Monday, May 12, 2008

Armory interview

Armory are a power metal band from Massachusetts. They have an interesting story about their album “The Dawn of Enlightenment”. I recently got to interview guitarist Joe Kurland and find out about their history, their album and their plans for the future.

MM-Tell us a little about your band?
JK-We are a metal band from Massachusetts, USA and formed in the summer of 2001. We have released one album (two versions) called “The Dawn Of Enlightenment”. We have a unique metal style that sounds similar to melodic Euro-power metal bands, such as Helloween and Edguy, traditional metal bands, such as Iron Maiden and Manowar, and at times like thrash bands, such as Megadeth, and progressive metal bands, such as Pagan’s Mind.

MM-Your album “The Dawn of Enlightenment” was actually first released in 2004. Then you decided to re-record it and that’s the version that came out recently. Why did you decide to re-record it? How is the new version different?
JK-The opportunity arose for us to be recorded by past acquaintance Pete Rutcho. We knew he could get us excellent sound quality and we wanted to professionally press and package the whole thing this time. The new version has many revised parts, new vocal melodies, a professional album cover, booklet, and pressing, two new bonus tracks, real keyboards, and much better sound quality. In addition, while re-recording the album, Pete also officially joined the band as Armory’s keyboardist.

MM-How long did it take to re-do the album?
JK-Two and a half years. I recorded the drums in early July, 2005 if you can believe it. It took half a year to record the guitars, half a year for the bass, half a year for the vocals, and then almost a full year for the keys, editing, mixing, mastering, and putting together the album booklet. The reason it took so long was because we could only record when Pete and us had time in our busy schedules. Everyone was and is also working full time outside of the band. On average this restricted us to only being able to record for two to five times per month for only a few hours each time. The next album should be recorded much quicker as I am going to basically replace Pete as engineer at least for the guitars, bass, and vocal recordings. I am currently taking graduate classes but do not have a job outside of that.

MM-Are you satisfied with the way the second version of your album turned out? Was it worth the time and effort?
JK-Yes, it was totally worth the time and effort. We have made something from nothing; a metal album that will hopefully be around long after we are gone. There is almost no better way to spend one’s time. We improved every aspect of “The Dawn Of Enlightenment” since the original recording and now the songs sound as we always envisioned them. We vastly improved the production and packaging. The vocals and keyboards sound much better. We can now market our album and feel totally confident about it.

MM-Were any of you in any other bands or projects while you were re-recording “The Dawn of Enlightenment”?

JK-Yes. Pete is in a solo metal band called Vomitron (specializing in Nintendo covers), Graveheart (old-school thrash and death metal), and Frozen (progressive death and core metal). Both Tom’s are in a band together called Soul Remnants (progressive death and thrash). Chad, Adam, and I are only in Armory.

MM-It looks like your CD is being sold by a number of retailers. What has been the feedback so far? Do you know how well it is selling so far?
JK-Besides our own band store, our album is being sold by 14 other distributors from the US, Germany, Japan, and Greece. “The Dawn Of Enlightenment” has been reviewed by almost 100 metal review webzines and magazines so far and has been given many great reviews. We’ve been named “Album of the Month” on a few occasions and been given perfect reviews here and there. We are also being played on dozens of radio stations around the world. You can go to our official site or myspace page to read up on all of the great feedback so far. We keep track of all our sales. It has been selling decently. The only thing we can compare it to is how the original recording of “The Dawn Of Enlightenment” sold and already we’ve sold about 20 times as many CDs in one-tenth the amount of time.

MM-Have you had any interest from any record labels yet?
JK-We have had some interest from labels. We would rather not go into too much detail at this time about specifics though.

MM-Considering you just released a very professional sounding album on your own. How much does it mean to you to get signed?
JK-Honestly, after re-recording “The Dawn Of Enlightenment”, pressing and promoting it all by ourselves, I would say that getting a record deal has lost a lot of its appeal. With the help of the internet we’ve been able to reach fans through myspace, radio, review sites, magazines, and distributors. My house acts as our recording studio and business headquarters for selling our CDs and shirts through our official website store. All things considered, I think we’ve done well for ourselves as an unsigned band. I consider us on par with any signed metal band. Of course if we had a record deal we could get a lot of help planning a tour, which now is impossible, as we do not have the connections or money to do so.

MM-Did you write any other songs in between when the first release of your album in 2004 and re-recording it in 2007?
JK-Yes indeed. We began composing material for our second album back in 2004. We worked on composing whenever we were not actively revising or re-recording “The Dawn Of Enlightenment”. Right now there are nine songs which are each 90% to 100% written. I am scheduled to record the drums for our second album in only a few weeks. Everything will be done by us once again. We have matured as players and song writers. Fans can expect an album of monumental proportions.

MM-What is the metal scene like in your area?
JK-The true-metal scene (meaning 80’s classic metal, thrash, power and progressive metal) is not very popular, although there are some die-hard fans, such as all of us in Armory. Death and black metal is a little more popular here. Hardcore and metalcore are even more popular; however, we really don’t like that style of music and don’t even consider it to truly be metal.


MM-What do you think about metal in general in this decade? Do you think the overall metal scene is getting stronger or not?
JK-I think that metal in the early to mid 2000’s was really strong with releases like “The Metal Opera” parts I and II by Avantasia, “The Savage Poetry”, “Mandrake”, and “Hellfire Club” by Edguy, “The House of Atreus act II” by Virgin Steele, “V” by Symphony X, “Sunrise In Riverland” by Insania, “Silence” by Sonata Arctica, “Wishmaster” by Nightwish, “Infinite” by Stratovarius, “Awakening the World” and “A Flame to the Ground Beneath” by Lost Horizon, “Infinity Divine” and “Celestial Entrance” by Pagan’s Mind, “Sign of the Winner” and “Dust to Dust” by Heavenly, “Follow the Reaper” by Children of Bodom, “The Hall of the Olden Dreams” and “The Gates of Oblivion” by Dark Moor, “Dawn of Victory” by Rhapsody, “Of Wars in Osyhria” by Fairyland, “Rebirth” and “Temple of Shadows” by Angra, and “Defying the Rules” by Hibria. However, from 2005 to the present I believe that metal has been in a huge rut. Too many bands are getting carried away with adding female vocalists or growling elements, sounding poppy, and basically just losing a metal edge. In the past couple of years the best releases have been slightly above mediocre. I am pretty confident that we will eventually get out of the rut and metal will thrive once again. If not anyone else, we will certainly stay true! We had a metal rut in the mid-nineties that lasted a few years but we broke out of that with the appearance of some new great metal bands, such as Hammerfall, Rhapsody, Edguy, Children of Bodom, and Nightwish to name a few. The seasoned bands have released bad to decent albums but I have no hope for them to reclaim their glory days of writing, as it has never once happened before. We can only hope for new bands to take their place. You can bet that Armory is one of them.

MM-Who did the artwork for your album cover?

JK-A professional artist from Texas that we met online named Steve Goad did our album cover. We really like his painting and it fits very well with our album’s image and concept. It is surprising that it fits so well because he had already painted it and then we contacted him about using it for our album cover.

MM-What do you hope to accomplish in 2008?
JK-Many things! Record our second album, continue to promote our first album by sending it to more review webzines, magazines, radio stations, and distributors, play many shows, improve and constantly update our websites.

MM-Pick the band from the following pair that you prefer and tell why you picked that band.
Gamma Ray or Helloween

Helloween, as they are my second favorite band. I’ve been listening to the two Keeper albums for over a decade now and they are among my favorite albums of all time. In my mind, Helloween invented power metal. The Keeper albums displayed all of the elements of modern day power metal bands, such as double-bass drumming, soaring vocals, and guitar interlude harmonies. “Walls of Jericho” is my third favorite Helloween album. Gamma Ray is actually also one of my favorite bands. I prefer “Somewhere out in Space”, followed by “Land of the Free” and “Powerplant”. Kai Hansen is the king of power metal.

Fates Warning or Meliah Rage
Fates Warning, as I am not too familiar with Meliah Rage’s discography, even though they are from my home state. “No Exit” rules. Fates Warning was one of the founders of progressive metal. The stuff I’ve heard of Meliah Rage I do remember liking.

Dragonforce or Hammerfall
Certainly Hammerfall. I’ve been listening to both since the late nineties when Hammerfall had only released “Glory to the Brave” and Dragonforce was still called Dragonheart. I love “Glory to the Brave” and “Legacy of Kings”. They were both huge inspirations for “The Dawn Of Enlightenment”, especially in “Riding The Cosmic Winds”, “Warrior Forlorn”, and “Forever Triumphant”. Dragonforce, on the other hand, I don’t particularly care for. I liked “Valley of the Damned” when it was only a five-song demo and they were still called Dragonheart. I just don’t feel that there is much substance in their music any more.

Iron Maiden or Judas Priest
Iron Maiden, as they are my favorite band ever. “Somewhere In Time” is my favorite album of all time. In descending order I really like “Powerslave”, Piece of Mind”, “The Number of the Beast”, “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”, and “Killers”. They are another big influence for our style. Judas Priest is also one of my favorite bands. I prefer “Defenders of the Faith”, followed by “Painkiller”, “Turbo”, and “Screaming for Vengeance”.

MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band or your music?
JK-I want to thank you Mark for doing this interview with us. Thanks to all of our fans. Let the Armoroids unite!!!

***Thanks to Joe for doing the interview.

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