If there’s an “it” band in heavy music these days it’s Sweden’s Tribulation. They’re currently riding a wave of popularity and rabid critical acclaim from their third album The Children of the Night which dropped just over a year ago. The band plays a distinct combination of classic heavy metal and hard rock focused through their death metal roots, as such the majority of praise has been for the uniqueness of their music. Think of Judas Priest with dirtier guitars and death metal vocals. It’s a style that has the potential to appeal to a wide group of people, so it’s not surprising that the band has already been on tour with a variety of bands like Cannibal Corpse, Deafheaven, and Grave Pleasures.

Although old-school metal seems to be the sonic heart of the group, their penchant for corpse-paint, flamboyant stage attire, and vampiric imagery has got them tagged as a “gothic” band. Although that’s perhaps only aesthetically true, combined with their eclectic sound it creates an engaging mystique both live and on record that is truly captivating.

The band recently passed through Toronto supporting black metal icon Abbath, and I caught up with guitarist Adam Zaars to the speak about their classic metal influence, the whole “goth” thing, and why they feel it’s important to play for different kinds of audiences.


Tribulation has a number of festival dates scheduled throughout the Spring and Summer in Sweden, Germany, and The Netherlands. The Children of the Night is available now on Century Media Records, and you can watch the video for “Strange Gateways Beckon” below. 


Photo Courtesy of EarsplitPR 

I recently spoke to the Calgary grind ensemble Wake, who were touring across Canada in support of their third album Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow. They’re known for the diverse array of sounds that they inject into the grindcore template, particularly their use of black metal riffs. 

Before their set at Toronto’s Coalition I spoke with guitarist Rob and vocalist Kyle about how they arrived at their sound, the target of their venomous lyrics, and why they’re convinced that their new drummer Josh is taking over the band.


Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow is available now, and you can check out the video for the track “Burn Well” here.



Photo Courtesy of Venom Inc. / Alpha Omega Management 

Metal legends Venom are primarily known for their early eighties material created by the original line-up, as well as scaring more than a few parents with their over-the-top Satanic imagery. This material would go on to inspire legions of bands across the spectrum of heavy metal.

These days there are two versions of the band. Bassist/vocalist Cronos tours with new members under the Venom name, while guitarist Mantas and drummer Abaddon have been joined by frontman Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan under the banner of Venom Inc. Dolan is a familiar face to Venom fans, as he took over for Cronos when he originally left the band in the late eighties. 

Last month Venom Inc. rolled through Toronto’s Hard Luck Bar and delivered a set of classics to a loud and receptive audience. The show initially seemed under threat, as it had been downgraded from the spacious Danforth Music Hall. The thing is, the band sounds really good. In fact it sounds like vintage Venom, and good thing too because that’s pretty much what they’re going for. I sat down with Abaddon before their set to talk about why this lineup is concentrating on the early Venom material rather than the songs they recorded together, re-starting their careers, and how he’s happy for there to be two versions of Venom... even if Cronos is using the original band logos he created.


Venom Inc. will be performing at the Metal Bash and In Flammen Open Air festivals in Germany. Although they focus on the early Venom material, they’ve been opening their set with the title track from Dolan’s first go-round with the band in 1989, Prime Evil. Have a listen below.


Photos by Andrew Epstein

I recently had the chance to speak with guitarist Kaoru of Japan’s art rock legends Dir En Grey. The band, who began their life nearly two decades ago in the glammed out visual kei scene, are arguably the most well known Japanese speaking act in the world. They’ve always had two levels of musical style, releasing avant-garde rock compositions alongside pop ballads. In recent years the former has had a distinct metallic touch. Along with a more toned-down look on stage this new sound swelled their fan-base in Europe and North America.

Their latest album Arche goes against this formula by combining their two sides into a unique experience that doesn’t reveal all its secrets in the first listen. It’s garnered the band some of the best reviews of their career. Much like the music on the new album, interviewing the band can also require peeling back a few layers. I sat down with Kaoru before an energetic set at Toronto’s Opera House to chat (through a translator) about the new album, his need to be loud, and re-embracing the visual side of the band. Also with the effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011 once again in the news, we touched on the band’s Scream for the Truth campaign which called for government transparency in the wake of the tragedy


Dir En Grey have two dates lined up in February at Tokyo’s legendary Nippon Budokan. Arche is available now and you can watch the video for “Uroko” here. 



Check out my previous interview with Dir En Grey bassist Toshiya from 2014.