Interview; Levi Dale, The Ritual Aura 2019

Amidst the sea of generic, run of the mill promotional crusades, The Ritual Aura‘s Levi Dale has devised a rather interactive game of sorts in anticipation for the band’s third album, Velothi.  Curious as I was, Levi was kind enough to let me pick his brain about the new record, the campaign, and a few other things. Have a look!

Dave Jurenovich: What’s your musical background and how you were brought up artistically?
Levi Dale: I started playing guitar when I was 11, so 14 years ago now – mostly self-taught, and it just took over my life for a very long time. My mum has a pretty good taste in music so I was exposed to a lot of it growing up, lots of rock and metal with bands like Guns N’ Roses and Metallica. As tastes got heavier I was introduced to technical death metal and it completely flipped my perception of what you could do with music and guitar.
I pretty much knew then and there that was what I wanted to be doing, no questions asked.

DJ: What inspired you to begin The Ritual Aura?
LD: TRA started as a creative outlet for the music I was writing in 2012/13 – my first serious attempt at writing a record – which eventually became our first album; Laniakea.
I met some great musicians in the process and it all just went from there. We shared similar goals and got along really well, all just wanting to create interesting music and push what we can do.

Vick Sacha: Out of the vast array of music you could be playing, why death metal?
LD: The immense creative freedom and diversity within the genre is something that really stands out to me, yes there are stylistic conventions we tend to gravitate towards, but people are constantly finding new and unique ways to push the boundaries; through various sub-genres and styles there’s always a god-tier gem of an album to discover right around the corner, and the quality is only getting better each year.
I also just really enjoy writing and playing interesting material, so it was either this or… I don’t even know what I’d be doing, probably classical music.

VS: You’ve concocted a rather interesting and elaborate PR campaign for your newest release, Velothi. What inspired you to send your fans on a crypto-historical scavenger hunt?
LD: A big inspiration for it was Cicada 3301 and their yearly puzzles, alongside some other ARGs I had come across through the magic of Youtubeland.
The whole idea of an alternate reality game is really interesting to me, so I just started planning puzzles, not really expecting much. I ended up spending days on it, and eventually was confident enough to put it out there.
It also gave us another means of interaction with the community, which is always welcome.

VS: Your campaign has been up for a little over a week. So far, has the response been what you were expecting? What do you predict for the future outcome?
LD: Seeing everyone work together to solve the clues has been both humbling and amusing – you guys are awesome.
The feedback so far has been great, people have solved each tier in 24 hours or less, so I may have to kick things up a notch for the final stretch..

Velothi

VS: What correlation does said scavenger hunt have to do with the album’s content?
LD: While it’s not massively intertwined with the record itself, certain puzzles serve as a way to introduce people to album-relevant lore and point them in the right direction for reading material, should they want to learn more.
I’ve scattered a few things in there that’ll make a LOT more sense when the album drops. Little hints and previews are everywhere!

DJ: What can you say about your upcoming album and what sets it apart from the rest of your library?
LD: Velothi is easily the most experimental and ambitious record we’ve done so far, from the change in approach to writing, to the sheer amount of guests and styles woven into things, everything has been scaled up since Tæther.

VS: The date of your upcoming release’s date is still ambiguous, and 2019 is far from over. When do you think you’ll announce a release date? Or does the answer to that lie within your PR campaign?
LD: People have been really patient regarding a release date, and I should finally be able to shed light on that in the coming month or so. The goal is early to mid-year, and with recent developments on vocals and mixing of the record I’m pretty confident we’ll be finished sooner than that.

VS: Do you want to talk about any session musicians you’ve recruited on this record?
LD: Currently there are 11 session musicians spread across Velothi – by far our largest guest-list yet.
This album introduces several new instruments and styles into the TRA palette, from violin/viola (Ryan Cho) and operatic vocals (Adrianna Tentori), to nylon (Nick Padovani) and fretless guitar (Fountainhead).. just to name a few.
Everyone has done an incredible job with their parts and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

VS: I can’t imagine that you’ve stopped writing, so how far into your next release are you?
LD: Nothing is really concrete yet, I’m still looking at candidates for lore/concepts beyond Velothi, but have a couple of ideas.
Prior to writing our last album I immersed myself in Japan’s folklore for a few months and the stories that really stuck became ideas for songs, which lead to inspiration for the music itself.
I generally prefer to start with the story and themes before writing any music.
Velothi was pretty much the same story, so there’ll probably come a day soon where I sit down and work out where to take things next.
If you break each album down so far, we’ve covered sci-fi, horror, and fantasy – so i’d like to continue the trend and mix things up again next time.

VS: You announced late last year that Velothi would be released on your own label, Ire Harvest. What were the deciding factors that led you to start your own label?
LD: I started Ire Harvest following TRA’s departure from our previous label, to serve as a dedicated platform for the projects I’ve been working on/plan to release in the future, and eventually help other bands with a bit more experience under my belt.
In the time TRA has been active I’ve handled a lot of the background work, and figured if I’m already doing it I may as well be building something that has the potential to grow into its own entity and maybe help other people out one day.

VS: Can you briefly talk about why you took on Lūmenwood as the second band on your roster?

LD: Lūmenwood is a side-project I’ve had in the works since late last year, alongside Brandon J. Iacovella – the other guitarist in TRA and riff-vanguard in Proliferation. We’ve since completed the line-up for a debut, featuring some excellent musicians, and the material we’ve put together so far is sounding great.
Hearkening back to the previous question – giving Lūmenwood a platform from the very beginning also helps with insight from a label perspective, regarding the problems I might encounter that TRA is perhaps beyond running into.
Murphy’s law in full effect and all.

DJ: Do you think you’ll ever play any shows in the future?
LD: We have in the past for special occasions (like the launch of Tæther), so I wouldn’t rule it out moving forward.
Currently we’re spread across 4 different continents though, so albums are and will likely always be the main focus, but if the stars aligns we’ll be there!

VS: The lot of you are still fairly young, as is The Ritual Aura itself, what does the future hold for you?

LD: I feel like we have a LOT of ground left to cover as far as writing music goes.
Velothi continues the tradition of a paradigm shift between records, one we’ve strived for with each album so far, and will continue to aim for in the future – this really helps keep things fresh and interesting as time goes on. Maybe next album will be about cake! Who knows? and that’s exciting!

VS: Any last comments, questions or concerns?
LD: Thank you for the great questions!
I hope you and your readers enjoy Velothi when it finally drops, it’s been a blast putting it together these past 2 years, and I can’t wait for you all to hear it.

New single coming very soon! Solve the puzzles to hear it early.. much love <3

https://www.facebook.com/theritualaura
https://www.facebook.com/ireharvestrecords https://www.facebook.com/lumenwoodmusic

And I cannot thank Levi enough for taking the time to answer. You know the drill, guys. You can find all of The Ritual Aura’s music on bandcamp and a bunch of other music platforms. Any additional details will be posted when we know them. And most definitely keep your eyes peeled, your quest is not yet over.

Human Delusion- Depravity

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Human Delusion have released their Melodic Death Metal opus “Depravity” a few weeks ago and it’s a pretty solid debut.  The guys rebranded under thew new name who were previously known as Primal Scream Therapy.  What I like is the band’s diversity to stick away from the norm of Melodic Death Metal…..their sound is more varied than some bands in the genre.  Like any genre, the music tends to get repetitive (it’s bound to happen anywhere) but the band draws you in and keeps you interested.

HUMAN DELUSION:

Tyler Minski -Vocals, Guitar
Kyle Hammer- Guitar
Derek Sloppy- Drums
Jake Van Hooser- Bass Guitar

 

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Tyler’s voice is very impressive leading with a consistent mid range guttural.  The band is pretty heavy without a doubt.  The guitarists are very raw, straightforward and to the point.  They have mixed in some good guitar solos, with some dual harmonies here and there (to the point they’re tasty, and not overdone). I think it’s worth saying Derek holds his own on drums with the band’s varying speeds it can’t be easy switching on and off constantly.  “Depravity” is a solid start for Human Delusion and look forward to better things from them on their next release(s).  You can check out the album right here.

 

Structural- Metacognition

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Holy crap do I have a serious treat for you all courtesy of Melodic Technical Death Metal virtuosos Structural! I really dig the band’s sound because (unless you’re Arsis or Inferi) it’s awfully tough to add solid melody when you’re a technical death metal band……and Structural have achieved just that.  Shani and Tamir have a wild chemistry on guitar….it’s absolutely mind blowing.  While they are well versed, the riffs are very raw and diverse for the technical scene at least.  But their leads are very melodic and emotional, something you don’t see enough in technical music.  Generally, it’s quicker guitar leads and material that’s pretty tough to play…..in this case, its very emotional and real.  Let’s be honest for a moment here, as much as I dig the genre occasionally it gets robotic and Structural is anything but that!

STRUCTURAL: 

Vocals – Nadav Zaidman
Guitars – Shani Buchbi
Guitars – Tamir Vered
Drums – Vadim Sergyenko
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Now let me dive into the realms of the band’s vocalist Nadav……what a great range of gutturals! His voice is very captivating and consistent, with some occasional highs here and there.  For the most part his energetic and passionate voice sticks to the lower end.  Vadim’s drumming is equally as impressive, holding some some solid mid tempos but can play some pretty quick parts with ease. Structural can groove as well as any metal band, don’t be fooled because they can play pretty quick as well…..there’s lots of solid foot tapping grooves everywhere! This monster album has been out since June of 2018 and I highly recommend you pick this up.  Go to their band camp and pick up the album, or you can acquire it through the Apple realms as well and on streaming services.

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).

Alibi For A Murder- Pieces

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Alibil For A Murder are coming fresh out of the gate with their wildly heavy and technical full length album “Pieces”.  The guys are out of Germany who melt faces for a living.  AFAM is wildly energetic, consistent and killer.  There are some progressive moments here and there, but for the most part the record is technical with some Suffocation inspired groove here and there.

 

ALIBI FOR A MURDER:

Vocals: Damian Wolter
Guitar: Hüseyin Yildiz
Bass: Nikos Kampmeier
Drums: Sebastian Metken
Damian’s voice makes this band roll, and roll they do.  He has such a wide range with his highs and lows just fuel everyone else.  The guitar work is downright nasty.  There’s some pretty intense licks, and then there’s moments where it’s just groovy as can be.  If you want a solid underground death metal band with technical flare and some great groove to add to their repertoire Alibi For A Murder will most likely interest you.  You can check out “Pieces” through their website and purchase it (which would be sweet).
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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

Jason Rodriguez- HeartStrings

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Jason Rodriguez is a melodic progressive metal instrumentalist who released a stellar album last year titled “HeartStrings”.  He is not of the norm for an instrumentalist….sure he’s a great guitar player but he’s not a “show off” if you know what I mean.  He’s written an album based on rhythm and music….not a bunch of awesome sounding noodling, and I think it’s pretty sweet. Jay locks down a groove pretty dang well, and there’s also all sorts of synth and electronics for you club goers. It’s great to see more artists expand their repertoire and try something new just like another similar artist I really dig Infinitee (even Divinex).

I do dig his guitar work outside of his meaty, groovy djenty riffs.  He has a melodic style that is very heartfelt, not a wild guitar clinic.  His playing is very emotional, pretty much anything but robotic.  If you wanna try something new Jason Rodriguez is a great place to start.  His mix of metal and electronic music make it very dynamic and entertaining…..either sound doesn’t totally overpower the other, to be honest.  “HeartStrings” is a well written album for modern instrumental music.  Somebody get this guy to open up for Animals As Leaders or Plini STAT!

 

https://jrodriguezmusic.com

https://soundcloud.com/jasonrodriguez78

https://jasonrodriguez.bandcamp.com

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/heartstrings/1440148399?app=music&ign-mpt=uo%3D4&fbclid=IwAR1YkqfkdkQvurU1wHkuvY2MglDohqS0iPuJ7l1im-TL-Lnq6dt8HjidhiY

Mortanius- ‘Til Death Do Us Part

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Progressive Power Metal Band Mortanius is releasing their first full length album “Til Death Do Us Part” on February 22nd and we have the low down for you here at TMR!  This band is very entertaining with its symphonic and neoclassical elements, adding all those acoustic and classical guitar tracks. The band has released three EP’S before diving into this full length album, so it’s very important to them that they wanted do a full length. This band really clicks especially rhythmically led by Jesse Shaw, let me tell you about it.  The vocals are what drew me in first, and shockingly to admit from a guitar player.

MORTANIUS: 

Lead and backing vocals – Lucas Flocco
Bass- Jesse Shaw
ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS:
Lead guitars: Ollie Bernstein
Rhythm guitars: AJ Larsen

Lucas’ voice is just so pure, clean, and has an amazing range for a guy (who stereotypically have lower vocal ranges, which is awfully impressive).  The guitar work is absolutely awesome between Ollie and AJ, really shining bright from many different styles on “Til Death Do Us Part”.  And what makes this band even greater?  They did a cover of Wham’s “Last Christmas”! How messed up is that? But they made it very melancholy, kinda spooky, and totally different….taking away from the original poppy upbeat song.  Mortanius is a solid band with a versatile vocalist and meshes many cool sounds together.  The modern progressive bands tend to be kookier, and also heavier for the most part.  They blend in the classic prog metal sounds that give them that majestic sound they’re achieving with heavily layered synthesizer and keyboard tracks as well.  Its a phenomenal album, pick it up when it comes out!

https://www.rockshots.eu/

https://twitter.com/mortaniusband

https://www.youtube.com/user/Mortaniusband

https://www.instagram.com/mortaniusband/