Apr 18 2010

Views from the Pit: Black Revelations 2010

It’s often difficult to write reviews for gigs where there are bands that are perhaps not up to par with the rest of the lineup, but fortunately this one is going to be easy for me.


Black Revelations 2010 was held yesterday at Home Club, organized by Trippy Factory, a gig organizer for indie and metal music.

The crew was there around 3.30pm, had a nice little chat with people from the Thai black metal band Dei Tetra and subsequently headed down for a round of coffee and BAK CHOR MEE! (Which they found pretty good!)

At 6:30pm, doors were finally open and the first band was up, after a 1 hour delay. But it was all worth it as opener Hallow were all prepared to rock the house. Playing a style of hard rock/heavy metal, they were just a taste of what was to come after them. I particular liked how the vocalist utilized a harmonizer to create harmonizing for his vocals at certain parts of the song, though it provided somewhat of a comical relief when he forgot to turn it off when talking to the crowd (which definitely wasn’t a bad thing!). One thing that I noticed though was how much gain there was on the guitarist’s tone while on rhythm and it made their songs pretty hard to follow (since I’m pretty much a guitar person), though the solos were extremely clear and addictive!

Evil Singing Pandas were up after Hallow, featuring gig organizer Remy. ESP got me especially curious after the first few songs that I heard from them, their Year of the Metal Tiger MCD (which is unfortunately not for sale according to Remy, for the physical edition). They played music in the vein of old school rock and heavy metal, including a cover from Led Zeppelin. I loved how Remy moved to the music he was playing, displaying his enthusiasm and his passion throughout his set. The drummer also showed his versatility through fusing Bossanova beats into one of the songs. They ended their set with another (instrumental) cover from viking/death metal band, Mithotyn. To the blank faces when Remy announced that it was going to be a cover from Mithotyn, Remy says, “well, screw you very much!”

Right after ESP, G.O.D. was up. Having been in existence for around 5 years, G.O.D. definitely had the charisma to pull off a good show. This was when the first signs of life among the crowd became apparent, with people starting to move to the front of the stage as the band was setting up. With the first note struck, heads started banging and hair started flying all over the place. Have to say that I was impressed with vocalist and guitarist Calvin’s vocals, who’s growls and shrieks stayed very constant throughout the set.

At the end of G.O.D.’s set, we spied a silver man going up on stage, who turned out to be axe-wielder for Deus ex Machina, Ryan. With Mithun not in Singapore, they had a session vocalist to stand in. Ryan’s stage (or off-stage?) antics certainly raised many eyebrows (or perhaps I just haven’t been to enough DEM gigs). Halfway through the set, he asked the audience in front of him to “siam”, leaving us to wonder what was going on. He then proceeded to jump into the audience and pretty much stayed there for most of the set. Though his constantly unpredictably swinging headstock certainly posed a threat to the audiences’ faces, the crowd certainly enjoyed what they saw.

Finally, Thai black metal band Dei Tetra took the stage. I have to say the band looks totally different on-stage with their corpse paint and off-stage. Emperor Viperon and King Aboroth had blood constantly spewing out of their mouths throughout their set, while vocalist Countess Asithara charms the audience with her shrieky vocals and headbanging, and her reminder for the crowd that “if your heads are still on your shoulders, I want you to all headbang till they are not on your shoulders anymore!” Perhaps the highest point of their set was their cover of One by One, when King Aboroth and Countess Asithara switched roles, him taking over vocals and her taking over bass (which definitely reminded me of ChthoniC’s Doris!). It was overheard that this song is a special one, just for the crowd at Singapore!

Rudra took the stage next. Starting with the crowd favourite, Aryaputra, was definitely a right choice as the instant the first note was struck, heads once again started banging. They played a selection of songs throughout their discography, including an as-of-yet titled track from their upcoming album, Brahmavidya: Immortal I. When it was drawing to a close frontman Kathir asked the soundman if they had time for more than 1 last song. The exchange was hilarious and provided much entertainment to the crowd:

Kathir: “Soundman, how many songs do we have left to play?”
Soundman shows a single finger, showing that they only had time for 1 last song.
Crowd: “NOOOOOOOO!”
Kathir to soundman: “Are you sure we only have 1 song left?”
Soundman nods his head.
Crowd: “NOOOOOOOO!”
Kathir to soundman: “Can we negotiate?”
Soundman shakes his head.

Kathir bargains anyway, asking for 3 more songs with the soundman initially insisting that they could play 2 songs at max, but finally gave in for them to play 3 last songs. The highlight was probably the last track, where Kathir gave the crowd a choice between The Pathless Path to the Knowable Unknown or Aham Brahmasmi (to which the crowd picked Pathless Path, of course!).

Lastly, we had death metal band Absence of the Sacred take the stage. Initially it was a shitty turnout since it was already getting late and the crowds went out after Rudra’s set. But when they launched into their first song, Era of the Apostate, crowds started pouring in from the outside. Let’s face it, their set wasn’t exactly excellent though the musicians on stage were definitely good. Somehow frontman Mike almost always faces technical problems for the gigs that I attend (the last time it was at the Soundcrusher gig at House of Rock). Towards the end of their second song and halfway through their third song, his guitar suddenly went off. However, the crowd response was extremely supportive, headbanging and throwing horns throughout to show their support. I have to say though, I preferred it when the vocals on the track which he had to only do vocals when the guitar was down. They played 2 new songs and also threw in a cover which the crowd thoroughly enjoyed.

Overall this gig has been a pleasant experience, one of the better ones at a nice and decent pub venue. Special thanks to Dei Tetra who were extremely nice people and for the nice chat and complimentary autographed copies of the El Fuego EP to the crew.

©2010 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

Apr 15 2010

Interview with Mike Priest (Absence of the Sacred, Hell’s Labyrinth)

Known to most in the Singapore metal community as the frontman of death metal band Absence of the Sacred, Mike Priest is also the owner of metal concept store Hell’s Labyrinth and a designer. In this interview, he talks to us about his band’s music and issues and views as a designer and an owner of a metal record store in Singapore.

Hi Mike, thank you for granting us this opportunity to conduct the interview with you. Without further ado, let’s start with the interview. Give us a brief introduction of yourself.

I’m Mike and I currently co-own Hell’s Labyrinth (Metal Record Store and Design Studio) in Singapore. I do vocals/guitars for ABSENCE OF THE SACRED as well.

Hell’s Labyrinth

As a metal record store owner, what are some of the difficulties that you have encountered?

I started the store not because of financial gain (I still have yet to garner back my total capital), but more of interest and passion in the music. I have encountered slanderers and backstabbers and people who just want to hop in the bandwagon and get some of the ‘thunder’ associated with having a metal record store. You generally have to deal with some below-the-belt politics (a.k.a. nonsense) and unwanted attention.

How did the idea of being the owner of a metal record store owner come about?

I wanted to make a centre for real Metallers to congregate, exchange information, promote their shows and purchase what they want; a place to promote the Metal culture exclusively and incite unity amongst musicians and fans. It has succeeded to some level; however there are those who come in with an arrogant perspective and spoil things for everyone.

Hell’s Labyrinth recently started dealing in the guitar business, bringing in Radix guitars. What was it that made you decide to start dealing with guitars, and why Radix guitars over the other more notable brands in the metal genre (e.g. Jackson, Ibanez)?

We are just experimenting with the idea. We aren’t going to be a full-blown guitar shop as there are many saturating the market at the moment. Our guitar technician, Morgan, will be handling all the guitar sales. It was more of his idea than ours. I just gave the go-ahead for him to start up doing sales of guitars in the store. There will be pedals and strings sold in the store soon as well.

You are also one of the founders of the band, Absence of the Sacred. The first album, Atrocities that Birthed Abominations featured a pretty raw sound to it, while the sophomore effort, Era of the Apostate had a more polished sound, both in terms of musicality and production quality. Was that a natural transition or was it an intentional move?

I am the sole founder of Absence Of The Sacred. I formed it and wrote all the music and lyrics right from the start of the band until now. It’s all in the album credits. Hans (drums/keys) was the first member to join Absence Of The Sacred, thus by default, the co-founder. He did contribute good ideas and did great work during his time in A.O.T.S. and there is no doubt about that.

‘Atrocities…’ was our first album and we were not as experienced as we could have been at that time to record a full-length album. It was definitely a less-polished album and raw in many aspects compared to ‘Era…’ but that gives it that ‘first album’ charm and quality to it. ‘Era…’ was more polished due to our maturity as a band and that we had Mike Kalember step in to contribute to producing the audio quality of the album. Musically, most of the songs from ‘Era…’ were written before ‘Atrocities…’ was written. Only the self-titled track and ‘These Hollow Graves’ were written after ‘Atrocities…’ to complete ‘Era…’ as a full-length album.

What can fans of Absence of the Sacred expect from the upcoming album, Come Hither O Herald of Death?

They can expect a more technical, progressive and brutal elements in this album. This is our best work to date, so expect nothing less.

We notice that there are a number of prominent international musicians featured on the upcoming album, with the most notable being Kevin Talley (DAATH, ex-Dying Fetus, ex-Chimaira) on drums. How did that come about?

I want this album to be the best that we’ve ever done, so we needed to kick everything up a notch. I contacted Kevin Talley as I enjoy the albums he did with DAATH, DYING FETUS and MISERY INDEX. He heard some samples and agreed to play on our album for a nominal fee. His work is spectacular on this album, to say the least. He really brings the album forward with unbelievable tightness in his playing. CJ Kao (CHTHONIC), Rigel Walshe (DAWN OF AZAZEL) and Byron (SPEARHEAD) all did great on their guest spots, lending their skills to give this album some added flavour. They are competent and talented musicians and I’m open-minded to what they could do with some of our material, and I haven’t been disappointed so far.

With a new band logo, does it represent a new direction that the band is heading towards?

We needed a change, and it does represent what our direction is heading towards. It is a rebirth of the band with a new concept and matured musicality.

You have performed overseas with Absence of the Sacred and Impiety, what is the crowd like overseas compared to Singapore?

It really depends on where you play around the globe. For Absence Of The Sacred, the crowd in Thailand is amazing and wild as hell. We played in Chiang Mai and in Bangkok, and both areas were not disappointing at all! With Impiety, we had venues sold out and packed to see us play, places in France and Italy and the UK. Polish crowds were really violent and crazy, Italians were headbanging like crazy, Germans were screaming and lifting their beers, etc. The response was great generally. There are some venues with a shit crowd like in Holland and Sweden, but that’s normal when you tour. You can’t get a crowd every single day of the week especially when you perform on a Monday or Tuesday, or when the promoter does not do his job.

As a metal store owner and a musician, what is your take on music downloading? Seeing that the internet acts as a two-sided blade, being a tool that spreads words of new bands but also being one for people to acquire music illegally, is it really detrimental to the music industry?

Downloading music illegally is fine if you just want to check out the album if it is worthwhile to be purchased. If you dislike the music, delete it. If you like it, buy it. It is just a simple act of courtesy to the bands who work hard to get their music out. There are many people who just download without any responsibility and that does cost the music industry. Generally real music fans will buy the albums of their favourite bands regardless of whether they have already downloaded the music or not. The rest are just casual listeners who wouldn’t even buy the album in the first place because it is ‘too expensive’ for their wallet or they are just not into it as much as others think they are.

We understand that you are also a graphic designer, with part of your portfolio being the album art and design of Rudra’s Brahmavidya: Transcendental I and Draconis Infernum’s Death in my Veins. How did the idea of being a designer for bands’ albums come about?

I wanted to give something back to the Metal community, that’s why I charge inexpensively for quality graphic design for Metal bands. To sum it up: Somebody had to do it, why not me.

What is the thought process you go through when designing album art for a band? Are you very restricted by bands’ requests and requirements?

I will have to listen to the music and discuss the concept and theme of the band and the release. These are key factors to match the music with the artwork. I am only restricted by bands who demand unrealistic expectations with a really tiny budget. My hard work and time gets poured into designing the artwork and I do this besides managing the store and my band. I do value my time, and I do not entertain bombastic requests with a ridiculous budget.

Any parting words for aspiring bands and designers out there?

You should do what you love, and you should do it well.

On behalf of Heavy Metal Tribune, thank you once again for the interview. We’ll see you at the upcoming Black Revelations gig!

Absence of the Sacred will be playing at the Black Revelations 2010 gig next Saturday (17th April 2010) along with Dei Tetra and Rudra. Their album, Come Hither O Herald Of Death will be released this year.

Absence of the Sacred on MySpace and Facebook.

Current merchandise/releases:
Deadening the Dispirited (2005)
Atrocities that Birthed Abominations (2006)
Promo 2007 (EP)
Era of the Apostate (2008)

Hell’s Labyrinth is located at:
Peninsula Shopping Centre
3 Coleman Street
S(179804)
Hell’s Labyrinth on MySpace and Facebook.

©2010 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

Apr 13 2010

Album Review: Dei Tetra – In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas



Dei Tetra [THAILAND]
In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas
2009
Demo
Black metal

In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas is Thai black metal band Dei Tetra’s first demo, released in 2009.


The 2 tracks on this demo that clocks at under 6 minutes encompass the basis of Dei Tetra’s music – raw, fast and aggressive black metal.

The music is unrelenting, hardly allowing the listener for a break throughout the 5 and a half minute of onslaught. Countess Asithara adds a unique touch to the music with her high pitched, shrieky vocals (who said females can’t front black metal bands?), which definitely makes Dei Tetra’s music much more memorable.

Overall, the music is enjoyable, though on the first track, Morph & Manifest, the guitars tend to get pretty messy halfway through the song. Production quality of the album is very raw, just like how a black metal record is supposed to be.

Judging from the quality of the output as the band’s debut release, Dei Tetra is definitely a band to look out for. Recommended for fans of old school black metal bands like Satanic Warmaster and Sargeist.

©2010 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

Apr 12 2010

Views from the Pit: Misery Index

America’s leading death metal/grindcore band “Misery Index” was here in Singapore for its South-East Asia Touring on 9 April 2010 @ Substation. Our editor, Clarence, had the extreme privilege to catch their performance live for the first time.


The editor reached the venue around 6.30 pm, where the crowd was being greeted by the Cynical Sounds Crew. It was only around 8pm when the crowd was allowed to start entering the venue. The gig was kicked off by the opening band, Singapore’s very own death metal veteran Itnos, a very kick ass & tight set they performed showcasing some of their new original from their upcoming EP. They also covered songs from death metal legends Death and Carcass.

After a half an hour set by Itnos comes the headlining band Misery Index. The crowd was greeted by guitarist and vocalist “Mark Kloeppel”, although it’s a pity I didn’t get manage to get a hold of their set list for the night.

The band managed to played songs from albums like Retaliate, Discordia and Traitors. One of the definite highlight from the gig, personally will be the new song from their upcoming new album, Heirs To Thievery which Mark claimed to be one of the fastest song ever written by the band.

Another highlight of the gig was definitely the encore when the crowd turned crazy with the last two songs being played by the band, with all the headbanging and circle pits that were formed.

And lastly the editor managed to congratulate all of the Misery Index members for their successful show in Singapore and also had one of the albums autographed as well. The editor would also like to personally thank Zul of Cynical Sounds for organizing such as awesome show for that night!

The editor with guitarist Sparky Voyles

©2010 Heavy Metal Tribune | Clarence

Apr 09 2010

Interview with Bhelliom

Bhelliom celebrates their 10th year of existence this year. We managed to catch Vivek, Damien and Edward for a chat about their history, their experiences and upcoming tours and releases.



Hi guys, thanks for granting us this interview with you. Firstly, give us a brief introduction and history of Bhelliom.

Damien (guitars): Bhelliom started around the end of year 2000, when I was not in the band yet. Joe and Ryan and 2 other guys actually formed in our NS days. We started off by doing cover songs by Metallica and some other bands. Around 2001, one of the guitarists left and since we were all from the same army camp, they approached me and asked me to join the band. We then started jamming and started writing some originals. From there, we had a few lineup changes. Joe was actually the vocalist all these while but he started playing bass after our original bassist left. He later got his brother in who unfortunately passed away due to a car accident, and Joe went back to his vocal duties. We then had some reshuffling in the lineup until finally we got Vivek and this current lineup.

How did Bhelliom progress from being a cover band to a band writing their own originals?

Damien: Slowly we got bored by covering songs, after awhile we tried to write some songs, which wasn’t easy at first. We started out as a heavy metal band but we started to write and fuse with something else that we like very much, which were stuff like melodic death metal and progress to where we are today.

What does ‘Bhelliom’ mean? How did the name come about?

Damien: It’s actually from a David Eddings novel. Joe, our bassist is a big fan of David Eddings, a fantasy author. Bhelliom is actually a sapphire rose. We liked that name so it stuck with us ever since.

Vivek (vocals): By the way, it’s a sex-enhancement drug. Something like Viagra i think. If you actually go to Google and search for Bhelliom you will find that it’s a sexual enhancement drug. Luckily we haven’t gotten any crap from those fuckers, so far so good, let’s keep it that way!

[Laughs]

Pulp Summer Slam 2010

Bhelliom will be taking the stage in Philippines at the Pulp Summer Slam 2010, alongside with thrash legends Testament and Lamb of God. How did that come about?

Vivek: Our manager, Bret [Mourningsound Records] actually knows the organizer of this event for a couple of years already, and he kept in contact with them. The Pulp Summer Slam has been going on for a couple of years.

Edward (guitars): 10 years actually.

Vivek: Yup, 10 years. We basically got into contact again with them a year or two ago, but we could not go up last year. They finally gave us a slot this year because everybody could make it this time round. We are heading down on the 16th, and the show will be on 17th.

Won’t that be a bit too much of a rush?

Vivek: We all have full time jobs so we don’t really have the luxury of time. If you’re talking about touring, usually we don’t normally get to sight-see so much, because we play, finish up and head down to the next venue/city. Personally for me, I’ll be heading to Philippines on Friday and then be back on Sunday. Two days only. Go there, get drunk, kick ass, come back and then nurse the hangover for the whole week. Haha.

How is Bhelliom preparing for it?

Vivek:I’m learning a lot of Tagalog lessons from him (Edward) so I can go there and work some charm with some Filipino chicks. [Laughs] Only kidding.. I mean, we are still jamming in preparation for the show. We are going to play a mixture of old songs and a couple of new songs that we have written. We are trying to get the perfect setlist, it’s a half an hour set so we are get on stage, let the metal flow, leave an impression and proceed to drink with our new friends we meet there.

How does it feel to be playing at such a festival, which is practically not feasible in Singapore?

Damien: Extremely excited.

Vivek: I think a festival like this, with the fact that it has been around for 10 years, it is what it is today but they probably started small. It’s a huge gig, at a very big stadium. Apparently there are going to be like 20,000 kids?

Edward: 20,000.

Vivek: Yeah, 20,000 to 30,000. Each of them apparently gets a free slice of pizza when they enter the gig venue. That’s the thing. Sponsors play a big part. Unfortunately in Singapore we don’t have the ability to actually do really big shows on our own. That’s where the sponsors come in with the capital. And with the capital you get the big bands like Testament and Lamb of God. But I think it’s actually not impossible here, it can happen, just that we have to get the right contacts to know the big sponsors and get this done. It’s really fucking tough.

Bhelliom in action

Do you have any pre or post performance rituals?

Vivek: Yes. Apart from the usual warming up on the guitars etc, alcohol plays a part Before we go up, that’s one thing that we always do… Drink! I become like the Tiger beer auntie, every time persuading the rest of them to drink and we always like bringing our beers up stage as well.

Anything else besides the tiger beers?

[Laughs]

Vivek: Well, usually we warm up by doing the usual stretching and playing guitar, and a few other warm up exercises. Whatever it is, the whole point of the matter is to have fun and we hope that the crowd has fun too. When we see the crowd enjoying themselves, it’s a certain adrenaline rush. It’s very psychological. So basically we just psych ourselves up, go in there and have fun.

And as a vocalist, how do you warmup?

Vivek: In terms of warm-ups, hmmm… I don’t really do them. As a vocalist usually, it’s mostly psychological. Getting myself in the mood to kick everyone’s ass on stage and to make sure people mainly have a lot of fun in the end.

Bhelliom celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. How does it feel to have been around for such a long time?

Damien: Tiring.

Are there any plans to celebrate Bhelliom’s 10th year of existence?

Damien: We celebrate every weekend!

Vivek: Actually what we are planning to do is we are intending to go on tour again in July and August, to hit the places where we have played and been fortunate enough to get a good response from the crowd. The dates are being finalized at the moment, nothing is confirmed but definitely it is a priority for this year. Also, we are having thoughts of doing an EP, releasing some new materials. An EP is better because we want to showcase some of the newer songs that we have written. So definitely, there will be a release this year.

How has the scene changed from back then till now?

Vivek: I think right now the scene has changed in the sense that a lot more younger people have the ability to attend gigs. Previously in the 90s, to see younger kids was quite rare, maybe because of the fact that a lot of gigs back then were held at clubs and pubs and there was the whole age restriction thing going on. Nowadays, it’s a two way thing where you got shows at places like Blackhole where even though the place is small, there is no age limit. As a result it allows the younger crowd to attend shows regularly. I think the scene has of course become much bigger than what it was before.

Damien: More girls now…

Vivek: Yeah, more girls now.

Damien: Previously was like all guys.

Vivek: Yeah, it used to be a fucking sausage-fest.

What about the changes in terms of the music that bands play?

Vivek: I think back then it was predominantly death metal and black metal. But now there are bands that are experimenting and fusing different styles, which is good because of the diversity it presents. Nowadays I think the music has changed because people are really opening their ears to a lot of new stuff that is going on, and it’s good that they incorporate their music instead of just sticking to one style.

Bhelliom toured Australia last year, and have also toured other countries like China and Taiwan. What were the reception at these countries, and how different are the crowds compared to Singapore?

Vivek: Let’s talk about Australia first. Australia is a place where they have gigs practically every week, and usually bands get paid. They have gigs there often and they see cream of the crop bands play. We did this festival in Adelaide, called Against the Grain and a month before we went up I happened to go online and checked out the other bands that were playing and I fucking pissed my pants and I was always wondering “how the fuck are we going to match up to them”. We were actually quite anxious. One thing good in hindsight was that we were the only Asian band to play at that festival so as a result, proving ourselves was a bit easier. I have to say that the reception we got was very supportive and the bands were very good. All of them have been playing for like 6 to 10 years so they have achieved their fair share of experience in terms of how they can play and their individual musicianship etc. We learnt a lot because the bands that were playing all sounded different too. For a festival of 18 bands we had 18 different sounds, unlike in Singapore, given a similar situation, half of them will sound alike and 2 or 3 will be complete clones. It’s good to actually wear your influences on your sleeves to a certain extent, but do not go all the way to copy them and make your signature sound as what their sound is.

So the crowds there were actually very supportive even if you aren’t an Aussie band?

Vivek: Yeah, our first show happened to be on a Thursday night and the turnout consisted of the typical weeknight gig crowd. But the response at Brisbane and Adelaide were great. Comparatively in Singapore with a smaller scene, we tend to have gigs quite often sometimes even on the same day itself. As a result, People will tend to choose to attend gigs that the bands they want to see are playing, and this makes the other gigs suffer.

What was the experience in China like?

Vivek: For China, we were initially quite unsure about what it was going to be like over there as well,because you know, it’s… China. [Laughs] Our experience actually turned out awesome andunexpected. Except for that place where we went to…

Damien: Tianjin.

Vivek: Yes. Tianjin! How many people were there?

Damien: Five.

Vivek: Five. I think because a lot of these people from the show in this city were heading down to Beijing for the next show. So I think a lot of them wanted to save their money and go straight to Beijing. One more thing I would like to add is that one of the places that we enjoy and would go there in an instant is Taiwan. Taiwan is like a second home to us, because even before I was in the band when they went up in 2006, they got a very good response. Everybody there is very supportive. In Taiwan, if they like your band, they will buy your stuff: your CDs, band tees, without hesitating. They will come to you and ask you to sign their stuff and take photographs. It really makes us feel good and feel really worth it taking the trip there.

China’s censorship control is known to be very strict, often banning harder music such as metal. How did you guys manage to perform in China in 2008?

Vivek: As Damien was just saying, in China we have gigs that are actually organized on a total underground basis, whereby we had this experience at the Behemoth show that we did in Beijing, what happened was, the gig was not publicized and it was not legal or official, a totally underground show. So what the organizers had to do was to get everyone who went down to the show, including the bands, to not leave the premises at all. So for 5 hours straight, you are stuck in the venue, no one is allowed to leave because if the cops see, they will pull the plug on the show. And when they had big bands like Behemoth, big money is going to be lost. So it was kind of an eye-opening experience for us because we don’t get to see these kind of stuff here. But I think however much metal is banned, people will always somehow get their hands on releases. That’s the beauty about metal. The more it is kept away, the stronger it gets

So even though it was underground, the crowds there were supportive?

Vivek: Yeah.

Damien: In China, the crowds actually are different in the north and the south. What the Chinese people told us was that people from the south like Guangzhou and Shenzhen, if they see the show and they don’t like your music, they just stand around or walk away. But the northern people, if they like you a lot they will just go crazy. But if they don’t like you or they don’t like what they see on stage they will just start throwing things. We were lucky nothing were thrown at us.

[Laughs]

Vivek: Lucky we didn’t get pelted haha!

Was every gig in China underground?

Vivek: I think only the major ones in Beijing. Tianjin’s gig was not really counted since there were only like 5 people who turned up. I think Guangzhou and Shenzhen there were 2 other dates that we did where the crowd that turned up was at a good volume. Whether or not those shows were authorized we do not know, we were only told about the Behemoth one in Beijing. We wouldn’t mind going back to China again. It was a good experience, a nice place.

The Colossal Tragedy

You mentioned that there will be a new release this year, so what can fans and listeners look out for?

Damien: Now we have Mag who just joined us in the songwriting as well. We are currently already writing a few new songs and they definitely sound slightly different because it adds a new dimension to the songwriting. I will say right now our songs are more brutal. [Laughs] I am kind of a more melodic person, and he is more into brutal stuff. So now our news songs will be in that direction and we are very happy about it.

Vivek: I would say it’s going to be thrashier. We are still going to retain what we think is our signature which is our melody breakdowns and the stoner rock bridges. But we definitely want to up the intensity because what we found out about our previous release is, to be frank, a lot of people felt that it was a bit too much for them to take, to a certain extent.

Too much, meaning?

Damien: A bit here, a bit there, too much of a little bit of everything.

Vivek: Yeah, too much of everything. I believe that every band has to aim to outdo themselves for every album. We want to just change the style a bit.

Where does Bhelliom draw its musical and lyrical influences from?

[Long pause…]

Damien: Everything man. I am from a very hard rock and melodic death background, so I like to just combine them and just write whatever that comes to my head and try to fine tune what I have thought of.

Edward: I come from different genres as well. Glam rock, punk rock, hardcore, thrash metal. My main style is melodic stuff.

So it’s like a mixture of everyone’s musical preferences.

Vivek: Yeah, it’s like Rojak you know, like a big melting pot.

What about lyrical influences?

Vivek: With the lyrics, it’s just basically drawing influences from daily experiences. That’s the best thing to talk about rather than basing the lyrics on something in particular because each and every day is a new step for everyone with new experiences, so you encounter different things and I think that’s the best thing to put into words. My lyrics usually basically on different things that you encounter everyday, people that piss you off, things you are happy about, Issues happening in the world that you feel strongly against etc.

What is the songwriting process like?

Vivek: What we are doing nowadays is that we bring everything to the studio. Writing starts there. What Damien will do is that with all the riffs in his head, he will come to the studio and we will start jamming it out, getting the drum beats done then I’ll sing over it. The when the music is done, I’ll get to work on the lyrics. Sometimes we do recordings of our jamming then we go back and review, and we come back the next week and try to piece it together again with fresh ears. It seems to be a good process that seems to be working well for us.

Damien: It’s better this way. Previously I was the one who wrote everything. But now with Mac in the picture, we will throw in a bit of ideas here and there and we will just try things and just mix and match. It’s better for us.

So do you guys jam at home then bring to the studio the ideas that you had?

Vivek: Yes, but like mentioned previously, the main thing is done in the studio.

2 of your members are also from the band Truth be Known. Do any of the other members have other bands as well, and how do you juggle between your bands?

Vivek: So far it’s only Gene and Damien in Truth be Known. Juggling up till this point has not been a problem for us, because one good thing we do is that we jam on the same day. So it makes it easier and they don’t have to book two separate days and have everybody come down on two different days for each band and tire ourselves out.

Damien: It used to be twice a week, for example Tuesday is for Bhelliom and Thursday is for TBK. But as time goes, our work schedule has become busier so as a result, we’re making the jam sessions on the same day.

Any upcoming shows in Singapore planned after the Pulp Summer Slam 2010 festival?

Vivek: So far in Singapore, nothing has been confirmed. We are still looking into maybe one or two shows in the middle of the year, probably before we head off on our 10th anniversary tour. In Singapore, we are definitely keeping our options open for more shows.

Opening for DragonForce

What is one ultimate band that you will die to open for?

Vivek: Truth Be Known.

Joshua (Truth Be Known): Then for Truth Be Known we want to open for Bhelliom.

So Truth Be Known wants to open for Bhelliom.

Vivek: We already have half the band on stage anyway! Haha! Personally to me I think either Iron Maiden or Depeche Mode. Hahaha! Seriously, I’m a huge fan of Depeche Mode, so I have to say that it’s a personal thing for me. I would kill to open for them but that’s probably never going to happen so I guess I’ll settle for Iron Maiden.

Damien: I will open for any band that comes.

Vivek: I think we have been fortunate enough to open for a few big bands before. It has been a great experience for us watching them set up, sound check and tear the shit like there’s no tomorrow.

Edward: Any American or European metal band!

Meza Virs last year took part in Baybeats, and Meltgsnow are performing this year as well. Any chances of Bhelliom auditioning for Baybeats in 2011?

Vivek: Hahaha. We are lazy ass bastards and thus auditioning through a few rounds is gonna take some mega-convincing for us to consider. Although I have to say we’ve talked about it before but I guess it’s been shelved because of the arduous process of auditioning. Take for example, Meltgsnow’s time slot I think was at 9 a.m. Too damn early la. But of course, kudos to them and the other metal bands from both years for flying the metal flag high @ Baybeats.

Any preferred gears/instruments/brands?

Damien: Just use Ibanez guitars. Stick to Ibanez guitars.

Edward: Ibanez!

Are you an Ibanez fan?

Vivek: He literally has a guitar shop at home, what are you talking about? Hahaha. Ibanez, Dean, Schecter? Wow.

Any parting words for other bands and fans?

[Joshua points at himself intensely]

Damien: Just do what you like.

Vivek: Yeah, just do what you like. Don’t think, just do

Damien: Don’t think so much. If you think so much you’ll be 40 years old already. You will think so much about your job, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, time will just slip away.

Vivek: For fans, thanks a hell lot for the support, we will definitely catch you all wherever we are headed to. It’s only been 10 years… And we sure as hell ain’t done yet! Oh, and look out for details on the new EP, conservatively speaking, for release during the July-August period, so yeah, watch out for it! Horns up!

That’s all from us for now, and thank you for taking the time off for this interview!

Bhelliom 2010

Bhelliom performs at the Pulp Summer Slam in Philippines on 17th April 2010.

©2010 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

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