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

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E-Force – The Curse

E-Force1

For all newcomers to the band, disregard the off putting name and get your claws into one cracking album from E-Force. Though formed in 2001, the band’s moniker has never nestled easily with us but it has not stopped the thrash and heavy metal fusing encounter from lighting up the ears, new album The Curse their most potent aggressor yet. Hailing from Montreal but now France based, E-Force uncages eleven raw abrasing assaults which savage, antagonise, and thrill the ears. It is not an album breaking into new pastures for aggressive metal but certainly one to fire up the passions and imagination of metal fans across multiple genres such its flavoursome exploits.

The band was created by vocalist/bassist Eric Forrest, the frontman of Voivod from 1994 till 2001, a period which included the albums Negatron and Phobos as well as the live release, Voivod Lives. Taking his nickname as the band name, E-Force released debut album Evil Forces in 2003 to strong acclaim from fans and media alike. Relocating to Toulouse soon after, Forrest pulled together a new line-up which continued the emergence of the band; the second album Modified Poison in 2008 also earning eager plaudits for its stronger and more diverse sound. The years has also see the band forge a mighty reputation live, successful tours with the likes of Carpathian Forest, Tsjuder, and Wykked Witch, and acclaimed festival appearances highlights over the years. Now The Curse brings the next potent rampage of the band; Forrest alongside new guitarist XAV and returning drummer KROF with contributions from special guests Glen Drover (Megadeth, King Diamond), Kristian Niemann (Therion), Vincent Agar (Yotangor), bringing forth the caustic breath of the band’s live aggression to drive a new creative riot on the senses.

The concept album which takes its premise from the power and temptation of, and obsession with, the female race, makes a portentous E-Force - The Curseentrance through the brief Invitation. Its atmosphere is soaked in warning whilst a seductive female teases and lays bait to expose the weakness of man. The track is pushed aside by the following Perverse Media, riffs and rhythms immediately ascending upon the ears with a voracious hunger and combative urgency. The vocals of Forrest are equally as confrontational making for a strong and solid start, but it is just an initial lure which is soon given to greater appeal by ravenous grooves and scything twists of adventure. The track turns into a formidable predator, an aggressor which teases and intimidates throughout leaving appetite and pleasure ablaze.

The virulent temptress that is Witch Wrk steals attention next; riffs an abrasing incitement framed by a rhythmic rabidity which is controlled but rapacious. There is a gnawing pressure from the song which never relinquishes its appealing persistence whilst vocally again the delivery is soaked in a causticity to match the antagonism of the sounds. The potent bestial contagion of the encounter is matched by Serpent’s Kiss, its distinctly different temptation just as carnally insistent and masterful. From weaving seductive sonic enterprise the track brawls with the senses but again with a control which is more of a stalking beast than an unbridled storm. Continually twisting its body and gait the track, just as the album, evolves into a killer proposition over each provocation taken; both only increasing their rigorous and irresistible strength with each assault.

Both Awakened and Psyclone keep the intensity and impressive levels on full throttle, the first an inventive scourge of guitar and bass ravishing driven by the irrepressible charge of the drums whilst the second discovers a more insidiously addictive lure to entwine around ears and imagination, the track lashing the senses whilst simultaneously rewarding with dramatic hooks and infection drenched grooves, every second a tempestuous and powerfully compelling intrusion. Again both songs take a while to conquer the passions but subsequently neither leaves them idle or lacking fire in the engine room.

The instantly intriguing and exploratory Devoured fires up the passions next, its opening the prelude to the most inventive and imaginative track yet with the band infusing their thrash cored maelstrom with even broader veins of groove and melodic metal with a blackened majesty. The track ripples and pulsates with a barbarous beauty whilst the guitar casts a mesmeric and skilled web around the explosive confrontation. It is outstanding showing the depth to the band’s endeavour and potential still unrealised, a potency examined again in varying detail by the scourge like Mass Deception and the irresistible Your Beloved Hate, the latter’s opening bass call a trap of addiction, its bait easily backed by the finely carved grooves and hungry predation of the song.

The penultimate track Infexxxous unveils a virulent nagging to recruit attention and appetite before forging its own specific rampancy and enslavement of the senses with the unrelenting craft and creative fertility of the band. The second half of The Curse is the most inventive and imaginative with the first clutch of tracks on the album besieging the listener, caging their submission before stretching the ideation and resourcefulness with the following horde of persuasions as evidenced by the insatiable final song The Curse Of The Cunt. Concluding the album in exhausting sadistic style with plenty of blood soaked colour, E-Force leave satisfaction and enjoyment bloated. The Curse may not be the most original album to be let loose this year but it sure is one of the most invigorating.

The Curse is available via Mausoleum Records now.

https://www.facebook.com/eforceoffical

8.5/10

RingMaster 12/04/2014

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Diabulus In Musica – Argia

DIM_01

Spanish symphonic metallers Diabulus In Musica are poised to unleash their third album Argia this week, a release which surprisingly, considering how easily it was for its predecessor The Wanderer to achieve the same aim, took its time to win over thoughts and passions. It is hard to pinpoint why the slow uptake on what is openly a grander evolution on the might of the previous album but the release certainly raised many questions before ultimately seducing doubts and winning the imagination. There are still elements which leave a few insecurities and as a lingering persuasiveness the band’s last full-length steals a march on its successor, but there is no undoubting the eager satisfaction and pleasure brewed by Argia.

Released via Napalm Records, Argia sees band founders, vocalist Zuberoa Aznárez (ex-Dragon Lord) and keyboardist Gorka Elso (ex-Dragon Lord, ex-Meridiam ) joined by the new addition of bassist Odei Ochoa, drummer David Carrica (Tierra Santa), and guitarist Alexey Kolygin (Allowance), all three joining the 2006 formed band last year. The quintet explores deeper and richer expansive symphonic landscapes and melodically coloured scenery than the previous album whilst not neglecting the voracious metallic savagery the band is equally as accomplished at uncaging upon the senses. The voice of Aznárez as expected seduces and enchants as she takes robust flight across the songs, the release confirming her place as one of metal’s finest female vocal provocateurs, whilst the keys of Elso equally enrich the canvas crafted by the band. With the guitar skills and bass predation as well as the rhythmic thrust of songs striking, Argia is a formidable encounter. True it took its time to convince with personal tastes still not totally enamoured at times but it is hard not to declare and recommend the album as another mighty slice of melodic exploration from Diabulus In Musica.

The album opens with the atmospheric beauty of Et Resurrexit (Libera Me), an initial dark ambience lit by the glorious celestial tones of 536_DIM_CMYKAznárez. Her vocal beacon tempers the emerging shadows and imposing haunted feel of the track, that darkness eventually held in check by the additional medieval bred strings, warm flutes caresses, and the melodically hued keys. The piece though is a conflict between light and dark, those grey clouds bearing ever nearer, eventually raising their dark battalions to march across the imagination to set up an appetite for the journey to come. Closed by the harmonies of a sky bred choir the track seamlessly evolves into the instantly rapacious From The Embers, riffs and rhythms a rampant charge from its first breath. It is charged and hungry metal which is given another surge of rabid energy and incendiary intensity by the soaring vocal harmonies and expressive keys. Once Aznárez begins the narrative, the track relaxes but still keeps its snarl through the rigid riffery and growling vocal squalls of Elso. The track challenges and thrills from start to finish, the band breeding all the potency which won full submission of the emotions in the last album into a stronger and decisively enterprising bait.

The following Inner Force steps in through an electronic metal like lure next, its welcome reminding of The Browning until the vocals seize the songs for their own, operatic essences and smouldering melodic croons from Aznárez merging for a vibrant and captivating soar through the enticing yet rugged heavens of the song. As so often with Diabulus In Musica, they immerse ears and thoughts in a radiantly inciting premise which cannot fail to spark visions and tales from within the listener’s imagination.

The vast climactic embrace of Furia de Libertad comes next, its sultry land and air a heated blaze of intrigue and adventure presented by Aznárez and guest vocalist Ailyn Giménez of Sirenia. The track sweeps up the senses in its robust canter and steamy ambience to again ignite a new adventure in the mind despite the lyrics being passed over in Spanish. Its pungent humidity is in many ways matched by Maitagarri though the song is washed by gentle melody crafted winds which refresh from within the thicker orchestral atmosphere erupting throughout. With a folk lilt to the gentle stroll within the more tempestuous intent, the song makes for the compelling fusion of power and tenderness which the band is persistently so good at conjuring and presenting.

From the brief, again folk spawned Sed Diabolus, the album reaches its pinnacle through firstly Spoilt Vampire and after the less impressing Eternal Breeze, the outstanding Mechanical Ethos. The first of the three antagonistically stalks the senses from its first snarl, guitars and drums brewing up a hunger driven rabidity which the keys spear with acidic scythes of temptation. The song’s predatory intent is held in rein by the leadership of Aznárez’s voice though it finds an eager protagonist through Elso’s growls to duel with her. It is an exceptional proposition which never relents in its carnivorous intensity and warlike oppression but still lights the ears with a resourceful endeavour of melodic invention. Its triumph is matched by the third of the trio, its body again merciless in its aggression and spellbinding in its imagination, that reference to The Browning nagging away again within the torrential waspish electronic groove of the song. Truth to say that when the band stand tall with their sinews and nostrils flaring violently whilst their melodic and vocal imagination entwines around the predation, the band has us drooling most and wishing for so much more. Between the pair the classically honed and atmospherically sculpted keys and vocal led Eternal Breeze feels lost between the threatening storms but to be fair it does stand majestically away from the ravenous pack if without sparking a fire in the emotions.

The dark Encounter at Chronos’ Maze which features Therion frontman Thomas Vikström comes next and struggles to make an impact. Musically the track is as immense as any other, imposing and dramatically irresistible but the vocals fail to match the sounds. Vikström somehow and very surprisingly outshines Aznárez who seems to go missing in the match strength wise but both are left floundering by the coarse roars of Elso.

Both the elegant Indigo and the rigorous Healing regain the album’s grip on the emotions, the first a bewitching summer flight of flute and keys crafted melodies aligned to tempting vocal harmonies whilst the second stomps and surges masterfully from its opening swipe to send thoughts once more into climactic and extensively broad dramatic adventures. Completed by the short instrumental Horizons, the piece offering an evocative view of the lands ventured, Argia is a riveting journey to embrace. It does not rival The Wanderer in many ways, it and personal preferences at odds from time to time, but Argia despite needing more time is a mouthwatering encounter proving Diabulus In Musica as one of the essentials within symphonic metal.

http://diabulusinmusica.com/

8/10

RingMaster 11/04/2014

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Interview with Mem V. Stein of Exumer

This year has seen the very welcome return of German thrashers Exumer with a brand new album in Fire & Damnation. Their first release since reforming fully in 2008 and a gap of 25 years to its predecessor Exumer show they are not just another band simply reforming but return as a band fuelled up with energy, intensity, great songs, and most of all bone crushing rock n roll. We had the chance and pleasure to ask one of the band founders, vocalist and bassist Mem V. Stein about the album, the band, and their return.

Welcome Mem and thank you for taking time to talk with us here at The RingMaster Review.

Firstly how does it feel being back with a new album in Fire & Damnation?

Feels most awesome! It feels right to have a working band AGAIN and to be active since 2008. We have been through a lot in our career and people who follow the band know that. However, we are grateful always to include our fans in our decision making, meaning that it is all geared toward making them happy, whether with killer live shows or great records. The idea was not to have a reunion type of format but a working band. That means going on tour, writing new material, recording new albums and getting signed to a label. The main objective was to come back and record the best third album a band can possibly record after putting out their last album 25 years ago. The same goes with the live shows, we only want to play the most furious shows that you can imagine. There are so many fans who were either born in the 1980s or after, and who have never seen the band play live. Just go on you tube or some other medium and you will find a lot of people wondering if they could ever see EXUMER live.

It must feel a long time since you were in this position, well it has been haha.

25 years to be precise!

Is there an extra excitement and drive surrounding Fire & Damnation because it has been so long that maybe there was not with your first two albums back in the mid eighties?

Of course there is the thing that you have to live up to everyone’s expectations but we set a pretty high bar for ourselves and are aware that the fans want to hear a certain amount of energy so we kind of had to rise to the occasion. In a pretty serious and no BS fashion that is…

The new album is impressive, sheer unadulterated thrash rock n roll, how easy was it to write new songs with the Exumer sound but bring them up to date.

We just wanted to record the best possible album that we could, with the band’s traits that you and so many of our fans are familiar with. The mission was to create a worthwhile follow up to our records from the 1980s, incorporating the aggression and energy of our youth with the musicianship that we have acquired over the past decades. It is the most honest and passion filled effort of our career and we hope that the fans hear this approach in the music. The process of writing this album went in steps; we started getting ideas as early as 2008, continued to write through 2009/10, while we were touring and finally took off from playing live in 2011, to complete writing and rehearsing/recording in 2011. We scheduled a 3-week rehearsal session in spring of this year, prior to entering the studio for recording, in order to play and finish writing the new songs in the rehearsal room. This way we sounded like a cohesive unit when went on to record the tracks in the studio and the material got a total “band/rehearsal room” vibe. We then recorded the album in Germany, around the area of Dortmund. The tracking was fairly quick but mixing took 3 months and  in phases and with a lot of A/B the material. The end result is what counts and we were all in agreement that we will mix the record until all parties are happy with the end result. It just took a while to incorporate all the elements and everyone’s wishes.

You have been writing and making music between the first and second periods in the life of Exumer?

After leaving EXUMER in late 1986, I moved to the U.S. for the first time and played in a band in New York but we broke up the project, due to financial problems. Then I formed Phobic Instinct in 1988, which broke up in 1990. I formed Of Rytes and then played in Humungous Fungus with Ray and Bernie of EXUMER. I formed Sun Descends after my 2nd move to New York in 2000, and then finally reformed EXUMER with Ray and Paul. Bernie and Ray played in a rock band for a few years in the 2000s, which Ray left and Bernie is still involved in.

We loved the album but thought it was too short, what have you to say in your defence haha?

We wanted to record an album that is short, precise, focused and to the point. An album that we wanted to hear and knew the fans would enjoy as well. We recorded 10 songs for the new album and I would say that it is by far the best effort in regards to the level and quality of musicianship that this band has ever recorded. You have to remember that we were quite young when we our first two albums dropped and now all our experiences or technical gains have been poured into this record.

Having said that, I think we were able to maintain the spirit of our sound from the 80s with the force of our expertise of today.

You have reworked a couple of songs from your earlier albums on Fire & Damnation which we will ask about shortly, so were the other songs written since the band returned in 2008?

It’s all new material except two songs from our records from the 1980s. We thought it be a special surprise for all the old school EXUMER fans to hear me sing on a track from our second album (Rising From The Sea, 1987), and Paul Arkaki singing on a track from our first album (Possessed By Fire, 1986). So we switched vocals on those two cuts and I think all our old fans will appreciate these versions of: “Fallen Saint” and “I Dare You”. The rest of the songs are all brand new other than Waking the Fire, which we had put out in a demo version in 2009. So, people will have 8 new cuts and two old songs in brand new versions. We wanted to showcase our old material with today’s sound and prove to us that it still hold up and it doesn’t sound dated.

Why the choice of Fallen Saint and I Dare You over all of your other great older material?

Those two felt right and those were the ones that Paul and I picked to re-work

What was the major difference recording Fire & Damnation compared to its predecessor Rising From The Sea?

The main differences I would say can be found in the maturity of the live shows, new album material and the overall presentation. Meaning the proficiency of how everyone plays their instrument. The basic formula of energy and aggression is maintained and not much different than from our earlier work from the 1980s. We were all 17/18 years old when we recorded our first album, obviously we are not the same exact people mentally or physically but the passion for the music remained and that’s the most important thing of all.

From being  involved in music on the recording side since the band dissolved originally there were no surprises in the studio for you technology wise after the long gap for the band?

Yea, it was not a shock and we felt at home rather quickly.

How would you say your music has actually changed between the albums?

Like I mentioned above, it is the same in some regards like passion and energy or aggression but we definitely evolved as musicians and are a lot more focused than we were in the 1980s.

Was there any particular point on the album, or whilst recording it where you had that ‘yeah we are back with both barrels blazing’ feeling inside?

That was when we started putting together the songs in the rehearsal room and felt that the energy and brazenness of the new material was all there.

Can we touch on the early days of the band and ask what first inspired you to start the band?

I wanted to start a band that would incorporate the stuff I was listening to, bands like Slayer, Exodus and all the great other metal, punk/HC of the 1980s, to be quite honest.

You had a widespread appeal far beyond Germany which today with the internet is almost a given in some ways, but in the eighties that was a formidable accomplishment. How did the likes of Poland, other parts of Europe of course and countries like Brazil take to your music that maybe other places like the UK failed to grasp as much?

All the places you mentioned were hot spots for in the 80s and still are.  It’s all a matter of time, we think we can reach a U.K. audience now and it doesn’t matter if you have more people in some countries than others because it’s all about the fans. That means playing in front of a small or big audience, as long as the fans want to hear and see you we will try to come through for them.

After your two albums of Possessed by Fire and Rising from the Sea, which received strong acclaim and your live shows and tours taking you to stronger attention etc the band split, may we ask the main reason for that?

The band just ran out of ideas and it was just too much with the personnel changes, especially having had 3 different singers throughout the band’s lifespan.

Was this a moment you saw coming so you could look ahead or was it a sudden stop in your musical worlds?

No, that was in the making and the line-up changes didn’t help.

You returned for a gig in 2001 and then returned fully as a band in 2008, What was firstly the persuasion that worked for the first event and the inspiration and drive that led to a full comeback 7 years later?

The Wacken Open Air was like a “Thank you”, to all our fans who didn’t have the chance to see Exumer with Ray and myself in the line-up. We were getting so much mail over the years and it really did not stop after we played the reunion show at Wacken in 2001. I was playing with the idea of putting the band back together for a while but then in 2007, Paul Arakaki (2nd EXUMER singer/bassist), came to stay with me in NYC over Halloween. We connected in such a profound way that it brought back my initial thoughts about reforming the band. Ray got onboard almost immediately after I had introduced the idea but all this was only possible because the timing was right this around and the idea was not to have a reunion type of format but a working band. That means going on tour, writing new material, recording new albums and getting signed to a label.

As you have with the two covers of your older tunes on Fire & Damnation did you rework the older material for your live shows to bridge the eighteen years between them and the current sound and fan taste at the time of reforming?

Not really that much, it’s all pretty much in its original state. We trimmed the “fat” here and there but nothing crazy and kept it all to its original content.

There is the whole new generation of younger fans who know us as a cult band from the 1980s but we hope we can reach a whole lot more people with the new album who never heard of the band as well.

You brought in Waldemar Sorychta (Grip Inc., Therion, Sodom, Moonspell, etc.) to produce the album, why did you choose him?

We liked his work on the latest SODOM album, to be as honest as possible with you but of course we knew his previous work as well and knew that he would be able to bring out the best EXUMER out of us, without losing the band’s spirit/vibe. And he did, at least we think so. He definitely brought out good performances out of all of us and was very helpful in the tracking process overall. It’s just really reassuring to have someone with a lot of experience behind the board, who knows how important this next record in the band’s future really is. That was just a good feeling to know about the level of Waldemar’s commitment to the project and likewise his engineer’s commitment.

How do you feel about current thrash bands or more how the genre is compared to when you started out? 

I think the advent of the internet and the connectivity of fans and bands played a huge role in how Metal has evolved since the 1980s. A lot more people are involved in playing in bands, blogging or in any form one could imagine. I think that is a good thing, it resembles a little the DIY spirit of the 1980s tape trader and fanzine days. However, I also think a lot of the mystique is also gone. I didn’t know what kind of ordinary lives my heroes from back in the day were leading. Especially bands like Venom or Mercyful Fate. So, having said all of this, metal or thrash metal bands are still growing strong! Just listen to Fueled by Fire or Toxic Holocaust.

Are there any newer bands that light up your fires and give you food for thought?

I like all kind of bands, Ghost, High on Fire the list goes on. However, I light my own fire most of the time!

What has Exumer in mind for the rest of 2012?

There will be a lot of touring, starting with a few warm up shows in Mexico and Europe, followed by a South American tour and then hopefully a few dates in the U.S. in the fall. We will keep busy after taking an entire year off from touring last year.

Once more big thanks for talking with us and good luck with Fire & Damnation.

Thanks for having us and we sure will be back whenever you like us back!

Would you like to leave us with some final words Exumer style?

Thanks for your support over the past 27 years… SPREAD THE FUCKI’ FIRE!

Read the review of Fire & Damnation @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/exumer-fire-damnation/

The RingMaster Review 13/04/2012

Copyright Pete RingMaster 13/04/2011 (My Free Copyright)

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Exumer: Fire & Damnation

Like a whirling dervish the returning album from German thrashers Exumer takes one to a sonic ecstasy that leaves a massive grin on the outside and within. Fire & Damnation is the first album since the proper return of the band n 2008 and its predecessor of 1987. It is a magnificent beast that shows no sign of aging within the band musically or in their aggressive energy, only a tighter mature sound to rival any thrash pretenders today. The album does not offer anything new or groundbreaking for the band let alone the genre but it does what all good albums should do, thrill the senses with bone crushing rock ‘n’ roll for the greatest satisfaction.

Formed in 1985 Exumer became one of the more exciting and essential German thrash metal bands joining the likes of Kreator and Sodom as an essential focus point for fans even if their contemporaries gained more of the attention. 1986 saw them release Possessed by Fire to be followed the year after by Rising from the Sea, both to acclaim and regarded by a vast many as two of the most important thrash albums of the time and since. Live too the band conquered all before them, the albums and shows finding a vast eager following from their homeland and in countries like Poland, Brazil and Europe in general. A fluctuating line-up and internal turmoil brought the band to an end in 1990 until band founders vocalist/bassist Mem V. Stein and guitarist Ray Mensh decided to bring the band back to life in 2008, though previously in 2001 Exumer returned for a one off show at the prestigious Wacken Open Air Festival. 2009 saw the band perform live through Europe and the US before attention turned to a new album the subsequent Fire & Damnation.

Completed by guitarist H.K., bassist T. Schiavo, and drummer Matthias Kassner, Exumer have not just made a return but with Fire & Damnation have announced they are back as strong and eager as ever. Consisting of ten songs the album released via Metal Blade Records April 11th lights up all the fires within and ticks all the boxes of what a good album should be, even if its length is too short. Aggressive and formidably direct the album also has a clarity and crispness from the production work of Waldemar Sorychta (Grip Inc., Therion, Sodom, Moonspell), that is fresh and invigorating. As mentioned it does not try to be anything different, just offering up what the band do best and to their strongest ability.

The opening title track storms the ear from the off its assault a raging burning rampage upon the senses. The band crushes and oppresses with riffs that sear the ear and rhythms that pound and bruise until complete submission. The song is immediately infectious and with Stein growling and shouting the lyrics with intimidating ease there is a seamless connection with the senses and heart. The groove and drive of the track is not the most original but with the anthemic group chorus and unrelenting attack plus the great controlled guitar eruptions the song is rock at its very best.

The following Vermin Of The Sky follows with barely a breath taken and if you are not paying attention can take over without notice. There is a similar attack and structure to the opener on this song with only a more intent inspection showing its diversities. This is probably the one issue if you really wanted to raise one against Fire & Damnation, the similarity across a lot of the tracks though against that one has to say that beneath the surface wave of sonic intrusion that vocally and musically the band brings a varied mesh of ideas and sounds, they just make you work for them.

The songs come thick and rapid upon the ear with all giving a deeply welcome and rewarding experience. The likes of The Weakest Limb and Crushing Point leave their recipients battered under the intense blanket of razor sharp and aggression fuelled aural consumption whilst the new reworkings of Fallen Saint and I Dare You from their first and second albums respectively, have a fresh and distinct sound that earns them a positive  place amongst the newer songs.

The groove infested A New Morality and Waking The Fire along with the title song hit home the deepest and with the greatest infection o the album, though every track is a gem to feast upon continually, each an impressive result of each and every member leaving nothing in their musical locker to excite the senses to the deepest satisfaction.

     Fire & Damnation is Exumer back hungry, fresh and making rock n roll that offers no more than pure unadulterated thrash pleasure.

RingMaster 02/04/2012

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