The Cartographer band photo

THE CARTOGRAPHER (from l-r): Tom Maver Broadhead (bass), Dan Gorman (guitar), Ash Hutley (drums), Jay Roberts (vocals), James Millington (guitar)


Hailing from Derby, right in the centre of England, metal five-piece The Cartographer have had an eventful twelve months.

Reforming last summer after taking some time out, the outfit got straight to work on their EP ‘Human Error’, released last October to an overwhelmingly positive reaction.

With this, a sound mixing heaviness with melody, and energetic live shows, the band are currently being tipped as one to watch on the British metal scene.

Just before they embarked on a tour with fellow East Midlands collective Skies In Motion, I spoke to them about such things as that, their recent single, and what they have planned for the future.

How did the band first form?

JAY ROBERTS (vocals): Originally, the band was me and James, the other guitarist, messing around with a few other people, with Dan joining after he was introduced to us by our original drummer.

At first, it was just a hobby, and we thought it wouldn’t go much further than that, but as we’ve got older, it has become more serious and we have become more committed, even though there was a period when we decided to leave it for a while.

DAN GORMAN (guitar): When was that? 2014?

JAY: Mid 2015.

DAN: Yeah. 2015, we split up because our old drummer wanted to go travelling, and our old bassist could no longer fit it around his work.

JAY: Then last year, we decided to start the band back up.

DAN: Jay and James had been working together on a song, which was going to be the start of an entirely new project. They came to me and asked if I would like to collaborate. At the time, I wasn’t doing much, so I said: “Yeah, why not?

I learnt the song and thought it was pretty cool. After listening to the final product, we realised that it was the same as what we had been doing before the split, only with more progress, so we decided to reform as The Cartographer.

Ash came in on drums, and then we started writing what would eventually become ‘Human Error’. We recorded that in a week last summer, and released it last October. Around the same time, we started doing shows again, and I think Tom joined us on bass at the start of this year.

How did the name The Cartographer come about?

JAY: Before me and James got together to form the band the first time, I was doing something with another singer, we were going to form a band with two vocalists. We played video games a lot, and we were playing Skyrim. We got the map for the game out, and at the bottom of it, it said the name of the guy, which was The Cartographer. We liked the name, it sounded good.

DAN: Was it a quote from Zelda as well?

JAY: Yeah, someone said it was from one of the Zelda games.

How would you describe your sound?

DAN: The best way to describe it would be that the sound is for fans of Heart Of A Coward and Northlane. Heavy, but with melodic choruses.

JAY: Aggressive, with singy bits.

DAN: Aggressive, but beautiful.

You’ve just mentioned some of them there, but what are the band’s main musical influences?

JAY: One of our main influences is After The Burial. We take from that side of metal for the sound, but with the vocals, we do like to take influence from the likes of Wage War, they have nice melodic choruses.

We don’t stick to a certain area of a band, we push ourselves out, bring different types of metal and mix it all together. It’s basically a big mash-up of everything.

DAN: It’s progressive metal meets metalcore, I think.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

DAN: We don’t have one! (laughs) Literally, it’s the driving force behind our writing.

JAY: When it comes to structuring our songs, vocally and stuff, we like to concentrate on current situations, how each member of the band is feeling at that point, so say, for example, ‘Kneel To Nothing’, that’s basically about pollution and how high the levels of it are.

With some of our other songs, we will write the lyrics in a rather generic way, about higher government and how there seems to be no way of pleasing them. We do like to concentrate on topics that are more relevant than something that is just made up in your head.

The band recently released a new single, ‘Vultures’. How has the reaction been to it so far?

JAY: It’s been pretty good, to be fair.

DAN: We’ve done a campaign with Domino PR. Steph, who runs it, has really pushed the boundaries for us. It’s been more than we expected. She has e-mailed us, saying: “Dudes, you need to be doing this, you need to be doing that.” It’s been overwhelming at times, but it’s also been really cool.

JAY: We’ve had numerous reviews for it from all over the place.

DAN: Someone from, I think it was Puerto Rico, did a review. We couldn’t read what it said, because it was all written in Spanish! It was pretty awesome, though.

JAY: We also got approached by Metal Hammer, they wanted us to do a bit where we listed our ten favourite bands, songs, stuff like that. The reaction has been a lot better than any of us expected, which we’re happy with.

You’re about to embark on tour with Skies In Motion. How is the experience of playing live and touring for you all?

JAY: Well, in past interviews, I have said that our live sets are aggressive, with a lot of smoke and hair. Just hair everywhere! (laughs) If you come to one of our shows, you’re not going to see a band just standing there in stasis, we are going to be energetic. If someone’s coming to see us, our aim is to not let them down.

DAN: Yeah, if they’re paying to come, than the least we can do is give them a show to remember. So, doing the tour is going to be a bit bonkers! (laughs)

JAY: Yeah, it should be interesting.

What are the band’s plans for after the tour?

DAN: We’ll carry on writing for our debut album, I think.

JAY: Yeah, album.

DAN: At the moment, we have a total of about twelve songs. Our plan is to write as many as possible, cut the ones that we think are weak, work on the stronger ones, and then go back into the studio.

When were you thinking of getting the album out by?

DAN: I think, originally, it was going to be this year, but now, we think it will be out sometime early next year.

JAY: At the moment, we’re looking at between January and February, but it could be a little bit later.

DAN: It might be March.

JAY: To be safe, we’ll make it March next year.

What is the band’s long-term aim?

DAN: For me, what I would like to do with this band, within the next five years, I would like this to become a source of income for us. Even if it’s minimum wage, I’m happy with that. I would love to do this for a living. I know it’s nigh on impossible these days, but that’s my goal.

JAY: I believe if you work hard for something, you will eventually get it. We’re not expecting to open the main stage at Download in the next few years, but it would be good if we could go on a steady tour with a good amount of shows, get a decent fan base, and at least, get two full albums out.

We need to keep pushing ourselves and constantly get our stuff out there.

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Decrypted band photo


Serving up a flurry of technical riffs, stout breakdowns and melodic, yet aggressive vocal lines, Londoners Decrypted are here to etch their mark. The multi-cultural metallers will release their explosive new single ‘Equinox Of Eternal Embers’ on Friday 29th September.

Decrypted are a vastly dynamic and culturally diverse unit. Although the group now reside in London, Martin Luczynski (guitar) and Rafal Siek (bass) originally hail from Poland, alongside Ricardo Almeida (guitar/backing vocals) who is a Portuguese national, while Vincent Labelle (drums) was born in France. Vocalist Steve Kerr is the only member of the band actually born in England.

Harnessing their unique beginnings and varied backgrounds, the quintet have poured their diversity into their music, creating a sound that is heavy, aggressive, technical, and unique.

The original concept of the band was dreamt up in Poland by guitarist Martin Luczynski. Compelled to move to London in pursuit of a better life, Martin wouldn’t give up on his dream and immediately started searching for suitable members. In 2013, an early incarnation of the band was formed initially in a small living room in the East End of London, with no more than a digital drum kit, a guitar and a glut of inspiration.

Jump forward to 2016, and the five-piece’s line-up was finally complete with the recruitment of frontman Steve Kerr, who enabled the group to burst out of the rehearsal studio and onto the capital’s live music scene.

With responses to their live shows far exceeding expectations, the rising metallers are rapidly creating an army of followers and this is only set to increase as the band release their new video single, ‘Equinox Of Eternal Embers’, and their forthcoming EP, ‘Solitude Of Self Awareness’.

The single will be revealed in September and the track is representative of their blistering sound – explosive riffs and heavy breakdowns merged with an engaging vocal attack.

Have a listen and watch Decrypted become your favourite new band.

Decrypted Cover














Chris Blackwood interview photo


Originally from North Yorkshire, but now based in Manchester, Chris Blackwood is an emerging singer-songwriter.

Initially an acoustic soloist, Chris is now more at home delivering an indie rock sound as part of a four-piece, taking influence from a range of both retro and contemporary bands and artists.

The release of recent single ‘The Quiet Elude’ has only heightened the anticipation for the imminent unveiling of his self-titled debut album.

The talented musician discussed this and other things when we chatted recently.

What made you want to become a singer-songwriter?

It’s the only way I can communicate in a way that I believe is right and true. Speech is muddy, and there’s rarely chance to say anything meaningful. Everybody’s talking at the same time. There’s so much information now that we all risk being drowned in irrelevance, but music promises more. It makes the world make sense to me, it puts things into perspective and fights all the things in the world that we’d all wish to eradicate.

Which bands/artists do you take inspiration from?

Mainly The Beatles and Pink Floyd, but these are so ingraining in my subconscious that I will talk more about artists that have influenced me more recently. Pavement are a band that I’ve really started taking influence from, and are one of the main reasons I took the leap from acoustic artist to indie rock singer. Elliott Smith has also been a great artist for my songwriting, his chord patterns are unbelievably beautiful.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

They just pour out most of the time. Most songwriters will tell you the same. You get a fragment, a hint of a song, and you chase it. You come to your senses twenty minutes later and realise you have this fully formed song. Elliott Smith said that songs are pictures and fragments of memory. I agree with that statement.

What serves as inspiration for your lyrics?

I try to put everything I see into my lyrics. It’s a fine line songwriting. You have to put it what you feel, but you’ve also got to put in what you think other people will feel.

However, most of the time, people feel the same kind of things, you’ve just got to get the combination right. You’ve got to remove yourself from the equation and think if someone and think if someone was singing this at me, would I feel and believe it? I don’t expect people to understand everything I say though.

Bob Dylan said in his recent Nobel Prize speech that just because he’d read all these works of literature and put them into his songs didn’t mean people had to read the same reading list, they just had to feel it.

Your self-titled debut album comes out shortly. How has the recording process been?

It’s been fantastic, a real breeding ground for ideas. I had a pretty set idea of what I wanted to sound like, but then, I’d bounce ideas back and forth with Dean Glover, the producer and Ben Robinson, the drummer, who would give new ideas. This resulted in an album that has exceeded my expectations of what it could be, and the soundtrack of my life has been improved vastly.

Dean has a fantastic way of getting to the heart of a song, and making each part into a cohesive whole, while Ben can create a drum part for a song after one run-through. He’s unbelievable, a fantastic musician. He sat through fifteen songs recording tambourine for them in a row over two hours, and he got it perfect every time.

What can be expected from the album?

It’s a portrait of what it is like growing up in the 21st Century. Our generation is young, but we’ve got a lot of spirit. We need more music to reflect that, and I think it’s changing.

When I was at school, all I heard on the radio was a heavily compressed electronic rabble with no emotion and no real feeling. Just demographic grabbing glimpses of music. It’s why I slunk away, listening to older bands like The Beatles, Pink Floyd and The Smiths. They all seemed so different, with spectrums of their sound seemingly unavailable to the musicians of the time.

However, recently, I’ve heard some outstanding music. Albums from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Tame Impala and Death Grips. Is hip-hop still the future? It appeals to most people that surround me, I want to dissect it more. I think there’s a lot to learn from it.

Going back to the question, it’s a kind of concept album and a kind of coming of age album. I would like the listeners to discern their own individual meanings from the process of the album itself, it feels wrong to give away all the secrets.

You will be supporting the release with a gig in Manchester next month. How is the experience of playing live for you?

I love playing live. I normally play acoustic, so it’s going to be very different. I prefer playing in a full band though, because when we practice, there is a lot of energy that cannot be achieved with an acoustic guitar.

I want people to enjoy the music and walk away with a piece of my music in them forever. That’s what all the best gigs do, leave an imprint on a person.

What is your long-term aim? What would you like to achieve in the next couple of years?

To keep writing as many songs as possible. They keep pouring out, what’s the point of stopping? I’d like to keep touring the album and get it to as many people as possible.

I’d also like to increase the number of band members, because moving from acoustic guitar to an indie rock four-piece has been very enlightening, and I’d love to extend that further.

Chris Blackwood Cover









THEIA logo


THEIA are a three-piece from Burton-upon-Trent, comprising of vocalist/guitarist Kyle Lamley, bassist Paul Edwards and drummer Jake Dalton.

In the last couple of years, the band have made an impact both locally and nationally with a sound they describe as: “high octane, fully loaded, riff-driven Rock n’ Roll“.

Having recently released their second album, which has so far received universal praise, and about to embark on a UK tour, the future is looking bright for the hard rock trio.

Here’s what they had to say when we spoke before their headline set at the Uttoxeter Rocks festival.

How did the band first form?

KYLE LAMLEY (vocals/guitar): We formed about ten years ago. Myself and Paul used to do amateur dramatics and musical theatre together. We were doing a production of ‘Footloose’ at the time, kind of rock n’ roll, not quite your normal rock star vibes, then we started bedroom jamming, as it were, didn’t we?

PAUL EDWARDS (bass): Yeah, I lied to Kyle saying that I could play bass. I turned up for practice, played bass, and that was it.

KYLE: And we’ve stuck together ever since. Jake joined us about a year ago and he has solidified the line-up at last. It’s feeling good now.

How did you come up with the name THEIA?

KYLE: There’s a few different meanings behind it. The one we’ve most gone with is the asteroid that was part of the Big Bang. It created the Moon, but we’ve kind of gone along with the theory that it created some life, so you know, it’s about rock that’s larger than life.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

PAUL: You normally sit in your bedroom, don’t you Kyle?

KYLE: Yeah.

PAUL: He writes as much as we can, brings it to the table, we sort of put it into practice, and then we see where we go.

KYLE: It doesn’t have to be the bedroom. It can be in any room that has a guitar in. (laughs) Once the songs come together, they take on a new life, especially when you perform them live.

You think you’ve got a song cracked, but once you start to play it live, it evolves, and before you hit the studio, we have found that the songs need to grow naturally.

What serves as inspiration behind the band’s lyrics?

KYLE: Everything, really, there’s so many. War, politics, there’s a bit of romance in there. We’ve got a couple of songs that are about our home town Burton-upon-Trent, so when it comes to writing a lyric, it’s more a case of: “Okay, how am I feeling right now? What’s in my head?” That way, the lyrics seem to come more naturally to us.

Your second album, ‘Back In Line’, came out in June. How well do you think it’s been received so far?

PAUL: It’s gone pretty well. There’s been plenty of good reviews so far. It also seems to have gone down well when we’ve performed the tracks off of it live, it has gotten a lot of people excited, and it’s kept up the interest that we got from the first album.

KYLE: I suppose you could call it critically acclaimed. Like Paul’s just said, it’s had a lot of good reviews. Our German and Austrian fans have picked up on it, and we’ve also had interest from people from as far afield as Texas and Australia, so in comparison to our debut album, it seems to have snowballed and it’s really good to see.

The band are going to be on tour over the next couple of months, and playing a few festivals as well. How is the experience for you all playing live and touring?

KYLE: It’s unparalleled, however long you are on stage for, whether it’s half an hour or two hours. 10% of being in a band are all about those moments spent actually being on stage, so when you’re on tour and have a string of dates coming up, it’s like a continuous party.

It’s a good feeling that we’ll be able to take the Anonymous boys out on our forthcoming tour. It’s going to be fantastic.

Where will you be playing?

KYLE: All over the place. We’re going to be playing The Black Heart in Camden, that’s going to be a heck of an experience for us. The strength of the rock community down there, it’s something you can’t really put words to, it always astounds us. It will be the second or third time we’ve played in Camden, and every time we’ve played there so far, it’s been great.

What are the band’s plans once the tour has been completed?

KYLE: At the moment, we plan to head back into the studio around winter time. We did that with ‘Back In Line’, and then come spring next year and festival season is upon us again, we’ll be ready to play.

It would be great to take some new ideas that we have and get another album or EP out of them. Whatever happens, I think the studio time will be really important, definitely.

What is the band’s long-term aim?

PAUL: We’ve got a few aims. It would be amazing if we could get to do a large tour. That would be a big step up for us, definitely. We’re all dreamers, aren’t we?

KYLE: Yeah. Long-term exposure, you know, bands like Thunder and other British bands who have been going for many years, their fan base has just grown and they are very loyal.

We’ve sort of started to realise that we are building up a fan base, it’s sort of happened right under our noses. We’ve looked up and realised that people from all over the place actually like what we do, so it’s a really nice feeling to have that.

Anything else any of you would like to say at all?

KYLE: Yeah, thank you to everyone and their support for us so far. We really appreciate it.












Fires That Divide band photo

FIRES THAT DIVIDE (from l-r): Steve Knight (bass), Marc Harris (drums), Kirk Shuttleworth (vocals/guitar), Steven Norton (guitar)



Fires That Divide are a rock four-piece from the West Midlands.

The band, formed in 2014, have impressed critics and fans alike with a sound that utilises bulky guitar riffs, thumping drum beats and intense bass lines, taken from a eclectic range of influences, including Led Zeppelin and Alice In Chains, and all held together by the gritty vocals of frontman Kirk Shuttleworth.

Enjoying a growing reputation, the quartet played Fort Fest last year and this December, they will be supporting metal legends Diamond Head, who were an early influence on the likes of Metallica and Megadeth.

Just after finishing their sublime set at the Uttoxeter Rocks festival recently, I chatted to Kirk and lead guitarist Steven Norton about all things Fires That Divide.

How did the band initially form?

KIRK SHUTTLEWORTH (vocals/guitar): Well, me and Steven were originally drummers. We had been in a lot of bands on our local scene where we had had some bad experiences. We sort of lost the fun for it, so we decided that we wanted to start up our own rock band.

STEVEN NORTON (guitar): We had always spoken of doing that, because we hated the bands we were in at that point. It took a few years to get going, but once we had left those bands, we started practicing together.

Originally, Kirk was still on drums, whereas I was on guitar, but then I heard him play an acoustic set on a radio show, playing his own songs and stuff. I was listening to it at home and thought that Kirk definitely needed to be the singer, so that was when we decided to make a proper go of it.

KIRK: And after a few shocking auditions, we found Marc and Steve.

STEVEN: It’s been about three years now, hasn’t it?

KIRK: Yes, it has.

From where did the name Fires That Divide originate?

STEVEN: Me and Kirk had already done a few gigs, with some of our friends helping out on bass and drums. We didn’t really have a name at that point, we were kind of calling ourselves ‘The Kirk Shuttleworth Experience’, something like that.

We had decided by then that we needed a proper band name, so I was on holiday in Devon and I was just putting words together that sounded good. I’d had the name in my head for a week before I told Kirk, because I was worried he was going to think it was shit.

I then told him, and he didn’t say anything for about two minutes, and it was a long two minutes. He then chuckled and I told him I loved that name, and it stuck.

KIRK: That was it, really.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

STEVEN: Me and Kirk tend to get together and write stuff acoustically, we’ll just put some riffs together and see whether we can extend them. We then record it, and send it to everyone else. We will then work on it in the practice studio, and it kind of comes together from there.

KIRK: I will then go away and write some lyrics, and then come back, see if the rest of the band are happy with it, and that’s it.

What serves as inspiration for the band’s lyrics?

KIRK: A lot of the songs are very personal, through past experiences with different bands and life in general. What we tend to do as well, the song titles actually have no meanings, for example, one of the most personal songs is called ‘Vector Man’, and that was a Mega Drive game from the Eighties, I think. I suppose you could see it as kind of like hiding behind a blanket.

STEVEN: Although the songs are quite personal with the things Kirk writes about, we always take the approach of taking the music seriously, but not ourselves, so we just come up with stupid names, random comments, an in-joke perhaps, and we kind of go with it. The minute we start to overthink it, we go: “No!

KIRK: We’ve always had the philosophy, stemming from past experiences of being in other bands, that we never take ourselves too seriously, and if things ever get too tough between the four of us, then we will end the band.

We’ve always said that being in the band has to be fun, and we try and show that when we play live. Luckily for the last three years, it has been a fun experience.

You released your second EP, ‘John Lee, Bullet & Love’ in May. How has the reaction been to it so far?

STEVEN: It’s been good.

KIRK: We have developed a lot as a band since the first EP was released, and we seem to have finally found our sound, because obviously, we have so many influences, and also, a lot more people have discovered us, especially after we played Fort Fest last year.

STEVEN: It kind of felt like that was the EP where we were writing together as a band, and the truest representation of us so far.

You’re supporting metal legends Diamond Head in December. How did that come about?

KIRK: The Robin 2 in Bilston, where the gig is taking place, is not far from us, so when I heard that Diamond Head were going to be playing there, I sent the venue an e-mail and they said that they don’t pick the support bands and that we would have to go to the band directly, so I then e-mailed a friend who is a direct contact, sent him all of our links and said that we were local, massive fans of theirs and would love to support them.

About a month ago, I got a reply, which basically confirmed that we were going to be the main support. It’s probably going to be our biggest gig so far, to be honest.

Actually, one of the guitarists came to see us at one of our first gigs, which was in Stourbridge, where the band are from originally.

STEVEN: I always remember that gig, and I said to Kirk that one of Diamond Head’s guitarists was watching our set, but they never came to see us afterwards.

KIRK: They probably thought we were shit.

STEVEN: And this has come about a few years later.

KIRK: Yeah, we’re really looking forward to it. We’re going to have to up our game.

STEVEN: We have a few months until then to polish our set.

You mentioned earlier that you played Fort Fest last year. How was it as an experience?

KIRK: We really enjoyed playing it. To be on that stage was incredible.

STEVEN: It was a good experience, especially for me personally, because we were on the same bill as Black Peaks and Arcane Roots, some of the bands that I have been a big fan of over the last couple of years.

However, around the same time, Kirk’s twins were about to be born.

KIRK: I was like: “I can’t miss this gig“, but also, I wanted to be there when they were born, so I had my phone next to the pedal board. We were two and a half hours away as well, so I literally don’t know what I would have done, as it was really close to the due date.

How is being a father affecting the band?

KIRK: To be fair, we’ve slowed down with the gigging, but we’re still rehearsing every week. I think it has worked out in our favour. Tonight was our first gig since May.

STEVEN: I feel we went through a phase of gigging loads and we would get tired, but at least now when we play a gig, we feel refreshed and more energised. And in terms of the songwriting stuff, when it’s just us two, I will go around to Kirk’s and we’ll just work stuff out. That way, Kirk can still be a dad.

What is the band’s long-term aim?

KIRK: I think the Diamond Head gig is going to provide a platform for us to sort of get our name out there more. We’re becoming more known at the moment, but we need to push further. We want to release an album, don’t we?

STEVEN: Yeah, we’ve done two EPs now, and there’s a backlog of material that we would like to record, so we would like to bring out an album, make a few videos, stuff like that. We’d also like to play the Civic Hall in Wolverhampton.

KIRK: That’s the plan.

STEVEN: We’ve already played The Slade Rooms and the Academy in Birmingham, so having grown up in that area and watched some of our favourite bands perform there, we’ve always seen it as an amazing venue and it would be a dream to play there, there’s no reason why we can’t.

Fires That Divide Cover