Sunday, October 30, 2016

Interview with Axxion members Sir Shred and Emily Annie

Axxion is a four-piece band that hails from Toronto and has been active since 2011. The group is lead by Dirty D Kerr and they have a highly-potent sound that blends together traditional heavy metal, N.W.O.B.H.M., 80's metal, U.S. power metal, and speed metal. Last month I covered the group's sophomore album, "Back in Time", and now it is my extreme pleasure to present this follow-up interview*.

Andy-Let me I just start off by saying how much I love your new album! Was this a group project or is there one or two people responsible for the album's music and lyrics? 

Emily (drums & vocals)-Most of the music is written by Shred (guitarist) and DD (vox). Usually whoever writes the song also ends up writing the lyrics because they have a feel or an idea for the song and an idea about where they want it to go, but there’s always blank spots that get filled together. However, Shred was really the grinding force behind this album; I honestly don’t think it would be out by this point without him. He forced us to sit down, work it out, plan the vocal melodies and get it tight. He also recorded the whole damn thing; which is an arduous task! He spent countless hours going over and over the tracks, getting everything sounding perfect before it went out for mixing and mastering, not to mention countless hours having to sit in that room and listen to all our shitty takes!

Andy- How would you compare back in time to your debut album? 

Emily-I think this release sounds more mature. And I don’t mean that in the ‘we’re getting old and running out of riffs’ mature; I mean that we have a more honed sound, we are tighter as a band and we know what we are going for. This album took a long time to get out and it took a LOT of work. I think Shred has probably aged about 10 years trying to push us all to get our act together and finish this damn thing. There was lots of time spent on perfecting the sound and getting everything to fit together just right; we spent a lot of time getting the vocals to sound just right. I have used the word ‘proud’ often when describing this album because that is exactly how it makes me feel; absolutely proud to have it come out this way and know all the damn hard work that went into it.

Andy-I'd say all that hard work really payed off...even if Shred is ten years older! So, what are the band's influences? Musically (and if applicable) lyrically.

Shred-Everyone has different influences but kind of the same at the same time. As long as it’s cool we’re all on board musically and we just kind of know what works and what doesn’t. Lyrically well….we just kind of write about whatever like chicks, riding stuff, time travel, and some of the lyrics make no sense at all but the words fit right. I never cared what lyrics meant anyway as long as the words work together. A new song usually starts with a couple chorus words that are usually the backups and it’s fill in the blanks from there.

Andy-Well, obviously it all works out in the end. Especially as the four of you have created a near perfect sound on your latest release!

Shred-I wouldn’t say this record sounds perfect, but it’s way better than what we’ve released previously and a huge part of that credit is due to the mixing guy Dan. He did a great job with what we gave him to start with and Engel mastered it just right. We’ll probably stick with the same formula moving forward.

Andy-Yeah, you're right. If it's not broke than why fix it! Changing gears here, but how did the band first come together? 

Emily-DD and I had both left our previous band (Skull Fist and Midnight Malice, respectively) in 2011 and I have known him since forever and we decided to get something together. So we just started jamming, pretty much; he had some original tunes that would become the early AXXION stuff and we rocked some Kansas songs in between and eventually we got our first line-up together and did some shows, did some recording, lost some members, gained some members and here we are! I would like to say that, though we’ve had some different musicians play and eventually move on from Axxion, that it was always really amicable and we still have great relationships with past members; we have a small metal community here in Toronto, Canada and everyone knows everyone it’s a pretty tight community so I think it’s pretty cool that we all support one another within the scene.

Andy-That's really how the metal scene should be. Speaking of Axxion members, what affect, if any, has your new bass player had on the group?

Shred-He’s definitely made us all look a lot shorter! Besides that he’s still working into the roll. He recorded the album on a whim and never really heard the songs before showing up to the studio but I wanted him to kind of just roll through it and leave his mark on it. He’s an excellent song writer and does cool stuff in Cauldron so we weren’t worried at all. It worked out.

Andy-That's for sure! Will you be hitting the road behind this release and is Ohio too far as a destination to consider?

Shred-We’re leaving for the US tomorrow for a one off festival, a couple Canadian dates in the next little while but no tour planned as of yet. The US is a serious pain for Canadian bands and costs a shitload so I don’t see us touring the US in the near future because we cant get our gear across the border. One off shows work cause we can sneak in and get away with it but until the US realizes that bands like us don’t make any money and lowers the fee’s I just don’t see it happening.

Andy-I've heard similar complaints from other Canada bands. I really wish the American government would get it's act together with that, but given the current condition of my home country....well, let's just say we have A LOT of problems and just leave it at that! But anyway, as you're band is quite busy I won't keep you long. I want to thank you for doing this short interview and I'll leave you with this one last question. Seeing as Axxion has been active for some time now I'd wager that you've had some good and bad shows.  Care to share one that sticks out for being great? 

Emily-I am so very glad you asked this question, because we recently played a ‘not-very-official-basement-party’ show. And this pretty much meant, everyone is getting drunk and, not being too serious and just having a good time, doing what we love; playing music. So, we are all getting ready, plugging stuff in, I’m switching the kit over to leftie and people are starting to gather around getting ready for us to play. And, with pretty perfect timing, the boys all strip down into- what I am told- are powersuits. Can you picture Ralf Scheepers? Or Steve Harris in those full spandex onesies? I’m sure you can; now imagine it but the sluttier version. Little straps over the shoulder and shorts that cover just enough….area to get the job done. Needless to say I had a blast playing that show, not sure how much the boys remember but I think it was a hit! That being said…I did have to look at 3 spandex striped butts for our whole set. I think I’ve got a picture of it around here somewhere…

Andy-I can see why that show "stuck out" so much! Thanks again for chatting with me and congrats on your new album. 

For all things Axxion (up to and including CDs, tee-shirts, stickers, and patches!) be sure to head here.

*Due to some unforeseen "technical issues" I am just now getting around to posting this interview.  While the band's responses were quick and precise my home computer was not as....accommodating. Let's just say it took on a life of it's own and we'll leave it at that.   

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Friday, October 28, 2016



Inire is a hard rock/southern metal band that hails from Québec and is lead by vocalist Dre Versailles. Based in Ottawa and sporting a vast array of influences that range from Pantera and (early) Alice In Chains to Hatebreed and (later day) Metallica, Inire has been active since 2007. Musicians John Laflamme (guitar), Dim Gervais (guitar), Fred B. Simard (bass), and Chris Bonavia (drums) round out this highly-versatile five-piece group that is now in it's ninth year of existence. Between the years 2007 and 2009 Inire put out a self-titled demo and one full-length recording entitled, "Born the Wicked, The Fallen, The Damned". For whatever reason it would be seven long years before the members of Inire were finally able to head back into the studio and record a follow-up to their 2009 debut album. During that "cooling off" period the members of Inire obviously grew as both musicians and songwriters. The jump in quality between "Born the Wicked, The Fallen, The Damned" and this forthcoming album offers plenty of proof to back up that observation. With a hefty run-time of forty three minutes and fifty four seconds, "Cauchemar" is a new take on the somewhat warn-out southern metal sound and it further stretches my belief that warm and rich vibes can come from the coldest environments! Produced by the group's own drummer, Chris Bonavia, and available for pre-order by clicking here, Inire's long-awaited second album finds this groovy, heavy and hard band adding a touch or two of Tool to the mix as well as some modern metal. Despite these new "flavor additives" the thirteen-track "Cauchemar" is remarkably consistent from beginning to end. Even though it fluctuates between mellow, dark and slow material and some truly riff-heavy rockers it has this distinct and undeniable flow about it that is really comfortable. The album's thirteen tracks seemingly feed off of each other and they draw the listener in nice and close. Overall it is an album that sets out to paint a picture of one band that feels invigorated and ready for whatever comes next. Due out on November 18th, "Cauchemar" achieves that goal while firmly putting a bright spotlight on vocalist Dre Versailles and his companions. Hopefully this is just the first of many such releases for this well-deserving band....

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Them-Sweet Hollow

Empire Records

Them is a international heavy metal band that was originally formed in 2008 by singer Troy Norr (Coldsteel) as "Them - The King Diamond Tribute". After three and a half years or so of covering King Diamond and Mercyful Fate songs, Troy decided to put the well-known tribute band to rest so. Placing Them on the back-burner, Troy went out and worked on other projects. Fast forward a couple years to 2014 and the dead suddenly returned to life! Or at least the name "Them" did. Brought back into the world of the living once more by it's skilled front-man, Them suddenly began the long and treacherous journey from being in a tribute band to writing and performing all original material. To that end, Troy envisioned a whole new concept for the resurrected and largely "re-imagined" Them and soon enough he began the slow and meticulous construction of what would turn out to be "Sweet Hollow". With the help of some top-notch musicians from Germany and the U.S. (see below), the 50 minute plus "Sweet Hollow" is not only the bright light at the end of that dark tunnel for Troy Norr, but arguably one of 2016's strongest heavy metal recordings! Mixed and mastered by David Otero (Aberrant, Moth (live), ex-Dethroned, ex-Serberus), "Sweet Hollow" is a cleverly-crafted concept album that tells the "bizarre journey of a man caught between unfortunate circumstance and unspeakable evils". It serves as the follow-up to the independently-released "Fear Them" EP and features eleven songs....well, twelve if you include the all-too brief intro "Rebirth". Clocking in at just a minute and nineteen seconds, "Rebirth" flips the switch from off to on in regards to this ghoulish creature of the night. "And what is this ghastly monster made of" you might be asking? Taking a cue or two from it's namesake, Them first captured the unholy spirits of both King Diamond and Mercyful Fate in order that they might serve as this album's guiding voices. From there they built up the actual body of "Sweet Hollow" with pieces and parts of Grade A power metal. Last, but most certainly not least, lead singer Troy Norr plucked out his own heart and gave it to his new creation! Naturally charged by the thunder of the gods themselves(!), "Sweet Home" is a tribute to all those who too part in it's construction and a real gift for fan's of classic and true heavy metal!! 

Them's full-length debut find's Troy Norr (amazing enough!) backed up by:

Guitarist Markus Johansson  (4Arm, Sylencer)

Guitarist Markus Ullrich (A Cosmic Trail, Lanfear, Septagon)

Bassist Mike LePond (Affector, Elegacy, Fatal Array, Heathen's Rage, Holy Force, Mike LePond's Silent Assassins, Rivera/Bomma, Stygia, Symphony X, Waken Eyes, Distant Thunder, ex-Brute Force, Ango Tasso's Air Force, Mike Bino Project, Universal Mind Project, ex-Ashenveil, ex-MindMaze, ex-Painmuseum, ex-Seven Witches, ex-Sleepy Hollow, ex-Helstar (live), ex-Operatika Element (live), ex-Malakis Reign, ex-Rattlebone)

Keyboardist Richie Seibel  (A Cosmic Trail, Ivanhoe, Lanfear, ex-Charisma, ex-Ivorie)

Drummer Kevin Talley (Castrofate, Feared, Grot, Nothnegal, Sylencer, The Art of Hate, Dååth, ex-Horror of Horrors, ex-Consumned, ex-Decrepit Birth, ex-Dying Fetus, ex-Implore, ex-Misery Index, ex-Six Feet Under, ex-Suffocation, ex-Throes, ex-WretchedPain, ex-Absence of the Sacred (live), ex-Battlecross (live), ex-Cattle Decapitation (live), ex-DevilDriver (live), ex-Hate Eternal (live), ex-M.O.D. (live), ex-The Black Dahlia Murder (live), ex-The Red Chord (live), ex-Chimaira, ex-Worlds Divide, ex-All the Way to the Bank, ex-Throes (live))

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Seax-Speed Metal Mania


Formed in 2009 by Brazilian guitarist Hel (Aeshma, Helgrid, ex-Infernal Devotion, ex-Fires of Old, ex-Zircon), Seax is a buzz-worthy speed metal band that hails from Worcester, Massachusetts and is currently fronted by vocalist Carmine DeCicco (Black Sabre, ex-Raging Fire). Recorded and mixed by the band's second guitarist, Eli Firicano (Ravage), "Speed Metal Mania" is Seax's third full-length album since 2012 and yes, it is every-bit as wicked cool as the above artwork suggests! In addition to such instant classics as "Leather and Spikes", "Fall to the Hammer", "Nuclear Overdose", and "Possessed by the Axe", Seax's latest (and quite possible greatest?) full-length album has two numbers with the word SPEED in it!! Those two gems would be title track and "Speed Forever" and they actually open and close this (highly-recommended!) 10-track album. They also make "Speed Metal Mania" all that much more fun, but then again so does the self-explanatory (and frankly downright awesome!) "Forged by Metal"! With a run-time of close to 41 minutes(!) and some simply-killer influences that range from Exciter's first two albums to "Kill 'Em All"-era Metallica(!), the recently-released "Speed Metal Mania" is just too good to not pass on to all of our readers. It's packed with all kinds of raw energy and it sports a finger-blistering take on vintage speed metal that is sure to stick to your ribs for weeks on end! All of the performances are all spot on and that goes for Seax's other two members, bassist Mike Bones (Ancient Power) and drummer Derek Jay (ex-Hell Within, ex-Trauma Concert). In the end I cannot think of one good reason to not rave on and on about this fucking awesome album!! I mean sure, one should probably point out the fact that this recording is most definately haunted by the late ghost of Motörhead. But otherwise?

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