viernes, 13 de enero de 2017

TYGERS OF PAN TANG


TYGERS OF PAN TANG were one of the best bands to appear under the banner of the NWOBHM but, although their career continues to this day, they're best remembered for that albums of the early 80's. Ah, the promised land and its tales of success! Many of those great NWOBHM bands fell under the spell of the industry and got immersed in that race for glory, but only a few reached the coast. All in all, we still have those fantastic albums that paved the way for 80's heavy metal, and Tygers recorded some of the best!

Hi Robb, how’s everything going? Your latest news are around the re-recording of some songs from your first albums under the name of “The Wildcat Sessions” and “The Spellbound Sessions”. I have to confess that I usually don’t like the re-recordings of old songs, as I think that an album is a child of its time, with the conditions that made it possible. It's a very personal opinion though. What was your main reason to do these re-recordings?

Hi everyone! I’m doing really well, Thank You.

I am also very excited at the moment about the Tygers up and coming shows and our recent EP releases. The main reason behind the re-recording of some of the old tracks was to celebrate the 30 years anniversary of Spellbound as we did last year with `Wildcat`. The songs are in the main true to the originals with a few tweaks here and there. We were very careful not to move too far away from the true feeling of the original songs but a 30 year re-fresh has given them a new life. I suspect that fans will be brushing off the dust of the original versions as well so they themselves will have renewed playtime.    
      
You’ve decided to record five songs from “Wild Cat” and six from “Spellbound”. Why only those ones? Are they maybe the songs that you usually play live?

We do play these songs live, but the idea was to pick out our favourite songs as a band, each member and our Management Team. We also listen very carefully to our fans at shows so we tried to please as much as we could. We did look at the idea of re-recording the whole album but that idea was quickly dismissed. The EP was a better celebration of the original and keeps with the Sessions EP series.

In both cases we’re talking about limited edition EP’s, with a very good price, that you’ve totally self-produced. Have you thought in looking for a label to make a proper distribution or is it totally conscious to keep it as limited editions to be sold exclusively by the band?

We are very keen as a band to have that emotional connection with the fans, they like to get in touch and buy from the Tygers of Pan Tang direct, it gives them access to the originator and not just simply a transaction through a third party distributer or retailer. This will only work on these Ltd Edition EPs though with an album release you need the expertise and infrastructure of a label to support the release.
        

Are you going to make a tour to support this releases? I don’t know how busy is the band live wise currently but, do you share your musical career with any other professional activities?

As a band we always try and work live as much as possible but we are actively writing new material at the moment. We made a decision that a new album would come first in 2011 but when an opportunity to play live presents itself, we have to consider the benefits of always promoting the band. This happened with the invite to play the BYH Festival in Germany. All the band members do work though with other bands or as session musicians so it can be hectic working within diary restrictions. 

I’ve read in an interview from last year that you did have intentions to record a new album soon. Anything more to tell about the new album? Will these re-recordings of the old stuff influence you in any way with the new songs? I mean, returning to the vibe of that old amazing songs...

As mentioned above the writing of the new album is under way; we probably have 30 ideas already! When I write it’s always in the vein of NWOBHM. That’s what I do! The other band members then piece my ideas together; add their version and we make a song. Jacopo and Craig tend to then take care of the lyrics although Dean also has some great lyrical ideas that are presented. We are looking to start recording later this year.

One of the main problems of bands as Tygers of Pan Tang which recorded great albums in the past and were out of the business for a while is getting the attention of the fans on their recent stuff. I’m going to be sincere and recognize that I hadn’t checked “Animal Instinct” until I was preparing the interview and now I think that it’s a very good album, maybe not as metal as your early works, but really good. How has “Animal Instinct” worked so far? How was the response to this album

Animal Instinct has had fantastic reviews worldwide, we are all VERY proud of it. This was really the kick start for the present band line up as the album proved we still had what it takes to write and record very good songs. It gave us lots of confidence too which was then emulated in our stage performances which further enhanced the bands reputation. It was an album that we needed to make to re-establish the Tygers name and it does seem to have worked. 


In that same interview that I mentioned before, when you were asked about the possibility of a reunion of the “classic” line-up, you said that it was impossible, partly because John Sykes was busy with Thin Lizzy and the other guys with the regular jobs. Now things are even better for bands as Tygers of Pan Tang as there’s an increasing interest in old school heavy metal. Have you thought about the reunion thing again? (For example, in Spain seemed almost impossible to see Baron Rojo’s classic line-up again and it happened a couple of years ago).

The original line up was fantastic in its own right and I have tremendous memories of that time, but the current band which has been together 10 years now is the Tygers of to-day. Everything just rocks! Between us and I have been there in both and I am enjoying playing with these guys every bit as much as the original line ups. I don’t think a reunion would be possible as the guys all have other projects in their life and only John (Sykes) is still in the Industry. I do think that one day there may be a chance that JS may join the band on stage for a song Jam or something if we are in the same part of the world at the same time. I know John is up for that and it would be great for the fans to see.

Now it’s time to make a travel to the past. I'm a heavy metal fan since I was a kid and I've also always loved to travel to England and London in particular. When I'm walking around London and I go to the record shops from Berwick St. (where I sometimes find great NWOBHM gems) I always try to imagine how special a time as the early 80's could have been. Can you, as someone that lived it directly (although you were from Whitley Bay, in the north of the country), tell us what that magic period between '80 and '83 meant for you?

Wow great question, where do I start? The Tygers lived in London off and on for 3 years so we went out to see the bands of the time, check them out, and make sure we were as good and original as them. We would learn and steal some ideas and then see if we could expand them further! It was a fantastic time, there was bands playing anywhere in pubs and clubs, basically anywhere they could plug into a wall socket. It’s very hard to describe but the fans and bands alike lived for music, it was there life. The scene was magical and probably will never be repeated in the UK. You had to be there and live it to feel the true essence of it all.

Those years were incredible in terms of musical creativity with newer bands as Iron Maiden, Tygers of Pan Tang, Angel Witch, Def Leppard, Diamond Head,... releasing amazing works, bands from the 70's as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest or Thin Lizzy recovering their best moments... but I've always wondered how was the relationship between the bands in the scene. Which other bands were you in touch with? Which were your favourite among your contemporaries?

Everybody more or less liked and respected each other; there was a friendship among us all as well as a friendly rivalry. The Tygers are mentioned a number of times in Brian Tatler (Diamond Head) book as a band they always looked at as a bench mark to their own progression. There was a form of chivalry between musicians in those days. My favourite bands were not particularly NWOBHM though, they were and still are, Ted Nugent, Uriah Heep, Thin Lizzy, UFO, Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Rush, the list goes on and on. I just love music. It’s a fantastic disease you get in your blood which is with you till you die!         
      

I've always thought that the NWOBHM bands where the ones that finally changed the face of heavy music setting the pillars where the entire 80 heavy metal scene would later stand on. We just have to think in the roots of 80's hard rock, thrash metal, traditional heavy metal... This would be extremely difficult for you but, how do you measure the NWOBHM legacy 30 years after its peak of fame and creativity?

NWOBHM was a very important movement of the time. It spawned many a stadium act to come in the following years. A lot of bands took their roots from our movement including Metallica who once said the Tygers were one of the main reasons for starting a band in the first place! Check out Wikipedia. I feel humbled and proud that my vision of music and song writing style back in 1979 has inspired so many musicians. Although not as influential today, every year NWOBHM is celebrated and remembered in some way, which is nice.  

For your first album you got signed to a big label, MCA Records. They should have given you big support. Was it very difficult to get signed back in those days? Nowadays it seems impossible to see a debuting band with a label as MCA Records.

I hope it was our music that got us signed! To-day there are only a few large record companies left! A lot of bands self-release product which seems to be a possible way ahead, although I do believe you need the expertise of a label to get the product to the fans in mass . For a major label, however MCA in the early 80s were very poorly organised compared to the likes of EMI or CBS. We did the best we could, given with what we had at the time.

Another quite usual phenomenon back in the early 80's was seeing bands releasing many albums in only a few years. For example you released four between 1980 and 1982 (two in 1981), if I'm not mistaken. Did the label force you to record in a so fast schedule?

Yes, MCA, for some mad reason kept asking us for albums when we hadn’t properly toured and promoted the last one. Thinking back the timescale was ridiculous, but I guess that’s what made life exciting in those days! Especially when your 21 years old.
   
If I'm not wrong some of those albums never got the touring support that they needed. What do you think that it was more important to push the band back in those days, touring or recording? Was this also due to pressure from the label?

Touring was the most important way to play to the masses and spread the word! We didn’t tour enough, and I think that played a part in the break-up of the band. The record company are all powerful, they hold the purse strings and what they say goes!  Our management at the time could have been more pro-active and agree a five year strategic plan for the band before we signed to a record company which was what Rod Smallwood did for Iron Maiden, that all history now though.    


I've always liked "Wild Cat" but, in my opinion, the quality improvement between the debut and "Spellbound" (my fave in all your history) was impressive. The songs got much more mature and diverse, the sound was better and the overall impression of the album seemed that you finally ended with a perfect product. What made these changes possible between both albums? How would you value John Sykes and Jon Deverill's contribution to the band in that moment?

The addition of both John and Jon made a huge difference. The band took on a whole new persona, direction and attitude. JS had a slightly more melodic song writing style to me. This gave the Tygers a more diverse direction which would benefit us in the years to come. Spellbound was a masterpiece (in my opinion) and Crazy Nights was a great album too but was let down with its poor production. It was a natural musical progression which I believe was the right decision looking at the songs that were produced with that line up.

After these two albums and the also excellent "Crazy Nights" things started to change. John Sykes left the band and you recorded "The Cage". Why did John leave the band when it seemed that you were gaining more and more reputation?

The true answer lies with John on that one. I was shocked when I was told he had gone, we were bigger than ever at that stage. I guess he left to become famous even quicker! I really loved John in a brotherly sense, we shared a room together on tour and got up to all sorts of things we shouldn’t! It hurt me when he left because he didn’t talk to me and tell me how he felt. There is no grudge though, it was a privilege to play and share a stage with John, and we will always be friends.

"The Cage" was one of the albums that I bought in Berwick St. and I have to confess that it was a big disappointment for me when I heard it. What did exactly happen after "Crazy Nights"? In "The Cage" you go for an obvious more commercial and melodic sound? What lead you to this style change? How do you feel with "The Cage" now?

The ‘Cage,’ was quite ground breaking at the time, and MCA should have had us tour it in the States for 2 years….but there you go another lack of vision on their part. The album charted in the UK at 12 and sold across the world really well but because we did not tour the world to support the release, it was quickly forgotten. The direction was quite deliberate on the part of the record company. They wanted a ‘USA’ friendly album but then didn’t promote it properly! I don’t think the band quite wanted to go quite that far in terms of musical direction but again the power of the label dictates….


After this album you make the decision to disband the band. What happened? Despite the problems with MCA Records, did you ever think in restarting the band again, recover the style from the early albums and look for a new label?

We recorded a 5th album and played it to MCA. They said it was OK, BUT they wanted us to record songs from outside writers, they needed 4 or 5 hit singles to finance the band across the world. We argued our case as the fifth album had really catchy tunes but they were adamant. We agreed to disagree, walked out of the MCA boardroom and never went back! Foolish maybe? Were we right to do it? taking on the might of a label, Of course we fucking were!!

And now we arrive to the bizarre reincarnation of the band in the mid 80's with Jon Deverill and Brian Dick leading the line-up and following an even more commercial approach. Did they ever inform you that they had the intention to reform the band? I've seen that you don't include this years in the band bio from you website. Do you consider that this band was not Tygers of Pan Tang?

I wasn’t informed or connected to the band at that time. They did what they did and they were Tygers of that day. Brian was involved as an original member but It’s always difficult for a band to continue with none of the primary original songwriters which Brian was not, guiding the musical direction. We exclude this era from the website mainly as we have no real knowledge of the band set up and what went on. It was a version of Tygers of Pan Tang, we would never claim otherwise.

Now I just want to ask you one thing that I've always wondered. Tygers of Pan Tang is one of the most original names that I've found in the metal world. Where does the name and your fascination with tigers come from?

The name comes from a fantasy science fiction book written by Michael Moorcock. The book is called ‘Strombringer.’ I the book there are cliffs along a shore line called the cliffs of Pan Tang and the emperor’s tigers guarded them. So we put the elements together and….the rest is history!
 
Well Robb. Thanks for everything. I hope that you enjoyed this travel along Tygers' history. If you want to finish the interview, it's your turn.

Thank you for your fantastic questions, and thank you, the reader for your time spent reading my ramblings about my band! God bless you all and remember if we are playing anywhere near you come and say ‘Hi Robb.’

PLAT IT LOUD and KEEP ROCKIN’

Watch out for some news on a Spain show very soon and check out the Official website for all the news:-


Robb Weir/May 2011

miércoles, 11 de enero de 2017

RIOT

This interview was, probably, the main reason to start a blog. I've never been a bit supporter of digital media, but as I explained before, I see myself without the time and energy to manage a printed publication by my own. Back in late 2011 (probably October or November) I interviewed Mark Reale on the occasion of the release of "Immortal Soul", their last album as RIOT. Fate is cruel, and Mark passed away only a couple of months after this interview and I've always felt that it was a shame that some of his last statements could never see the late of day. So, here I am finally making justice to his memory unleashing some of his last public words. With all of you, Mark Reale...  



Hi Mark. Back in 2008 you decided to reunite the "Thundersteel" line-up with the addition of your long time guitar player Mike Flyntz to conmemorate the 20 year anniversary of that album. What led to that reunion? How was the experience playing together again after 19 years since Don Van Stavern's departure?

We kept getting asked about the possibilities of a reunion when we would tour and Bobby said the same thing when he was on the road. Although Mike did not play on the two CD’s he was added to help fill the void in the guitar department live because I recorded so many guitar tracks on those records. He very quickly became a full fledged member. He’s a phenomenal player and an all around awesome guy on stage and off, he fit right in. The Thundersteel line up had a great relationship and a certain kind of formula for songs and a sound that people loved. Don was responsible for a lot of the changes of the sound of Riot during that period because of his background, he wrote most of the songs on "Thundersteel" and you will hear some of his recognizable style on "Immortal Soul". Everybody brought there “A” game on this CD. Mike did a lot of excellent writing and lead playing and Bobby of course did his usual awesome drumming and Tony outdid himself lyrically and vocally on this effort. I pretty much took a backseat for a lot of this! I am very proud of these guys and could definitely not have done it without them. Bobby actually contacted me initially first and we started talking about it and making phone calls to see who was still alive and available to do it and here we are today!  

I think that Mike Tirelli, Riot's singer between 2005 and 2008 was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. Was this the reason why the previous line-up disbanded and made the reunion possible? By the way, how's Mike recovering from his illness? Best wishes for him from Ample Destruction...
       
No, we were just kind of on hiatus at that time, I was having a few health issues myself and it just so happened that this reunion idea was in talks at that time. I haven’t spoken with him in a while but I hear Mike’s doing great and I believe he has fully recovered from his bout with cancer. He’s a great person and singer and we wish him the best in health and with his musical endeavours. I’ll give him best wishes from Ample Destruction!
    
I'm not exactly sure if Mike Tirelli was ever considered as the official Riot frontman or if he was only a live singer for the band. In fact, I think that he was already singing live with Riot in 2005, but "Army of One" was released in 2006 with Mike Dimeo. Can you please explain us this fact? Did you ever plan to release any albums with Mike Tirelli fronting Riot before his forced departure?
       
Yes, Mike Tirelli was a full fledged member at the time. Mike Dimeo had scheduling conflicts and was dealing with various projects and wasn’t available to fit into our playbook at that time so basically it was just availability. It wasn’t on bad terms or any internal problems of that sort.
       
It would had been really interesting to hear a Riot album fronted by him as he's and excellent vocalist but this unfortunate situation, in some way, paved the path for the reunion of one of Riot's strongest line-ups. However, after only one year Tony Moore decided to leave the band although you had a new album scheduled for 2009. What did exactly happen?

When the Thundersteel line up broke up over 20 sum odd years ago, Don left shortly followed by Tony, we kept the line up going with the remaining members. It wasn’t that particular sound that we had created so it was turning another page in the history of Riot. During that period Don continued on in various projects, touring and recording where as Tony kind of left the scene and was doing stuff on a more grounded level. So I think after 20 years of that and a home life and then getting thrown back into the fire it was a little overwhelming at that time for him. We all didn’t know how this was going to turn out. But it ended up going from reunion shows to an overwhelming out cry for permanence. He had to step back and re evaluate his stance during this period.
      
In another curious evolution of facts, Tony was announced as Riot's frontman again in 2010. What made him change his decision of leaving Riot less than a year later?

He re evaluated!  I think he just needed time for this to sink in and that there was such a demand for the group. He had to arrange his personal life’s schedule to give it some priority that it was requiring. He also was seeing the people commenting on him singing, everyone wanted a new CD with him on it. We had a band pow wow and we decided to give it a shot. Tony’s vocals are a big part of this sound and we were exciting to have him back. You will hear on "Immortal Soul" how lucky we are to have him back. The vocals sound better than 20 years ago! It’s amazing. Hell, the whole band blows me away! Hopefully we can keep this unit together for years to come God willing!

      
In fact a new album, entitled "Immortal Soul" is just about to be. Is this the same album that was planned to be released in 2009? Was any of the new stuff recorded in 2009 or are we talking about totally recent recordings?
   
We did record a few songs then, but pretty much everything else was recorded and mixed within the last six months. It was funny, we had a CD two years in the making and then everything started happening quickly with record labels. The offers starting coming in so once we inked a deal it was crunch time and had to work our asses off to get this out on time!
   
I haven't had the opportunity to check any of the stuff for this new album but, as Riot's music has changed quite a bit during the years, what can we expect from "Immortal Soul"? Will it totally recall the more power metal years of "Thundersteel" and "The Privilege of Power"?

"Immortal Soul" is basically the follow up to "Thundersteel" and "Privilege of Power" 20 years later! The sound of the Thundersteel line up is so identifiable and the songs on the new CD have the same feel and sound but with more of a modern metal twist. This line up's writing and performing skills have the same kind of magic we had back when we recorded those two albums.

Going back to those albums, "Thundersteel" is regarded by many of your fans as one of your most inspired moments, but "The Privilege of Power" despite being a great record, had a mixed reception because of the brass section included in some of the songs (which, by the way, was not so present on the album, in my opinion). Who was behind that surprising idea? Have you ever regretted this decision?
   
"Thundersteel" was different than the earlier records. With the addition of the more metal players and Don's writing, it kind of led itself to come out heavier. Riot’s always been about aggressive music with great melody lines, it was a great power metal record and that's why I think it was received so well. On Privilege, back during that era we were produced by long time Riot producer Steve Loeb who consistently had crazy ideas, some good, a lot of bad, this was bad! We had nothing to do with this. Once we recorded it the next time we heard it was when the CD came out and that stuff was on there! The horn section on some songs didn’t bother me that bad, but those crazy song intros were really annoying. Still to date, we clip those off when listening! I suggest you do the same unless you plan on getting high before you listen to it! I’m sure they were when they did it! Haha!
   
However, the slight musical changes have been constant in your career. From the classic hard rock of the late 70's, to the classic metal sounding albums of the early 80's, going through the power metal orientation of the Tony Moore records to the Rainbow influenced heavy metal of the 90's and 2000's. Can we say that all this different approaches represent diverse moments and interests in your life? Did the different members in the band influenced this changes in your musical direction?

I think the vocalists have a lot to do with the way I’m writing at the time. Mike Dimeo’s voice had a more bluesy feel and fit the folksy gothic “rainbowish” type tunes. Guy had a unique mid range voice and it was great on the first three rock metalish records and of course the music was a little more straight up heavy rock when Rhett joined because of his vocal style. Tony’s voice leads us to write this way, very melodic and aggressive. Tony has one of the best voices and range out in rock today. Bobby and Don’s heavy metal influenced rythym section definitely are resposible for this era of Riot’s sound

Aside from the musical changes, Riot has always been a band of constant line-up changes. What was the reason for this? Was this maybe because the band always seemed to be on the road to success, but never managed to reach the big leagues?
       
I could write a book! If you think Anvil or Spinal Tap are full of drama and are funny and interesting, they ain’t got shit on my life story! It culminates from many different decisions, some good, some not so good. Management decisions were not the best at the time either. Musical differences and changes were usually the problem. Riot really never had any drug hang ups. Sometimes the band and sound needed to evolve and sometimes the players didn’t want to change or simply couldn’t rise to challenge. That’s obvious on the change of the Riot sound from hard rock to power metal. A musical roller coaster if you will! I’ve opened up for AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Rush and then a few years back we opened for Anvil and Virgin Steele! See the difference? Up and Down! Now we are back on the upside! We’ve gotten great response and played some great festivals with the heavy weights again and great record deals already, so let’s see how this chapter of the story plays out! I’m betting it will be great.
         
I think that you've always blamed the management deal that you signed in the late 70's for harming the band's ascension. To what extent did this guys stopped Riot's possibilities of growing as a band? Weren't they supposed to do exactly the opposite thing? Can you briefly tell us what happened?
   
Long story short, very short! We were a bunch of naive young Brooklyn New York musicians looking for that break into the music industry. They owned a studio in Manhattan and helped us out in the very beginning. We were there baby so to speak and after recording us and watching us grow into a serious contender, they never wanted us to leave the nest. We had offers from Black Sabbath’s Management, Metallica’s Management and a host of different opportunities. They wanted to control the band's every move early on. They were basically egotistical megalomaniacs. Unfortunately it took us forever to get out of that situation. We were appreciative for what they did, but at one point you have to let the eagle spread its wings and fly from the nest to the next level.
    
If I'm not wrong you were tied with this guys until 1996, just before you signed with Metal Blade. What meant, for you, finally being free from this deal and signing with Metal Blade for the release of "Inishmore"? Were this kind of long terms deals very usual back in those days?

Being mislead and being taken advantage of in this business is not uncommon, It still happens today unfortunately, ask anyone out there. It had its grips on me for sometime, but it is a great feeling to get out of something like that for so long and be able to record and play under more rewarding circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, fame has its price and we definitely paid to be where we are. It was nice to work with Brian and Metal Blade. Brian has his ears to the ground on this music and no games or head trips, just look at his track record.  
      
You've been through some highs and lows during these 36 years but, if I ask you about your more successful moments as a band, which ones would you choose?
       
Every Riot line up has had a remarkable time and great moments. There are highs and lows of each line up. This band has not had it easy by any means. Just being able to still play and a demand for Riot after all these years is rewarding in itself, believe it or not every time were are touring  it’s a thrill, if you love what you’re doing whether it be big or small you have a great time making music with people you love and playing it for people that love your music. The fans are definitely responsible for us continuing this legacy! Although highlights would include: The very first Castle Donington Monsters of Rock festival, Port Vale with Ozzy and Motorhead, our very first tour with Sammy Hagar, touring with Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult on the Black n’ Blue Tour, playing alongside Ritchie Blackmore and Randy Rhoads, the rebirth of Riot and the Thundersteel line up in ‘88 and now the resurrection of this line up is exciting and of course the Japanese and festival appearances are always awesome! It’s always a thrill to travel the world and perform in exotic places for some amazing friends and fans. We are blessed.
     
Probably Riot's most stable period would have been the years between 1994 and 2006 (except from some changes behind the drum kit) with Mike Dimeo fronting the band. Why did this line-up broke after 12 years being together? How did things end with Mike?
        
Basically it was kind of another being on a long hiatus situation! During that time some of the band members were doing other musical and personal things. I was involved with Tony Harnell and the Westworld project and a sideman for a few Bonnie Tyler shows and Mike was doing several side projects including the Bonnie gig as well. So when something came up it was a matter of scheduling. Mike wasn’t available for a couple tours, so we had to get a replacement which was Mike Tirelli.
       
Being this a so important and long time in the history of Riot, do you play songs from the Mike Dimeo or any other period with Riot's current line-up or are you specially sticking to the "Thundersteel" and "The Privilege of Power" stuff when you're preparing a set list for the shows?
       
For the most part we like to stick with the material from this line up but obviously we will play some of the past favourites. The most asked for music is usually from the Fire Down Under era or the Thundersteel era. We will do a few from "Thundersteel" and "Privilege of Power", a few from "Fire Down Under", "Narita" and "Rock City" and of course a few from "Immortal Soul". Tony’s vocal style fits better with those two eras of Riot and maybe a few surprises!
        
Just one more thing. I've always being quite intrigued by the strange creature that appeared in the covers up until "Born in America". What the hell was that?
       
Haha! Although a lot of people thought that character was named “Johnny” he was actually called “The Mighty Tior” he was supposed be our mascot, kind of like Iron Maiden did with Eddie the Head years later. He was a combination of a seal head and a sumo wrestler body with an axe. It was a Japanese folklore character symbol of strength. A lot of people just thought it was a stupid little emblem without meaning but he did have meaning and was associated with Riot and believe it or not that is a frequently asked question. He was another crazy idea conjured up by the same producer that I mentioned earlier that did all that stuff back in the day! I’m sure they were high then too! HaHa!
       
Well, that was all, thanks a lot for your time and patience answering our questions. Some last words to close the interview?

Thank you and looking forward to re-introducing the Riot Thundersteel line up to the masses. The new CD "Immortal Soul" is going to surprise a lot of people that didn’t think we could come back with the progressive power metal sound we had in the past. These players are top notch and still on point and the musicianship, creativity, camaraderie and magic is still there 10 fold. See you soon and Shine On Metal Soldiers!

Mark Reale/Autumn 2011

viernes, 6 de enero de 2017

Underrated death metal albums

This will be a section where I'll obviously show my personal preference over different concepts. Of course, it'll be a good indication of what I'm listening to during a certain time frame. As you may see, I've been digging some good old school death metal recently and, thus, I decided to share here some of my weaknesses which I feel don't get the attention they deserve. This won't probably be the last time that a make a list within the realm of death metal, but as a first experience, please enjoy some of my personal unsung death metal classics.

- Luciferion: "Demonication: the Manifest" (1994 Listenable Records)

I came across this album by chance during my formative years around 1995/1996 when I was getting into the black and death metal scenes and has remained a personal favorite ever since. I've seen some critizicing around the album because of the strong resemblance to Deicide and Morbid Angel and, yes, it bears a big similitude with both of them, but they somehow take that approach to a different level introducing melodic arrangements, keyboards and progressive interludes. From a very recognizable base they create something quite personal which really stands the test of time more than 20 years later. Nice, and quite original cover by Kristian "Necrolord" Wåhlin.



- Resurrection: "Embalmed Existence" (1993 Nuclear Blast Records)

This was a certain case of bad timing. By 1993 everything was said and done in the Tampa death metal scene and Resurrection where for sure one of the last few to arrive at the party. All in all, this is a perfect example of pure USDM, technically proficient, wonderfully produced by Scott Burns (I tend to think that this is one of his best works) and beatifully packaged (Dan Seagrave's cover is astonishing). I would like to give a special mention to Alex Marquez's drumming here, although he's not featured on the picture in the back cover. This guy really takes the band one step up with his work here, as he did in Malevolent Creation's "Retribution" or both Solstice albums.



- Desultory: "Bitterness" (1994 Metal Blade Records)

The case of Desultory is fairly typical in Swedish death metal, they release a great debut album and soon feel the urge to evolve and end releasing a third album full of utter crap. However, in this, their sophomore effort, they took a path influenced by doom metal which they would soon abandon in favour of that annoying death 'n' roll pioneered by Entombed that polluted the Swedish scene in the mid 90's. This four swedes mutated the thrashy approach of their debut into some melody infused death metal that became a mixture between old school Swedish death metal and the style of Paradise Lost early albums. Melodic death metal? Definitely yes, but not something to be afraid of. Don't expect the typical Swedish melodeath popularized by In Flames and Dark Tranquillity a couple of years later. Again, Kristian Wåhlin's masterful hand can be seen here.



- Necrophobic: "The Nocturnal Silence" (1993 Black Mark Records)

Ah, the late David Parland! What an incredible musician that threw away an inmense amount of talent releasing just two albums and a handful of EP's during the 90's, to virtually disappear from the scene in the early 2000's. This was, without a doubt, an original offer in the classic Swedish scene. Yes, it was recorded at Sunlight Studios, but Necrophobic's style of death metal, strongly influenced by Bathory and Slayer, was one of a kind. Really evill stuff with lots of dark melodies that definitely helped to shape Swedish blackened death metal together with Dissection. If you like evil death metal with a melodic touch and a straight satanic attitude, don't miss this one!



- Demigod: "Slumber of Sullen Eyes" (1992 Drowned Productions)

Each time I remember that I owned this one during the mid 90's, but I traded it for the digipak copy "Storm of the Light's Bane", I feel the urge to hit the closest wall available. Not to say that I don't like Dissection's magnum opus, it's still one of my fave albums ever but, who the hell would know that people would be paying for this one more than 100€ 20 years later? However, it's great value doesn't only rely on economic facts, it's a damned great example of pure early 90's death metal. Dark as an oceanic trench, I think that I can consider it my fave finnish death metal album together with Amorphis' debut. Don't let the terrible cover (a tradition in Drowned releases) prevent you to check this record. It can surely be a very strong contender for the ugliest cover ever, but it's one of the finest examples of Finnish death metal and a must for every sucker of old school stuff. However, I won't take more time to discuss this matter as it will be subject for a future article.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5hzuFEjeoo

- Gorement: "The Ending Quest" (1994 Crypta Records)

Although in recent years this album has received some cult following, it must be one of the most obscure worthy albums released in Sweden in the early 90's. Searching for unknown death metal albums some years ago, I found a website where someone recommended this one, and for sure it was a good bet. Musically talking, Gorement played a quite doomy kind of Swedish death metal, with some faster moments (never too much) and deep growled vocals. It may not be dissimilar to what God Macabre where doinga couple of years prior, but with quite a personal touch, probably given by the sound, really different to those recording at Sunlight. It wasn't usual to see a Swedish band recording in Germany, but I found that many releases by the small Crypta Records where recorded at Delta Studios in Germany. This has become a really hard to find collector's item so, if you happend to find one at a reasonable price, don't hesitate to buy it! As a curiosity, I've always found Bloodbath's logo more than similar to Gorement's.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjAOXyz8Opg

- Morta Skuld: "For all Eternity" (1995 Peaceville Records)

It would be much cooler to name Morta Skuld's debut here, but I have a preference over this album as their more accomplished effort. This Wisconsin band was one of the those that graced my early years listening to Death Metal as I remember that a friend lent me this CD around 95/96. I can recall that I used to listen this album quite a lot and recorded it on tape and drew the band logo on its side as it was my habit back then. However, when those tapes ended in a box in my storage I somehow forgot everything about them, until recently, when I saw someone recommending their aforementioned debut "Dying Remains". "For all Eternity" was an album that, even in those days, received some backlash due to its lack of originality and, to some extent, I may agree with this appreciation, but I really enjoy it as a perfect exercise of pure USDM. If you can imagine something in the middle of Obituary and Morbid Angel, you'd be quite close to guess the sound of this album. You won't find anything groundbreaking here, but years have made this album a very enjoyable experience.


- Brutality: "Screams of Anguish" (1993 Nuclear Blast Records)

I really liked this band since the very first time that I checked "Cryptorium" in "Death... is just the beginning" vol. 2, but it took me some years to aquire a copy of "Screams of Anguish" at a good price (I never bought it back in the day and I really regretted it when these CD's became harder to find). Very similar case to Resurrection... great Florida death metal, quite technical and really well recorded, but arrived at the tail end of the style and never made any sort of splash in the scene. One of the aspects that really drew my attention back then was Scott Reigel's insane vocals, one of the sickest growlers of the scene, no doubt about it!. Any of their 90's albums are very recommendable, but I think this debut is the best among them.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50tqWiZwQ0I&t=4s

- Centinex: "Subsconcious Lobotomy" (1992 Underground Records)

Well, if Demigod's cover is awful, please have a look at this one! It's way beyond all my comprehension how an ugly drawing ended up gracing an album cover. However, the sentence "don't judge a book by its cover" has never been so suitable. Please, pass the cover by and give an opportunity to one of the great unknown of Old School Swedish Death Metal. Recorded at Sunlight in 1992, great songs, good melodies, dark atmosphere, good inclusion of keys and effects... everything screams early 90's death metal here! So, what went wrong with this album? Obviously the cover (it may sound awkward, but compare this piece of... with the work of Dan Segrave or Kristian Wåhlin for example) and probably the label which released it (surely Underground Records was no Earache, Nuclear Blast or Centurt Media back then). This guys would later change to a more melodic and blackish kind of sound akin to the fashion in the late 90's, but if you like your death metal pure and upright, check this one!


 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V50M4m35DlA

- God Macabre: "The Winterlong" (1993 M.B.R. Records)

Nowadays almost every initiated knows something about God Macabre (Relapse even released "The Winterlong" on vinyl a couple of years ago), but I assure you that, when I first learnt about this album, almost nobody talked about them. These guys where formed as Macabre End, released a great demo (later on vinyl) under that name and, in late 1991, entered Sunlight Studio to record their debut. Everything sounded well for these youngsters but, unfortunately for them, the album got shelved and didn't get a proper release until two years later when the band was already disbanded. Should have been a different story if they managed to get a deal with a bigger label and release it in early 1992? Who knows? Most likely yes, but history is there and no one can change it. What did God Macabre leave us with the Winterlong"? A great slab of pure Old School Swedish Death Metal in the vein of (well, you should know who they are) with slightly doomy touches (some solos kind of remind me old Paradise Lost), great vocals and the typical, but great, Sunlight sound.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WKg-sVamqg

Well, that's all by now, but I feel that I'll come back with more sometime in the near future...

Welcome to Ample Destruction!

Years ago I started the project of creating a printed 'zine focused in the kind of bands which I wanted to read information from. Just the sort of 'zine that I always liked to read. As with many projects, lack of time and support forced me to put the 'zine on hold, although most of the work was already done. Now, I just start this blog as a homage to the work done during those months and as a source to make all those contents available which, btw, were really interesting and deserve to have some public exposure.
As you may suppose, the title for that unborn publication was Ample Destruction 'zine so, as a tribute to that original project, here I give birth to "Ample Destruction, reflections from an old school metalhead"!