Brutal melodies: an interview with Efthimis Karadimas from Nightfall

     nightfall 2

It is hard to fully measure the impact Greek dark metal weavers Nightfall have had on melodic death metal and its related extreme metal neighbours not only in their homeland but across the genre itself, but with each album they have explored and stretched its limits with imagination and aggressive hunger. Their latest album Cassiopeia is no exception, the Metal Blade Records released triumph an equally mesmeric and intimidation beast of inspiring imagination and dark melodic grandeur. To find out more about not only the album but the band, Greek metal, and its history we had the pleasure of talking with vocalist and band founder Efthimis Karadimas.

Hi Efthimis and many thanks for taking time to speak with us.

Thanks for your time mate!

For over twenty years Nightfall has been not only one of the major underground metal musical voices but also a leader of Greek metal. As your great new album Cassiopeia spreads its senses wakening qualities around the world do you feel extra responsibility over the impressive depth of Greek metal which only now the world seems to be awakening to?

We act responsibly since day one and this is one of the main reasons why Nightfall is still around doing well. Being true to yourself is a big deal in all aspects of life; Nightfall has always acted in prudent ways to deliver pieces of art sincerely and free of expectations other than that of artistic expression.  Making people around the world paying attention to the Greek scene is a compliment. I am honored and proud at the same time Pete.

How do you keep the fire inside burning so intensely after two decades of offering hard work, acclaimed releases, and impressive creative imagination to the world, how have you kept complacency and obstacles all bands find at bay?

It is the spirit of the Underground that’s marking our ways. We have never treated art as a means to make a living or commercial success or to simply have some fun. Through music we try to cure our broken souls; we literally drag the demons lurking within us all the way out to the light where we burn them out. That effort people seem to appreciate in a high degree. I see no other reason really.

How would you say Nightfall has changed or evolved the most over the years?

That’s kinda difficult question to respond to as I am part of this band since the very begging and can’t really see things from outside. Actually I feel like we do the very same thing described previously; killing demons to relief our souls. Techniques and skills surely change but the essence remains the same.

Like most bands line-up changes are a part of things, has the ones you have experienced also gone towards the freshness you have held onto with your nine albums in some way, the new ideas being brought in by new members over the years sparking new ideas organically?

Playing with new musicians each time is so refreshing it makes me wonder how some bands keep the same line up for years without getting bored or drown into a loop of repetition, which ultimately kills any seed of art and creativity. Each time a new guy comes in we all get excited and longing for the amalgam of new and old tastes that soon will be produced as a result of that addition. Nothing remains stable for long; nothing remains unquestionable. That motion is energy. And energy is life!

Before we move onto your new album tell us how you see things have changed, if at all, for new bands breaking through from when Nightfall did and those trying to do so now, especially in Greek metal.

Back in the old days the whole process of producing, releasing, and communicating your music was too difficult. However, it was these very difficulties that made most of us, the old guard, to build a character through which our sound and style matured. This sort of maturity is something I feel like missing from the new bands. Easy access to high tech gear is not necessarily leading to any better results when talking about art. It is the struggle and the pain that spawn the lyrical drama. I am sure current economic depression will be the ground for some momentous works in the near future. And please dudes, stop playing the rock stars, the party is over and the chicks have already been pregnant by someone else. No hard feelings 🙂

Your previous album Astron Black & the Thirty Tyrants looked at man and his place throughout time as a theme and 543767_10151129285441682_1965301818_nCassiopeia feels the same at investigating with stronger focus man and his attitude and arrogance within the world even with its more mythical title and initial ‘voice’. Can you delve deeper into the premise for Cassiopeia and its inspiration?

I adore history and mythology. It is the manual of human race. Every single shit you face in everyday life is there to read and see how it first appeared, in which ways it was developed and how our ancestors managed to deal with it successfully or not. Furthermore, for huge issues like those of believing in something divine or of trying to make a better living individually or collectively historical data-cum-guidance is imperative since they are eternal and vast issues to cope with within one’s finite life. That very continuity of these problems proves the smallness of our species. Struggling to give sufficient answers to such questions is a two edge sword; it fuels our lust for knowledge but also fuels our egos when we feel like becoming closer to such an “answer”. Arrogance works as an internal mechanism of self destruction that’s detonated once a person feels superior thanks to a sort of power he happened to enjoy at a certain period of his life. Like a mechanism whose scope is to remind humans about our limited range of action. Cassiopeia’s story is a parable. What happens in the western world the last few years fits well in that story. Politicians and economists as Cassiopeia and Andromeda believed their capacity was great to an extent they could solve fundamental problems like those of harmonious coexistence of millions through artificial wealth and unity. So they came forward providing answers as to prosperity and easy life via cheap credit and unification that apparently eliminated hardships like poverty and wars. Soon masses switched from actors in life to viewers of life losing touch with reality.  Depression, anger, confusion now whip the backs of people and nations as hard as the tamer does to the lions and the tigers in his effort to push them back into their tinny cages. I don’t say it was a good or bad decision. We don’t make a political statement here. We only make a reference to the incapability of human race to overcome our smallness and the punishment follows any effort to step into gods fields and play their role.

Do you find humanity and its mistreatment of the world and themselves a continually inciting source for you creativity and lyrical ideas?

Totally. But it is not about mistreatment exactly. We, humans, are only broken. And as broken creatures we cannot achieve perfectiveness. We always struggle to proceed, and that effort takes its toll from time to time.

Do you see your lyrical ideas in albums as a narrative reporting problems and thoughts or as a more forceful provocation where you hope people will feel a reaction and think for themselves?

I express my worries and share my fears with people who feel more or less alike. It is a matter of mental communication I think. It is like telling a friend of yours, hey I have that fear lately about that thing, and he replying to you, yes, I feel the same too. It is kinda relieving, isn’t it?

The members of Nightfall are based across the world I believe, so how long did Cassiopeia take to emerge as the finished album?

We took advantage of technology. Distances have narrowed and ideas reach the receivers in the nick of time. You know, you exchange ideas and then you physically meet to arrange the details. However, that time we took it a step further by doing the recordings in different places, there where each one felt more comfortable to work with the engineer he preferred best.

How was the recording of the album made, together at a certain point in time or in stages without you meeting?

In stages actually. The process was long and enjoyable

How do you make the album sound so organic and united if recording separately and does doing it this way restrict how you evolve songs as a band which maybe you could push further if all together in a studio?

It is because we don’t try to alter the original course of the compositions. It is what we said previously about how important is to be true to yourself. As soon as a new composition emerges we follow it suit; we add anything it wants and not stuff that may sound “better” or more complicated or unique or they fit that or the other audience whatsoever. Ultimately the track becomes solid like any living organism after having absorbed all the vital elements its body requires to become strong. This is a marvellous process full of excitement and surprises as to how the ideas finally evolve to real tracks. The final stage takes place at our drummer’s studios in Germany (Soundlodge studios).

Are you a band which works on a few songs at the same time or take each individually through to a certain point in their realisation before starting another?

Everything starts from a bunch of ideas. You know riffs and forms that pass through our feeding system so to speak. We never say let’s compose a fast or a slow track or anything else like moving with a plan. Inspiration flows rich and we only channel it through strings and wires 🙂

408398_10151177260046682_993383867_nHow has Cassiopeia differed, if at all, in its creation to previous releases whether in writing or how you approached it in the recording?

To my ears Cassiopeia is a Brutal Heavy Metal album whose highlight is the right balance between melody and brutality. The fact that we recorded it in different places played a significant role to the final result. Think about it, being at your favorite place delivering without stress. Awesome!

Do you constantly find how you approach new albums changing due to experience and preferences gained over the years?

I can’t say we pay that much of attention to such technicalities. Life is taking good care of it. It loads us full of shit and negativity and then we discharge it through creativity. Criterion track from Astron Black album is exactly about that actually.

Is there any element or part of Cassiopeia which gives you the deepest warmth in hindsight?

I love guitar work in it and I love the ways their melodies mix with my brutal vocals. Yes, that’s so cool.

In Britain we try to ignore a certain Mr Icke as coming from our shores haha but you have been inspired to write The Reptile Gods by him I believe? Do you find an appreciation of the views from people with the same kind of beliefs as he and how do you see ‘aliens’ in the fabric of man’s history and beginnings?

That’s a funny story cause nobody can prove it right and those who can prove it wrong don’t have the ways to do it in a manner acceptable to the former. I am neither a fan of such theories nor their enemy. I only admire the distance such minds walk into their imagination’s jungle and how much they believe what they “see” there. This is amazing, but hey, don’t try it at home. 🙂

Cassiopeia is your second album since returning from a ‘hiatus’ for the band from 2005 to 2010, and the second with Metal Blade Records, this is a union which seems to be rewarding for both sides maybe more so than previously found in the earlier years for you?

I agree. Both these two albums and the line-up show some strong signs of serious workmanship. I am not sure about the exact recipe but I am sure the pauses played a good role. The industry is pushing many bands to unstoppable releases, promos, and stuff, ok; everyone understands it is not good but hey when you make a living out of it you need to follow otherwise you are dead. Our decision not to play that game but simply be the old school kind of artists who are making their shit around no matter what has helped us to develop a stress free attitude that I think it really works. Think about it. It is so pity so many bands started from the underground with the aim to play music and finally turned into fully pro acts in the vein of mainstream pop music investments, doing every single shit to expand their fan base. How pitiful and distressed is that really?

You are not a band which has an over active intent towards performing live, is there any reason for this or just down to the positioning of members around the globe alone?

Frankly speaking, the best part of being in a band is the composing and recording process. After that everything relates to marketing and promotion. It is ok, no problem about it, but allow me to believe that the artistic value of a piece of aural art is not becoming greater if you performing it live. And since I have a plethora of other interesting things to do in my life, touring is not among my priorities. However, should a good offer comes in, we always take it under consideration. Maybe for Cassiopeia we will go on and do at least one tour. Let’s see  🙂

What is next on the horizon of Nightfall?

We are preparing a video clip, like the old good days, and then we may travel a bit around to give some shows.

Again Efthimis thank you for chatting with us.

My pleasure Pete.

For the last words of the interview would you like to state the case as to why people need to check out not just Nightfall but Greek metal in general?

Hey, good things come in small packages 🙂

http://www.facebook.com/nightfallgr

Read the review of Cassiopeia @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/nightfall-cassiopeia/

The RingMaster Review 18/03/2013

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Shannon Hope: Self Titled EP

Shannon Hope by White Robot Photography

Shannon Hope by White Robot Photography

Consisting of six undiluted and naked brief snap shots of reflective emotion and musical sincerity, the self-titled debut EP from UK singer songwriter Shannon Hope is an enchantment which is impossible to pull away from. The release is a piece of honesty which is straight from the heart and as such is not ashamed in presenting its warts and all creative passions. It is not perfect but still a release which enchants and connects with thoughts and experiences with a knowing veracity.

Bury St Edmunds-based Hope first came to note at the closing period of the last decade as one half of boy-girl riot-punks Glory Glory, providing vocals and drums as well sharing the songwriting. The band drew strong plaudits for its DIY enterprise but upon its demise Hope moved back to her hometown and immersed in the local scene, as the vocalist/drummer for Rats As Big As Dogs and Horse. Richly inspired by the likes of Cat Power and Bjork she also began writing for herself, with the EP her first bewitching persuasion.

Released through Sturm Und Drang Recordings, the EP offers loud whispers of contemplative personal truth, smouldering voices of Shannon Hope EP coverrelationships and personal feelings wrapped in uncluttered and equally pensive sounds. Opening track A Part Of Me gently approaches the ear with shuffling percussion, a melancholic guitar, and the expressive elegant voice of Hope. From a slowly strolling melodic musing the song rises to its feet from time to time to tease the senses but never releases its emotive restraint or compelling lure. As with all the tracks there are shadows never far away to cast shade over the suggested and sometimes strong flickers of hope inspiring light, their union crafted with passion and intelligence.

The following I Could Do Without This again entwines varied eagerness of gait though never lifts a foot far from the dejected floor of the song.  Whilst rhythms scuff their way through the downcast mood of lyrics and breath, Hope once more holds sway over the listener with her mesmeric tones. The song is barely two minutes though seemingly passes much quicker within its presence, but ignites the passions with the strongest temptation on the release only matched by the opener.

Life’s Memorabilia and Any Road both lay bare their wounds in full gaze of ear and thoughts with the guitar of Hope at its most potent on the release, especially in the second of the two. There is no pretence or fussiness about the songs or EP overall either which immediately connect the emotions and thoughts of the artist to those of the listener, the simplicity of sound and honesty allowing one to feel part of Hope and her life. As to how personal the songs are the weeks ahead will reveal no doubt but within the embrace of the songs you only feel every note and word has been dramatically lived.

Closing songs Block You Out and Time Goes Too Fast bring a fine end to the encounter, the first with energy and drive which for the first time on the release does breaks sweat whilst the final song, without finding the same depth of engagement elsewhere, makes for a pleasing last caress. The production on the EP is minimal which perfectly complements the verity of the songwriting and sound. It maybe is not a release to ignite raging fires inside but nevertheless is an inviting and strongly satisfying pleasure.

www.shannonhope.bandcamp.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shannon-Hope/190665394412245

7/10

RingMaster 18/03/2013

 

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Resonance Room: Untouchable Failure

    Resonance Room pic

    Drenched in thick melancholic ambiences and dark gothic breath Untouchable Failure, the new album from Italian band Resonance Room, with skill and enterprise easily captures the imagination even if it at times struggles to ignite the same blaze of engagement with the passions. To be honest it is impossible not to develop a strong appetite for the album ensuring many returns to its inventive and emotive grandeur but at the same time it lacks the consistency to spark the raging fire it certainly suggests is within the hands of the band to inspire at some point.

Formed in 2008 out of the ashes of the band Fragment, the quartet from Catania was soon signed to My Kingdom Music and released debut album Unspoken a year later. It met with strong responses towards its gothic metal persuasion veined with strong flavours drawn from other genres. New album Untouchable Failure continues where its predecessor left off with Resonance Room expanding their sound with even more diversity and accomplished craft. To its rich gothic breath the album offers essences of doom and progressive metal whispering loudly whilst elements of classic metal and melodic elegance add their impacting presences for a blaze of imagination. Heard within the album are spices of influences to the band such as Katatonia, Anathema, Pain of Salvation, and Porcupine Tree, as well as times a strong melodic emotion which sparks thoughts of Poets Of The Fall.

The opening flames of first song The Great Insomnia immediately attracts a concentrated focus, their touch a scorching rub on Resonance Room coverthe ear around rhythmic sinews and an air blistering atmosphere. The song then slips into a delicious stroll of sonic elegance, warm and inviting vocals from Alessandro Consoli, and a compelling melodic caress from the guitar of Riccardo Failla. It is a mesmeric embrace which takes no time in raising expectations and anticipation of something toweringly impressive ahead. Shifting its gait, stance, and invention consistently, the track is an outstanding start with the subsequent lure of the mischievous keys sealing the already done deal between heart and song.

The stunning start is followed by Cages Of Dust and So Precious, two songs which undoubtedly make a valid and powerful case for their claim on the passions but just fail in their quest. The two songs with craft offer imagination and invention which leaves a strong if not lasting impression with the bass of Alfio Timoniere especially in the first of the pair casting shadows in the mellower moments and prowling with strong intent when the track opens up its muscles. Neither of the two cast a permanent mark on the ear unlike their predecessor and it is this not only here but with other songs which despite their excellent thought and presence leaves the album struggling to find the ardour it possibly should have deserved or earnt.

For each track which just fails to reap its rewards emotionally there is another like New Life which more than makes up for their missed opportunity. The song is an evocative wash of vocal strength from Consoli, a singer who leaves so many other more renowned vocalists in his shade with his performance upon the album, and fiery and at times emotionally acidic guitar invention, whilst the rhythms from drummer Sandro Galati enclose and frame the impacting encounter with surety and enterprising restraint. It is a stunning track which again shows the depths and rich songwriting of the band.

The likes of Naivety and Oblivion and A Picture repeat the irresistible heights the band do attain within the album, both kaleidoscopes of aural colour and melodic imagery  which entwines tenderness and voracity within their inventive courses. Though other songs like Outside The Maze and Prometheus, like some of the earlier songs are near misses in finding a long-term union with the listener the album ensures it ends on a further intensive glory with closing song Faded, a song with a melancholy which wraps itself around the passions.

It is only the lack of enough sparking moments to ensure a continual fervour across its length which stops the album from being a full on classic. Every song on Untouchable Failure is beautifully thought out and realised with a depth of imagination many bands would deal with the devil for. One feels Resonance Room will make that classic one day, with this only just falling short it is hard to think otherwise.

https://www.facebook.com/ResonanceRoom

7.5/10

RingMaster 18/03/2013

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Radiance: Undying Diabolyca

Radiance pic

    Every release deserves and needs more than one encounter to fully absorb and understand its triumphs and flaws but there are those which need far more patience and time to make their persuasion than others. Undying Diabolyca from Italian metallers Radiance is one such release, an album which probably needs more time than most to unveil all its vices and glories but one which in turn rewards with something quite unique and unforgettable. The emotional dialogue between band, album, and thoughts is still an on-going discussion to be honest but for all its distractions and uncertainties one cannot help having a keen attachment already for what it offers.

Formed in 2004 by guitarist Federica Viola, the Palermo band began with an all-female line-up playing hard rock and heavy metal covers. The band soon was writing their own compositions alongside a continually energetic live schedule which incorporated festivals and music contests. Debut EP …And The Night Comes Down in 2008 drew critical acclaim and success which encouraged the band to push their imagination further. Eventually the band found its current line-up of Viola and vocalist Karin Baldanza as well as a male bassist and drummer in Fabio Accardo and Elio Lao respectively. From this point the music further evolved to find a distinct blend of progressive, power, and heavy metal coated in the evocative operatic tones of Baldanza. Last year saw the band record Undying Diabolyca as well as the approach of My Kingdom Music which saw the band sign with the label who now release their debut album.

Opening instrumental Towards Doom makes a decent introduction to the release without revealing any of its uniqueness but still Radiance coverawakens attention with its accomplished presence. The following Another Way though is a different matter, its start marked with eager riffs and a velvety dark bass sound alongside crisp rhythms. It is instantly compelling and has senses and feet ready to jump on board. Then the beginning of the challenging intrigue emerges with the vocals of Baldanza. She pierces the air with startling operatic flames which stretch notes to their limits and makes an uneasy companion to the sinewy sounds beneath her. It is a union which takes time to acclimatise to but is tempered by the vocalist switching to a heavier forceful delivery which in turn is interspersed with her fine but unexpected soaring and scorching tones. Musically the song continually manipulates the ear with sharp and inventive enterprise to bring extra pleasing intrigue but certainly for the first encounter to song and album the vocals to distract and shield the impressive things going on, why the need for many confrontations.

The following Behind the Light tempts and teases with a progressive shuffling of its inventive stances with the guitars bringing essences of Karnivool to their melodic flames whilst into its full stride the power metal breath of the song is a seamless co-conspirator to a progressive enticement. Vocally the Baldanza takes a more rock orientated approach but still makes each syllable and note from her body work to find its fullest limits for strong rewards to song and ear.

Tracks like the excellent Storm, a song with a tempest of grand melodic and passionate energy doing justice to the title, and the unpredictable Whirl’s Criterion with its mesmeric classical dazzle and creative fervour, move to impress, if again they take time to reveal and persuade their vibrancy and majesty whilst between them the instrumental Resonance is a delightful and evocative piece of music.

Whether it is due to so much going on musically and the drama of the vocals it is hard to tell, but the album does not trigger the ardour maybe it deserves though the itch to return to its body to hear and discover more is a worthy equivalent.  With the title track emerging late in the album to steal top honours with magnetic and breath-taking  robust and skilled adventure, Undying Diabolyca is a compelling and at times irresistible experience which you can feast on numerous times and find a new taste to enjoy with each bite. Though we would not say Radiance has totally converted us to their rampage of startling sound and experimentation the willingness to be convinced further by the band is eager.

https://www.facebook.com/Radiancemetalband

7/10

RingMaster 18/03/2013

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