The sounds of passion: an interview with Zuberoa Aznárez of Diabulus In Musica

DiM Photoshoot by Fernando Lezaun

Photoshoot by Fernando Lezaun

The years since last album The Wanderer has seen Spanish symphonic metallers Diabulus In Musica as busy as ever whilst facing the challenge of losing and replacing two thirds of its line-up. The band’s return with new full-length Argia shows that not only have they overcome a rocky time but found a new potency and strength to their sound and presence. Written by the band founders, vocalist Zuberoa Aznárez and keyboardist Gorka Elso, the album is an immense and increasingly impressing encounter, a release which grows and explores emotions with every listen. Given the opportunity to chat with Zuberoa once again we explored the cloudy time between albums, the chance of the band calling it a day, new members and much more….

Hi Zuberoa, welcome back to the RingMaster Review

We talked to you last just after the release of the Wanderer and have the pleasure to catch up with the recent release of new album Argia. Before we talk about the release, can you bring us up to date with what has happened within and to Diabulus In Musica between releases?

It has been a very intensive period. After the release of The Wanderer we worked on a soundtrack for a book of Basque mythology (Itzalen Sua) and we played some shows to present that project. Right after this we started to write the songs for the new album and at the same time we started with rehearsals with the new members for some shows we had at that time too, so we haven’t stopped!

You mentioned new members; it is a major thing to have 3/5 of your band change, how did that impact on the band at the time and if at all on the new album?

They told us they would leave in summer and they still played a couple of shows with us. In the meanwhile we searched for the new members to play the “Itzalen Sua” show we had in January. At the beginning we weren’t sure what to do after this show, but we decided to continue with the band. After all Gorka and I are the main composers and founders of the band, so it had no sense to give up. After taking this decision the inspiration came to me and I started to write the new album. We also had some shows with the new line up in June and they turned out pretty well, so that also made us feel more confident about the future. As I said before we haven’t stopped working, so even if at first their departure was really hard for us, we soon followed our musical instinct so it finally hasn’t impacted that much. We feel more confident now about what we are able to do alone. We are very happy with the new album!

DiM Photoshoot by Fernando Lezaun 3Was there any thought of bringing Diabulus In Musica to a close because of the departures, of starting a fresh with a new project possibly?

To be honest yes… At first I tried to convince the others to stay, we even proposed to start a totally different new thing and change the name, just to stay the five of us, but they already had their own project so I don’t think it would have worked. We would have regretted it at the end, because Diabulus in Musica is like our child and we have achieved things Gorka and me would have never imagined when we started. It was our project, we were the core of it and that’s what made us understand DiM would definitely have to stay alive.

How difficult was it in finding the right people to suit, fit in with, and inspire the next twist of the journey of the band?

We always try to work with people we already know. We don’t like to do castings. DiM has always been like a family, so we preferred to work with people we know we can work with. We are lucky to live in a small but very active city musically wise, so we already had in mind some candidates. We had met Alexey (guitar player) and David (drummer) for some years, so we first thought about them. Odei (bass player) was the only one we didn’t know before, but he was a friend of Alexey, so we already had some references too. We feel we all fit very well musically and personally.

I believe some of the new members are involved in other bands, how has that worked with their addition to Diabulus In Musica?

Yes, Alexey is the leader of his own death metal band Allowance and David is the drummer of the famous Spanish band Tierra Santa, but we really wanted to work together and the schedule for the other bands was compatible with ours, so for the moment there hasn’t been any problem.

Backed to your excellent new album Argia, a release we have to say has continued to work on us and impresses more week by week. How would you say it differs and has moved on from The Wanderer?

Thank you; I’m glad that you like it! We are very happy with it. For me it has been a step forward. It is more mature and much more personal; the most personal so far, because the inspiration came from all the happenings that took place these two last years. The writing process has been also very different, because for The Wanderer we wrote a story before and then thought which kind of songs would fit on it. Everything was planned and now it has been more spontaneous. Musically I have also done what I wanted to do. Before we were five people to give opinions and now we were just two (the new members just wrote a couple of riff structures, we preferred them to focus on learning the old songs), so I have expressed just what I wanted. It’s a very varied album where almost all my musical influences are present.

Is there a theme behind Argia and has the departure of members in its emergence brought anything extra to the songs in any way? 

Yes, that’s actually the main topic on the album and three of the songs refer to our new situation as a band. “Argia” means “Light” or “clear” in Basque. This title somehow reflects how we feel now, after we had to start from scratch when the other band-members left. It was very hard at the beginning, but we both alone managed to write new songs, find new band-members and play some live shows in only one year. We saw the light in our path again and we had a clear view that we had to continue making music, just because we love it so much that we cannot live without it. On the other hand, this situation and others I’ve also experimented at the same time made me wonder about some human behaviours and made me try to understand others and myself better.

So a stronger personal element has emerged in your songs and music this time around as listening to Argia you do get that sense of intimacy and personal angst.

Absolutely. As I said it is our most personal album so far. The lyrics are directly connected to what I’ve just said. All the themes come from personal experiences and feelings. Some of them refer to our new situation, some others are more critical and the rest are much more introspective and are related to some of my spiritual believes. That’s why the album is so eclectic, because many different feelings are reflected. This album was born from a need to express so many feelings I had inside. I always say “Argia” had a therapeutic effect on me.

I am assuming with the new album the writing process was a little different to that around The Wanderer, with it just being the two of you at one point? Dim cover

Yes. The Wanderer was a planned consensus and Argia was a kind of spontaneous dictatorship (ha-ha just kidding), but it is true that I was in a kind of bubble, focused on my music and feelings. It is easy that one loses the perspective, so at the beginning we weren’t very confident. Our friend Ad Sluijer was the first to listen to the first new songs and give his opinion, he even wrote the riff structure for From The Embers, that made us recover the confidence too, because it is not the same to count on five opinions than writing alone, as I said it is difficult to find an objective point of view of your own work.

Did you find that just the process of writing songs helped give you clarity in making the decision to continue as Diabulus In Musica or did they come after you both had sorted out thoughts and feelings after the leaving of members?

We decided to go on before writing the new stuff, but I suppose that if the inspiration didn’t have come, we would have had to change our minds and stop with the band. When we saw we loved what we have done we recovered the strength to continue. Now that we have seen the reviews are so good, we are even more thrilled about the future. We will try to write the five of us from now and work as a team. We all come from different music background so I think the result of writing together can be very interesting.

In our review of The Wanderer we felt the band either went on the aggressive attack or all out melodic seduction with songs, not really merging the two between one individual encounter. Argia seems to be more willing to let the extremes share moments. Is this something you will investigate further do you feel, really entwining the two at times?

You never know how it’s going be the result when you start writing. We sometimes think we are going to follow one direction and then when we finish we realize we have done something different from what we had in mind at first, but I think this is the magic of music too, that it takes shape and grows with you, it is something alive. I’m sure our music will always be full of contrasts, because I find them necessary to express different emotions. I love musical eclecticism. I also like to conceive an album as a soundtrack that makes one travel through different sceneries, feelings, atmospheres… that’s why we use so many elements. We will follow this path and we will keep on working with extremes and exploring with new sounds, but I cannot tell how this will turn out at the end.

Our two favourite tracks on the album were Spoilt Vampire and Mechanical Ethos with ease. Can you give some background and insight to the pair?

I love those songs too. They are maybe the most experimental and more metal in this album. In fact these two songs are the only ones where the new band members have written some riffs and I think the mix with our symphonic elements worked out pretty cool, so I’m almost sure we will keep on exploring this side with the new line-up in the future.

How was the recording process with Argia, did you approach it any differently to how you created The Wanderer in the studio?

The production process was quite similar. We recorded in our home studios and the mixing and mastering was done by Jacob Hansen. We have changed only a few details regarding the acoustic instruments and choir. We doubled the voices searching for more timbres and we recorded a real wood wind section of the orchestra as well as the percussions. We wanted to introduce new colours in the music so I also recorded different flutes and the Celtic harp. I really liked the result, it sounds clear, round, bombastic…

I have to say that Argia took longer to ignite the passions than its predecessor but did do to the same depth and rich success. Obviously taste and emotions are a personal thing to discover with a release but is there anything different about the album which you could see might take longer to persuade?

Maybe, I don’t know, but it can probably be because this one has a bit more depth. Being more personal, it has our essence and it is not maybe so easy to take for everybody, but I’m surprised we have received many compliments from the listeners about the feelings it transmits, so I guess most of the listeners really caught the emotions captured in the songs of Argia.

DiM Photoshoot by Fernando Lezaun 3As with all your albums, it sees exciting guest appearances; this time the likes of vocalist Ailyn Giménez of Sirenia and Therion frontman Thomas Vikström. What was the spark to bring them into particular songs?

Yes, we were very lucky to count on them! I met Ailyn some time ago and we became friends, we even sung together live last year at MFVF. As the song where Ailyn is singing is in Spanish and both of us are from Spain, it was the best choice. Besides, we have different voices that complement each other very well, so I asked her if she would like to take part in this song. She likes a lot the band, so she immediately accepted and I was very happy to have her beautiful voice in one of our tracks!

Regarding Thomas, we needed a very special voice for this duet. I must admit that this song wrote itself. Gorka started with the verses, but he wasn’t sure. When I listened to them I could easily hear inside my mind the choruses and even the voices on them, so I continued with the song. Then I was wondering who was that male voice I could hear inside… We wanted a versatile male singer who could give to the song a “music theatre” touch, even operatic. Thomas is an amazing singer; he has actually sung a wide variety of styles from classical to metal, so he was the perfect candidate. I contacted him and sent him a rough demo of the song. I was so excited when he accepted and he told me he really liked the song and my voice! It has been such an honour for me to sing with him!

The album also sees you sing a song, Furia de Libertad, for the first time in Spanish. It is surprising in hindsight that you have not done so before so is there any reason for that and what inspired you to do so upon Argia?

You’re right. Honestly I had never thought that Spanish would sound good on Symphonic metal, but our Latin fans were asking for a song in Spanish for a long time, however, I had never found the right place to include a song in Spanish. I thought it would be nice to give a try with Argia. Actually, when I composed this song I knew this was the right one to try, as it had a Spanish flavour on it.

Can you tell us, as we are linguistically useless, about the lyrical narrative in the song?

It actually talks about the Spanish situation nowadays. The song is dedicated to all the victims of the political and economic crisis (and also crisis of values) in our country.

Last time we spoke we talked about the metal and music scene in Spain. Has it improved any over the past couple of years and is it seeing more bands of any genre emerging with stronger politically driven and anger fuelled intent over the financial and social problems which has hit every country in Europe and around the world.

I wouldn’t say it has changed at all, I think the situation is even worst… It was a bit exasperating to see no reaction from the population and more tedious to see how the government wrote new laws trying to criminalize all kind of protests. It is really a shame!! Anyway, it has been a relief to finally see we were able to break the bipartisanship in the last elections. There is still a long path ahead though…

What is next in store for and from Diabulus In Musica?

We will try to play live as much as we can to present the new album out there and then start to write the new stuff for the following release!

Once more many thanks for talking with us, it is always a pleasure.

Our pleasure! Thank you so much for your questions and the interest, we really appreciate it!

Is there a last thought you would like to leave us contemplating?

I just want to thank everyone who has supported us in some way. You know we are not living easy moments in the music industry, so your support is more important than ever! Hope to meet you all in the road one day 😉

http://diabulusinmusica.com/

Read the review of Argia @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/diabulus-in-musica-argia/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Of Allies – Tempers EP

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It might not set heartbeats racing and get thoughts animatingly blazing, but UK alternative rockers Of Allies provide a potent introduction with their Tempers EP. The debut release from a band still in its infancy after only forming last year, makes a strong and potential drenched statement, gripping attention with a quintet of richly satisfying tracks. With a sound which merges alternative and indie rock with strains of melodic metal, EP and band show plenty to excite the senses whilst raising a keen appetite for their future explorations.

Emerging from the depths of Yorkshire, the Hull based quartet of vocalist/guitarist Rich Nichols, guitarist/vocalist Tom Hewson, bassist Nick Tyldsley, and drummer Danny Barrick has already been drawing keen attention since their emergence a few short months ago. First single and video, Ghosts caught the eye and ears of BBC Introducing whilst their live performances has only recruited more and more eager followers. The Matt Elliss produced Tempers EP is the band’s nationwide entrance and it is hard not to expect seeing Of Allies coming under a much stronger spotlight because of it.

From its first expressive caress of vocals over a lone melody, opener Ghosts intrigues and holds the imagination tight. It is a gentle start which is swiftly enhanced by a rumbling of rhythms and an emerging web of guitar crafted melodic rsz_temperscover2enticement. The potent entrance is soon aflame with sturdier intensity and a sonic blaze whilst a somewhat familiar glaze washes over the brewing drama. Comparisons to the likes of Deaf Havana and Twin Atlantic have been cast over the band but across this outstanding starter, thoughts of Three Days Grace and more so Sick Puppies definitely comes to mind. The song grows in stature within its virulent call and across subsequent listens, its weighty persuasion and the band’s creative tenacity increasingly irresistible bait.

The following Our Decay is less immediate in its entrance, though the early sonic groove and throaty bassline sparks another smacking of lips in an already awoken appetite for the release. Rhythms again ooze sinew built temptation to steer thoughts and emotions skilfully into the emotive heart of the song, a core with a passionate roar and musical ferocity. Across its body the track continues to swarm engagingly over ears with melodic elegance aligned to evocative textures, gliding into those climactic and incendiary crescendos time and time again. Another big highlight of the release, the excellent encounter is followed by In Screens, a track offering scythes of sonic coaxing across a moody almost predatory bass sound at its start. Its subsequent emotively driven presence does not have the strength and potency of its predecessors but still takes ears and thoughts on a stirring ride of passion soaked melodies within a dramatic cloud of restrained crisp rhythms and inviting sonic squalls. It is a pleasing and easy to digest venture providing further evidence of the band’s impressive songwriting and craft, both reinforced by the mellower and sultrily aired In Stasis. Again it is a proposition which does not light fires but immerses the listener in a rich and captivating wash of emotion and creative intensity to leave a flavoursome mark.

The closing Play Dead hugs ears with a beauty clad vocal and guitar elegance, kissing the senses before forging a net of sonic insistence and rhythmic drama to which melodies and fiery guitars expel a strikingly passionate and contagious wind of suasion. It is an outstanding end to the release, a song which out of them all most openly shows the depth and richness of the potential within Of Allies.

The excellent The Tempers EP is not going to set volcanic ripples within British rock but has all the armoury and quality to earn a strong spotlight on its impressive entrance and leave a keen smouldering intrigue for the band’s next move.

The self-released Tempers EP is available now!

http://ofallies.com/

8/10

RingMaster 08/07/2014

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Goatwhore – Constricting Rage of the Merciless

GOATWHORE_MainGroup2COLOR_byPeterBeste

Two years after unleashing the gripping and exhilarating Blood For The Master, an album which without setting new templates for black-hearted death metal got the passions boiling, Goatwhore uncage successor Constricting Rage of the Merciless. It again is an album which delivers an encounter which is attentive to needs whilst staying within well-trodden avenues yet consumes ears and senses in a tempest of ravenous sounds which leaves satisfaction full and appetite greedy. Brutal and uncompromising, as expected from a Goatwhore release, Constricting Rage of the Merciless also brings a more deliberate and concentrated creative foreplay to its climactic endeavour. Whereas the previous album exploded like a beast in season, the new onslaught prowls and sizes up its opportunities before stealing its prize.

Less than a handful of years away from entering into their third decade, the New Orleans based Goatwhore has left plenty of landmarks and inspiring indentations within metal since being formed by guitarist Sammy Duet (ex-Acid Bath/Crowbar ) in 1997. Their albums, starting with debut Eclipse Of Ages Into Black in 2000 and followed by Funeral Dirge For The Rotting Sun three years later as well as A Haunting Curse and Carving Out The Eyes Of God of 2006 and 2009 respectively, have thrust the band and their persistently intensifying and potently growing sound into an acclaim lit ever deepening stature. Goatwhore has simply become one of the sure fire attention grabbing, passions igniting propositions in death metal, defying the moment when the band was involved in a near-fatal van crash that left vocalist Louis B. Falgoust II temporarily paralyzed and the future of the band uncertain as well as other bouts of disaster which seemed to stalk the band.

The Erik Rutan recorded Constricting Rage of the Merciless is Goatwhore at their creatively rabid best, entwining new songs with the imagination and invention we have come to expect. With bassist James Harvey and drummer GW-ConstrictingRageZack Simmons alongside Duet and Falgoust, the release also holds surprises which arguably are at times slight but open within a presence which is an organic continuation of Blood For The Master. There is also preciseness to the release, no doubt in some ways down to it being tracked to two-inch tape, something which brings out the intricacies of songwriting and presentation perfectly though it does defuse a little of the always tasty venom which flooded previous encounters. Overall though Constricting Rage Of The Merciless is a thrilling and irresistible proposition which immediately steals ears and emotions with opening track Poisonous Existence in Reawakening.

Riffs and rhythms are instantly ganging up on ears, battering on the senses with urgent predation and merciless intent. Once breaching attention, a raw and fiery examination explodes with incessant rubs of guitars and bass as rhythms persist in their brutal barracking. Riding the unrelenting provocation the vocals of Falgoust grouchily squall and gruffly expel the song’s narrative, another unsurprising but eagerly devoured aspect of the band. Across the song the mood of the assault ebbs and flows, at times rabid and in others moments holding a dark pestilential breath but always demanding and rewarding. It is an excellent mouth-watering and exhausting entrance swiftly emulated by Unraveling Paradise. Again the charge is as hostile and urgent as a horde of slavering beasts, riffs and rhythms grinding and rapping with breathless purpose upon the senses respectively. It is a viciously solid attack but the initially subtle underlying groove which erupts eventually into a contagiously acidic nagging is where the track enslaves the passions. It is masterful bait which binds tightly around the imagination and a rising hunger to overwhelm with the stinging potency of a swarm of hornets.

Baring Teeth for Revolt steps in next with a ferocious burn of heavy metal enterprise, a flavour which dominates the song from start to finish offering a quick twist to the release. It is a track which took longer to convince than certainly its predecessors, but under numerous doses of its persuasion and the impressive spiteful shift into a heavier rapacious savagery around its middle, the track becomes a firm favourite upon the album.

Both Reanimated Sacrifice and Heaven’s Crumbling Walls of Pity keep things boiling enjoyably, the first a muscular tsunami of vitriolic beats and malevolent riffs which never quite goes for the jugular but definitely leaves a gleeful wasted pleasure in the emotions, especially with its brief but flaming solo. It’s almost concussive texture and energy is matched in quality and ferocity by the second of the two, a song which slowly unwinds its voracious attitude and intensity before stalking the senses with urgent gait through a sonic malignancy. Each leaves a rich dose of virulent satisfaction before making way for the atmospheric haunting of Cold Earth Consumed in Dying Flesh. The track opens with a stark and chilling ambience veined by evocative guitars. It sparks the imagination immediately, opening up exploratory thoughts before coming out of its emotive ambience with a lumbering heavy crawl of intense rhythms and pit bred vocals, all laced by emotive sonic designs of guitar. The track is as mesmeric as it is threatening, a fascinating incitement which also takes longer to find success with its suasion but eventually seduces for the strongest satisfaction.

The thrash punk assault of FBS, a virulent urgency driving its caustic expression and tenacity, and the predatory natured Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed ravage and excite years next, both tracks unfussy and surly confrontations which bring a big smile to ears and emotions even if neither finds a flame of unpredictable ingenuity to their bodies. Their enticing presences are assertively matched by the vindictive Schadenfreude, its enticing yet mistrustful grooves leading into darker shadows and infectious savage depths. The song is a spellbinding violation which never quite goes where you want or need yet provides an inventive slavery which is thoroughly inspiring and enthralling.

The album closes with Externalize This Hidden Savagery, a final barbarous consumption driven by volatile rhythms and wonderfully fractious groove spiked riffs. It is a mighty end to a tremendous album, much as expected from Goatwhore but never taken for granted. For personal tastes Constricting Rage of the Merciless just misses the levels set by the last album even though the craft and invention is undoubtedly stunning and presence exceptional but there are fewer songs which stick in the memory. That is the only thing leaving it in the shadow of Blood For The Master but to the fore of death metal releases this year.

Constricting Rage of the Merciless is available now via Metal Blade Records @ http://www.metalblade.com/europe/releases/goatwhore-constricting-rage-of-the-merciless/

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8/10

RingMaster 08/07/2014

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