Avikari premiere new song “Timeless”

Avikari is a melodic instrumental band that recently released a killer new song “Timeless”.  It’s a great mix of modern progressive metal with more melody and some electronic sampling too.  The project is based out of Vancouver, where the water is really good and breed some great artists.  If you wanna try something different, melodic and really prog with some technicality mixed in Avikari really rips.  Listen to their latest release below and stay in tune with what they’re releasing!

Dark Helm- Hymnus De Antithesist

Dark Helm released an obscenely awesome progressive death metal album this past Christmas, and wow the Indian band really put on quite a show.  Let’s say the country has their own Rivers Of Nihil. These guys not only blend progressive death metal and rock with some psychedelic influences…..but what really drew me in was authenticity to their home.  There’s all sorts of cool sitar and other Indian instruments added into their extremely deep and impressive sound.  Don’t worry, the guys bring plenty of heavy along  with that awesome sound of theirs.

 DARK HELM:

Dhairya Anand – Vocals
Shubhrayu De – Bass
Mohanish Deshmukh – Guitars

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To already add to their wild sound, there’s also some keyboards that widen their sound even more.  Everything about this album is fantastic from energetic vocals, killer rhythm and beautiful guitar work.  India is pumping out some solid music right meow with Orchid and Coma Rossi being two of my first discoveries.  Just like Indonesia, I think i’m starting to develop a soft spot for India and is motivating me to want to promote their music more.  When Dhairya sings, it’s like that classic 70’s psychedelic prog sound mixed with a big Steven Wilson influence.  And let me tell you how cool the layered sitar sounds when he’s singing, just wow.  There’s even hand drums too, if you were curious.  I can’t ramble on enough on how great Dark Helm is, and how artistic they are.  This isn’t another metal band trying to fit in, they’re truly unique and I strongly suggest you give them a chance.  Check out the album right here.

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https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChFwvOB90x-s1_9l1whwN7w

Ad Astra Self Titled Album

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Instrumental Progressive Fusion band Ad Astra dropped their self titled album and I’m here to blabber all about it! The guys have put out a more than stellar output, to be honest with you all.  The guitar work is absolutely brilliant, and does what it has to do…..some fusion guitarists just aimlessly noodle (like technical death metal occasionally, too) without a good song structure.  Well, I’m relieved to say Ad Astra goes against that generalization big time.  The band has worked together to create compositions, not just a band aimlessly playing their instrument.  There’s great melody, sweet keyboard work as well, and some killer rhythms.

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The drummer holds a solid and steady output on the kit, while maintaining great flavor in the recipe of Ad Astra’s music.  The bassist holds a fine steady rhythm, and is totally locked in with the drummer’s parts. He also has some sweet fills, that compliment when the keys and guitar when they have leads and vice versa. The mood is ever so relevant in the band’s album. Considering how laid back their sound can be and then bust out of nowhere like a bat out of hell.  I really dig what these guys are doing, and have clearly thought their music.  Head over to their website to check out more on the band, their music, and upcoming shows.  While you’re there, grab a physical copy of this album! I might just do the same!

 

Hugo Doyon-Karout 2019 Interview

Beyond Creation and Obscura are my Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden for Technical/Progressive/Experimental music, and can say helped influence the creation (HAR HAR) of my website.  It’s with immeasurable excitement to announce I have successfully interviewed bassist Hugo of Beyond Creation, Brought By Pain and Equipoise.  Enjoy the read people! I hope you’re as excited as I am!

TMR: You’re such a proficient bassist and well trained….what made you want to jump into a death metal subgenre? What influenced it?

First of all, thank you for having me on here! It’s truly a pleasure for me! Thank you for that comment! I always loved the energy and uniqueness that metal has over other music styles and technical death metal is one of the subgenres that shines with those qualities. Also, I’ve always liked the challenging aspect of performing death metal!

TMR: Tell us how the Equipoise recording went. 

Pretty good overall, with quite some challenges too! I recorded the album at home using minimal gear and focusing on getting the cleanest takes possible, which ended up being very time-consuming but worth it in the end! I started recording right after my last studio session recording Beyond Creation’s ‘Algorythm’ so I was pumped and ready to do Equipoise’s ‘Demiurgus’ right away!

TMR: Are there any plans of playing some Equipoise shows?

We have been talking about it, but it’s still at that phase for now. There are 7 people in the band – most being in active and/or touring bands – so it would require proper management and scheduling to make it work for all of us. I think that touring is going to be inevitable at some point, but we’ll see!

TMR: Your main squeeze Beyond Creation released a fantastic album “Algorythm” last year. It seems to have been well received so far! Tell us about how the shows have gone supporting the album, and how making the album was as well. What did you guys specifically set out to do differently?

Thank you so much, I’m super happy you enjoy the record! Indeed, we are very grateful for the great response so far! All the shows we did supporting ‘Algorythm’ turned out amazing actually! We got on the road to perform the album in its entirety only about 2 weeks after it came out and we were surprised on the amount of people knowing the material, lyrics and song titles, it was truly a wonderful tour! The actual recording of the album was a very special experience for me, being my first time recording in a ‘real’ studio, and Christian Donaldson (Cryptopsy) at The Grid made it so much enjoyable! We actually have studio update videos as well as tour recap video on our Youtube Channel for anyone who wants more insights on the studio/live side of things! For ‘Algorythm’ we wanted to do something a bit more dynamic and rich without going off the tracks of Beyond Creation’s signature sound. We’re always trying to reach the next level musically and to make music that we would listen to ourselves. Also, we took the opportunity to reach new kind of fans and welcome them into the tech-death subgenre with this progressive and intricate album.

TMR: What and who made you want to pick up a bass?

I had musicians in my family, but none of them played bass, so I though I’d just fill in on bass! I stuck to it and made it a passion and priority! I also learned guitar and drums not long later, but have not been able to practice as much as bass! As with any skill, you need to focus on one at a time to really shine!

TMR: Describe your emotions and feelings on recording your first album with the band since you joined.

It’s a pretty awesome feeling to finally be playing my own bass lines after so many shows playing Forest’s. Don’t get me wrong here, I absolutely love his work and what he brought to the band’s sound! But for some reason it’s always more exciting to deliver you own material and I have to say that BC’s fans and fellow bassists have been giving me the most amazing feedback, which I want to thank everyone for! This kind of duty obviously comes with its challenges but it turned out immensely positive overall for me!

TMR: Let’s be honest, when you joined Beyond Creation you had huge shoes to fill with Forest Lapointe leaving. And I’m in the crowd who thinks you’re doing a fine job at that, and adding your own style to their music and now helped write your first album with them. Was any of that going through your head at first?

Thank you so much man! Yes of course. Forest is and always be one of my favourite bassists so at first it was quite inconceivable to take his place in the band. I have to admit that circumstances made my life a bit easier, having joined the band only a few months after the release of “Earthborn Evolution”, I had plenty of time to develop my technique and sound as a fretless bassist before actually having to write and perform on a record. Also, as I mentioned above, I’ve been receiving tons of supportive vibes from the fans as well as from my bandmates so it’s been quite smooth.

TMR: Can you give some fellow artists tips to shrug off negativity? Not all of us can always handle it. Some people have ripped Algorythm I think they’re nuts for doing so!

Sure thing! Remind yourself why you’re doing music in the first place! Also, consider yourself lucky enough to have people actually check out your stuff, even if they leave negative feedback, can’t be worse than having zero feedback right ? There are so many bands out there trying to get their name out, there’s no time to get caught up in negativity! Take their advice for what its worth to you and move on. Instead of reading comments, you could be playing music, or just enjoying life, going outside, meditating etc! Even though musicians usually do music quite seriously and tend to blend their personal life with their professional life, I think it’s crucial to be able to disconnect from what you’re doing in life and tune in to who you really are deep inside. If you think what you’re doing is important, you need to take a vacation!

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TMR: What tour plans do you have with Beyond Creation this year and next year in 2020? And please don’t take another handful of years between albums again

So far we have a Latin America Tour planned in April 2019 as well as an Autralian/New Zealand tour in May. Everything else is still in the works/not ready to announce yet! Oh don’t you worry we will absolutely take another handful of years until we release another record brother! We have ZERO interest in rushing into new music! I don’t think it’s fair from fans to take a band for granted and act as if they owed them any new music. As a matter of fact, that is the kind of pressure that would likely discourage an artist from creating and releasing an honest piece of music. This is serious business guys, some people actually end up taking their own life because of that kind of pressure/attitude from fans towards them. Part of the problem is that we are getting used to consumerism and instant gratification in modern society, so we are constantly in need of new things to keep our brains filled with more and more dopamine. That’s why people like singles and EPs! They get their fix, stream the song a few times online for free and move on : their brain chemistry is unbalanced! Again, it’s not fair to expect anything from an artist based on our own perception of time. With that being said, I will be working on new music all year with my other bands Conflux and Brought by Pain (on top of Equipoise’s album release March 8th and tons of session work). Back to Beyond Creation, one thing that we enjoy a whole lot is touring, especially in places we’ve never been before. So we’re really looking forward to take the time that we need to visit as many countries and continents as we can on the ‘Algorythm’ album cycle. And that alone can take a handful of years 🙂 

TMR: You guys seem to have a solid chemistry artistically and really “click”. Explain the band dynamics and how important being fluid and understanding each other musically and as people as well.

I think that the easiest thing about being in a band is playing your instrument! What’s not so easy to everybody and also not that obvious is the requirement in social and communication skills to thrive as a bandmate. Most of the things that happen in a band do not require to play your instrument, especially in self-managed band like Beyond Creation. Think about what’s essential to develop to be able to go out on the road with 4 to 20 other people for 25+ consecutive shows without losing your mind, but actually enjoying it from all faces and being excited to go back multiple times a year, for many years to come. To me, it has always been important that everyone feel part of the same “family” and have the best time possible doing music altogether, and luckily it’s been a priority for Simon, Kevin and Philippe as well. Everything else seems to come naturally when you already have sense of fulfillment from being with each other and living our craziest dream!

TMR: What’s your favorite song from “Algorythm”?

I always tend to consider the title track as my favourite, but I think that each song has a very unique vibe that deserve my own recognition. 

TMR: Describe your favorite tour you have been a part of, and what made it great or special.

Great question! When I look in the past, I try to learn from it and move on. So I would say each and every tour was my favourite since they each provided me with so much personal growth and insight about what makes me happy and give me a sense of fulfillment. Each tour has been super special and made it possible for us to meet new friends, fans and develop better practices as a business, so I highly value each one of them equally!

TMR: Any new Brought By Pain music?

Yes, as stated earlier! We’re working on a full-length, which I’m pretty stoked about!!

TMR: Tour plans for Brought By Pain?

Yep, nothing concrete as of right now, but we definitely plan on getting this band on the road again and again! 

TMR: What was it like getting that band off the ground and on some tours? Do you expect it to be a constant or just occasionally tour?

It’s been great! We consider ourselves lucky to have so many dedicated followers and fans that are constantly spreading the word about us! It’s always more demanding to get things rolling properly and get out of the ‘friendzone’ (if I can allow myself such metaphor) but always worth it in the end! I think in the long run it’s going to be both constant and occasional, taking the opportunity whenever we can, without forcing things!

Don’t forget to check out the latest Equipoise single from their upcoming album!

Here’s my favorite song from the latest Beyond Creation opus.  Yeah, maybe Hugo’s tasteful bass lead at the end has something to do with it. It RIPS. Don’t fool yourself.

KC Brand of The Odious Construct debut “Vortex Of Self” Drum Playthrough

The Odious Construct’s Drummer KC Brand has released a drum playthrough of “Vortex Of Self” from their killer EP Shrine Of The Obscene.  I have been into this band since their debut album, and wow SOO made it onto Dave’s ever so expanding best of list.  The playthrough is physical evidence of how good my homeboy is on drums, and is another testament to their improving sound and talents with their second EP.  Y’all wanna get familiar with these cats if you’re into symphonic melodic technical death metal (A MOUTHFUL I KNOW).  They just rip really hard, and Brand proves it…..yet again.  Check out the video below and bang your head!

Coma Rossi Self Titled Debut Album

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Coma Rossi is a progressive rock band from India who just unleashed this great debut album upon the world.  They’re a very cool band with a very large and diversified sound who draws you in with lots of melody and lots of mood and emotion.  Drawing influence from classical progressive rock bands, and some from the better modern prog greats the band has fused a well written sound that only means there will be even better releases in the future.  Lots of bands start off great with their first full length and then may fade afterwards, which happens sometimes.  I don’t think that will be the case with Coma Rossi.  You can check out the album here.

COMA ROSSI: 

Tom Borah – Vocals
Udayan Kashalikar – Bass & Vocals
Juby Thomas – Keyboards
Gaurav Govilkar – Guitars
Anupam Panda – Drums

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The album is a great piece of art with the band working as a collective unit.  It’s on the more experimental, melodic, melancholic and atmospheric sound of progressive music rather than the mind blowing technicality of the genre. It has a heavy Pink Floyd influence, mixed in with the sound and depression of Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree.  It isn’t so psychedelic and soft, it has some heavier moments as well (not death metal heavy, sorry headbangers).  Give them a shot, you’ll love their emotional music and beautiful soaring vocal melodies.

 

Tortoise Forest Debut Album

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Instrumental Progressive Jam Band Tortoise Forest released their debut album this past Saturday January 12th at their show at the Mohawk Place in Buffalo.  I was lucky enough to receive the album on release day to help the band promote, and I jumped at the opportunity! With tons of repetitive genres around the area (let alone anywhere else) this band is very artsy and original, which is something I love personally. The guys dive deep into their original sound, letting loose as much as they possibly can.  Tortoise Forest has created an impressive and eclectic sound with surprises around every corner.  There’s plenty of melody, wild effects, and killer groove that’ll entertain people of all ages and backgrounds.

TORTOISE FOREST:

Dan Gagliardi – (Drums/Pads)
Mike Cassidy – (Guitar, Pedals)
Max Davis – (Guitar, Pedals, Samples)
Tom Varco – (Bass, Pedals)

All four band members groove hard, and are totally in sync.  There’s all sorts of random audio samples from movies or TV shows in their music (and the one time I saw them live too!) which adds more flavor to their original sound.  I was so impressed with their sound I haven’t seen them since then! Cut a guy a break, there’s so much music to check out it’s tough to be in multiple places at once…..mmkay? Point is, they’re a well oiled machine and built well for the long haul and not playing in scraggly bars.  Their self titled album is a beautiful, melodic machine for the patient and artsy.  People with short attention spans will wanna stay away……unless if you dig Short Attention Span Theatre (har har)!

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The guitar work is absolutely blistering, and a great rhythm section that keeps their entertaining and diverse music alive every single moment.  Tortoise Forest has configured a wide array of sounds that will keep you guessing what they’ll be doing next.  I do know for a fact the guys will be booking heavily for some bigger shows and opportunity so they may be getting out of Western New York and playing in other areas sooner than later.  I really love this band and wish them nothing but the best.  Along with Anabasis the guys may have released one of the area’s independent releases so far of 2019 (with others expected from DivinexTurning Virtue, Forever In Transit, Squatch, and plenty of others around Western and Central New York I may not know of off the top of my head right now).

A Novelist- Folie

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Progressive Death Metal duo A Novelist is dropping their second album on February 8th and we have our opinion on the upcoming album, as well as an interview!

The guys have put out a unique and unusual album….much more weirder than what can be expected out of progressive bands.  It’s very inconsistent and moody, which I loved from the get go.  It’s emotional, without a doubt.  It’s very melodic and jazzy at times, as well.  I think it’s a very unique mix of music only artistic and musical people will enjoy more, as it’s not suited for commercial airwaves or your average person to be honest.  Their vast sound goes back to classic prog rock artists of the 60’s and 70’s (with some keys/organs and some synth along the way), some gutturals and beautiful singing to compliment their ambience and heaviness.  That isn’t the only influx of inspiration! Marc Linam was a guest musician on the album adding more weirdness that was a warm welcome….he did Tenor, Alto, Baritone and C melody saxophone! He also contributed Clarinet, oboe and flute to the album as well.  Now you can see how wide, interesting and  unusual the sound of A Novelist is! It’s so cool, and so breathtaking.

Folie
1. Folie Noire
2. Exteriors
3. Tombeau
4. Apparitions
5. His Kingdom is Vast
6. Strangers in the House of Auto-da-Fe
7. Acacia Crown
8. Caveat Lector
9. Stockholm Blues
10. Crestfallen
11. Learning Paralysis
12. Interiors

A Novelist:
Ben Nugent – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keys, Effects
Alex Babineaux – Drums 

 

This is definitely going to go down as one of the most unique, original and cooler releases of 2019.  It’s going on the second (almost third) week of the year, so I might as well begin my best of 2019 list with releases like this and Marc Durkee’s!  To further elaborate on their sound, there’s a lot of modern progressive influences like The Contortionist and Protest The Hero as well.  A Novelist is one of the better best kept secrets, well that shouldn’t be a secret anymore to be honest.  They’re so original not many bands I could rattle off for the heck of it are so original.  Maybe the Dillinger Escape Plan because they were pretty tough to describe as well.  They’re THAT unique. Ben’s guitar playing is so wild, yet can be very tame and melodic at points.  He’s a pretty diverse guitar player Check out their upcoming release “Folie” and pre order it right here.

 

One of the less laid back songs, and more in your face technical wild offerings.  There’s also some longer, wild epic adventures of insanity.  This one is a straight tech shredder. 

 

The interview was conducted with both members, Ben and Alex. Enjoy!

TMR: Can you explain to everyone else how “Folie” is different than your debut album “Portraits”?

Ben Nugent:  

A lot of time passed between the time Portraits was written versus the material for Folie. By the time Portraits was released, we had already written material for three additional albums and matured on our instruments quite a bit. With Folie, we took our time and focused a lot more on consistency, songwriting, and dynamics.

Alex Babineaux:

I think the biggest difference on this new album was our approach to songwriting. Portraits had a free flowing style where very few parts repeat, if ever. We made a serious attempt to improve our song structuring, and I think we really succeeded. Folie has a variety of different song structures ranging from traditional pop format to the free form style of Portraits.  

TMR: I really love the wild sound you guys have created.  What factors influenced you creating such artistic and unusual music? Was it because you wanted to stand out? Or is it just because your musical tastes are diverse and all over the place? It’s a truly wonderful album, by the way.

Ben Nugent: 

 First off, thank you. We like to get weird. It’s always surprising to hear that someone else likes our music. By the time the album comes out, we have already played and recorded the material so many times and written so many variations of it that sometimes we can really lose our objectivity, though I can say that without a doubt that what other people like has zero influence on our writing. This album is just what we were hearing in our heads and what we were wanting to hear and play when we wrote the music. This album was actually written some time ago and an earlier version of one of the songs was written as far back as thirteen years ago. As far as influences are concerned, experience can obviously not be overlooked. To tell you the truth, I cannot offhand point to particular songs or albums that directly influenced anything that we have written. Feeling is a big part of what we do. I think that we are categorized sometimes as genre bending or tech death or whatever but none of those things occur to us at all when writing the material. We hear it, feel it, play it, and if it feels right, then we know it’s right. As far as bands or composers that definitely changed how I thought about music when I was younger I can give you these in no specific order, The Mars Volta, Necrophagist, The Black Dahlia Murder, Gorgoroth, Emperor, Behemoth, The Red Chord, At the Drive-in, Poison the Well, Hate Eternal, Pink Floyd, Obscura, Led Zeppelin, At the Gates, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Penderecki, Chopin, Beethoven, Hendrix, Radiohead, Miles Davis, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, Opeth, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Allen Holdsworth, Immortal, Ray Charles, Dr. John, and James Brown.

Alex Babineaux:

The sound that we’ve arrived at on this album I think is part of a long progression for both of us that began before we ever met. I was never interested in making music in order to be popular or anything like that. I’ve only ever wanted to make music that I wanted to listen to. We’re both into a wide variety of music, and I think that really shows this time around. We made something that we can both enjoy as a fan as well as be proud of creatively. I really love this record, and it makes me happy that you feel the same way. I really appreciate that. 

 

TMR: What motivated you guys to start the band? Was it a spur of the moment decision?

Ben Nugent:  

 We just wanted to play extreme music. We were both looking for what the other person had for quite some time and when we found it, we jumped at the opportunity to play with each other.

Alex Babineaux:

 As I said before, I’ve been wanting to make music for my own enjoyment since I was able to play. I had jammed with other people before, but I never made a commitment to any projects because they just weren’t doing it for me. When I met Ben in my first semester of college he showed me a few early A Novelist songs he had been working on. I was immediately blown away and wanted to play it. One of those songs was actually an old version of Strangers in the House of Auto-da-Fe which was then called Idee Fixe. I wouldn’t call it a spur of the moment decision, but as far as my involvement in the project was concerned, I knew this was the music for me in an instant. 

 

TMR: Explain the theme of “Folie” and it’s artwork.  How does it all connect? Is it a concept album?

Ben Nugent:  

If you are lucky, you will meet people in your life that make an immensely positive impact on who you become as a person. The album is a fictionalized account of the last five years of one of these people’s lives. It is also an attempt at some level to contribute to some commentary on the social climate currently in the US. In some ways what happened to this person is what Henry Rollins refers to as “The America”. This person gladly gave their whole life to other people and serving their community and in the end was absolutely devoured by it but never once complained. To me, the artwork symbolizes that we live in a world where everyone is a wolf, some just make an effort to appear otherwise. Folie is French for madness. We live in Louisiana where you have a lot of French heritage and interchanging of English and French words.

Alex Baubineaux: 

For this question I will defer to Ben’s answer. One cool thing to note though is that the artwork for the album is actually a painting that hung in our old practice space for several years. Beyond its symbolic meaning in relation to the content of the album, there’s also a personal and sentimental value to it for me, and I think for Ben too. We made a lot of memories in that place, and it makes me extremely happy to see that image on Bandcamp and all the various streaming platforms. 

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Looks like the guys are being held hostage….?

 

TMR: Are there any plans to play shows promoting your music or is it strictly studio based?

Ben Nugent:  

You know, we had tried for years to get a working live lineup together. It is really difficult to find people that are dedicated enough to play this sort of material let alone learn it. We are also really busy in our personal lives. The times that we have found musicians that could play the material, they had other stuff going on. In the future, it would be great to play some shows, but currently we are a studio project.

 

Alex Baubineaux:

For the time being, we are strictly studio based. We played one show back in 2011 when we had somewhat of a working lineup going, but it wasn’t great and we weren’t really ready for that. Since then it’s just been Ben and I, and finding musicians to play this stuff isn’t easy in Louisiana. It could possibly happen one day, but we both work a lot and live in separate cities so its not the easiest thing for us to put together. As it stands right now, our efforts are focused on recording the 3rd album.

 

TMR: How did you guys meet up to form A Novelist? Explain your band’s history.

Ben Nugent:  

I had been writing by myself for a while and at some point met another local guy and we scratched around for a bit, but that was ultimately not fruitful. We even hired Darren Cesca for some session drums, but honestly, at the time we were not serious enough to work with him. I’m sure this is common in most places, but in Louisiana, you have these pockets around the state where you have groups of really great players, but they are tiny and super difficult to find. Typically, they are in the larger cities like Lafayette, New Orleans, Shreveport, etc. These groups of players in each area will also make up several different acts. This is because where we live, there are very few people that listen to metal and even fewer playing it. If they do listen to metal, it is stuff like Pantera, Crowbar, Down, etc. which is great, but those people usually hate death metal or anything else fast. Oddly enough, those same people usually dig Goatwhore. In any event, fast playing is typically looked down on here even by people who claim to “play metal”. There really is a limited pool of players to draw from that like and/or can actually play death metal or black metal. So, you learn to play other instruments to pick up the slack. When you find someone who does play on the level, you are basically dying to jam with them to see if they can fit that piece of your puzzle. Before Alex and I played together we both had several instances of driving all over Louisiana to play with people who were “into metal”. Anyways, I moved to Lafayette for school and saw this guy in philosophy class with an Immortal shirt. He looked like a drummer, and I motioned so as to imitate someone playing a blast beat. He instantly knew what I was doing and the rest is history.

 

Alex Baubineaux:

Ben and I met in Philosophy 101 at UL Lafayette back in I believe 2007. One day in particular I went to class in my Sons of Northern Darkness Immortal shirt. When I was walking to my desk Ben called my name a made this gesture at me with his hands like he was playing a blast beat while mouthing the words “do you?” or something along those lines if my memory serves me correct. I remember laughing because I have no idea how he made that call, but I shook my head yes and we got to talking after class. We ended up realizing some time later that we had met once before at a Derek Roddy drum clinic when I was in high school, but that was a pretty brief encounter. It didn’t take long after our first conversation for Ben to start emailing me song demos and new riffs and stuff. The first time we played together it was just for fun and I don’t think we had established I would be the actual drummer for this project since he had already been paying Darren Cesca for session work. It must have gone pretty well because I started driving up to Ben’s place weekly not long after that. 

TMR: What is your favorite song off of “Folie” you enjoy the most or are the most proud of?

Ben Nugent:  

Well, I am proud of all the songs on the album, but I can give you my top five.

Strangers in the House of Auto da Fe is a song that I originally wrote thirteen years ago. I knew it had a lot of potential but it wasn’t right at the time, so I held on to it, and we worked it over. It’s like The Little Engine That Could.

Caveat Lector is the fourth part of a suite of six songs that are supposed to be played from beginning to end. Often times when you record stuff, the final result after production may not be what you had in mind. With this song, it is exactly what I heard in my head. I think it’s a very dynamic song and sort of showcases our writing and playing abilities.

Interiors is the last song on the album and is another song that was originally written aeons ago that was re-worked into something really impressive considering its origins.

Tombeau is the third song on the album. The title of the song is taken from a type of French funerary song written for lute and guitar. This song had some of my craziest guitar work on it at the time this album was written and I am still very proud of it. Musically, it serves as an homage to the guitarists that really influenced my playing.

Apparitions is the fourth song on the album. This is another song that I think showcases our writing and playing ability really well. This song is also sort of an homage to all those bands that let me know it’s okay to get weird.

Alex Baubineaux:

My favorite song to listen to is “Interiors”. It’s the first “new” song that we demoed after completing work on Portraits, and I’ve been really attached to it ever since. It’s been reworked a lot since its original inception, but it’s only gotten better I think. I personally am a big fan of music on the more somber side, and I think this one has some pretty soul crushing moments. 

TMR: Time to choose between your two children.  What album do you guys like more? If it’s the new album, we understand, it’s your newest addition to the family. 

Ben Nugent:  

Folie.

Alex Baubineaux:

Easily Folie. I have a weird relationship with Portraits because I think I’m a different musician now than I was then. When I listen to it I think of all the things I would have done differently. I still think it’s good, but Folie is a much more focused effort. 

TMR: How do you think you have grown as artists between “Portraits” and the upcoming release “Folie”? What did you set out to do differently or did the music and writing just flow?

Ben Nugent:  

Hopefully, as you get older your playing branches out and becomes better and more diverse. Those two things are not mutually exclusive, but it seems evident to me in our playing and writing. After a while of playing together, you sort of slowly start getting the bullshit out. It’s all an exercise with the goal of getting to that sort of unadulterated mainline. I don’t know that we ever set out to do anything other than make the album we wanted to hear. There are a lot of things that you notice later that are just a byproduct of your writing. I think that we have both learned each other’s writing styles, but still know how to make each other uncomfortable. I think that is how you grow. We can push each other to the point of insanity at times, but there is always resolution because we get each other and that’s a special thing.

Alex Baubineaux:

Playing with Ben in general has been pushing me to grow as a musician since day 1. He has that sort of quality about him that makes you want to try and keep up. I’d say the area in which I’ve grown the most between these two releases is in my writing. I’ve learned to incorporate some styles and elements that come from outside of metal and worked them into these fast and heavy songs. I learned to have more fun when making these songs instead of pushing myself to only play faster, or only write heavier. The drums are still pretty intense though given this change in approach, but I find they just make more sense now. One new thing you may notice is some of these songs incorporate different variations of what are referred to as “Dirk blasts” named after Dirk Verbeuren. If you’re not familiar with what this is, I highly recommend checking the technique out on youtube. It’s some really fun stuff to play, and it opens some options up to the drummer to maintain high speeds without killing yourself. 

TMR: Who are some of your favorite underground bands of any genre you’re into right now? Provide links too, so our followers can check ’em out! That’s what we are here for, to promote and share great music!

Ben Nugent:  

Forming the Void – https://www.facebook.com/formingthevoid/

Arbre Mort – https://www.facebook.com/arbremortmetal/

Aequus Nox – https://aequusnox.bandcamp.com/

Feral Errol – https://www.facebook.com/feralerrolband/

Golgothan – https://www.facebook.com/Golgothanla/

Trance Farmers – https://www.facebook.com/TranceFarmers/

Alex Baubineaux:

I don’t typically gravitate to much techy music these days, or a whole lot of death metal in general. I still really like that stuff, but my attention has just gone elsewhere in recent years. I’ve been really into a lot of Blackgaze bands for a while now (.neon by Lantlos is one of my favorite albums ever), and even am working on a project in that style called Good Hunter. I’m also pretty into Atmospheric Black metal, and I guess what would be considered “post-black” and things of that sort. Possibly my favorite album of 2018, Ember, was written by a Blackgaze band called Trautonist who I think deserves a lot more attention. I’ve also been digging White Ward’s debut from 2017. They have similar ideas to us when it comes to incorporating Noir elements and saxophone in metal music, but with an approach all their own. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Mare Cognitum, Mol, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, An Autumn for Crippled Children, Heretoir, Drab Majesty, Grave Pleasures, A Forest of Stars, and Unreqvited lately. 

https://trautonist.bandcamp.com/

https://whiteward.bandcamp.com/

https://marecognitum.bandcamp.com/

https://moeldk.bandcamp.com/album/jord-2

https://derwegeinerfreiheit.bandcamp.com/album/finisterre

https://anautumnforcrippledchildren.bandcamp.com/

https://heretoir.bandcamp.com/album/the-circle

https://drabmajesty.bandcamp.com/

https://gravepleasures.bandcamp.com/releases

https://a-forest-of-stars.bandcamp.com/album/grave-mounds-and-grave-mistakes

https://unreqvited.bandcamp.com/

TMR: What do you do for fun? Tell us a bit about yourselves outside of the wide world of music.

Ben Nugent:

Music is what I do for fun. Alex and I also both play and write in a black metal band called Nethermost Majesty with our good friend Eric Clark. We are working on putting out an album soon. Alex also has a project he’s working on with our good friend Ty Hebert. I am currently working on a piano/vocal album that is in the vein of some more traditional Louisiana music. The third album for A Novelist is already. We are taking our time to get it just right, but it will definitely be our most intense album to date.

Alex Baubineaux:

Apart from music I’m really into fighting games. Stuff like Street Fighter, Marvel vs Capcom, Guilty Gear, etc. There’s a pretty thriving competitive scene for these games, and I like to follow it the same as I do something like football (go Saints). Typically I like to use my free time doing important things that matter, like taking funny pictures of my cats wearing costumes or spending way too much energy making bad memes.

TMR: Now, list your biggest underdog or up and coming band you think is gonna be a huge hitter or influence in the metal or prog or tech scenes. Choose one band only!

Ben Nugent:

This will probably seem lame, but I don’t find many new bands that I really like a lot. As far as underground bands that could really blow up, there is a band from Lafayette, La called Forming the Void. They are a really solid proggy doom band, and I could imagine them gaining critical acclaim for sure.

Alex Baubineaux:

This one is tough because I don’t listen to many bands of the tech or prog varieties that aren’t already pretty established. I will say though that I think 10 or so years from now, Inferi will be regarded as one of the biggest bands in the scene. 

Thrailkill- Everything That Is You

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Thrailkill is a sweet instrumental progressive metal band that released this album “Everything That Is You” last year.  After giving it a decent ear, I really dig this band even more.  They’re not your typical instrumental metal band…..there’s much. much more to them than they lead on.  The band members went to the Musicians Institute in California, so you know where that leads musically at least…..some pretty killer songs.  They have a modern take on instrumental music (laid back instrumental bands like Chon, Animals As Leaders, Plini and Polyphia let’s say).  Don’t worry, they’re still heavy enough…..but not obscenely heavy.

THRAILKILL: 

Guitars – Wes Thrailkill
Drums – Lang Zhao
Bass – Yas Nomura

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The music is moody, melodic and wild.  It’s a modern take on progressive music, with some killer guitar work from Wes who is a beast I’m gonna have to admit. The guy came up with some sweet, chunky riffs….and equally as beautiful chord progressions with a decent clean sound in his setup to boot.  He can not only rip an emotional lead (especially some of my favorite clean leads he took throughout the record), but can easily hold his own when he wants to go crazy.  The rhythm section of Lang and Yas keep it tight with some of his bass peeking out every now and then in the songs.  They have created a masterful, wide and sonic sound for a 3 piece instrumental band.  Keep tabs on these dudes, as this is really phenomenal.  You can check out the record here and take part in some of their merchandise like a wall flag with limited quantity left!

https://www.westhrailkill.com

Opeth didn’t write death metal…..now let’s act like a bunch of immature punks!

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If you know me well enough, one of my favorite bands that was responsible for getting me into progressive music and it’s subgenres is the legendary OPETH.  In fact, all of their albums are legendary.  I’m not the greatest guitarist by any means, may be able to hold my own but know enough music theory and have seen enough bands smaller and bigger to know what’s what.  The pricks that constantly bring down the band because they don’t write death metal into their ever so expansive sound anymore is extremely childish and borderline ignorant.  People are acting like they tossed that sound totally away.  Wanna know what’s funny? A 45 to 60 minute set can include anywhere between 6 to 8 Opeth songs and generally include 1 song from their “treacherous trio” of the last 3 albums (Heritage, Pale Communion and Sources which are FANTASTIC you elitist pricks!).  Guess what? The other couple songs are generally from the days when they wrote death metal into their sound…..people are acting like they ditched that era, and frankly haven’t.  Mikael’s voice may have softened, but when you’re in your 40’s switching between singing and growling it’ll hurt your voice even more.  Non musicians totally don’t get that and say “they’re a pussy” and to “man up” or whatever insults they’ll throw their way. IT ISN’T EASY FOLKS.  They generally end their set with MY personal favorite opeth song Deliverance, and still jam songs from Ghost Reveries and Blackwater Park as well.  Crap I saw stuff from their Candlelight Records era in a random setlist post on social media somewhere with “Advent” on their set list before! In his mid 40’s, that only gets tougher to do switching vocal styles so you have to make that choice.  Fans may have been happy if he continued down the road….but Opeth’s career would end short and not maybe even make it past 10 albums.  I personally applause Mikael, for the longevity of his great band (technically it’s not his, he joined after it started as a bassist in the late 80’s going into the 90’s).

Another complaint perfectionists and death metal elitists have is Akerfeldt is ripping off classic progressive artists. He admitted Goblin inspired him for the instrumental track from “Pale Communion”.  I think all artists do that at one point in their career, unintentionally or not it will just eventually happen there’s only so many chords and notes in the musical alphabet (words in the english language, as well).  I’ll come forward and admit it…..oh well.  I enjoy the last 3 albums as much as their first handful of albums (Deliverance being my favorite album, Ghost Reveries on the same level as that album introduced me to Opeth).  The musicianship is top notch, and Frederik got to actually write some music for a change (knowing he was a hired hand for Arch Enemy).  Akesson’s addition has made the band only stronger on lead guitar, and am admittedly a huge fan.  Yes, I loved the classic lineup with Petr and Lopez (guitar and drums respectively).  Can’t deny the talent and how important Akkeson and Axenrot have been filling two huge voids (remember Axe is in Bloodbath the death metal project Akerfeldt helped start and ended up leaving, while Martin is still their drummer).  It’s not like Opeth started writing bad music….and as egoistic as it sounds its still true a real artist writes music FOR THEMSELVES.  You don’t like the music? Tough shit, that’s what they wanted to do.  Whine about it and say they won’t be there without their fans (which is true to an extent) but how boring can one be when a band or artist releases the same album over and over?  Heritage, Pale Communion and Sorceress are fantastic albums.  Fans think they “suck” because there’s no death metal and the band is memed more because of it.  I got into Opeth because of their vast dynamics, going from progressive death metal one section then randomly cooling it down to a psychedelic or classic rock section the next moment.  Do I miss it dearly? YES! Do I constantly whine everywhere about it? NO! Why, do you ask? Because they’re still writing great music, but without death metal.

I also love Watershed, another “bad juju” album considered by the death metal fanatics of the Opeth fan cult.  In fact, it’s damn near perfect mixing their prog death metal sound and ever growing influence of classic progressive music.  “Hessian Peel” is such a weird ass song mixed with so many sounds it’s a joyride.  “Heir Apparent” is amazing as well a straight forward death metal headbanger, with some prog musical twists and turns to keep it entertaining.

So sit back and shut the fuck up. Enjoy some recent Opeth tracks below, and cool your jets noobs.  Stay brutal my friends!