MUWW Special: Interview with Krusnix

As relative newcomers to the scene, Krusnix has garnered quite a fanbase over the last 2 years with their speedy and aggressive style of old school thrash/speed metal. We speak to the band to learn more about their origin story, their recent 2-track EP, and their influences. Catch their infectious live performance this 5 May at Metal United World Wide, Singapore.

Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Krusnix was formed back in 2016 with the intention to play uncompromising old school metal. Could you tell us about the circumstances under which the band was formed?

Afiq: Thank you for your time too! It’s a pleasure. Well Krusnix is formed by a mutual friend of ours. It was 5 of us in the beginning, not including Syazwan. Overtime the vocalist got sacked and the original bassist left due to other commitments. Eventually Syazwan joined, initially he was a temporary bassist but we loved his creativity and dedication which blends in with the band.

Caine: It was an ads which Afiq posted, and so I responded to it. Initially I didn’t thought much of it, the only thing I wanna do is just play and see how it goes; but little do I realise that I was also immersed into the band at the same time. As time goes by, I was actually delegated to more duties, such as songwriting and composing.

Tell us more about the backgrounds of each of the band members. How did your love and passion for heavy metal come about?

Afiq: Amirul and I go way back since Primary School. We got back in touch during ITE when we were auditioning for the school’s band. We instantly clicked during the audition but got seperated playing for different genre bands. I wanted more than just playing in school so I pulled Amirul to start our own band. My first love for heavy metal was my first listen to Metallica’s Ride the Lightning, which I also realised there’s many things I can do with the guitar.

Amirul: My first discovery for heavy metal would definitely be Judas Priest’s Painkiller. Eventually as time goes by I got exposed to drummers such as Scott Travis, John Bonham, Neil Peart and Buddy Rich.

Caine: My love for heavy metal began when I first come across Iron Maiden’s Powerslave, which I realized how intricate their playing is. After that I got exposed to guitar virtuosos such as Steve Vai and Paul Gilbert, classic rock players like Jimmy Page and Joe Perry, also metal players such as Randy Rhoads and Alex Skolnick while crafting my playing.

Syaz: My love for heavy metal began during secondary school, when I first listened to Ensiferum’s debut self-titled album. Soon I started to discover heavier bands such as Celtic Frost and Sepultura among recommendations from other friends.

Also, what does Krusnix stand for, and what’s the meaning behind the band’s name?

Afiq: It doesn’t stand for anything really. Hahaha. We just wanted a name that is appealing to the eyes. We even used numberology to decide on our name, but in the end I came across the word crucifix, and decided to make it a play on the word by changing and taking out the alphabets.

2017 marked the band’s debut release in the form of the 2-track EP, Spill Your Blood. The band’s musical style can be described as old school thrash metal. What are some of the influences that goes into the writing of Krusnix’s material?

Afiq: It was on September 2016 that we released it on physical format but we released it on iTunes, Spotify and other digital platforms on early 2017. The 2 songs on our EP was mostly influenced by Bay Area metal artists such as Metallica and Megadeth. Some of our new materials are influenced by Kreator, Destruction as well as new age thrash artists such as Havok and Warbringer.

The band features members such as Syaz, who is also a part of melodic death metal outfit Assault. Musically, what does each of the members bring to the table, and how do they influence the direction of the band’s musical output?

Afiq: Most of the time I would usually noodle around the guitar if there’s a catchy tune in my head. As far as it goes, I want my band to sound different from our influences, if not as close as possible. As Syaz is from a band which emphasises melody, which means it’ll be something different from how we usually compose our songs. We would also put in this element subtly so that there’s a cutting edge, which makes Krusnix stands out from other bands. The most important thing is that people recognise it’s Krusnix when they heard our songs.

Caine: Some of my influences are from non musical influences such as Quentin Tarantino, Hideo Kojima, George Orwell, HP Lovecraft and also musicians Imogen Heap and St. Vincent (Annie Clark), there will definitely be a huge variety of musical output, not only lyrically – but I try to keep it consistent so that it doesn’t stray away from the band’s musical direction.

What was the songwriting process like for the band?

Afiq: We try to write each song different from the other, either in tempo or structure, so there is flow in our set or album. If not it will sound stale and generic, like most bands. Most of the time we would adhere to standard tunings, unless if it’s necessary.

Caine: Sometimes if there’s something interesting across the things we read or seen, we would write it down, and change the lyrics along the way to fit in the song structure.

Also, what are the inspirations behind the lyrics of the band? What were the themes behind the material on Spill Your Blood?

Caine: There is no definite theme to the band’s lyrics. We just write what we feel that fits in the song. Sometimes it could be things that we see from books, films and video games. Or even societal issues such as war and even things that we encountered, for instance personal struggles.

Afiq: “Afterlife” was written during a period of time when I was having insomnia and anxiety, thinking about life after death. “Spill Your Blood” was initially written out of pure anger and didn’t have any meaning to it, until there was a day I had a nightmare in which I sold my soul to the devil for fame.

As relatively newcomers as a band, Krusnix has already gained a following in the scene over the past 2 years of gigging. How has the ride been so far for the band?

Afiq: We have our good and bad moments but that doesn’t stop us coming back stronger. Every show is different. We do celebrate when we have a good show but we always try and find mistakes in each other so we can be a better band, and perform better in the future. We are taking it slow, since each show is a learning process.

Metal United World Wide will be one of the key gigs in the local scene this year, featuring an all-local lineup and Krusnix is one of the bands featured on the bill. What can fans of the band, as well as people who have not heard of the band expect?

Afiq: We are definitely playing 2 new songs since we didn’t have the chance to play them. Every song on our set are different so its unpredictably spontaneous and entertaining at the same time. We have a surprise at the end of our set list, so stay tuned!

With the last release being an extremely short one, can followers of the band expect any new studio material any time soon? And what differences can one expect on upcoming Krusnix releases?

Afiq: We are almost halfway done in writing and composing new songs. As great songs require time, collaboration and patience, we are actively sharing our ideas to each other to develop our ideas so that more songs can be completed. The upcoming releases will be different from before, since it will also covers a wide spectrum of subjects such as war and humanity.

MUWW Special: Interview with Vent Box Productions

This year marks the inaugural edition of Metal United World Wide, with multiple gigs featuring local bands happening across the globe on the same date, 5 May 2018. Hosted by Vent Box Productions, Singapore’s edition brings metal bands veterans and newcomers, to showcase the potential of the scene in one concert. We speak to Mike of Vent Box Productions to learn more about the founding of his organisation, and how Metal United World Wide Singapore came about.

Hey Mike, thanks for giving us the opportunity to talk to you. Vent Box Productions has been around since 2013, and over the years has become an important force in the local metal scene. How did the idea of Vent Box Productions come about?

Mike: Hi Heavy Metal Tribune. First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to setup this interview. Vent Box Productions was actually setup in 2014 instead of 2013 as a platform to promote local bands. We did Vent Box 2014 Underground Music Festival at Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce featuring local bands from different music genre. Metal, Rock, Oi and Hardcore bands were invited to play that very show. We always think that local bands are not getting enough recognition and opportunity to showcase their music.

Over the years, Vent Box Productions has expanded its role from a gig organiser, to a booking agency representing multiple bands. What was the reason behind this move, and how has the experience as an organiser helped you with this additional role?

It was just a coincidence that we ended up becoming a booking agency representing bands. It all started when we did the first tour for French Putrid Death Metal band, Necrowretch. After that successful short tour, we were encouraged by our good friend, Khaal (Balberith/Ravage Records) to continue doing booking for both local and international bands. Honestly, it’s easier to be an organiser than a booking agent. But being an organiser, I also get to communicate with promoters around the region which helps a lot in booking tours for bands.

The team also opened its Philippines division couple of years back. What was the reason behind this, and how different has it been organising gigs in Philippines compared to Singapore?

The idea came when we were planning for Vader: Rise of the Empire Live in Cebu 2017. We appointed, Mr Henri Castellano to manage Vent Box Productions Philippines. 1 very important reason is to be able to have bands from both region touring in both countries. Example, we got a slot for Cebu Black Metal band, Kalabira, to perform at Morbid Metal Festival this November. We’ll also be having bands from Singapore going over to Philippines soon. To be announced. There isn’t much difference organising gigs in Philippines compared to Singapore except that the tickets sold in Philippines will always be much cheaper than in Singapore. And of course, planning the route for the band to travel from their hotel to the gig venue is also not an easy task due to the bad traffic.

Vent Box Productions has been the host for such high profiled acts as Implore, Benighted, and Hiss from the Moat over the years. Of all the gigs, which has been the most memorable for you personally, and as an organiser?

I would say that Impiety Legacy of Savagery Live in Singapore was the most memorable as both personal and organiser. The gig that we spent a lot of effort making it look really like an extreme metal show with barb wires, sinister masks and burning incense. But I know after 5th of May, Metal United World Wide, Singapore will be the most memorable.

Over the years, we have heard laments about the difficulties in bringing in international acts, or holding local gigs. Having had years of experience as an organiser, what has been the most challenging aspect in bringing a gig together?

Finding gig venues is really challenging in Singapore. Used to have really limited choices to host shows but recently, with the opening of Decline and EBX Live Space, things are getting so much better. One of my favourite venue, however, had closed down. Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Having hosted local and international acts alike, how different is it when dealing with local bands, compared to international bands?

International acts usually will send their technical rider for us to fulfil. Which is always an important requirement. Singapore bands are more accommodative with whatever we can provide decently. Usually we try not to take short cuts and scrimp on productions.

This year marks the first year of the Metal United World Wide in Singapore. How did this gig, as well as the collaboration come about?

At first I got a text message from Clarence Chong (Assault/HMT) regarding this event. I was sceptical initially so I decided to read up about the whole event on how it works when the main organiser, Black-Roos Entertainment from Australia contacted me. Got some explanation from them and went ahead with the collaboration. Because I think it’s a really good platform to promote our local bands.

The lineup boasts some of the classic names in the local metal scene, such as Meltgsnow, Wormrot, Rudra, to even Bastardized – a name we haven’t heard in a while now. How did the lineup come about?

It has always been a dream of mine to get all the classic bands to perform on 1 stage. So when I agreed to do MUWW, I went ahead and contacted all these bands. Meltgsnow was recommended by Subash of Truth Be Known. It takes a little more than convincing to get Bastardized on board but we manage to do it from our long time friendship since the 90s era.

Meltgsnow, circa 2018

As mentioned earlier, some of the classic names in the local metal scene are feature in this line-up. This event will certainly be one of the biggest gig featuring local metal bands, are there any objective you hope to achieve through organizing this gig?

To bring all the local metalheads together. After all, its call Metal United World Wide. At the same time, hoping that the bands involved will be recognised internationally and probably score some oversea tours later.

The wide-ranging lineup is certainly eye-catching and attention-grabbing. How has response been so far for the gig?

Response has been moderately good. However, we are expecting more people to buy the tickets once the physical ones are in store. We got very good coverage on social media with bands and fans sharing the event. So we are pretty positive that the event will be a great success.

Mike with Ilemauzar. Photo credits: @haljin_photography

Your own act, black metal band Ilemauzar, is also a part of the lineup – not the first time where you hold multiple roles for a gig. How do you manage your time, and still ensure that the gig runs smoothly and successfully?

Vent Box Productions has a few good experienced crews that have been helping us since day 1. I also have my girlfriend, Winnie Tan (Founder of Vent Box Productions), managing all the shows plus I will only spend 30-40mins on stage.

Metal United World Wide happens on 5th May 2018, and is hosted in multiple locations across the globe. To find out more about your local Metal United World Wide, click here.

Soul Dissolution – Stardust

My recent taste for black metal seemed to pan towards the ambient/atmospheric variety, with bands like FenWinterfylleth, and Wodensthrone being regulars on my daily playlist of late. Yet few bands really manage to create the perfect atmosphere to communicate the emotions as well as they potentially could. Enter Belgium’s Soul Dissolution, with their sophomore full length album, Stardust.

The first thing that really grabbed my attention though is the beautiful artwork on Stardust, a mixture of calmness of the night sea, and the wonders of the cosmos – almost leading me to think if this were gonna be an atmospheric version of the recent Vyre that I reviewed.

Instead, there is a certain sense of beauty that is present on Soul Dissolution‘s material. The cinematic opener Vision leaves one feeling almost as though one were watching a prelude to an epic war scene. And while Stardust is far from a visual experience, the band puts the listener through an aural experience that is of equal epic proportions. Circle of Torment introduces the band’s brand of black metal to the listener, at equal parts aggressive and melancholic. The crushing riffs that instrumentalist Jabawock creates is contrasted by that lone lead melody that is constantly present at the background. One often can’t help feeling that sadness and desperation that is brought out by the vocals of Acharan and his soul-soaked growls and shrieks. At the same time, there is that little bit of folkish elements mixed into the atmospherics, that is rather reminiscent of the works of Fen or Winterfylleth.

What really made Stardust such an engaging listen is the whole cauldron of emotions that the band manages to conjure, and evoke in the listener. Many moments on the album, one finds himself at the crossroads of rather conflicting emotions, first with the negativity and hopelessness in the vocals of Acharan, then with the beautiful backdrop that Jabawock creates, almost giving one some semblance of light at the end of the tunnel.

The production on Stardust is stellar, with an impressive soundstage that provides one with a completely immersive listening experience. There is sufficient rawness in allowing the pure energy of the band to infect the listener, yet modern enough to provide for a rather clean sound as a result, especially key in the inclusion of the synths and orchestration on the album. For instance, the way the production synergises with the musical style of the band is best heard on the instrumental interlude Mountain Path, leading to The Last Farewell.

There have been many times where a band releases an album with breathtaking artwork, only to leave listeners feeling overhyped, and underwhelmed in its actual material. Fortunately Soul Dissolution manages to bring across their message effectively, and suitably, with Stardust.

Interview with Kalmah

With a string of high quality releases over their illustrious career, Kalmah has to be one of Finland’s best kept melodic death metal secret. This year the band releases their eighth full length album, Palo, and celebrate their 20th anniversary. We had the opportunity to talk to Pekka, guitarist and vocalist of the band to learn more.

Greetings Kalmah, thank you for giving us this opportunity to talk to you. Before we begin the interview proper, let’s talk about your upcoming album, Palo. The new record will be released on April 6th 2018 via Spinefarm Records. What can fans expect from the new record?

Pekka (guitars, vocals): I believe that they expect a true melodic death metal album and that’s exactly what are they gonna get! The album contains 10 songs with different tempos, melodies and lots of nuances that will please our fans, that´s for sure!

The band will be embarking on the a tour in support of Palo, which will see the band performing in 4 cities. Will the set list be specifically focus on the new album song?

I think we’re going to play 3-4 songs from our new album. We just cannot drop out some songs that we have composed before just because there are fans that want to hear those. I think it’s going to be very interesting to write a new setlist.

The band released the first lyric video to Evil Kin from the upcoming album last month. Were there any particular reasons for releasing this song as the first single off the upcoming album?

I think we just tried to save the better songs for the album… To be honest, there was not any main reason why we released that particular song. Well, maybe because that has to do something with the length but I’m not sure.

Palo is the band’s first album in 5 years. There seems to be a longer gap in between both releases considering the band’s gap is usually around 2 to 3 years. Was there a shift in the song-writing process that caused the longer gap?

I have to say no. We have so many other things going on in our lives so we just decided that we will write a new album when the time is right, So now it was.

The album artwork for Palo was done by Niklas Sundin from Dark Tranquillity; the artwork was pretty distinctive compared to the band’s previous album. Are there any concepts behind the artwork, and what was the band’s direction for Niklas upon choosing him to conceive the artwork for the new album?

Well he seemed to be a very talented artist so we send him the idea of the artwork and he send us his vision and that was exactly what we wanted so we hired him.

Finland has a big metal scene with a number of notable metal bands that have established themselves internationally, such as Amorphis, Nightwish, and Lordi. Kalmah having been around since 1998, what’s your thoughts on the current state of the music industry as a whole in Finland?

The metal music here is a part of the mainstream so I think we’re doing well. I have to tell that I’m not following the scene so passionately that I’m not that aware what’s happening underground. But this is a small country so I will find out pretty quickly when something radical happens.

I understand that Timo and Janne took part in the making of the Finnish Comedy Movie Hevi Reissu (A Heavy Trip). The trailer of the movie is currently making a hit within the metal community. How did both of them end up in the making of the movie?

I know nothing about that.

Next year will be Kalmah’s 20th Anniversary. Would there be any plans for special anniversary shows or special releases for the band to celebrate 20 years of Kalmah?

At least now we have not made any plans what’s going to happen. Let’s see.

Recently, Singapore has its fair share of Finland’s finest bands such as Mors Principium Est, who recently played in February. Our local fans here definitely look forward to watch Kalmah live in Singapore. Are there any plans for the band to do an Asia tour for the new album?

Yes, we have some consultations going on right now regarding the Asian tour but I don’t know what will happen. Stay alert!

Alright, we have come to the last question of this interview. Any last words for Kalmah fans from Singapore?

Stay Kalmah

Aorlhac – L’esprit des vents

The French black metal scene of late seems to have been  divided into two main factions – the already very familiar dissonant style fronted by bands like Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord, and my recently discovered atmospheric style of bands like The Great Old OnesAorlhac‘s musical style leans more towards those of the latter with their third full length album, L’esprit des vents, their first post-reunion release.

One is thrown into a cold atmosphere from the get go with Aldérica, as the band throws out rather bleak riffs that immediately remind one of the works of bands such as Drudkh, with the emotional sensabilities of their compatriots The Great Old Ones. Melody is one of the key elements of the works of Aorlhac, and one often finds himself mesmerised by the more melodic moments on the album, as the lead guitars of Lonn features pretty prominently throughout. For instance, that almost folkish tune at the opening of La révolte des tuchins reminds one of the works of Wintersun and their themes of the freezing winter – bringing together the contrasting emotions of desolation and beauty.

Folk metal also seems to be a huge influence on the band’s music – from the riffs unleashed by Lonn and NKS, to the vocal patterns. The choral vocals on Infâme Saurimonde give the track that heroic feel that one often gets from folk metal releases, and the arrangement of the track even reminds one of the faster-paced material of bands like Moonsorrow.

At the same time there is that urgency that is in their music, with the most part of the album seeing Aorlhac going at rather high octane speeds. The more aggressive moments present even brings to mind the Finnish black metal style of bands like Sargeist or Horna, with the utter coldness combined with the relentless speed, though Aorlhac on L’esprit des vents does has a sharper, more polished sound in its production.

While the dissonant, chaotic form of French black metal may be a more polarising style of the genre to get into, the material produced by bands like Aorlhac may be more accessible to those looking into exploring the more atmospheric, melodic side of the genre. L’esprit des vents may be a new release with a refreshed lineup, but the band has proven that they have come back stronger than before after a 7 year hiatus. 

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