Destructive landscapes: an interview with John Gaffney of Sinister Realm

JG of Sinister Realm by Maria J Photography

Driven by an open creative passion and equally potent craft, World of Evil the recently released new album from US metallers Sinister Realm, emerged as one of the most refreshingly striking heavy metal genre releases of the year. Thrusting the listener into a world of muscular anthemic temptation and fiery melodic enterprise, the impressive confrontation from the Allentown, Pennsylvania quartet takes the bar for modern classically sculpted heavy metal up a few more levels. World of Evil certainly ignited a fire inside of The RR so we jumped at the chance to find out more about Sinister Realm and their Shadow Kingdom Records released album, as well as inspirations musically and lyrically, with the kind assistance of band founder and bass player John Gaffney.

Hi John and thank you for taking time out to chat with us here.

Thank you for the interview and for reviewing our CD!

Firstly could you give us some background to the members of Sinister Realm and what was the spark which brought the band to life?

Our singer Alex and drummer Chris used to be in a local original alternative metal band called Type 14.  John Risko and John Kanter are local guitar heroes that have played in a bunch of metal cover bands; Risko at the moment is playing in a metal tribute band with James Rivera from Hellstar.  I use to play in a doom band called Pale Divine.

The spark that brought the band to life was just a desire to make music influenced by the bands that really inspired us when we first discovered metal, like early Ozzy, Dio era Sabbath and Dio solo, Maiden, Priest, 1980-1984 classic metal basically.

How did the band founders originally meet?

Our original drummer Darin McCloskey and I use to play in the doom band Pale Divine.  I played with them for a few years and played bass on the “Cemetery Earth” album.   I landed up leaving due to some logistical issues and Darin called me up and suggested we work on some original ideas I had brought down to Pale Divine but never got to use.

What are the biggest inspirations to band and your personal musical creativity?

Classic early 80s metal like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Dio solo and with Sabbath, Mercyful Fate and Candlemass.  Personally, outside of music I’m influenced by the bands mentioned above as well as 70s horror movies, art and photography.

Traditional 80’s metal seeds and cores your sound and intent, do you feel there is still a wide expanse for the genre to explore without losing its original identity or is more about improving and revitalising existing scenarios within the scene for new and established bands?

I think there is still plenty of room for people to interpret traditional metal in their own way and add some of their own stamp on it.  With Sinister Realm we realise that we are not really inventing anything  per say but just putting our own spin on it.  We are not reinventing the wheel, we’re just blowing the dust off it a little and giving it our own spin.

I believe the band runs alongside real life for you all, does that bring the biggest obstacles to try and overcome, or is it a grounding for Sinister Realm by Maria J PhotographySinister Realm which helps keeps the adventure fresh?

Sometimes real life can be very inspiring and depressing all at the same time.  Even though our lyrics seem to have a lot of fantasy style subject matters, often the inspiration comes from real life experiences or observations I’ve made on the sometimes really messed up human race we belong to.  I enjoy fantasy imagery so often I cloak the meanings inside the lyrics so they can be interpreted however the listeners want.  Whenever I need some inspiration and need to keep things fresh, taking a look around at the world usually does the trick.

How easy is it to merge the live aspect and passion of the band into everyday life, especially one like yourselves which predominantly drives and works most of its own promotion?

The business end of the things can certainly wear you down, we have a lot of support from our record company Shadow Kingdom Records but we don’t have a manager or booking agent so we have to do a lot of that ourselves.  Playing live and getting an immediate reaction from people can be very inspiring so that along with the emails we receive from fans is what keeps us going.

You have just released your third album World of Evil, a release which for us is “a world of muscular anthemic temptation and fiery melodic enterprise” offering a riotous fun and passion fuelled enterprise which arguably has been lacking in the majority of recent heavy metal releases. I am not expecting you to disagree, ha-ha, but what were your hopes for the album and its effect on fans whilst writing and recording it?

With everything that we do we always hope that it will be received well but  when I’m writing the songs I try not to think about what other people would like, I try to just make sure it’s something that I like and in my gut feel is good.  We always try to make the best record we can at that time.  As for the effect on the fans, I hope that the music means something to them and bring a smile to their face and maybe a raised fist in the air.

How would you say your music and craft has evolved over the three albums to this point?

I’ve gotten better in the song writing and lyric department and the band has gotten better at playing together and bringing the songs to life.  Just like anything else in life, the more you do it the better you get at it.   I think in general the band has gotten better at bringing our vision to life.

Did you approach the writing and recording of the album any differently to your previous releases?

Not really but I always strive to get better and move forward.  With “World of Evil” I wanted the lyrics to get better and explore some different themes and I wanted to add some more epic moments like the songs “Ghost of Nevermore” and “Four Black Witches”.  As for the recording, we did it the same way as the first two albums; get the tracks down as quick as possible so we can spend as much time as we can on the mixing end.

392798_10151531206200851_1286640089_nThe album and song titles seem bred from the shadows and less savoury aspects of this earth and its inhabitants. This is the main inspiration for your ideas and songs generally as you touched on earlier?

Yeah I would say so; you don’t have to look very far to see evil in our world.

How does the song writing work within the band, and is there plenty of room for band interpretation and progression of songs and ideas or is it a more singular approach that you all run with?

I write all the music and lyrics then I demo everything out for the other guys, they take a listen and add their own personality onto the songs.  We bang them around in rehearsals until we feel comfortable with it and usually try to play the songs out live a few times as the final test.

Do you enter the studio with songs generally ‘finished’ or do you all like to stretch them further once in that environment?

Everything is completely worked out and basically finished before we get to the studio.  Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to leave anything to chance.  The only things that get added at the last moment in the studio tend to be keyboard overdubs and effects and things like that.  Sometimes I might get inspired in the studio and add an extra vocal harmony or something but for the most part everything is worked out in advance.

Some bands like to write songs and introduce and test their appeal live before recording and others the other way round. What is the usual routine for songs with Sinister Realm?

Well, like I mentioned above, we start with a demo, work it out in the practice room and then take it to the stage for the final adjustments.   In my opinion, playing live is how you really learn songs and make them your own, that’s why we always try to play new songs out live because you really learn them that way and they will sometimes take on a new life when you play them in front of a live audience.

Was there anything which emerged whilst bringing World of Evil to life which you intend to explore further in future releases?

The epic nature of songs like “Ghosts of Nevermore” and “Four Black Witches”; that is a direction I would like to continue in and explore more on the next record.

It is probably fair to say that you guys are more established in the US than in Europe, do you feel like us that World of Evil has the sr2ammunition to remedy that?

I hope so; I would like the record to reach as many places as possible.  Traditional metal is really strong in Europe so I would of course love it for us to make a strong mark there.

What comes next for Sinister Realm once the mighty World of Evil has stopped lighting up the world?

Playing live and some touring to support the new album.  We also have an EP that we plan to release ourselves early next year then we will start working on the next record.  I would like the next one to be out rather quickly, maybe late next year.  Kind of like in the old days when bands were releasing albums once a year, I would like to be able to do that.

Once again big thanks for talking with us, anything else you would like to share with the readers?

Thanks a lot for the interview and for supporting Sinister Realm and heavy metal.  Get the album at any of the Amazon stores, Shadow Kingdom Records or your preferred online metal distributor.  For more info on the band go to www.sinisterrealm.net

Thanks and long live heavy metal!!

 

Check out the review of World of Evil @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/sinister-realm-world-of-evil/

Questions Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 17/09/2013

 

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.audioburger.com

In Evil Hour – The World Bleeds Out

pic by Helen Templeton Photography

pic by Helen Templeton Photography

A snarling insatiably commanding beast of a release, The World Bleeds Out the debut album from UK punks In Evil Hour is a sensational blistering of senses and thoughts from a band who know how to craft virulently contagious and potently provocative songs. A blaze of essential fresh punk rock with a lyrical bite which takes no prisoners within incisive swipes upon politics, society, and the apathy and ignorance that pervades modern culture, the ten track release leaves a fully exposed and hunger driven passion in its wake, whilst In Evil Hour steps forward as another irresistible voice declaring that UK punk rock is again leading the world.

Formed in 2003, the quartet from Darlington takes seeds out of inspirations from the likes of AFI, Amen, Black Flag, The Stooges, Bad Brains, NOFX, Bad Religion, Sick of it All, and Rise Against to name a few, into their own flavoursome hardcore punk. It is a sound which is not unafraid to load itself with infection soaked hooks and riffs but as an additive to tempt rather than undermine the sinew lined directly evocative heavy punk attack they conjure. Released through STP Records, The World Bleeds Out is a savage yet anthemic confrontation which allows hope and temptation to be as rife and alluring as the aggressive and spiteful creative toxicity which stirs up and incites the imagination.

Opener Divide And Conquer stands eye to eye with the listener as the rasping growl of Alice confronts the ears skirted by crisp and a0645899867_2antagonistic rhythms and swiping raw riffs. The track is soon charging for the jugular of the senses with rabid beats from Mike whipping the song on whilst bassist Mark and guitarist Gareth create a vitriolic and persuasive mesh of caustic might. With anthemic vocals in league with an equally demanding instigator in the chorus, the song is an outstanding and powerful entrance into the album.

     Far From Home takes up the fury next with a splattering of rebellious beats sparking the rest of the song into an initial rage against the senses. It is a great start but one which is left behind once the song settles into an incisive stomp of rumbling rhythms ridden by the continuing to impress, with greater strength as each song steps forward, vocals of Alice. There is a Wendy O Williams essence to her delivery which only enhances the lyrical expression and song attack overall, something which the music seems to understand and find inspiration from, this track gaining ever increasing intensity and rapaciousness with every syllable expelled with brawling strength.

Both As Seas Rise and Where You’re Left continue the immense presence of the album if not quite to the earlier heights set, the first creating a sonic scrap with the ear in which there is only one winner, especially with the deliciously catchy swing and barbed melodic enticement through the guitar skills and vocal harmonies and calls. Its successor is a scorching flame of guitar scalding and rhythmic bashing again steered impressively and skilfully by the vocals singular and as a riotous union.

The lethal swipe of animosity that is Little Death is a fifty five second storm of magnetic viciousness, a hardcore blitz which thrills from its first uncompromising breath through to its last. It moves over for the mutually outstanding Help Me Out, an acidic spiral of heavy rock guitar teasing and taunting whilst the rest of the band adds their particular predacious craft and incendiary invention. A bruising rock n’ roll rampage which leaves the passions aflame with greedy appetite it provides one more stunning moment amongst a great many on the release.

The instantly compelling bass lure to The Terminal brings in another exceedingly agreeable altercation, the band arguably more restrained in its proposition though no less direct and imposing lyrically and in presentation. The bass continues to steal the show on the track, its finest and most potent moment on the album where at times it feels like it is given a back seat place in the production, whilst as now expected Alice draws attention with her striking presence which to be fair often puts most other aspects in the shade.

The excellent title track grazes up the senses and passions with its own individual exciting and imaginative spat whilst the brilliant I Lost Years, where bass and guitar find another plateau to tease a new rapture out with their impossibly addictive rough charms. A Dead Kennedys like hook steers the passions whilst the surrounding body of the song is a mix of Angelic Upstarts/UK Subs and Penetration/AFI. It is a terrific creative and raucous adventure cementing the depth and quality of band and album.

With Murder Murder closing up The World Bleeds Out with one final tempest of contagion drenched excellence, a blend of Bad Religion and The Duel coming to mind as it steals another wave of ardour from the emotions, In Evil Hour emerge as one of the most impressive emerging forces in punk rock, and not just in the UK. A classic album from an extremely impressive band, not much left to say.

http://inevilhour.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/InEvilHour

10/10

RingMaster 17/09/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.audioburger.com

 

Týr – Valkyrja

BAND_HORIZONTAL_a

The past decade has seen Faroe Islands metallers Týr grab and cage their own potent place at the fore of folk metal, their Faroese or Norwegian lore spawned creative narratives and traditional seeded sound an ever dramatically enthralling confrontation which has ignited the passions of a loyal growing legion of followers. Their new and seventh album Valkyrja continues the ever persuasive and riveting stature of their presence and their inventively bred form of Viking metal. It is a release which maybe at times struggles to emulate the full heights of previous Týr albums such as By the Light of the Northern Star and The Lay of Thrym, but equally very often it roars from new pinnacles set by the band with fires of imagination and quality burning fiercely. Overall Valkyrja is a pungently agreeable and strikingly riveting encounter, the notice that Týr is still a leading power of folk metal.

Their first release with Metal Blade Records, Valkyrja is a ‘concept album themed loosely around an anonymous Viking age warrior who leaves his woman and goes off to impress the Valkyrie on the battlefield so that she may bring him to Valhalla, or to Fólkvangr, the home of Freyja—the goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, sorcery, war, and death’. At the same time seemingly looking at how far men will go to impress women and their influence on these acts and ideas, the album took a year from writing to completion. Recorded with Jacob Hansen, the album also sees George Kollias (Cerebrum, The Circle of Zaphyan, Extremity Obsession, Nightfall, Nile…) providing the drums on the recording alongside vocalist/guitarist Heri Joensen, guitarist Terji Skibenæs, and bassist Gunnar H. Thomsen, his skills replacing Kári Streymoy who parted ways with TÝR after the band completed their US run on Pagan Fest.

The addition of the Greek stick master immediately has an impact with opener Blood of Heroes, his touch debatably less intensive and Ty'r - Valkyrjaaggressive than his predecessor but offering a more stylish blaze of rhythmic provocation and framework for songs. The first rapping of the ear amidst fire steeled grooves and melodic twisting is respectful but commanding as it casts a firm web for the ever impressive vocals of Joensen and the scintillating guitar imagination to carve their exceptional design within. The opener alone reports that the artistry and melodic ingenuity of the band is as rich and absorbing as ever whilst the energetic urgency and persuasion of the musical narrative is overwhelmingly insistent and tempting.

The following Mare of My Night, with its succubus like sexual seduction laying down an intensive and sonically hued adventure which seemingly has come under fire for its lyrical content by a few for some reason, dances with the imagination and passion through a shadow clad bewitchment which itself preys welcomingly whilst its successor Hel Hath No Fury takes little time in taking and holding onto best track status upon Valkyrja. As many of the songs there is a thrash predation to the track to provide a rapacious hunger and sinew within the infectious torrent of anthemic allurement from vocals, harmonies, and chorus underpinned by a deliciously blistering guitar ingenuity and rhythmic stroll. Irresistibly contagious and epically magnetic, the song is the band at its captivating best.

Both The Lay of Our Love and Nation continue the strong start even if within the shade of the previous triumph; the first of the pair a fetching ballad featuring a duet between and guest vocalist Liv Kristine from Leave’s Eyes and its successor a bullish charge with sinews flaring like the nostrils of a muscle driven stallion as it expels a sonically lit intensity erupting into scorching melodic flames. They are soon surpassed by Another Fallen Brother, a song with a thrash embrace which at times undeniably has a Metallica like breath and a littering of grooves and melodic contagion which employs the full range of senses and imagination through to emotions in its irrepressibly galvanic enterprise.

The ‘vintage’ Týr like call of Grindavi’san and the busy melodic weave of Fa’nar Burtur Brandaljo’d keeps ears and emotions riveted whilst between the two songs, Into the Sky regains the lofty heights of some of the previous songs which the surrounding ones let slip slightly. A flight through soaring vocals and sonic flames whilst a melody enriched tonic of excellence smoulders within and ignites the passions into a greedy hunger for the song’s invention, the track is a deeply satisfying treat. Lady of the Slain and the title track are equally dynamically tantalising and commanding of the passions, the first a broad call of full chested rhythmic and intensive sonic invention across yet another fascination of melodic and harmonic folk spawned rabidity whilst its partner is a slowly burning entrapment which builds with emotive expertise and musical grandeur into a spellbinding courting of the listener.

Completed by two cover songs, Iron Maiden’s Where Eagles Dare, and Pantera’s Cemetery Gate, the first simply a more than decent encounter and the second a more inspired and intriguing thrill, Valkyrja is a thoroughly engaging and riotously anthemic release which at its height leaves the majority of folk metal releases in its wake and at its lower levels stands as an inspiring equal to the best many others have to offer. Týr still roam the highest towers of their genre it is fair to say on the evidence of Valkyrja.

http://www.tyr.fo/

8/10

RingMaster 17/09/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.audioburger.com