Archive for the metal interview Category

Interview with Cynic

Posted in Cynic, interview, metal interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Paul Masvidal is the founding member and vocalist/guitarist of the progressive metal band Cynic.  Since the inception of Cynic in 1987, Paul has been fusing the influence of his eclectic taste in music with his obvious musical talents to push the boundaries of metal music.  Max performed an interview with him to gain more insight into Cynic’s sound.

Courtesy of Gibson.com

I’m here with Paul from Cynic.  We’re at the Chicago leg of Cynic’s tour with Devin Townsend, Between the Buried and Me, and Scale the Summit.  On both of your albums, Traced in Air and Focus, you make use of that vocoder, pseudo-alien voice.  Is there a certain feel you’re going for when you use that voice?

Yeah.  I think originally the decision to do that back in the day was that I was insecure as a singer.  It was a combination of feeling that I didn’t really like how my natural voice sounded and could hide behind this alien voice.  But also, it ended up making a lot of sense once we got into it.  It added this sci-fi, kinda modern quality to the music and the whole vibe that worked.  I didn’t want a traditional melodic voice.  I was thinking of something just…different, but I didn’t know what that was.  And then over the years, since Focus and [moving] into Traced in Air and through numerous other projects, I think I learned how to essentially sing and found my voice.  So, the Traced in Air voice became like a 50% human, 50% android thing.  And it seems like it’s going more and more human.  We just did an EP and I did it all clean vocals.  So, it’s just kinda morphing.  But I think there is a trademark-y quality to that voice that’s part of Cynic’s sound.  It’ll always kinda be integrated, it’s just a question of how much.  Because on the first record there’s no human, it’s just completely android.  Which at times is cool, but it’s limiting if you really want to sing.  Because the technology isn’t there yet where, if you really kinda get into it, it doesn’t track great, y’know.  Especially in a live context.  So, I’m kinda trying to find that middle ground where I can still touch on that color and have that vibe going but also be able to free it up and have a more organic voice too.


-You mentioned that your new EP is all clean vocals.  Are you finding then that you’ll eventual move towards purely human vocals on all of your future recordings?

Yeah, who knows?  I mean, it’s funny that although there’s this human voice happening on the new stuff [the EP], it’s like…sci-fi/prog/folk.  It still sounds really modern and interesting.  But I think it has to do with the melodies and harmonies.  You start realizing that it’s the vibe vs. just an effect.  It’s almost like you don’t want to rely on the effect for anything.  The music has got to feel that way first.  But I dont know, we’ll see.  I’m sure there’ll still be some of it, it’s just that it’s one of those things that keeps evolving.  I find that I’m refining it constantly.  But it is kinda part of Cynic’s thing, it’s just figuring out how it works in the context of new material.


So, with both of Cynic’s albums you guys used Robert Venosa for the artwork.  Does his artwork mirror the subject matter of the lyrics and/or the music itself?

Well, since I was an adolescent, I’ve kinda been obsessed with Venosa.  I used to buy postcards and posters of his work from a little esoteric bookstore where I grew up on Miami.  And, it was one of those things where it just resonated with me.  It made a lot of sense what he’s doing.  It’s like one of those artists that you see their work and you just connect with it immediately; it just speaks to you.  I’d had that feeling with him since I was really young.  So, when we finally got signed to Roadrunner in the early 90s, we basically had an option to get artwork.  So, I contacted his publisher and they said to just call him directly, which I was shocked about because I thought he was some dude that like lived 100 years ago or something.  I didn’t even know he was a human, it was just really trippy.  It turned out that he was this really sweet guy who turned into this mentor, kinda friend for me.  To this day, we talk regularly and have a good friendship.  I almost feel like I’ve been trying to capture what he’s doing in his paintings sonically from day one.  How do I get it to sound like this? What this looks like, what this feels like. Y’know? (laughs) To me, it’s all the same thing really.  It’s just a different form.  The expression is the same.  Yeah, there is just some innate connection that’s really deep with Venosa that feels really pure.  And that’s why we go to it, it just kinda resonates.

Are you spiritual in any way?  On the newer album you include mantras and “om”s. Does this reflect your personal beliefs and convictions?

Since the Focus days, I’ve been actively meditating.  Just kinda, doing the work.  Trying to unearth all of the monsters and look at them and befriend them.  And at the same time, kind of just understand who I am and who we are in the greater sense…as a planet, as a species and then getting beyond that, just as a collective really.  I’ve been on the path a long time.  I would say Buddhism has definitely been the route for about 10 years now.  Yeah, it’s really kinda one of those things where as an artist your lyrics are an extension of your life and what you do.  It seems like if Traced in Air is more an earth-human struggle concept vs the first album when I was really new to all the stuff and I was really young and more innocent.  It seems like it’s gotten more intense and real in terms of what I’m getting at.  I’m getting closer to the core of something.  But, it never ends.  We’re on this journey forever or at least as long as we’re alive here.  It’s not about getting anywhere, it’s just about showing up for what’s happening.  So, that’s kinda the trick I think.  Just being present, being here.

-A somewhat less intense question now.  What have you been listening to as of late?  And what are some of your overall favorite artists?

God, I’m all over the place.  I’m a huge Radiohead fan.  I like this kinda slowcore group that I discovered recently from Iceland called múm.  They’re really great.  I also like Mew, another cool group.  Sigur Rós.  I like a lot of experimental stuff, in terms of poppier styles.  Fusion and Jazz, like the guitar player Ben Monder of New York, Pat Metheny, Allan Holdsworth, a lot of fusion guys.  I guess I haven’t been too keen on a lot of metal lately.  It just seems like it’s been more experimental rock.  We’ve been there for a long time.  It’s funny how we listen to a bunch of different stuff, but somehow the music comes out pretty heavy.  But I think it makes for more original and interesting music because you’re pulling from many different reference points.


-I was here last year when you guys played with Meshuggah.  The Cynic fans were of course very receptive, but there were a few Meshuggah fans heckling you.  Being that you guys are so different and diverse, does that happen a lot?  What goes through your head when something like that occurs?

Well, it’s funny because the little bit that may happen these days is nothing compared to what we experienced when we first started.  When you’re touring with a group like Cannibal Corpse in the early 90s, that was rough man.  Especially with this music, it was like no one got it.  It’s like what’re you guys doing, man?  This is not cool.  Clean parts?  Melodic vocals?  I mean, we even had a chick growling and playing keyboards.  And there were just no women in the scene, you know (laughs).  So, the whole thing was breaking all the rules in a sense.  I think in these extreme genres, you’re gonna get people that are fixed and don’t want to see things differently.  They just want to see things the way they imagine them to be.  I think the last time that happened, when I even heard them, because I usually don’t even hear them since there’s so much going on, I think I just said: someone give that person a hug.  You know?  They just want to be heard.  It’s like the class clown saying “pay attention to me!!!”  It’s kind of one of those things that I don’t take personally, it has nothing to do with us really.  It’s their stuff you know? (laughs)  I pretty much ignore it most of the time.

-It seems like people just don’t like to see music progress sometimes.

Yeah, I think it’s hard for people to be challenged a lot of times.  When you see an artist that’s maybe leaving the boundaries of what you’re familiar with.  It’s just not comfortable for some people.  Like, “Wait, that’s not cool.  You can’t act this way.  This genre should be this way!”  Which is really everything that we’re against.  We’ve always been about pushing the envelope and leaving the safety zones.  I think that’s the duty of any artist.  We’re here to bring something new to the table, it’s too easy to rip people off.    But, I think it’s one of those things where everyone has their own journey and process and we’re just trying to be on ours, regardless.


Interview with Shaxul – A Life Force of the French Black Metal Scene

Posted in Annthennath, Arphaxat, black metal, French black metal, Hirilorn, interview, Manzer, metal interview, Shaxul with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Shaxul, a French metal musician, has had a place in the black metal scene for nearly 15 years now.  Starting in the epic band Hirilorn, he then founded Deathspell Omega in 1998.  Musical differences caused Shaxul to leave the band and pursue a different route.  Since then, he has been extremely busy with his record labels and multiple musical projects including Annthennath, Manzer, and Arphaxat.  Kindly, Shaxul agreed to answer some questions about his musical career.  Interview performed by Max.

-How does the song-writing process occur for Annthennath?

N°6 (guitar) writes the riffs and structures. Lyshd sometimes does it as well but it’s mainly N°6. Then the remaining musicians (Welkin on bass, Thyr on drums and myself on vocals) work on their own parts. I am responsible for all lyrics and concepts.

-I see that there are multiple releases planned for 2010.  Are there two full lengths and a split coming?  What can you tell us about these?

We are close to FROSTMOON ECLIPSE musically and they are friends so we wanted to do a split 7″EP with them. I came up with the idea of writing an exclusive song by each band which theme is infanticide as a natural selection. It should be available soon through REGIMENTAL Records (USA). I will release a CD through my own label ARMEE DE LA MORT Records, it will consist of 3 new tracks with a concept about nothingness, and several rare and exclusive songs so yes, it will be a full length when it comes to the duration but our real first album will be released by PICTONIAN Records, a local label run by a friend. The album is called “States Of Liberating Departure” and it features 8 tracks. It has just been mixed and mastered and I can’t tell you how much I am impressed with the result! I think this album will blow everyone away.


-Does Annthennath play live shows?

No, we are a studio band. We live quite far from each other for various reasons, we’re all very busy with other projects, and some members don’t like to play live so all this means we are not a live band. All in all, it is a part of our misanthropic concept. Personally I like playing live but I have another band for that, called MANZER.

-Regarding your now-defunct band Hirilorn, can you clarify the reason behind the break-up?

Sînn and Yohann became really too open-minded for me and Hasjarl. They were listening to many non-Metal shit, they took part in some stupid modern HardCore bands, Sînn sold his Metal collection to buy Electro/Indus shit, etc… We couldn’t stand this situation anymore. We suggested them to become session members only but as we expected it, they denied the offer and the band was dead…

-Do you foresee Hirilorn ever reforming?

It is absolutely impossible. The other 3 members don’t give a shit about HIRILORN, I don’t see them for 8 to 11 years and I simply hate them hehe…  Remember that I left them in bad terms. And I couldn’t reform the band with other members because there was a special unity between us back then, something that couldn’t be done again. Nowadays most bands reforming are very bad and it would be a shame and insult if HIRILORN would be a part of this circus.

-Prophetic Tales of Armageddon was never released until now.  Are all of the planned songs from that album on the new 2xLP?

Yes, they are all on this double LP. It has never been released before because unfortunately the band split up before recording the album. But I managed to find some decent recordings from rehearsals we made in 1999. They were good enough to be released on noble vinyl format. It is the ultimate testament of HIRILORN.

-Manzer is another one of your projects.  It seems to have a really old school feel to it, especially with your vocals.  It’s really reminding me of proto-black metal bands from the 80s.  What type of sound are you going for with Manzer?

I hate the “proto-Black” word, it’s mainly used by newcomers without knowledge about the Metal history, and VENOM are the creators of Black Metal, it is one of our biggest influence. So we are Black Metal, that’s all. Read old SLAYER mags for example and you’ll notice that the words Black Metal were used very often. Our main influences are VENOM, ABIGAIL, SABBAT, KILLERS, ATOMIZER, IMPALED NAZARENE, JAN DO FIAO, BATHORY, NME, BULLDOZER… We also want to show that Black Metal is not only the stupid norsecore style that so many people dig nowadays. We respect the roots of Metal and it is a tribute. We show we can do a traditional style with our own identity.

-Arphaxat is a duo with you on drums and bass and Draken on vocals.  What is the reason behind utilizing a no-guitar approach?

The reason is very simple: we can’t play this fukking instrument hahaha! We wanted to create a project together and we thought that using bass parts with a big distortion instead of the usual six-strings electric guitar would be OK. And it works, at least we’re satisfied with the shit we succeeded to create hehe…

-All of your musical projects (unless I’m missing some), seem to be rooted in the black metal style.  Do you foresee yourself ever playing in a separate sub-genre of metal or another genre of music?

Yes, I could play in other styles of Metal (as long as it’s traditional and not modern shitty sub-genres). It’s just that destiny made that I only played in Black Metal bands… Maybe one day I could play something else but my bands are very different from one to another so it’s really not an issue. I would like to find time to record something with traditional instruments from all over the world, nothing Metal here but it would be very special for me, the problem is that I don’t have the time for that and Metal will remain a priority for sure.

-How has your label Legion of Death Records been going?

It is going well since early 2001! This week I will unleash my 38th production, EXORDIUM MORS 7″EP from New Zealand.

-Is there a reason that you tend to sign bands that are not European?

Of course, it is the concept of my label. In Europe things are very easy when it comes to getting record deals. In some underrated or unknown places, it is very difficult. It’s a bit easier nowadays but back then it was a fukked up situation, really. I wanted to help the valuable bands in these distant countries. Though I always supported valuable European bands as well, by the way I have created a parallel label last year, called ARMEE DE LA MORT Records. It is mainly to support underrated bands from the French regions.

-What do you foresee for the future of black metal or just metal in general?

Metal will never die! People should be more underground to keep real Metal alive and they should have the balls to boycott all trends. But there’s nothing we can do, except supporting the real Metal spirit. I can mainly speak for myself and I will be Metal til death. This is the most important to me, I will never betray my thoughts.

-How would you describe the black metal scene in France right now?

It is getting better. To be honest I hated it during many years. Some years ago I discovered some bands with the correct attitude and tastes. And I want to support them with ARMEE DE LA MORT Records. I have already released 3 Black Metal albums, by FUNERAILLE, CARNYX and ANKRISMAH. Get them if you want to know what real Black Metal from France is all about. Nothing to do with the trendy ones that many non-French people seems to hail.

-What albums have you been listening to as of late?

As I run a label, I receive lots of new records all the time. And they are the ones I listen to. So for example, last week I listened a lot to NECROWRETCH, RESUSCITATION, TUDOR, COMBAT NOISE, INFERNAL CURSE, AFFLICTIS LENTAE, DEIPHAGO, CURSED NIHIL, ZÜÜL, etc… But of course I pick up an older record from time to time!

-What are some of your overall favorite albums?

It is extremely difficult to answer this question as there are so many but I can mention VENOM “Black Metal”, SABBAT “Envenom”, IRON MAIDEN “Powerslave”, SADISTIK EXEKUTION “The Magus”, MANILLA ROAD “Crystal Logic”, SARCOFAGO “INRI”, MASSACRA “Enjoy the violence”, SLAYER “Reign in blood”, etc…

-Any closing remarks or things you’d like to promote?  Thank you so much for the interview!

Not that I want to promote anything but I encourage everyone to check my webshop with tons of true underground Metal stuffs! That’s all, so 666 thanxxx to you for the support!!! My contacts:

LEGION OF DEATH Records / ARMEE DE LA MORT Records

WebSite + WebShop : www.legionofdeathrecords.com

E-mail : shaxul@orange.fr

MSN : shaxul666@hotmail.fr

Snail Mail : LOD Records / BP 21 / 86210 Bonneuil-Matours / France.