Straight from the land of fire and ice, beyond the night sky, independent power shaping own second creation from infinite puzzle box.
Five true Vikings play metal in the middle of the storm. They don’t have any ring of gyges but they are the one and only Ring of Gyges.
Welcome to the world of thriving Icelandic progressive rock/metal band.
source: Ring of Gyges https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qLgQVBTsgQ
We’ve met with Ring of Gyges in person directly after their show in Dillon at the main Icelandic street Laugavegur (it was off venue part of popular Iceland Airwaves Festival). This concert was OK but such ambitious band needs much more space for performance.
I guess that it’s a matter of time when they will become famous among progressive metal fans although everybody with open mind is able to appreciate and have fun listening to their music.
Indeed, have fun – these artists turn out to be cool, relaxed and friendly, with awesome sense of humor and right understanding that music is an entertainment.
from left to right: Helgi Jónsson (guitars and lead vocals), Guðjón Sveinsson (guitars and vocals), Þorsteinn Ýmir Ásgeirsson (bass), Einar Merlin Cortes (drums), Gísli Þór Ingólfsson (keyboards)
How are you after your show at Iceland Airwaves? What do you think about this festival?
Ring of Gyges: Very good. We play at unofficial part of Iceland Airwaves so we didn’t have the wristband to watch all of these bands.
I barely was able to hear the lyrics of your songs during your performance here in Dillon. Too small venue for such a progressive music?
Ring of Gyges: Yeah, one of the smallest place to play in Iceland.
Was it your first concert (November, 10th, 2019) this year at all?
Ring of Gyges: No. We made a small Scandinavian trip in January 2019: Sweden, Oslo (Norway) and Copenhagen (Denmark). It was pretty nice.
Ring of Gyges: Today we wanted to play in Iceland because we didn’t perform here for a long time. We had only one rehearsal this morning cause Helgi (vocalist) lives in Norway so it’s hard to meet together. We spent few hours playing two new songs before the show.
Ring of Gyges: During last two years or so we usually meet together couple of times before the show and practice. We don’t have much time for preparation together but of course me make it independently.
Ring of Gyges: We are not at the point yet to make music professionally – it’s not our main source of income, but when we get to this point, we will completely solve it.
What was the most spectacular show which you have ever played and why?
Ring of Gyges: Slottsskogen Festival, Gothenburg, Sweden, 2019. We played pretty well for big audience. Seventh Wonder was the headline of this event – well known Swedish progressive metal band.
Ring of Gyges is an ancient mythological artefact which makes the owner invisible. How did it become the name of your band?
Helgi: I have a bachelor in philosophy; it was my favorite subject in high school so I wanted to spend few years with something interesting for me.
Helgi: I’ve founded Ring of Gyges when I was on the first year in the University (here in Iceland).
Helgi: Name Ring of Gyges is inspired by an ancient philosophy; there was a guy who gets invisible and he is corrupted by power of this ability. The same concept was depicted by J.R.R. Tolkien. I thought that it’s a cool concept for the name of metal band.
Ring of Gyges released two interesting studio albums:
– EP “Ramblings of Madmen” (2015)
– LP “Beyond the Night Sky” (2017).
What do you like mostly in this music? How would you recommend this albums to somebody who didn’t hear Ring of Gyges yet?
Ring of Gyges: We are still creating our own identity. We explore different styles of music. It’s not completely formed yet and I think we will continue development. We mix different things and I guess that it can be interesting for many people.
Ring of Gyges: We are open minded and create whatever we want. Hopefully other people will enjoy it as well. We are not businessmen to define specific target, so we play for everybody who enjoy that.
Ring of Gyges: Our next album will be different than debut. It’s a mix of more classical and more modern influences; older progressive staff and also newer sounds.
My very first impression about your music when I encountered Rings of Gyges in Internet was that you don’t play progressive metal but progressive rock. Do you consider your band as a metal act?
Þorsteinn: Let’s wait for our next album, it will be more directed towards metal!
Helgi: What was your impression when you heard us live, metal?
Definitely you play metal, and you enjoy headbanging!
Ring of Gyges: (haha) yeah of course.
Ring of Gyges: We started out as a progressive metal group, playing not covers but our own songs from the beginning. Well, we tried to jamming some fragments of songs of other bands but we have never went through all song of another band.
Ring of Gyges: Then we mixed some non-metal elements into it.
Ring of Gyges: Our second full length longplay will sound definitely like progressive metal. Not extreme progressive metal, but more old school progressive heavy, with more beat, more prog, kind of more everything (haha).
source: Ring of Gyges https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgS9cW2TU64
There are many impressive instrumental parts on “Beyond the Night Sky”. I appreciate especially “(Instru)mentality” because it’s a true artistic achievement to create interesting and original instrumental piece. Very good technique and excellent ideas! Could you reveal the secret to achieve that please?
Ring of Gyges: (haha) Well, we work hard to develop whatever we really want. It’s important to don’t be afraid to try different things. But that’s probably not a secret. I don’t know what would be our edge over other bands… We always watch and listen how other bands play and try to learn from them. Well, we make things complicated for ourselves, we challenge ourselves, we also try to maintain good level of songwriting, create memorable melodies. We take care about good balance between catchiness and inventiveness.
Ring of Gyges: If we can give one tip for others bands: let’s copy other bands but in such a way that nobody will notice (haha)
BEYOND THE NIGHT SKY
It makes sense to listen to “Beyond the Night Sky” from the beginning to the end – then it sounds like a concept album.
Helgi: It doesn’t have a story but there is one common theme in each song: ways how people can escape from reality. Our listeners can feel better when they listen to our music, what is also a result of some positive sounds.
Guðjón: It depends of what is your definition of concept album. You don’t have to escape from your problems, but maybe you can feel better when you take them on from another perspective, another point of view, another angle.
I need to ask yet about the idea behind the cover of “Beyond the Night Sky”.
Ring of Gyges: The author was an Indian guy? Not Indian… Anyway, we were searching for an artist who could make it for us. We explained him our ideas but I think that he didn’t completety understand it. Albeit the effect is very good.
Ring of Gyges: There are two sides of the world: light and dark; and the human who take a challenge to escape from real to magical world. By the way, many progressive bands shows a guy on cover, aren’t they? This hero from our cover, he is brave enough to reach out to his dreams.
Ring of Gyges: But it can also depends on how you think about this. It’s open for your interpretation. It can be as well a symbol of different points of view to look at our reality.
Icelandic reality or…?
Ring of Gyges: (haha) I think that during the winter Iceland has darkness all day but during the summer – sunlight all day. That’s why we can see a track on our cover because we can escape to warmer countries to catch some light!
source: Iceland Close-Up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-wCrrsq9Lw
However it can be quite difficult to comprehend entire musical complexity of “Beyond the Night Sky” in era of Spotify and short attention span.
Guðjón: This is not a big deal. Our next longplay will be even longer! Anyway, we hope that people who don’t listen everyday to progressive rock/metal will also like Ring of Giges.
Ring of Gyges: Next week will be more challenging for us – we will record drums for upcoming album.
Einar: I was born in challenge (haha)
Helgi: We needed to record drums for “Beyond the Night Sky” in one night, 17h long session.
Guðjón: Now we have whole week to make just drums. Seven days, probably seventeen hours each day.
Will you start working on the second album from drums?
Ring of Gyges: Yes, typically this is the process. We need to start with drums. Bass will come after that and then we will build everything based on drums and bass. However, drums doesn’t need to stay the same as recorded on the beginning, we will be able to change drums until the end of all recordings. Vocals will be made pretty late. Everything will be evolving constantly during entire recordings, you know it’s like: “o, maybe we need to add this harmony over there; but maybe better not!”. When we suddenly get any new idea, we can come back to the previous part.
Ring of Gyges: Nevertheless, the foundation for all second album is ready. Main structure is pretty much done. We made a lot of demos somewhere in the isolation of Eastern Iceland between the period of debut and May 2019. Actually we met all together in May 2019 here in a house in Eastern Iceland where we are able to make complete focus and finish everything. This session gave us a lot of energy!
We are looking forward for the new album!
I listen, I wait, I scream
Into the night
I seek the life I conceived
Ring of Gyges “Dusk”
What are your biggest music inspirations?
Helgi: Haken. This is the one band which inspire us most. Absolutely phenomenal English band.
Ring of Gyges: Beside that, we are quite diverse.
Ring of Gyges: Some inspirations are obvious: Dream Theater, Pink Floyd, Rush, some old good staff.
Ring of Gyges: Actually all members of Ring of Gyges are exposed to different stuff: prog, metal, hard rock, funk, blues (all the way back to Robert Leroy Johnson), even punk. Our keyboardist is focused more on old school prog. Our drummer listens a lot of the heaviest and darkest metal.
Þorsteinn: I always want to convince others to listen more bluegrass.
Ring of Gyges: You would need to look into our Spotify playlists: very long and there is everything!
Don’t you argue about this? Somebody wants to play this, somebody else prefer something very different?
Guðjón: Yes, we do. All the time. And it’s healty. It’s really good to make a brainstorm and choose the best solution. Usually when we argue about different visions, something interesting comes out of that.
ICELAND AND SCANDINAVIA
Helgi, I’ve read that you live in Sweden, although recently band told me that you live in Norway. How is it? How would you compare living in the land of fire and ice with living in Scandinavia?
Helgi: I’ve had been living in Sweden two years and I just moved to Norway around six months ago. These countries are definitely very welcoming especially that I can speak Swedish fluently and Norwegian is similar to Icelandic. But I didn’t have the opportunity to speak Swedish while I’d been living in Iceland so it took me few months to switch from English to Swedish after moving to Sweden (I needed to gain confidence). I’m learning Norwegian yet. Norwegian is much simpler to learn than Icelandic.
Helgi: Metal scene in Sweden and Norway is a bit different than in Iceland. There are largest “scenes”. I would say that metal in Iceland belongs to mainstreem much more than in Scandinavia.
Þorsteinn: Especially when it comes to black metal. We have a lot of black / death metal bands in Iceland. Icelandic metal festivals are focused on these genres.
What are your plans for the future?
Ring of Gyges: We are making new album, we are arranging new tournee (summer 2020), we want to promote the new album everywhere in Europe. It depends how much time we will be able to spend on this tour. We want to play in Scandinavia, Germany, perhaps in Eastern Europe and in other countries as well.
Thank you very much for the interview 🙂
Ring of Gyges: Thank you, bless bless!
from left to right: Sam O’Black (eyeglasses and pen), Helgi Jónsson (guitars and lead vocals), Guðjón Sveinsson (guitars and vocals), Þorsteinn Ýmir Ásgeirsson (bass), Einar Merlin Cortes (drums), Gísli Þór Ingólfsson (keyboards)
written by: Sam O’Black
talked: Þorsteinn Ýmir Ásgeirsson (bass), Einar Merlin Cortes (drums), Guðjón Sveinsson (guitars and vocals), Helgi Jónsson (guitars and lead vocals), Sam O’Black (Musictivity), Jonathan Romulo Ompad (from Philippines)
photo: Jonathan Romulo Ompad (from Philippines)
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Chat with Jason Decay – bassist and vocalist of cool and young (founded in XXI century) heavy metal band from Canada. CHECK IT OUT !!!
source: CauldronVEVO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM2pDrtces4
Your band had more and less fortunate events in its long history but can we start with a positive statement that today Cauldron is a strong and powerful heavy metal group?
We’ve been highly inactive as a band since April as we all live far apart now but otherwise as individuals I think we are all doing good! Ian (guitarist Ian Chains) has been busy with his another band Chainbreaker.
Oops, why Cauldron is inactive?
Basically because I have a kid and moved a few hours north. I contributed a good 20 years to music and now my priority is my job and my family.
Did you sell instruments?
I still have all my guitars, amps and drums!
Cauldron have released five good and creative full length studio albums:
– “Chained To The Nite” (2009),
– “Burning Fortune” (2011),
– “Tomorrow’s Lost” (2012),
– “In Ruin” (2016)
– “New Gods” (2018).
Did you imagine in 2006 such big achievements?
Did you start playing music with high ambitions to conquer the metal world?
I figured we’d create and play music for a long time but never really knew where it would take us. We are happy with the outcome though; we’ve been to a lot of cool places and made a lot of friends from our endeavours.
What is your opinion about “Burning Fortune” 8 years after release? This one is my favorite!
I love the songs on that record! I think they are very strong but I wish it had the production of the following 3 records…
I would like to ask you few questions about your newest album “New Gods”. Can you talk about this music with distance or is it still too emotional related to one bad event which happened recently?
What would you like to know?! Those songs were conceived during a low point in my life and also during a recovery period for the band. We had some huge setbacks as a band after the In Ruin record came out, most notable our accident in Texas that put Ian in the hospital for a while. There seemed to be a series of negative events that followed. It was a bit of a struggle and a dark period but I think that made for some very strong music.
Album “New Gods” is consistent. I couldn’t chose which songs I like most but I can tell you that I enjoy to make focus on whole “New Gods” from the beginning to the end.
Thank you. I suppose we are more of an album band than a “hits” band.
Do you get sometimes requests from fans that they want to hear this or another song from “New Gods”?
Obviously I like when people enjoy our music but more importantly is how we feel about it and I am quite satisfied with New Gods. We usually try to balance what people want to hear with what we want to play.
I’m curious if anybody already noticed the bass line in song “Save the Truth – Syracuse”? When I make focus solely on the bass which appears in the second plan directly before guitar solo (but not only there), it seems to be familiar for me… Little bit resembles Rush… I have an impression that I’ve already heard it!
As for the bass part, I assume you mean the bass rumble that follows Save the Truth… I originally thought the song that follows (Never Be Found) started too abruptly so I wanted to have some ambient bass noise to fade in ahead of the tune. I was thinking more about Black Sabbath but I suppose it could subconsciously be Rush too. Either way, I think we got a little carried away with the length of it.
What’s interesting, sometimes you don’t even need to have any original notes to sound outstandingly. Whatever you play, I can recognize immediately that this is Cauldron and nobody else. Fantastic!
Is it a matter of feelings which you put into playing? Your total engagement and love to music?
I think you can tell that because we have very distinct characteristics in our playing. I don’t think anybody really sounds like me when they sing. Maybe Brian from Halloween (haha) but my bass playing is pretty nondescript I think. Nobody really plays guitar like Ian either; he is extremely talented and can probably play anything on guitar but really he has his own twist and filter that he is able to drive any style through.
The most happy event in the history of Cauldron?
We had so many happy events! It would be hard to pinpoint one. Anytime we complete an album it is a great sense of accomplishment, especially with New Gods. It is a very satisfying and uplifting feeling.
Also any time we gain the attention or respect from other bands that we look up to that have inspired us like getting to tour or play with Diamond Head, Satan, Metallica, Mantas etc…
What is cool in Diamond Head which Metallica doesn’t have?
All the Diamond Head songs Metallica didn’t cover. Metallica had it all.
CULTURE ART TRAVELING
What makes your Canadian city captivating for visitors?
Toronto? I live out in the bush now but Toronto is a good place to waste your time in traffic and line ups (haha) but there’re also a thousand things to do there, lots of gigs, all the kinds of food and people and concerts etc… I think that people involved in the metal scene like to visit Toronto because there are a lot of bands which they can get to see at once. We’ve had fans visiting from all over the world who wanted just to hit us up and ask if they could come by our jam space and hang out.
source: Michael V. Nguyen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMrY-Ge3ktw
Are you inspired by Canadian bands?
Yes of course! Triumph, Sacrifice, Platinum Blonde, Gowan, Razor, Reckless, Lee Aaron, Slik Toxik, Witchkiller, Exciter, Killer Dwarfs, Thor, April Wine, Honeymoon Suite, Tchort, Rush, Stream, Fist, Voivod, SNFU.
Could you tell me please as regular international traveler, Which city (anywhere in the world) would you point out as underrated?
Sorry I can’t think of one In my opinion, most of them were rated pretty accordingly. I love experiencing foreign cultures when we travel. I really only travel with the band but I get pretty friggin excited anytime we go to new place; its very surreal for me. I’m pretty much a kid with ADD when we travel.
Yeah, it’s perfectly understandable. What are your specific cultural inspirations (movies, books, paintings, castles)?
The movie Halloween 3 which apparently took place in Santa Mira California; not that it seemed any different than anywhere else in North America but I just really liked the concept.
The Rosemary’s Baby book.
No paintings neither castles.
What are Cauldron’s plans for the future?
We have no plans at this time.
Would you like to perform in Iceland?
I would love to play in Iceland someday… you never know.
Have you already started composing fresh songs for the next album?
We have no new material at this time, at least I don’t!
Thank you very much for the interview.
Thanks for reaching out and shedding some light on Cauldron!
written by: Sam O’Black and Jason Decay
THE BEST HEAVY METAL
The best heavy metal band from the most picturesque country released their best album three months ago – it sounds like a perfect subject for Musictivity!
Created in 1979, Picture plays traditional, energetic and powerful heavy metal.
– Jan Bechtum (guitars),
– Appie de Gelder (guitars),
– Ronald van Prooijen (vocal),
– Rinus Vreugdenhill (bass),
– Laurens “Bakkie” Bakker (drums).
Honestly, I don’t know any other Dutch band which makes it on such high level, despite 274 other heavy metal kleine boefjes (according to MetalArchives).
We can admit that Picture have played and recorded European power metal before debuts of Helloween, Gamma Ray and Running Wild were released.
Picture draws local TV’s and radio stations’ attention since beginning. Their albums used to be properly published and available all around the world in the golden era of metal (198x-something) but they have never been as popular as some similar German, British or American bands.
This doze of indomitable energy straight from the metal heart deserves to be explored right now. Remember that here real people play real music. This is not a plastic mega production but true metal band which love to spend time with fans. Let’s start with an official video clip:
source: Pure Steel Records https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tso-972bwY
– “Picture” (1980),
– “Heavy Metal Ears” (1981),
– “Diamond Dreamer” (1982),
– “Eternal Dark” (1983),
– “Traitor” (1985),
– “Every Story Needs Another Picture” (1986),
– “Marathon” (1987),
– “Old Dogs New Tricks” (2009),
– “Warhorse” (2012),
– “Wings” (2019).
Founder, main guitarist and composer Jan Bechtum, shared with Musictivity not only his point of view about “Wings” and own music inspirations, but also gave us his individual insight into the Netherlands. I’ve added two side notes in the interview to let you understand better what Jan actually told me about Nederland. I can appreciate that, because I used to live two years in this stunning country, read more:
Jan Bechtum is a huge fan of Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple) so I took the opportunity to ask him about his personal experience with Ritchie. Jan describes (read below) how it was to interview Ritchie Blackmore for radio (Picture’s guitarist as an interviewer) and explain why Steve Morse isn’t a perfect successor of Ritchie 😉 Here is my personal opinion about performance of current Deep Purple’s line-up in the European Capital of Culture 2019 (written by generation 1990 which didn’t grow up with Ritchie Blackmore, sorry but that’s a fact, show must go on)
Sam O’Black: Hello Jan. I’m very happy to make this interview with you because you are a main guitarist and composer in probably the best heavy metal band ever from my beloved Nederland. I will ask you later about your country but first: congratulations for the excellent album “Wings” (2019)! How do you feel about this longplay?
Jan Bechtum: Thank you so much! We are all very excited about “Wings”. I think it is the best typical Picture album and also the best sounding album since “Diamond Dreamer” (1982).
It’s a phenomenon for me that band with 40 years experience still makes such energetic music. Other bands like Saxon, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Deep Purple or Accept are also full of energy but in the case of Picture, it’s totally different level. You sound like young, hungry and wild rock’n’roll metal; it is not a production A.D. 2019 but an old school feast straight for metal heads. How did you achieve that? How did these awesome songs came about?
Again, thanks! For us the main reason is that we are having so much FUN doing it and also crucial is that this is the original line-up from the beginning when we built the foundation of the real Picture sound (which I believe you can categorize as power metal and that says it all).
So when we got together again in this line-up almost 4 years ago, we played like we never stopped. The mutual feeling between us was still there. A lot of energy is important for the band’s sound.
Some songs were already written and performed by the band in the 80ies but never recorded so we had a go at them (i.e. “Little Annie” and “Blown Away”). Other songs are completely new but since I still write the most riffs and structure of the songs, they still sound like Picture should to sound. Old-school!
I like slower fragments of “Wings” as well, i.e. in “Stroke” and in title “Wings”. Gezellig!
By the way I think that this is a funny and quite original idea to show real airports in video clip. I love to watch your authentic shots at gym, on the scene, at airport because it all looks exactly how it is in real. Did the airport in Rotterdam have anything against?
To be honest: we just filmed there and didn’t ask for permission (haha). The video clip tells it like it was. Rinus (bassist) was there with his wife and daughter setting off for holiday when his stroke happened.
The slower parts are really straight from the heart and they work very well.
The second already mentioned song “Wings” is catchy! I’m not sure if it’s my favorite number on “Wings” but perhaps it could be the first song to show friends. How do you think? Well, maybe 30 years ago we would say: an exemplary single!
Yes, I agree. I let my friends who are not that much into metal to hear title song “Wings”. They love it.
Jan, you used to point Ritchie Blackmore as your biggest inspiration. What do you like mostly in his playing style? Have you ever met Ritchie? If yes, how is he as a person?
Yes, Ritchie is my main inspiration because of his rhythmic aggressive picking style and wonderful story-telling solo’s. Especially the Made in Japan album is what learnt me how to play both solo and rhythm. Never met him but did have a phone call with him during a radio session where he answered questions. He blew me off then by not answering seriously… oh well.
I’m interested also what is your opinion about Deep Purple’s present line-up with Steve Morse and Don Airey?
As much as I am impressed with the talent of Steve Morse I don’t really like the sound of his guitar. So for me guitars in Deep Purple should to be created by Blackmore all the way.
Don Airey is doing a great job mimicking Jon Lord and you just can’t tell the difference sometimes.
Is it true that you decided “to quit playing live performances in 1997 because of the growing violence in the Dutch nightlife”? What exactly was the issue?
Yes. There was a shooting incident at a venue (I wasn’t there fortunately) in Gorkum, I think. With wife and little kids at home, I felt, I wasn’t safe anymore and acted like the responsible dad and husband. Maybe I overreacted…
I used to think that although Dutchie are musical sensitive, Nederland is more visual oriented country when it comes to the art. Have you ever had something like “Dutch rock/metal scene”? What was captivating about this scene?
Please refine me if I’m wrong but I’ve read an opinion that Dutch metal is more about symphonic tune with pleasant female vocal?
Most bands in the Dutch metal scene were about combining hard rock and metal. I think that we did that too but with a true metal sound and energy. This is still the case on “Wings”.
The modern metal bands from Nederland are more “gothic” and symphonic and indeed they mostly use(d) (great) female voices (Floor Jansen, Anneke van Giersbergen). So that is correct.
Is Picture based in Hilversum, isn’t it?
No, Hilversum was the base of our record company Phonogram. We are from Rozenburg (near Rotterdam). We only played live in Hilversum once.
Let’s say that a young heavy metal band is going for European tournee, will perform in Nederland but have one full day off before this gig. What would you recommend them to do with this one free day to catch some extra inspiration?
Recommendations? I am not a museum guy but I love nature. You might want to combine de “Hoge Veluwe” national Park with a visit of the Kröller-Müller Museum (that is inside the park). You can pick a (free) bike and have a great time there.
Side note 1: Park “Hoge Veluwe” is located next to Arnhem; Musictivity about Arnhem:
Side note 2: Kröller-Müller Museum displays modern paintings: Van Gogh (second largest collection in the world), Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondriaan; there is also a garden with 160 sculptures by Aristide Maillol, Jean Dubuffet, Marta Pan, Pierre Huyghe.
Are you a fan of vinyls? Do you enjoy to spend hours in old school record shops? I know only Concerto in Amsterdam, are there other similar venues in Nederland?
I like vinyls very much but don’t have a player at the moment. When I am in cities all over the world, I always look for record stores to see if they have something special. In Nederland I go to Plato or Chez Elpee in Groningen (I work there and live nearby).
What are your plans regarding future of Picture? Are you planning a bigger tournee?
As long as everybody is healthy, Picture will go on. We will do some tours (like in South America and Mexico) in 2020 but mainly focus on a few great festivals in Europe.
I wish you all the best and thank you very much for the interview 🙂
Would you like to add something for Picture’s fans?
Thanks for the interview. Interesting questions!
I wish to thank all the fans who kept supporting us over all those years. Without them we could not have done it! And if you have a chance: come see a show and drink with us after the show. We love you!
written by: Sam O’Black and Jan Bechtum
Grand Magus is a well established heavy / doom metal band from Stockholm (Sweden) with 9 cool albums:
– “Grand Magus” (2001),
– “Monument” (2003),
– “Wolf’s Return” (2005),
– “Iron Will” (2008),
– “Hammer of the North” (2010),
– “The Hunt” (2012),
– “Triumph and Power” (2014),
– “Sworn Songs” (2016),
– “Wolf God” (2019, already released).
I recommend their newest longplay in sake of memorable melodies and excellent, vibrant, true metal sound.
source: Nuclear Blast Records https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bn0o8Ly95UE
Current Grand Magus line-up features:
– JB Christoffersson (guitars, vocals); he had been singing in Spiritual Beggars from 2002 to 2010 (albums: “On Fire” (2002) and “Demons” (2005)),
– Fox Skinner (bass, additional vocals),
– Ludwig Witt (drums); he have been playing in Spiritual Beggars almost from the very beginning of this band and still makes it; in Grand Magus since “The Hunt” album.
As we can see, Grand Magus is strongly related to Spiritual Beggars although Grand Magus play much more heavy while Spiritual Beggars stays under the influence of stoner hard rock. High quality music.
Upcoming Grand Magus concerts:
09.11.2019 Oldenburg in Holstein, Germany
05.03.2020 Bristol, England
06.03.2020 Manchester, England
07.03.2020 Dublin, Ireland
10.03.2020 Glasgow, Scotland
11.03.2020 Sheffield, England
13.03.2020 Birmingham, England
14.03.2020 Norwich, England
15.03.2020 London, England
17.03.2020 Paris, France
more about Paris: https://musictivity.org/2019/09/01/alter-bridge-paris-09-12-2019/
19.03.2020 Utrecht, Nederland
more about Utrecht: https://musictivity.org/2019/07/24/jethrotullinnetherlands/
20.03.2020 Cologne, Germany
more about Cologne: look below
21.03.2020 Aschaffenburg, Germany
22.03.2020 Munich, Germany
more about Munich: https://musictivity.org/2019/09/28/phil-campbell-and-the-bastard-sons/
24.03.2020 Stuttgart, Germany
25.03.2020 Berlin, Germany
more about Berlin: https://musictivity.org/2019/08/22/mustasch-in-berlin/
26.03.2020 Hamburg, Germany
more about Hamburg: https://musictivity.org/2019/08/13/jessy-martens/
16.05.2020 Vienna, Austria
more about Vienna: https://musictivity.org/2019/08/17/rage-wings-of/
We can see Grand Magus planned in Cologne on March 20th, 2020. It is a fourth largest city in Germany (population around one million people) after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. It belongs to North Rhine-Westphalia land/state (with capital in Dusseldorf). Cologne was found in 38 BC and is known as a major city of Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region (Cologne/Dusseldorf/Dortmund/Essen/Bochum etc., population around ten million people).
source: Travel Penguin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ER2yy8gh1oE
The most famous touristic hot spots:
– Gothic St. Peter and Mary Cathedral designed by Friedrich von Schmidt (who also built beautiful City Hall in Vienna and restored St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna). Originally construction began in XIII century but project was suspended after 225 years of work. Finally Cathedral was completed in XIX century. I call it the most significant architecture masterpiece in Cologne because there is no higher church in northern Europe. Looks stunning indeed;
– Hohenzollern Bridge supplement Cologne Cathedral. The best pictures of Cologne show both together. This bridge is crossing by 1200 trains each day but there are also sideways for pedestrians who enjoy attaching love locks;
– Rheinauhafen District is a modern waterfront district with great restaurants and art galleries. Maybe not as impressive as granary in Hamburg, but note Siebengebirge – granary in the shape of seven steeply sloping gables. Boat cruise along the Rhine River allows you to explore Cologne from the water with live commentary in different languages.
– Old town was almost completely destroyed during World War II but you can find there traditional old houses, many interesting museums and City Hall. There are also 2 positive figures from Hanneschen Theater called Tünnes & Schäl.
German people are famous with their sense of humor so let me cite one joke: “Schäl got a job as a tour guide. One day he is showing an American tourist the major sights of Cologne. All the big buildings they see, the tourist asks, “How long did it take to build that?” Each time Schäl answers honestly how many years it took. Each time the tourist says, “Oh, in America we could build that in half that time.” Finally they come to the Cologne cathedral. The tourist asks, “How long did it take to build that?” Schäl: Yesterday when I came past here, it wasn’t here yet”.
Sleeping deep within my heart
Through the ages in the dark
That will put me to the test
And guide me
So much stronger than the rest“
Grand Magus “Brothers of the Storm”
“Get a welcome to Cologne from a friendly and passionate local and discover the city like a resident. Learn the secrets about where to buy groceries, how to get around and much more.”
There are plenty of fantastic bakeries everywhere in Germany which offer nutritious sandwiches but Cologne has own traditional cuisine with few delicious regional dishes. Perhaps the most popular is Himmel und Erde (Heaven and Earth): black pudding, fried onions, mashed potato with apple sauce.
In case if you fly to Germany to see Grand Magus, I would add yet the list of international airports around Cologne:
– Cologne Bonn Airport CGN 18km from Cologne,
– Düsseldorf International Airport DUS 68km from Cologne,
– Maastricht Aachen Airport MST 105km from Cologne,
– Dortmund Airport DTM 108km from Cologne,
– Liège Airport LGG 130km from Cologne,
– Frankfurt – Hahn Airport HHN 185km from Cologne.
Infrastructure in this area is so developed! It’s a pleasure to commute in western Germany.
Enjoy Grand Magus and don’t forget to make great use of your time whenever you travel to see the concert!
author: Sam O’Black
INTO THE PIT
Bang your head in rhythm of pure U.S. thrash metal from Bay Area. Bands: Death Angel, Testament and Exodus will perform following gigs:
06.02.2020 Copenhagen, Denmark
07.02.2020 Stockholm, Sweden
10.02.2020 Helsinki, Finland
11.02.2020 Tampere, Finland
13.02.2020 Hamburg, Germany
14.02.2020 Oberhausen, Germany
19.02.2020 Wroclaw, Poland
20.02.2020 Vienna, Austria
21.02.2020 Munich, Germany
22.02.2020 Filderstadt, Germany
25.02.2020 Milan, Italy
27.02.2020 Barcelona, Catalonia
29.02.2020 Toulouse, France
01.03.2020 Paris, France
03.03.2020 Bristol, England
04.03.2020 Dublin, Ireland
06.03.2020 London, England
07.03.2020 Manchester, England
BIG CITY LIVE
I love and appreciate poster of this tour because it shows that bands are aware of rich cultural heritage of visiting cities. I can recognize Paris, London, Berlin, Milan among 6 pictures which they have chosen to promote this tour.
source: Nuclear Blast Records https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfJ5C0kJZPI
Chuck Billy wants to see everybody so if you don’t live in any of cities mentioned in their agenda, you can consider to plan a trip and then attend a concert. Each option seems to be really attractive however I would like to suggest Helsinki, capital of Finland.
What is the price you’ll pay, no need to beg or borrow
Is there a better way will our children see tomorrow
Don’t live in yesterday, so take the lead not follow
Forever holiday, we have the final say
HELSINKI IS A SECRET
Although not an obvious candidate for travel bucket list, Helsinki is the most kept secret of northern Europe.
Get your guide and make use of your time (regardless how long, you can always find something inspirational):
Book your hotel and sleep like a human:
Grab your T-shirt and look like a fan:
If idea of sightseeing Finland appear to you as a calm time before the storm at gig than you may be just right: contact with silent nature, relax in sauna, overall peaceful atmosphere.
But if you give it a try, you have a chance to experience the most exciting time in your entire life!
WHAT TO DO IN HELSINKI
Come on, you can always go to southern Europe for hot summer sunbathing but Death Angel, Exodus and Testament together on the same scene is a one and only event which screams for epic scenery!
Their gigs are extremely intensive so let’s behave crazy as you like but make yourself a favor and instead drinking too much alcohol, let’s go to Mustikkamaa’s bridge afterwards, glaze at nordic stars and never forget that you live to fight and win.
Once in Helsinki, do not miss a visit in recently established Museum of Impossible Forms. From their website: “(…) is a cultural space. For us the Museum is a contested Space and it represents a contact zone, a space of unlearning, formulating identity constructs, norm-critical consciousness and critical thinking”. Sounds almost like a theme for excellent rock lyrics so it could be inspiring both for fans and musicians. You may take metro M2 from Kampin Metroasema (main bus station) to Gårdsbacka Metrostation and then get to the second floor of the Kontula mall. Caution: due to information on museum’s website you need to contact with them before and confirm if they are open on Thursday between 11a.m. and 5p.m. You can also check out their events calendar here:
But there is something more to Finland. Helsinki is cool and vibrant. Helsinki is full of vivid energy.
Just go to downtown and join group of young people who ice skate. It’s all up to your current choice how do you feel. Helsinki Card “offers a unique way to experience the city. You’ll enjoy free public transport, free entry to the main sights and museums, a free sightseeing tour and discounts on dining, shopping, and tours.”
Do you have plenty energy to explore wilderness of big city nightlife? Yeah, then Helsinki goes above expectations! Tavastia Club and On the Rocks are popular rock music clubs in Helsinki.
TripAdvisor catalogs 77 nightlife venues like bars, clubs or discos. Full list with hundreds reliable reviews:
For people more interested in tradition, there is Seurasaari Open-Air Museum located on island 4km from the city centre (take bus number 24), where “you are immediately transported to a rural landscape from the olden days. Take a peek at life in days of yore in smoke cabins, crofts and manors, participate in a guided tour, have a closer look at the renovated parsonage and its garden, and immerse yourself in history with a hands-on approach”.
You can find and even feed our cute winter friends, seven reindeers, in Nuuksio Reindeer Park, 30km from Helsinki.
This park is private so you need to book your visit in advance and be aware of price 300 euro up to 10 visitors (no problem to upgrade if your group is bigger). To get there, you need to take a train from Helsinki to Espoo (8 stops, 25 minutes) and later make a transfer to bus number 245 from Espoo to Punjonsuo (27 stops, 23 minutes). Then you need to look for sign Karhunpesä and reindeer advertisement. If you wish, you may stay overnight in stylish hut made from natural materials inside this park.
According to recent studies reindeer’s meat is one of the healthiest food ever. It’s a good idea to ask hosts of Nuuksio Reindeer Park about this delicious meal. Traditionally people in Finland’s province of Lapland used to eat reindeers itself (and drink reindeers milk too) but nowadays this dish is eaten in whole Finland. They call it Poronkäristys.
nähdä sinut Suomessa!
Don’t worry about language barrier because Finnish people speak English very well and using public means of transportation around/in Helsinki couldn’t be easier so you have no chance to lost there. Websites with detailed informations are available in English and in few other languages.
See you in Finland!
author: Sam O’Black
Sam O’Black: The purpose of this interview is to present the Polish band Access Denied on the global arena. The band was founded in 2003, it has recorded three studio albums, performed many concerts on the Polish stage as well as abroad. Why, in your opinion, the music of Access Denied deserves the interest of listeners from other countries? What’s unique about Access Denied?
Agnieszka Sulich: We find it hard to talk about our ‘uniqueness’, as we’re not unique. It doesn’t, however, change the fact that we love music, we record albums, play concerts, and, though it’s hard to gain the media support, we do what we enjoy. We always do our best, regardless of the fact we play for five or 5 thousand people.
“So many people I want to know
So many places I want to go
Life is too short to stay at home
It’s perfect time to rock’n’roll”
Access Denied “Go Go Go”
Side note: I was an Access Denied fan even before they released debut longplay in 2009. Since then, I am pleased to receive directly from the band their following albums, each much better than previous. They definitely don’t buy their songs on fiverr for 5 USD. On the contrary, Access Denied’s music is a handmade artwork, heavy metal with genuine feelings. Perhaps this is nothing unique in the Universe, well they are keen to action, not keen to sit at home and write poems about own extraordinariness… But Access Denied is Access Denied, excellent band with own remarkable tone, nobody play exactly like them!
Access Denied “Go go go” official video clip:
According to the information inside the box of your latest album “Access Denied”, currently the band consists of: vocalist Agnieszka Sulich, guitarist Jack Kolankiewicz, guitarist Mateusz Krauze, bassist Adrian Jegorow and drummer Dariusz Brzozowski. What role in the music process does each musician play?
All correct, except for Darek 😉 Darek is our dear friend. On a day-to-day basis he plays, among others, in Dimmu Borgir, and on our newest album he’s been a session musician. After our old drummer Michael Lysejko had left and joined Decapitated, we needed someone with a new approach. We rehearsed and arranged the songs. I must admit, we’ve learnt a lot from Darek. He’s an experienced musician and knows the ropes – many years in Dimmu or Vader can prove it.
And so, I’m in charge of vocal, lyrics, etc., while music is down to Mateusz and Jack. And the song arrangements are made mainly by Darek and Mateusz. Some ideas born at the music studio with the producer.
What’s the role of each musician of Access Denied? Who’s the leader? Who’s engaging most with the audience at the concerts? Is Dariusz Brzozowski your regular drummer at the moment? Or are you looking for a new one?
A tough question (mmm)… we don’t have a typical leader in the band. We make all decisions mutually, at rehearsals we’re discussing what’s best for us and then we strike a balance. We always get on well. Darek isn’t our official band member, but he’s always ready to help 🙂 Lukasz Raczkowski has been with us for more than two years and he has to face Daray’s compositions. When it comes to contact with the audience during our concerts, it’s my part.
You’ve recorded three great albums: “The Memorial” (2009), “Touch of Evil” (2011), “Access Denied” (2018). I’ve listened to them many times. I am especially fond of the two features. The first is how you operate the contrasts. Have there been any moments when you had some contrary ideas and music techniques?
Have you ever composed something that you liked, but it didn’t appeal to the other members? How do you deal with such situations?
Yes, generally, we happen to have different point of views, and, as I mentioned earlier, we’re sitting down and discussing it together. We’re playing different variants, listening, and picking up what’s best for us. Let me give you an example: for instance, the song “Lies” from the latest album, we play it at 200bpm and its music climate reminds of Testament – it’s the idea of Mariusz and Michael Lysiejko. Jack wanted to keep it at 165bpm in the atmosphere of Iron Maiden, he found it hard to get used to our vision and didn’t like it at all in the beginning. Now he can’t imagine this song be played differently 🙂 This is how we work, we can easily talk to each other.
The other feature I’d like to mention is your vocal technique development. You keep singing better and better with every next album! Seriously, I can hear the difference between now and then. How did you learn to sing? How do you improve your voice? What’s your ambition as a vocalist?
Thank you very much for the compliment on my singing. I still think there’s a lot of training ahead of me, though. Nevertheless, I try to do my best in what I do, as much as I can. Now I’m more open to more experienced people’s advices. I eagerly listen to comments and I try taking as much as possible from my music idols. It’s not, though, about copying, it’s rather about the way of thinking and creating beautiful melody or lyrics. I think of, among others, Rob Halford from Judas Priest, or Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch. I’ve had the opportunity to meet these two men and they’re not only excellent vocalists but also very kind and great people. Rob even got our album :).
Rob Halford holding the second Access Denied album “Touch of Evil”
You come from Poland, the country of original history and unique values and beliefs. I often hear from Icelanders they’re planning to visit Poland: go to Cracow or to a wonderful (and cheap) dentist (haha) someone else was in Warsaw for a whole month and didn’t have enough. What would you advise the Icelander on holidaying in Poland?
Well, no wonder here, Poland is a beautiful and interesting country. Especially when you earn money abroad and spend it in Poland. I recommend to start from Gdynia. And, of course, come to one of the Access Denied concerts.
Is there much interest in your music among the Poles living abroad? Do you also get foreign fans coming to your concerts? What feedback does Access Denied receive from the media abroad?
Well, frankly speaking, it’s not the Polish people, but the general audience of a certain country where we perform.
What are your memories of the Access Denied concerts abroad so far (e.g. In Finland)?
Very good. We’ve always had fun together. Whether we play in Finland, Sweden or anywhere else. Only journeys are troublesome, you know airports, check-ins, buses etc., but there’s a way for dealing with it 😉
It often happens in heavy metal music that the melody of vocal lines doesn’t correspond with the pessimistic rendering of lyrics. In the case of Access Denied, I mean the song “Fool of Love”. If I didn’t know the English language, I’d think of it as a melodic, nice, even cheerful piece whereas the lyrics concern “the biggest failure in life”. Tell me if my interpretation is wrong.
This is a very good question. As a matter of fact, the songs atmosphere in the album in 99% corresponds with the theme. For instance, “Lies” is a powerful metal song with a substantial dose of anger expressed on instruments and in vocal, and, e.g., “Last Breath” is very nostalgic, telling about the loss of someone important. On the other hand, in “Fool of Love”, I tried a certain literary trick, and the song is more about that we make mistakes and have to make up for them, but the “happy” tune, sort of Volbeat, is supposed to refer to the fact that it’s never too late for a change in our lives. The idea behind this song is to give hope and faith in oneself.
You’ve claimed in various interviews that the latest Access Denied album is not 100% metal and wasn’t intended to be such. I can confirm that it’s obvious. But we can notice that Judas Priest has also recorded many non-metal songs in his best albums (especially in the 70s). What inspired you to create this rich and contrast content of “Access Denied”? Was it a natural result of your broad inspirations (what inspirations?), or did you want to reach a similar effect to your idols (Judas Priest or others?)
You hit the bull’s eye. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m a huge fan of Judas Priest and 5FDP. Two different music schools. The classic European heavy and the modern American metal. Two different planets, so distant from each other, but at the same time both are my inspiration. We can hear it in the song “Lift Me Up” where Rob sang as guest with 5FDP, it was outstanding. And as I’ve already said, I’ve met Rob and Ivan, I’ve also been at Kevin Churko’s studio in Las Vegas, where for many years 5FDP has been recording. I was delighted when Kevin emailed us after he’d got our album to let us know what he thought about the Access Denied melodies and songs. His words of recognition mean a lot to me and motivate to further work. Kevin is a great producer and a very nice man, he recorded with Ozzy, Disturbed, 5FDP, and many other recognised artists.
To be honest, I’d really like to meet and talk to Andy Sneap too. Both Kevin in the U.S. and Andy in Europe are interesting protagonists in the world of music. I love Andy’s works such as the recent Judas Priest, Accept or Arch Enemy. It’s my dream to meet him in person, and possibly record something together. Who knows, dreams tend to come true.
Why so much anger and pain in “Access Denied”?
That’s what life is 😦
On a different note, I’d like to congratulate you on conveying the strong emotions in “Pain”. It’s a moving song, strongly affecting the listener. Is it a universal song or you had something specific on your mind?
Thank you. I can see you’ve listened to the album carefully. I really like such interviews and interesting questions. “Pain” is a very personal piece. Some time ago my father passed away. Everyone realizes such a day will come and we’re going to lose somebody. We seem to know it, but we can’t prepare for it. The song concerns that there’re moments in life we can’t do anything about, we can’t control, and the only certain thing is death 😦
source: Access Denied – Topic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xi3atudMu8k
What do you think about the idea of recording the metal version of Polish carols, as Rob Halford did it in “Celestial” (the premiere on 18.10.19)?
I know this album, but I don’t see myself in such a repertoire. I prefer to listen to Rob 🙂
Many times, you’ve played with the best Polish rock band TSA. I find it sad the way TSA ended. I saw video on YouTube from their performance with the vocalist who wanted to replace Marek Piekarczyk. It shouldn’t have happened. TSA is the legend and the heritage of the Polish rock music. There was a time they played without Piekarczyk but it was a long time ago (and forgotten). Did you witness those events ‘offstage’? What’s your view on this?
Yes, we performed with TSA and we witnessed the events… Nothing nice at all, but I don’t think I should talk about it publicly. People are different and should deal with their issues between each other. For me TSA was, is and will be the legend of the Polish music scene. HEAVY METAL WORLD!!!
source: trzezwyjakswinia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgAF27UjyNk
What are your ambitions and plans in terms of the Access Denied presence globally? Would you like to tour internationally, Europe and USA?
Obviously we’ll play anytime and anywhere with great pleasure. Our ambitions and plans are to meet new more experienced people, learn from them and record interesting songs. For example with the mentioned Andy.
I wish you and Access Denied lots of successes in your further musical career. The internet and social media enable contact with the fans all over the world, so go ahead and conquer the world!
Do you want to say something to your fans abroad?
Thank you very much for your interest in Access Denied and the superb interview. All the best to the people who will read it and see you at our concerts. Maybe we’ll perform in Iceland as well!
written by: Sam O’Black and Agnieszka Sulich