Photo by Zoharon Photography
Israeli metallers Orphaned Land are back with a new album, Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs. The band has a unique reputation as perhaps the only act from Israel that has a passionate following in many Arab countries. Places that, with the exception of Turkey, do not allow the band to play within their borders and their albums are banned from stores (a situation the band has navigated around in the past by giving their fans in those countries free album downloads). All this has come about due to their staunch pacifistic stance on the conflicts in the region, and their use of multicultural music and ethnic instruments, which are blended seamlessly into their 70s-inspired progressive sound.
I spoke with guitarist Chen Balbus before a tour stop in Toronto about the musical diversity of the new album, sharing a band philosophy, how he’s actually not that into the heavy stuff.
Orphaned Land’s new album, Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs is out tomorrow, Friday January 26th on Century Media. The band currently has shows lined up in the UK, Europe, and Japan through June of this year. You can watch the video for “Like Orpheus” featuring Hansi Kürsch of Blind Guardian below.
Photo by Josefa Torres
American prog-metal superstars Periphery are currently on a North American co-headling tour with instrumentalists Animal as Leaders, and return to Canada for one of two dates this weekend. They’re currently promoting their fifth album Periphery III: Select Difficulty, which is somewhat of a return to form after the simultaneously-released concept albums Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega in 2015.
Although the band has a reputation for mixing progressive metal with Meshuggah-esque riffs, they come off more like a crunchier Dream Theatre, with well-crafted melodies taking the lead over chunky bursts of sound. It’s a combo that has resonated deeply with younger fans, as well as the band’s kitchy sense of humour. The whole package is bright and in-your-face, a tone that doesn’t always sit well with more cynical heavy music fans.
On their last tour stop in Toronto, I spoke with guitarist and band founder Misha Mansoor about being tagged as a progressive band, going back to their trademark style after a double concept album, and what he thinks of the excessive trolling the band often receives online. Listen in the SoundCloud player below.
Periphery’s North American tour with Animals as Leaders runs through to December 3rd. They’ll be at the Music Hall in London, ON this Sunday November 5th, and Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom on November 28th. You can watch the live video for the Rick and Morty-themed “The Way The News Goes” below.
Photo by Alexey Makhov
The Winnipeg hardcore squad return with a new album of heaviness and melody
“I’m always hoping before a record that it’s somewhat of a moment,” says vocalist/guitarist Andrew Neufeld of Winnipeg punk veterans Comeback Kid. He’s referring to the new album Outsider, their first for New Damage and Nuclear Blast. It’s a step up in terms of visibility, and having also just kicked off four months of touring, the band could be poised to create the moment Neufeld is talking about.
They found their sound early on by combining thrashy hardcore with melodic chant-along choruses. These days the intensity and the melody seem to be divided. Outsider features punk bangers alongside epically melodic mid-tempo tracks (which Neufeld gigglingly refers to as “soaring”).
“I don’t feel a lot of rage when I’m writing heavy music” he says cautiously.
“It’s ‘Oh shit that’s an exciting riff!’ or “That part’s hard!’ and it makes me feel the same way I would feel when I listen to a hard hip-hop song. The other guys in my band, Jeremy and Stu, I remember they brought some songs to the table and there was so much double-picking fast stuff going on. I really do love that stuff and it always has a place on Comeback Kid records. But in direct response to that I would write another song that would open up with a light riff and then go into a punk rock-style melodic hardcore song. I would do some of that on purpose. Especially with hardcore, which can be so one-dimensional, if I’m gonna hear the same shit over and over and over, I’m probably gonna change it. I wanted to write a record with a bunch of dynamics because we can kind of get away with that. We’re walking that fine line.”
That’s perhaps been a key to the band’s wider appeal. In the early 2000’s they were one of the very few hardcore bands who seemed to get some attention and acceptance from outside their scene. They toured with different kinds of heavy bands over the years, diversifying their fanbase. Now pushing towards two decades together, the fans have grown with them.
“I always feel like we started as being that band, like sometimes playing with hardcore bands, or punk bands, or metal bands, we were able to ride that” says Neufeld proudly.
“I even see it more so now. It’s nice, I like the variety. It’s nice that we can play different kinds of shows and I think people are open to that now. There’s so much music at our fingertips now, you’re not gonna just stick with one thing... maybe when you’re younger.”
Their musical diversity also seems to have had some affect on the themes of the new album. Although apparently written without rage, there’s a heavy feeling of resentment that inhabits the lyrics of Outsider. It’s a change in tone that makes the songs feel less self-referential than the band’s older releases. It’s not quite clear if Neufeld has crossed over into social commentary on this album, but apparently the vagueness is intentional.
“I kinda like that about it” he says laughing.
“I definitely write songs that are angsty. Dealing with stuff like anxiety and using excess to get over that, that can be a vicious cycle. But also, being 2017 I mean... we’ve never been a political band but having a little bit of social commentary, it’s kind of impossible to ignore.”
That kind of yearning to be socially outspoken is something that’s written into the DNA of hardcore music. Although it’s not necessarily something that fans may immediately associate with Comeback Kid, it’s an essential component of their sound and identity. They’ve found a balance between the desire to create and explore, and their obligations to their musical roots.
“We definitely still take a lot of influence from traditional hardcore and that world. But we’re trying to do our thing, and we’re trying to do new things, keep it fresh and exciting” says Neufeld.
“I like modern production as well. We’re moving with the times. A lot of it is about making music, I’m not gonna lie, that’s what I live and die for. But I also really connect with the community of hardcore and that values that it’s taught me. We really connect with the culture that our music comes from, and we’re thankful that it’s got us to where we are now. Again, I’m not that super-angry of a guy, I don’t find our music to be angry really. It definitely gets certain emotions up. Sometimes that’s what the world needs.”
Comeback Kid’s new album Outsider is available now. They’ll be on tour across Canada for the rest of September, followed by American dates in October, and then Europe for the rest of the year. See all the dates here and check out the video for “Hell of a Scene” below.
Photo by Kristján Carlsson Gränz
Zombitrol Productions are heading back to Iceland’s Eistnaflug festival next week, and so we reached into our vaults to bring you an interview with synthwave artist Perturbator filmed at last year’s edition. The French electronic artist otherwise known as James Kent has amassed an eclectic following, including legions of metalheads, with his dark, futuristic, and most of all danceable tracks. I spoke to Kent about how his unique upbringing, passion for extreme metal, and love of isolation all play a part in the creation of his music.
Shot by Kristján Carlsson Gränz
Edited by Justin McKoy
The Eistnaflug festival runs from July 5 - 8 in the town of Neskaupstaður, and this year features international artists like Neurosis, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Cavalera Conspiracy, as well as Icelandic artists like Skálmöld, Sólstafir, and Auðn.
Perturbator has his first full North American Tour coming up this fall, including Vancouver on September 9th, Montreal on September 30th, and Toronto on October 1st. Click here for full list of dates, and stream his latest album, The Uncanny Valley, in full below.