Tides of change: Talking Currents with In Vain

Photo by Jørn Veberg

There have already been some truly striking releases in 2018 and maybe no more so than the new album from Norwegian metallers In Vain. Currents is a progressive metal adventure which surprises at every twist and enthrals at every turn. With big thanks to him, we recently had the pleasure to explore the album closely with guitarist/songwriter Johnar Håland and the band, getting to its heart, its journey to release and much more….

Hi Guys, many thanks for sparring your time to talk with us.

It is fair to say that it is a busy time for the band with the recent release of your new album, Currents. Have you had time to sit back and reflect on its initial success and plaudits yet?

Hi! Thanks for your review and for taking the time to do this interview. Things are quieting down a bit now and as you say, the feedback has been really good. However, I am not really a person who looks back. My thoughts are more focused on the next album.

It seems that you have spent a long time in its creation, that time certainly reflected and heard in all its honed intricacies and bold adventures. What is the time scale for its creation?

Our previous album, Ænigma, was released in 2013 and there seems to be people who think we spent five years writing this album. That is not the case. There are several reasons for why this album was delayed. Personal issues forced me to put composing on halt for almost a year, and with me being the only songwriter in the band that forced the whole process to a standstill. In addition, I was working on the debut album of my other band, From Strength to Strength, which is a hardcore band that will release its debut album some time during 2018. On top of that I spent the majority of my spare time reading for the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), which is a self-study in finance I have been doing the last three years besides my full-time job. The album was actually finished in June 2017, but we could not set a release date until we had a proper tour booked to support the release. So there are many reasons for this long delay. Hopefully it will not take five years until the next album!

I am sure you will not disagree with us when we say it is your biggest, boldest, and most imaginative release. Did you have any specific aims when writing and creating Currents or it just organically evolved into what we hear?

I am not really sure to be honest. Our debut album The Latter Rain (2007) was also quite bold. Back then we were a totally new and unknown band who released an album of one hour with grandiose and complex music supported by 20 guest musicians. So that was definitely a brave musical undertaking.

In all aspects, we feel Currents eclipses its acclaimed and also richly enjoyable predecessor, Ænigma. Where do you see the biggest evolution?

To be honest, I am not a fan of comparing music. In my opinion, Currents is another strong album in our catalogue. It is a very diverse album full of contrasts and has high-quality music with longevity. I take it as a sign of quality that there are different opinions with regards to which of our albums people enjoy the most. I do not believe Currents is that much different from our previous work, but there are some changes. The production is more organic, there are some shorter songs and it is less black metal compared with our previous releases.

Currents embraces the widest array of flavours and styles in your sound yet, a truly expansive landscape weaved around bold yet often delicate contrasts but it still has that signature In Vain breath. Did you have to concentrate on keeping that character or it again just naturally evolved as indeed that broad tapestry of sound?

I think it is just a natural evolution to be honest. I do not really think that the music is that much different from our previous releases, however there are some new elements. For instance we have one song, Soul Adventurer, with mainly clean vocals. We also have a song with acapella choirs, Blood We Shed, and that is something we have not done before.

You linked up, as for the previous album, with producer Jens Bogren. It is fair to say he gets your sound and imagination but what does he especially bring to the mix which you feel adds to the realisation of your ideas?

We were very pleased with Jens’ work on Ænigma. We did not really have any other alternatives at hand and decided to go back to him. We wanted a much more organic sound this time around though, and I think we achieved that. Jens usually knows what we want and I think we have the same views on what sounds good and not.

Give us some insight into the recording of the album.

All the guitars and bass were recorded in my home studio, except for some lead guitar solos that Kjetil recorded at his home. Vocals and other instruments were recorded in Strand Studio in Oslo. Everything was re-amped by Jens Bogren and he also did the whole mixing and mastering of the album. However, we were never present in his studio and only communicated with him via email and phone.

We have had the real pleasure of having an insight into the lyrical side of the album ahead of its emergence. Can you share some of the themes and inspirations to the songs?

Currents is not a concept album in the traditional sense, however there is a topic and a red line in the music, lyrics and artwork. Currents, reflects on the colossal shifts and changes of our time. The present world is characterized by continental flows of people, traditions and cultures. Migration of people across continents and borders…Cultures merging. Dramatic shifts in lifestyle from one generation to the next. This topic exists in both the lyrics and the music however we only touch upon it in an abstract way with a top-down view. It is important for me to clarify that we do not have any direct political views on this matter reflected in our lyrics.  Besides that, the lyrical themes are varied, ranging from personal experiences and struggles, to contemplations on nature, philosophy and the historical and political development of this twisted world we´re living in.

Was there a particular process to the writing of songs for Currents?

The process was the same as previously. I write the songs alone and present complete compositions to the rest of the band. Later on I involve Sindre in the preproduction, as he also lives in Oslo. All members are free to add their personal touch to the songs and to give suggestions, but as the songwriter I have the final word.

It also sees a few guests such as drummer Baard Kolstad (Leprous, Borknagar), vocalist and former band member Kristian Wikstøl (From Strength to Strength), and vocalist Matthew Kiichi Heafy (Trivium). Were these happy happenings or thought of early on in the album’s creation?

This was something we decided on during the preproduction process. All the guests added their personal touch to the album and we are very pleased with their performance.

I know as for so many bands finances make a major part in decisions and possibilities in keeping going let alone forging ahead with releases, tours etc. for In Vain. How did this put restraints on Currents and do you see crowd funding as a feasible way forward?

We are fortunate to be able to record albums of the quality we prefer. The total budget for this album is around 50 000 EUR I guess, so hopefully people understand that they need to support us financially if they want to hear more In Vain albums in the future. We have not paid anything out of our own pockets. The label pays and we are also fortunate to get some financial support from various grants in Norway. However, the label obviously needs to get in break-even before we will get any part of the potential profit. Touring is more challenging and a tour costs a lot of money. Financing definitely puts a limit on how many tours we are able to do.

As with your previous albums, Currents is available through Indie Recordings. How have they helped, apart from the obvious, in bringing the album to our ears?

We have been with Indie Recordings since 2005 and we are actually the first band they ever signed. We have a good relationship with them. Obviously there are things that could be better, but that is always the case.

For those new to In Vain can you tell them about the beginnings of the band…the early days?

In Vain is a Norwegian band that plays progressive extreme metal and was formed in 2003. Andreas (vocals), Sindre (vocals) and myself (guitar) are the founding members, while Kjetil (guitar) joined the band in 2009 during the recording of our second album Mantra. Our bassist Alex has been around since 2013 and our drummer Tobias joined us recently. So far we have released four albums and two EPs, and we signed with Indie Recordings after releasing our second EP Wounds in 2005. Our latest album Currents was released on 26 January 2018 and we just came back from a European tour with Orphaned Land, Subterranean Masquerade and Aevum.

What is next for In Vain, shows etc. and once the dust of its triumph settles ahead?

We just came back from a European tour with Orphaned Land, Subterranean Masquerade and Aevum. We covered London, France, Spain, Arnhem and Essen. Our hope is to do another tour later in the year where we cover the countries we did not have the chance to go to on this tour. Besides that we will play some shows in Norway and some festivals.

Once again big thanks for giving us your time. Any last words you would like to share?

Thank you very much for your support, we appreciate it! To the readers; keep supporting great music, have a go at our new album Currents, and stop by our FB page at https://www.facebook.com/InVainOfficial/ for news, music, tour dates and other stuff.

Check out the review of Currents @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2018/02/04/in-vain-currents/

http://www.invain.org/     https://twitter.com/invainofficial

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 07/04/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Oceanic – City Of Glass

Oceanic PR 2

Not sure exactly why but the depth and quality to the Israeli metal/rock scene always surprises, even despite covering numerous releases and artists from its creative well. You have the likes of Orphaned Land, Ferium, and Desert amongst a great many stirring up the world scene with their varied sounds, and from within the underground bands like Walkways making their mark. To the latter you can now add Oceanic, a band beginning to draw and earn potent responses to their presence and debut album, City Of Glass. Formed in 2009, the Tel Aviv quartet has inspired strong and increasing attention, especially over the past couple of years, and now with their first album nudging greater awareness, Oceanic has the potential to be another breaking into broader spotlights well beyond their homeland.

The band’s sound is melodic/alternative rock but with an appetite to throw in unique twists of progressive exploration and feisty imagination. As shown upon City Of Glass it makes for a fascinating and unpredictable proposition which can offer familiar essences in a fresh and often offbeat design. There are moments where things just confuse and miss their target but for the main, album and sound are one captivating tempting. The band itself has grown its stature and reputation in the Israel underground scene through appearances at events like Progstage 2012 and in supporting the likes of Pain of Salvation. Band experiences are not restricted to Oceanic alone either, bassist Or Lubianiker having toured as part of bands for Marty Friedman and Gus G whilst playing on Yossi Sassi’s album Desert Butterflies. The ex-Orphaned Land guitarist is now returning the favour by producing City Of Glass, and providing guest guitar, vocal, and bouzoukitar enterprise within certain songs on the release.

A Scanner Darkly starts things off and swiftly has ears and attention intrigued; it’s atmospheric opening inviting but also oppressively hazy. It is a tantalising mix veined by gentle melodic Oceanic - City of Glass - Front (sRGB)coaxing and soon joined by the gentle husky vocal reflections of guitarist Idan Liberman. The song gently immerses senses and imagination, broadening its intensity and provocative textures with smooth and warm persuasion. Before long its passion and energy breaks through the calm though, crisp beats and a dark bassline uniting with fiery enterprise from the guitars of Amir Manbar and Liberman, whilst the latter’s vocal tones also elevate in emotion and roaring vivacity. The song by now offers a mix of Palms, Bush, and in some ways System Of A Down, melodies and harmonies blooming in a fiercer cage of beats from Gal Shochet and throaty bass suggestiveness from Lubianiker. The song continues to ebb and flow in its intensity, increasingly impressing and exciting ears and imagination.

The following Wind Up In Barrel (Tribute To Walter) continues the strong start, raising the album’s game straight away with its rolling rhythmic start. A sudden drop into an emotive calm catches ears by surprise, losing that potent start quickly and dramatically wrong-footing, especially first time around, but it is soon embroiled in a brewing climatic of creative voracity and sonic agitation. Vocally too, Liberman seems to find a left field approach to his delivery which only adds to the riveting drama of the song. It takes time but the track eventually emerges as an inescapable seduction whetting the appetite further for album and the sultry embrace of South Of Heaven which follows. Its smouldering lures and charm is just the lead into more tempestuous but restrained musical and emotional progressive bred turbulence. It is a compelling encounter, essences of bands like Shinedown and Seether making glimpses in the magnetic presence of the song.

Both Enter and Clouds keep attention and enjoyment high, each again a mix of aggressive energies and reflecting tranquillity, never lingering in either too long and uniting them with craft and invention. Neither song creates new templates for rock ‘n’ roll it is fair to say, but both provide refreshing and thoroughly satisfying proposals, the first a melodic bellow with tangy sonic endeavour from the guitars and another rhythmic enticement to equally intimidate and excite. It only grows in pungent appeal and strength over time whilst its successor almost stalks ears with its heavy rhythmic resonance and predatory riffing, though again it is tempered by the strong vocal and guitar sculpted enterprise bringing warmth and light to the darker tones.

The brief and harmonically elegant Fish You Shouldn’t Eat (Part 1) slips in next, its musty warmth and sonic shimmer, a pleasing appetiser for the impact of These Countless Hours. This is a song which left ears and thoughts undecided and still does even though it is also a compelling puzzle. It starts off in impressive style, rugged beats and caustic tone a swiftly enthralling protagonist aided by similarly robust vocals. It continues to light ears until something strange happens, an exploration of invention emerges which sees music and vocals going in different directions. Both continue to work just not together for personal tastes, and we devour anything with a warped twist or avant-garde approach. It is almost as if singer and instruments have their own individual songs and are trying to unite them as one. The fact that it keeps luring ears back to try to make sense of it is a testament to what is going on in ideation just not its success.

We are back on an even keel with HMS Beagle, an intensive ballad of power and emotion with more roaring senses licking flames than a bushfire, and straight after through the melodic smooch of Eva The Cat Doesn’t Sleep, a song with a Poets Of the Fall whisper to its melodic and creative beauty. Vocally Liberman shows his full and strong range, occasionally showing an Andy Partridge like lilt, whilst guitars and rhythms combine in a graceful romance of accompanying sound.

The track Oceanic brings City Of Glass to an epic end, its meaty length and imaginative textures a rich croon of soaring vocals and provocative melodies wrapped in thick bass shadows and gripping beats. It has a latent aggression and underlying anger to it too, which only seems to intensify the emotion and sonic tempest smothering ears. It is a fine end to a great album. There are certainly moments which do not work as well as others but ultimately, City Of Glass is a dramatic and enthralling storm of melodic and alternative rock very easy to recommend all at least should check out.

City Of Glass is available now @ http://oceanicband.com/album/city-of-glass-full-album

https://www.facebook.com/OceanicBand

RingMaster 18/03/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/

Hollow – Mordrake

Hollow - Press Photo

There are some debut albums which impress, some which raise a depth of excitement sparking a long term connection, and then there are some like Mordrake from Canadian death metallers Hollow which simply have you shouting feverishly from the rooftops. The release is an extraordinary maelstrom of startling invention, mouthwatering imagination, and enslaving hostility which simply blows thoughts and passions away. There has been talk of great things about the Montreal quartet from their live performances and previous release, the six track EP Cynoptic Eschaton, but it is fair to say we were not expecting something so devastatingly brilliant for our first introduction to the band.

Formed in 2009, Hollow has earned a fine reputation and potent presence across Québec and Ontario moving across their homeland through their live incitements which has seen them excel alongside the likes of Voïvod, Suffocation, Sword, Jungle Rot, Iwrestledabearonce, Blackguard, The Agonist, Beyond Creation, Marduk, 1349, Tyr, Orphaned Land, and many many more. Cynoptic Eschaton drew further strong acclaim and attention with its release in 2010 which Mordrake is sure to emulate in much greater strength and expansion. Bringing new character to some of the tracks on the previous EP and plenty more new breath-taking encounters within its twelve song body, the Kevin Jardine (Slaves on Dope) produced, with Dan Lauzon (Entropy) and the band, album was recorded with an uncluttered ‘analogue’ like approach which brings a raw and honest dimension to the proposition allowing music and individual craft to paint a stunning fiercely textured adventure.

Opener Lament Configuration emerges upon a sonic prowl which is almost lumbering in its gait and thoroughly engrossing in its Album Cover - Hollow - Mordrake 2014 - smallsearching sonic exploration over the senses, the fingers and strings of guitarist Cadaver already capturing firm attention. Pungent rhythms add to the portentous tension brewing within the dramatic coaxing whilst orchestral melodies and harmonies soak the oppressive atmosphere lying thickly over the evolving scenery. Eventually the band step from the initial evocative smog with a surging stride of riffs and concussive beats from Blaac which vocalist Mott roars over with every muscle of his malevolence. It is an impossibly contagious charge which is just as compelling in its imaginative twists and enticements, not forgetting individual skills, as in its turbulent catchiness. The track is the thrilling declaration of things to come, a tempest of bewitching ingenuity and lethal aggression within a blackened pestilential beauty of sound and creative intent.

It is a staggering start which both Cryptic Howling and A New Life explosively reinforce. The first is a voracious torrent of rhythmic rabidity matched by an unbridled hunger in riffs and outstanding vocals, Mott gloriously unpredictable in his venomously corrosive varied delivery. Within the scourging onslaught, bassist Snow finds an even more intensive bestial voice from his strings to add to the hellacious web, a tone which is as at home sculpting a carnal texture to the vitriolic attack as it crafting deliciously haunting lures to the enthralling melodic hues which seduce robustly later in the track. The track is a severe examination of senses and psyche with more riveting rewards in its single body than most death metal bred albums offer across their full lengths, a treat repeated by its predecessor. Entwining ears in a climbing vine of sonic imagination which is soon under a tsunami of pungent antagonistic intensity and ravenous enterprise, the track adds to its surprises with contagious grooves which lead to a heavy metal endeavour beneath a symphonically seeded elegance. This is all around a heart which is predatory in the extreme and soaked in a simply irresistible rapacious appetite.

It should be noted that whatever description tracks are given here they only hint at the whole picture, so much going on and being sculpted that it is impossible to truly represent their brilliance and impossible to take all in on just a few encounters ensuring the album is a constantly giving proposition with every assault. The next up rampage of Landscape is instant proof, its ferocious vehemence in sound, vocals, and imagination a senses eroding, thought provoking ruin which wrongs foot with majestically flighted harmonies of keys casting seducing melodies. As ever it is just a twist in the soundscape of the song’s blisteringly shaped and exposed narrative, the track a purposeful sublimely designed meander that chains mind and soul from start to finish, whilst lorded over by the just as impressive vocal diversity of Mott, more of which coming later.

The pair of Iscariot and Sunriser throws senses and imagination into further exacting furies, both again intensive weaves of addictive hooks and toxic grooves upon exhaustingly adventurous and demanding canvases. As with every track on Mordrake, each is a distinct individual with the first finding a poetical grace in the keys within a uncompromising plague of voracity whilst Mott brings a brief but just as impressive clean twist to his vocals amidst another range of guttural and poisonously squalling growls. It is a glorious track which is followed by the just as staggering triumph of Sunriser, clean vocals given another outing whilst standing in a storm of demonic toxins from the raw throat of the frontman. The bass of Snow is also a real highlight in the foreboding drenched climatic air of the song, though to be fair to all the encounter is a scintillating blur of inventive animosity and imaginative pestilence for which all deserve the outmost credit.

     The emotively driven Vlad comes next, a track we assume inspired by a former band member from the band’s first days who passed away unexpectantly. With keys and violins an insatiable seduction, the song is another which rabidly suffocates as it inflames senses and emotions before making way for the provocative epidemic of sound and fascination that is Anomie, a track bringing orchestral flumes into an entanglement with heavy metal wantonness; keys, bass, and guitars conspirators in a savagely hued, magnetically cultured creative virus.

Generally in an album so incredibly gripping and awe striking there are going to be lulls or weaker moments but honestly Mordrake holds no such inventive languor, the following innovatory alchemy of both the chilled Snow where those cleaner tones of Mott are given extra time and the hypnotic maze of Birth, rhythmically and sonically as spellbinding as anything on the release. The same applies to closing tracks Hate and Death, two final incendiary expanses of fertile minds and musical ingenuity.

Mordrake is simply remarkable, one of the most promethean debuts in a long time and certainly within death metal this year, though Hollow have a sound and presence which you cannot confine to a single genre or singular mind-set. A brilliant album from a brilliant band, what more do you need to know?

The self-released Mordrake is available via http://hollowcanada.bandcamp.com/album/mordrake

http://hollowofficial.com/

10/10

RingMaster 30/05/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

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Thee Orakle: Smooth Comforts False

For all of the distinct positives and equally deep negatives the internet has had on music and bands, one of the greater goods to come from it is the accessibility of artists from countries and places far removed from the media given base and our own country borders. In recent months here alone we have come across stunning bands and releases from the likes of the United Arab Emirates, Russia, South America, and the Maldives to name just four. Bands and music that would have escaped attention before the internet grew its searching claws to go beyond the media force fed likes from the UK and the US. Though Portugal is not situated in the furthest reaches of the globe it is a place where music never really escaped far beyond its walls. So praise the internet for making that possible and for bringing the likes of Thee Orakle to the attention of a great many more, something the release of their excellent new album Smooth Comforts False should turn into an even greater and eager growing mass.

Formed in 2005, Thee Orakle soon built up a fine reputation in their homeland for their well crafted music. It was not long before their sounds made further marks with radio play overseas and a request to them to be part of a compilation release. 2007 saw their debut EP Secret released, more impressive live shows (over the years sharing stages with the likes of Bal-Sagoth, W.A.K.O., Heavenwood, Sirenia, Dark Tranquility, Cynic, Amon Amarth, Orphaned Land), and an increasing attention further afield with airing on further reaching radio shows and through other media vehicles but it was their heavily acclaimed debut album Metaphortime in 2009 that was the point they found themselves a bigger notable name on an ever swelling wave of enthused focus. Now following that up with Smooth Comforts False via Ethereal Sound Works, the band has returned with an even more majestic and stunning album. Their music is an inspiring and mesmeric blend of imaginative progressive metal laced and veined with heady jazz influences, Middle Eastern essences, and symphonic metal graces as well as senses riling metal, groove and tech metal intrusions. It is a mighty unpredictable feast that excites, intrigues, and consistently keeps one enthralled.

The album from the septet of vocalists Micaela Cardoso and Pedro Silva, guitarists J. Ricardo Pinheiro and Pedro Mendes, bassist Daniel Almeida, drummer Frederico Lopes, and Luís Teixeira on keys, is a release that bursts with ingenuity and imagination but weaves it all seamlessly into a musical maze for the deepest satisfaction. Where other bands experiment, many bring a disjointed or punchy intermittent mix which works for them but openly highlights each distinct diversion within the music. Thee Orakle bring all their ideas into a smooth and organic wave of aural beauty, and whether they go from beauteous flighted melodies into djented manipulations or from blood raging aggression into mesmeric ripples of smooth light, the result is always captivating and naturally flowing.

The album opens with Faraway Embrace and immediately it has the senses standing up and grinning with anticipation. The song paces with sturdy formidable riffs and commanding rhythms whilst the guitars entice with fleeting grooves. The keys expand and wrap themselves around the ear as the gruff growls of Silva rough up the edges of song and ear. The wonderful voice of Cardoso than enters to temper and compliment her harsher vocal companion and to walk hand in hand with the warm melodies. Midway the song steps to the side to enter an expressive progressive sound to gently coax and beckon one further inside the vibrant tech metal toned returning attack.
The excellent slightly schizophrenic Psi-drama enters next. The song begins with a sinister impressive tech metal/symphonic tone with again the mix between the two vocalists ideal and impressively worked out. The song along its length ventures into varied and always engaging asides, the song a maelstrom of intensity, surprising imagination and totally addictive, the jazz noir elements and lone soulful trumpet of Ricardo Formoso a pure joy.

Each and every song is masterful, the likes of the brilliantly enterprising and ear wrenching Evil Dreams, the gothic impassioned Winter Threat with the additional Type O Negative sounding male vocals of Marco Benevento (The Foreshadowing), and the irresistible The Bridge of the River Flowing with its ear whipping niggling metallic riffs and melodic caressing amongst the demanding aggressive intent, bringing complete pleasure.

The album produced by Daniel Cardoso, who is an impressive and emerging major force in metal, ends with its best track in Rescue of Mind. The track rampages and stomps from the off earning its right to full attention with an eager immediacy. As it pounds and explores the senses it ripples with skilled direction changes, gloriously crafted innovation , and striking invention, the dazzling mid jazz  off shoot soon merging wonderfully into the muscular mass, the song the proof of a band with the ability to create aural Masters.

Smooth Comforts False is one of the most striking and impressive albums this year, it provokes and thrills equally and is the most natural fit for the heart.

RingMaster 16/04/2012

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