Photo by Francesca Ludikar
For nearly a decade Skye Sweetnam was a bonafide Canadian pop star. She released two solo albums and had fans all over the world. But in 2011 she surprised more than a few of them when she debuted her new band Sumo Cyco, a blend of modern metal, punk, and ska. After years of having major label support, Sweetnam’s career is now purely DIY. The band has built their fan base from the ground up, independently recording their debut album Lost in Cyco City (2014) and filming a series of ridiculous music videos. I caught up with Sweetnam before a recent performance in Toronto to talk about how fronting the band stacks up to her former mainstream success, why playing perfectly isn’t always the key to a great show, and how a certain Canadian pop icon should perhaps also follow their heart into heavier music.
Sumo Cyco will be co-headlining a NXNE showcase with metallers Diemonds this Saturday June 18th at the Bovine Sex Club in Toronto, and they’ll be playing with Ill Scarlett on Canada Day July 1st in Hamilton at Club Absinthe. They’ve also got some U.K. dates lined up for the fall. You can check out the crowdfunding campaign for their next album here, and watch their video for “Crowd Control” below.
Photo by Ole Luk
Before debuting her one-woman metal project Myrkur in 2014, Danish musician Amalie Bruun was primarily known as one half of the indie pop act Ex Cops. Myrkur’s dreamy blend of Nordic folk music and vintage nineties black metal riffs seem completely at odds with Ex Cops’ catchy electro ditties. So when Bruun and her live band passed through Toronto on their recent support tour with Polish metal superstars Behemoth, I was eager to speak with her about this transition and her progression as a musician.
I also wanted to talk about a recent incident where Bruun stopped accepting private messages through the Myrkur Facebook page, as she was fed up with receiving death threats and misogynistic hate mail from men. Bruun revealed that she takes it in stride, and even uses it as artistic motivation. The conversation then took a surprising turn, as Bruun would go on to say that she’s far more concerned with the proliferation of Islam in Europe. I suggested that like other cultures, Islam has a secular side, and although she acknowledged that this is probably true, she said it’s a side that she’s never seen.
To analyze it as impartially as I can, I would guess that Bruun and I have had different experiences. In Toronto, Muslims mix with everyone else at concerts, clubs, sporting events, and other supposedly decadent secular activities that extremists generally frown upon. That has led to me to the personal belief that all religions have bred extremists of some sort, but generally speaking the majority of people, regardless of their background, pretty much just want to have a good time in those brief moments when life doesn’t give you any particular responsibilities. That’s my experience. Listen to the interview and let me know your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.
Myrkur’s debut full-length album M is available now on Relapse Records, and you can watch the video for “Onde Børn” below.
Photos by Adam Wills
What more can be said about U.K. grindcore icons Napalm Death? Beloved by metalheads, punks, and rockers alike they’ve been flying the grind flag for 35(!) years, and basically created the genre with the legendary album Scum in 1987. The band incurred numerous lineup changes early on, with literally no original members left in the band today. But the current lineup has more or less been the same since 1990’s Harmony Corruption (the major exception being guitarist Jesse Pintado who passed away in 2006).
They’re also arguably the most politically active band in extreme music, and maybe in guitar-based music in general. For example vocalist Mark “Barney” Greenway received a lot of mainstream press last year for his attempt to reach out to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, who is inexplicably a fan of the band, in an effort to persuade him to overturn the death sentence of two Australians who had been convicted of heroin smuggling in the South Asian country.
Napalm Death’s latest album Apex Predator/Easy Meat is also perhaps the band’s most well-received release in decades, garnering high praise from both fans and critics. I met up with Greenway at the Toronto stop of their recent eclectic tour with The Melvins and Melt-Banana to talk about the reception of the new album, the impending U.S. election, and even their famous mention by superstar comedian Jim Carrey on the Arsenio Hall show.
Napalm Death have European and South American tour dates lined up throughout the summer, and Apex Predator/Easy Meat is available now on Century Media Records. Check out their new video for “Dear Slum Landlord” below.
Napalm Death - April 19, 2016 - The Opera House, Toronto
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.