oppressive growls of Karadimas and seductive caresses from the keys of Kassios. The rhythms are reserved though the bass is a prowling entity with strong sinews within the sonic fires being conjured along the journey of the song. From eagerly appealing to deeply hypnotic and switching often, the song is one which ebbs and flows within its lush presence and enthrals throughout. The great starter is a sign of the album in that it is a constant engagement one can only be enthused by but at times ignites greater passions from particular moments of ideas. This could be said to show inconsistency but in this case it is a nice problem to have if the case.

The following Oberon & Titania is a delicious storm of caging rhythms, spiralling sonic enterprise, and melodic teasing with a sensational lone wanton taunt of piano erupting which sparks sheer adoration for its unexpected and enchanted mischief. The track is a formidable encounter, one which stirs up the primal and emotive dark inside to coax it into a vibrant furnace of invention and destructive beauty. From keys to guitars, bass and drums, to the venom coated vocals, it is bruising yet invigorating treat.

Tracks like the infection invoker The Nightwatch with its familiar but knowing melodies and barbed hooks, the thought and senses wrapping Hubris which again stokes the heart with irresistible keys ‘doodling’, and the riveting Hyperion, leave one breathless and captivated. To be fair every track has that grip for the main of its presence making an album in Cassiopeia, which provokes and incites the dark and light within the listener.

At times the album is scintillating and even in its lesser moments compelling, and though it maybe does not trigger the furnace of passion as their previous album, it is one which lures you willingly back again and again.

http://www.nightfallstar.com

RingMaster 25/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright