Wednesday 26 January 2011

From Norway they came - Kollwitz

Occasionally, a band rises from obscurity and blows you away. They are mysterious and encompassing and leave you feeling awe-struck, especially in world of spoon-fed, commercialised music. The band I am referring is Kollwitz.

Kollwitz play a very different type of music from a lot the bands that are coming out of Norway at the moment. They play very introspective, doomy metal with hints at the hardcore past of some of their members.

Kollwitz surfaced in 2006 in Bodø, Norway by Thomas Hanssen (Guitar), Stian Hansen (Drums), Jorgen R. Holmen (Synths/Samples/Vocals) and Frederik Hillestad (Vocals/Synths). The four had already been active in the Norwegian underground music scene, playing in bands such as Beyond The Fences, Oceanism, Uzumaki and Hjertesorg. Shortly after, Endre Njos joined as the bands second guitarist and was also active in a band called The Spectacle. 

In 2007, Kollwitz relocated to the city of Oslo, where they played shows and begun to records material that would end up forming their debut album - Like Iron I Rust, which was released in 2010 by Norwegian label Fysisk Format. Around the time of it's release, Tobjorn Hafnor joined on Bass and this allowed Jorgen to focus more on the layers and textures that would contribute to Kollwitz's sound.

A little while ago, I caught up with guitarist Endre Njos, to ask him some questions about the band and their journey so far:-

First of all, how are you and how is 2011 going so far? What plans have you got for 2011?
We are doing well! 2011 has started nice and quiet, with some time for other projects than Kollwitz. Our main focus now is writing new songs, but we also have a few gigs lined up in Norway. The writing process is pretty slow for us, so it takes a while to finish a song, let alone and entire album. Right now we mostly have a lot of riffs, and we are trying to work though what can go together and what is potentially right for our next record.

Like Iron I Rust is a brilliant record. How did you come up with the sound for Kollwitz? Was it a natural progression from your previous bands?
That is most kind of you. I guess you could say that it is a natural progression from earlier bands, though it was far from the only possible outcome, if that makes sense. All of us have played in hardcore or metal bands before this, and at least most of us have had a love affair with slow and hard music for quite some time. Our sound is, like most bands, partially coincidental and partially deliberate. It is not like we had a master plan from the get-go, nor is everything purely by chance. You discover new things by chance, and then you make deliberate decisions based upon what you’ve found and what you have learned in the past. In one sense, you could probably say that we have fused various elements from earlier bands to our liking.

The package for Like Iron I Rust is great. How did you come up with it?
A Norwegian artist, Johannes Høie, did the artwork. We had seen some of his work on the Internet, and incidentally he had already been in touch with our label, Fysisk Format, about doing artwork for some of their bands. We gave him some keywords, and he made the awesome drawing on the cover, plus most of the other illustrations. A friend of us did the layout. He is great with graphic design and did a superb job putting those illustrations together in a format that could be printed. The packaging itself is an “arigato pack”. Our friends and label mates in Dominic had used it for their album, and the label suggested we do it too. We are really satisfied with it, and if you like the CD packaging, you should see the vinyl!

Your label Fysisk Format seems to be gaining a reputation for really quality releases at the moment. What made you decide to work with them?
Actually, they were the number one label that we wanted to work with, so we were thrilled when they liked a promo CD we made them. The quality of music and packaging they had already put out was most impressive, and the people behind the label seemed very dedicated and serious, not to mention that they are all really nice people. Top that with the fact that they are running the best record store in Norway, and you have a winner! We couldn’t be happier with being on Fysisk Format.

I found out about Kollwitz from a feature in Terrorizer magazine. Have you had a lot of attention from other areas?
Not really, it’s mostly been from Norway and the UK, which is obviously connected to distribution and promotion. However, we are eager to tour and release albums more or less everywhere, and try to build up a network and, hopefully, a fan base wherever there might be interest.

Norway seems to be producing a lot of great, original bands at the moment, including yourselves and Kvelertak. Is the scene switching to more forward thinking bands?
Fysisk Format is almost like a scene of our own – and what a great one! On could perhaps say that bands coming from more of a hardcore/punk background are pretty diverse and “forward thinking” these days, but it is hard to say something meaningful about those things when you are involved in it yourself. Suffice to say that there are many good bands in almost any genre in Norway nowadays?

What bands/music do you listen to and would you say that they influence you at all in your music?
That would be a different answer from every band member. There are of course some of the usual suspects: Neurosis, Breach, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, GYBE!, Sigur Rós, TNBM amongst many others. Of course they influence us. However, I think we find most inspiration in our near surroundings and from all the great bands that our friends play in. There is something special about music performed by people that you have a real relation to.  

Which bands would you suggest that people pay attention to from Norway at the moment?
Okkultokrati, Obliteration, Årabrot and Aristillus from Fysisk Format. Hell, check out the entire roster! Altaar is a drone/doom band that are actually playing South By Southwest this year. Kråkesølv is a great indie pop band, and Lukestar is another, and yet another one, which features members from Kollwitz, is Cold Mailman. Iskald plays black metal that will freeze your soul. 

And so to the album itself. Like Iron I Rust is made of eight tracks in just over an hour.
The track listing for the album is as follows:-
1. What You Are Given
2. Green Line
3. A Great Divide
4. And The Stars Did Wander
5. Dispirit
6. Black Star, Grey Sky
7.Stille For Stormen
8. Like Iron I Rust.

As soon as the album starts, it transports to the baron, cold landscapes of Scandinavia. The synths and lightly plucked strings, heralding in a sense of calm before bursting into raucous passages which would be akin to bands like Cult of Luna. Now, I don't want to draw any comparisons to other bands becuase Kollwitz deserve more than that.

You can definitely hear brief nods to the bands influences, but they add to the bands very original sound and help them to become somewhat unclassifiable, genre wise. The album is able to hold the attention well, allowing the listener to get lost in their soundscapes. I think it is a great album and has been on rotation in my record player since I laid my hands on it.

The packaging is also great. The CD came packaged in a cardboard case, not much bigger than the CD itself. The artwork on the front of the release, stretches round when you open the album up. Inside, instead of the standard booklet, the band provided the song titles and lyrics on separate, double sided cards. This is a very original and quality release, and should be a sign of the quality to come from the band's label.

Overall, Kollwitz are a real treasure and a band that should start to get more recognition for such an amazing debut album. The album is out now through Fysisk Format. You can visit the label by going to and thanks to the label's distribution, you should be able to find copies in the UK, especially on Amazon.

You can follow Kollwitz on facebook by going to!/pages/kollwitztheband/104195012625.


Sunday 16 January 2011

Blogs Away!

While I'm waiting for some stuff to come in for my next features, I thought I'd give a shout out to some blogs I've come across recently.

Firstly, a blog by Berlin Powerviolence band - Henry Fonda. The band update their blog with news about releases and tours. Be sure to check it out at - if your into your powerviolence!

Secondly, I found a blog by rising Norwegian blackened hardcore band Okkultokrati. Again, this is filled with updates and news about the band and their exploits. Go to and be sure to check this out.

While on my quest to seek out metal from all corners of the earth, I came across Bangkok Thrash. This is a website promoting thrash metal in Thailand. There's loads on it about cool Thai thrash bands and about the website own thrash metal festival. Go to for more info.

Consider it Core is a cool webzine about all things core. They have regular updates about new releases by hardcore/deathcore/metalcore/whatevercore bands and it is well worth checking out. Go to

Rockfreaks.Net is an online music magazine, based in Denmark, focusing on all ends of the metal/rock spectrum. It's full of news, interviews, gig and album reviews. go to for more.

And finally, on a more brutal note, check out Supreme It's an awesome webzine about death metal, grindcore and goregrind. So if your interested in all thing extreme and gory, get yourselves to I know I will be! 

Sunday 9 January 2011

Australia attacks pt.3 - Through Plagues

This is my third post looking at the Australian death metal scene. Through Plagues are a new band who recorded their first EP - From the Depths in 2010. They are part of a growing Brisbane death metal scene and are currently building a great live reputation in their local area. 

I caught up with guitarist Clarke to find out a bit more about the band and their scene: -

You guys are the third Australian death metal band I've featured Stay Ahead. How do you guys view the Australian death metal scene at the moment?
I think Australian Death Metal is doing great at the moment. There are tons of older and younger bands killing it live as hard as ever, Especially in Brisbane. I think we are pretty lucky to have a metal scene that not only is quite large in size but the quality of bands makes it so much better.

What have you got planned so far for 2011?

We cant wait for 2011, we are just about to get our first run of merch done, so that is pretty exciting - a design by Artist Joshua Andrew Belanger should be up for sale on our big cartel soon, so keep eye out for that.
There is a lot more going down on the show front, we have a show this Friday with some great bands, (Bane of Isildur (nsw, Album launch) and Defamer) Then a great mixed bill show in march featuring Adrift for Days from NSW. Our plan after that is to definitely try and branch out by playing some interstate shows and all ages events.

We are still promoting our free EP which can be downloaded at and we urge more people to download that but
there is talk about recording a split later this year, which we plan to release a video clip with as well.

All up it should be a pretty busy year for us.

Obviously, Australia is very spread out touring wise. Have you guys found it easy to get shows so far?

We haven't toured yet, nor played as much as we would like to, but locally promoters have been really great to us and we were urged by many to play shows from the moment we put our first demo online with vocalist Luke.

What's the feeling like when you're playing live and how have the crowds reacted?

Its been a long wait since writing our first songs, plus recording and releasing well before our first live show. I think this has made us if anything push the songs harder live, people already know the songs so they expect them to be tight, just like the EP. The crowds have been great so far. We had great turnouts for our first 2 shows. I just wish we could play more songs for them!

Do you find that you local metal scene has a good DIY ethic and do the bands help each other out?

Overall yes. But there are always bands who don't and I think people realize pretty quickly.

What has been the highlight for you guys so far?

Self-Releasing our own EP and Playing our first show to a packed crowd rate pretty high! I'd also say seeing over 1500 downloads of the EP in the first 4 months of release. I think all the guys are really proud of that.

Finally, can you give us your suggestions for bands that we should be paying attention to in your local scene?

Locally, there is lots of great talent.

Our Great mates The Fevered just released an EP, to quote them "We think we're Swedish and it's the nineties".

Disentomb are also some really intense brutal Death from Brisbane as well.

Other cool bands worth check out are, Teargas and Brazen bull.

Here is a quick review of the bands debut EP - From the Depths - 

2.Goddess of the sea
3.Ice to see you 
4.Wings of Damnation 
5.Eternal silence

From the Depths begins with a sampled intro which sets the tone nicely for the rest of the EP. First song proper, Goddess of the Sea shows off Through Plagues instrumental dexterity, which is noticeable throughout the rest of the EP. The bands influences include The Black Dahlia Murder and Darkest hour, and are not that far off for people who want a reference point. They incorporate very good, Scandinavian death metal inspired musicianship and dual high pitched/low pitched vocals, which complement each other very well. A grinding, raging rhythm section keeps the whole thing in check and the band don't lose any brutality, even including a nice guitar solo in Goddess of the Sea.

The production of the EP is really good and considering this is Through Plagues first recorded output, it shows that these guys are not messing about and have set out their stall early. It will be really interesting to see what progression they make with their next record.

If you want to download their EP, go to -

It's really great to hear band of this quality and Through Plagues should give you a good excuse to do some digging and find out more about the growing Brisbane death metal scene.

Sunday 2 January 2011

Scene Heads-up - Melody of Your Demise

Melody of Your Demise are a post-hardcore band from York. The band are full of energy and so far, have played gigs all around Yorkshire to build up there reputation as a kick-ass live band. I caught up with screamer Chris, to ask him how things were going and to find out about to expect from Melody of Your Demise in 2011.

"2010 was an exciting year for us. We played our first gig in March, which was scheduled to be with The Ocean Between Us, who unfortunately couldn’t make it, but it was a really fun first gig and within a week we were offered slots with Trigger the Bloodshed and local legends RSJ.

Our year has progressively got busier and busier from there. We’ve worked really hard on getting in touch with promoters, trying to gig as much as possible whenever and wherever we can. In December we even played two gigs in one night in Hull. We love being on stage and want to get our music out to as many people as possible. A lot of reviews we’ve had done about us have said we are an interesting live band to watch, we just try and get out and play as often as possible.
The highlight for me at least was probably supporting Yashin and With one Last Breath to approx. 450 people.  We want to play more bigger scale gigs like this in 2011, we already have an opening slot supporting Glamour of the Kill and have a few more in the pipeline which will pull in some bigger crowds hopefully.
We also surpassed our own expectations by reaching the final of a battle of the bands 20 miles from our local fan base in Castleford.
All in all we’ve had so much fun, made loads of friends and can’t wait to further this in 2011!"

I've been checking out a lot of local bands recently. What do you guys think about the Yorkshire scene?
Yorkshire has a lot of amazing bands! We’re privileged in York to be surrounded by local bands that have such high standards and a lot of potential. Considering what a small city it is how many bands have ‘made it’, and there are so many that people don’t know about that one day might. It sets the standard high and pushes us to continually improve.

It's great to see so many bands on the local scene, helping each other out. Do you think that helps make the scene better and more accessible?
Yeah, defiantly. We’ve had loads of occasions where friends in other bands have got us on line ups and where we have got them on gigs. Which is cool cause often their fans will like us and ours will like them so yeah definitely a positive thing for the music scene.

What do you think about the state of the UK metal/hardcore at the moment?
It’s good, I guess. I personally think it’d be cool if there were more fans, like in America. But I’ve seen a lot of good local bands with a lot of talent and on a wider scale we’ve got bands like Asking Alexandria, Bring me the horizon and Gallows all massive in America where the whole scene it bigger. I think it’s a shame there isn’t the fan base and radio time for bands like this in England though as there is a lot of talent around just not as many opportunities for bands to be as successful.

You’re supporting Glamour of the Kill in Feb. How do you feel about of playing the show?
Can’t even say in words how stoked we are about this! We’re gonna definitely put in one of our best performances yet and work hard running up to it. But mainly it’s gonna be so fun (for us and our fans). I know a lot of our fans are GOTK and Shadows Chasing Ghosts fans as well so they’re looking forward to seeing us with a bigger crowd and hopefully some more crowd participation. It’s gonna be brilliant.

What other local bands would you say people should check out in 2011?
As I said above York really has an amazing scene so I’ll give you 5 of my favourites:
1.  Don’t Let Paris Fool You, a bit, well a lot different to us. Like Acoustic, folk, punk. But great to watch! Definitely worth checking out.
2.  You Cried Wolf, more similar to us, another metalcore band. Catchy, heavy music that’s awesome live!
3.  Mitzi’s Revenge, local more punk style band again. Amazing to watch live, really catchy songs! Defiantly going places!
4.  With One Last Breath, while these are a bit bigger than the bands above, they are still from York but they are right about to blow up! If you haven’t heard of them before though, check them out!
5.  Open invitation, is our guitarist (Jonny Gills) acoustic project! He’s got an amazing voice and he’s playing his acoustic gigs all the time! If you like acoustic music defiantly check him out!  

MOYD currently have some demo songs up on their myspace site, which you can listen to. Go to Also, check out their Facebook page for more news, including details about their gig with local high flyer's Glamour of the Kill.

Melody of Your Demise are another very promising addition to the Yorkshire scene and a band that I think you'll be seeing a lot more of in the future.

Something utterly exciting - Solar Zalavia

So, this is my first feature of 2011 and to kick things off, let me introduce Solar Zalavia. These guys are an alternative metal band from Mexico. They formed in Mexico City in 2005 and have so far released two EP's, titled - Something Quite Inspiring (Released Winter 2009) and Nothing Utterly Exciting (Released summer 2010 and reviewed below). They also have a new EP due out in January of this year, called - Smile Gerbera Smile. Solar Zalavia consist of Selko (Communications, riffin' & growls), Zald (Growls, screams & low end), Diego (Beat, tempo & snare) and Russelcrowe (strings). The bands main influences are progressive bands like Opeth and Coheed and Cambria, and metal bands like In flames.

I caught up with Selko recently and asked him about the scene in Mexico and about their music. Here's what he had to say: -

You guys have been together since 2005. How has the metal scene changed in Mexico in that time?
Back in 2005 the whole metal scene in Mexico was mostly punk rock and happy punk, so metal bands didnt have too much support.
By 2007 the scene changed, the "emo bands" took control of the scene, pushing aside metal bands.
Since 2009 the main scene was the deathcore/screamo/hardcore. It has been really hard to establish our name in the Mexican metal scene.
Late 2009, early 2010 meant a change for us, that's when we started to have a small, but significant, success via Social Networks.
Mexico is more open now to "heavy" bands than 5 years ago, but we are still left behind by the pop music industry.

What inspired you to form the band and what is the significance of your band name?
In high school,  we started paying close attention to metal bands, we were really shocked by what bands were doing, both technically and emotively.
Bands like Opeth, Seether, Coheed & Cambria and In Flames were huge influences to us back in the day, we found so much creativity and inspiration in those bands.
That's when we realized that we have to do something, something that contributes to the metal music as a whole.
There's no hidden meaning behind "Solar Zalavia". Solar it's about life and energy, and here in Mexico a "solar" is a an abandoned place.  Zalavia it's the funny part, a story about how the ice cream cones were invented in the beginning of the 20th Century.
Together it's a solid name, we can really relate to it, besides, it sounds really cool!

You have a new EP coming out in January 2011 Can you tell us a bit about it?Yeah, the new EP is named "Smile Gerbera Smile", its in the same line of "Nothing Utterly Exciting". With a bit more of technical and semi-prog stuff, and definitely more growling.
The lead single will be "Sick, Precious Smile". We're still waiting for the final mix of the album. We're really excited about it, if u liked the Nothing Utterly Exciting, you will love the new songs. We hope to upload a couple of songs to MySpace and BandPage (Facebook) by January15th.
A bonus track is ready to be recorded in January, we are planning to record our version of Limp Bizkit's "Boiler" just for fun, adding some fast breaks, screaming and sick guitar solos.
What are you plans from 2011?
Play more shows than in 2010. Hopefully promote the band in the US and Europe.
Record more stuff in the studio, and drink as much rum as we can.
How have you found touring and playing shows in Mexico? Where else have you toured?
Playing live is what we live for, we love to sweat our souls off in the stage, and never let down our friends while playing.
We have mainly played in Mexico City, a lot of small bars and pubs support local acts, giving bands free beers.

How do fans react to your live shows?
We always try to surprise the audience with our versatility, going from a straight-solid riff, to a mellow acoustic part, to a fast solo, going back to the acoustic stuff, then to a heavy riff, and so on, mixing clean melodies with intense growling. That's what we try to be praised for.

Can you give us your tips on bands to check out from your local scene?
The bigger Mexican metal band would be Here Comes The Kraken, they have toured Europe a couple of times. If u're into brutal deathcore be sure to check out HCTK on If you are into metalcore and fast sweeping you must check out our neighbors KillTheFury,

Nothing Utterly Exciting is the bands 2nd EP and was released in the Summer of last year. It contains 7 tracks. I've also done a review of the EP below: -

The EP starts of with a track called Soul Perfection, which sets the stall for Solar Zalavia unclassifiable sound. They use good growling/melodic dual vocals to good effect, over the top of muscular guitar and rhythm section. They include and guitar solo and sweeps similar to Santana and the closest reference point for their mixture of styles would be The Mars Volta.

The next track is a short, spaghetti western soundtrack style interlude called Bizarrely Unexpected. 

The third track is called Love Kills (Pt.1). The band mix low/high growls with almost grungy vocals, which sounds similar to Mudvayne. Again the band make use of the skill of their guitarist to include more wailing solos and clever sweeping guitar.

Track four is entitled Romeo's last stand (Pt. 3). SoZa incorporate a number of styles into this tack including death metal inspired low/high screams and raspy growls, as well as skillful technical/mathy guitar parts. A good instrumental mid-section proves that they have a good appreciation for their instrumentation.

track five is another interlude called Lunaluz Ademir.

This leads into sixth track Ok,go, begins in a thrashy tone, made better by the production of the EP. The song includes more raspy growls and high pitched screams. The band incorporates an acoustic mid section which leads into nice low end screams and mathy guitar before ending with the bands trademark, almost grungy sound.

Seventh track Glassroad (Pt.3) starts off with a nice acoustic instrumental introduction and then builds into a Seether inspired rock ballad.

The eighth and final track is a bonus track called My Bleeding scars, which was the lead single off their first EP - Something Quite Inspiring. It's easy to see from this track where the basis for the bands trademark sound has come from and you can see the progression that the band has made between their two EP'S.

Overall, the EP is crammed full of ideas and different musical perspectives. The band show their influences but make it their own. I can't wait to hear what their new material sounds like when their new EP comes out shortly.

If you want to hear Solar Zalavia's tracks go to The guys have also very kindly provided a link for a special download that you can do , which includes Romeo's Last Stand and Ok, Go from the Nothing utterly exciting EP and My Bleeding scars from their Something quite inspiring EP. Go to to download it.

Saturday 1 January 2011


This is just a quick update to let people know that there will be some new posts appearing soon. I haven't gone quiet on ya!