Tag Archives: Metal


Death Blooms band photo

DEATH BLOOMS (from l-r): Dan Partridge (drums), Paul Barrow (vocals), “Giz” Gibbs (bass), Ad Lucas (guitar)


From Liverpool, Death Blooms are an up-and-coming four-piece who specialise in a boundary-pushing metal sounds that is explosive, sinister, and takes from a diverse range of musical influences.

Having brought out a new single, ‘Crosses’, ahead of their second EP release this April, I spoke to the band when they stopped by recently in Stoke-on-Trent, as part of a UK headline tour with SHVPES, and the following is what they had to say:

How did the band first get together?

PAUL BARROW (vocals): So we had been in all sorts of different bands, and it was when mine and Ad’s old band finished that we decided to start something new, which we did, and we just carried on from there.

How did the name Death Blooms come about?

PAUL: At the beginning, we had a bunch of different names that we were considering, and Death Blooms just happened to be the best one. Also, it was the name that best fitted our sound.

What would you say was your songwriting approach?

PAUL: We just put in as much as we can, from a wide range of influences, for example, nu-metal, metalcore, pop-punk, which reflect our diverse musical tastes, so yeah, we just throw everything in, and see what happens.

What inspires the band lyrically?

PAUL: So far, we’ve tended to write lyrics that have a personal meaning to all of us, for example, metal health issues, but basically, we just put down whatever’s going through our heads at the time, and I think that creates a general vibe where we can release our emotions.

AD LUCAS (guitar): All of the confusion in our heads, we just get a piece of paper, and write it out.

You recently brought out a new single, ‘Crosses’. How has the reaction been to that so far?

PAUL: It’s been amazing, and people seem to really dig it. It’s been weird, though, as the song has been in our live set for a while now, pretty much since we started, but yeah, the reaction so far has just been ace.

“GIZ” GIBBS (bass): And when we’ve been playing it live recently, everyone has been singing along to it, which is fucking awesome.

And the track was taken from the band’s second EP, ‘You Are Filth’, which will be coming out this April. How has the recording process for that been?

PAUL: The process just started, everything came together, and then it was over.

(The band all laugh)

PAUL: Nah! It was actually really cool. We recorded the EP over a few sessions with Dave Radahd-Jones at his home studio.

AD: He’s the same producer who helped us with our first EP.

PAUL: Yeah, he’s ace, because he seems to just get our sound, and what we want to do with it. In comparison to when we did the first EP, where me and Ad got together, sat down somewhere, wrote a few songs, and then sent them over to Dave, this time, we spent two sessions writing the tracks with him.

It was a dead comfortable atmosphere throughout, really, and I noticed that Dave’s studio had some really nice carpets.

(The band all laugh)

PAUL: Also, the coffee was nice.

AD: Yeah, coffee-fuelled metal!

(The band all laugh)

How will the upcoming release differ stylistically to the debut?

PAUL: I don’t know, really, as I think that it’s just a continuation of what we did with the first EP, only with a more coarse sound.

AD: I feel that it has more groove and melody.

PAUL: Yeah, it’s almost like it’s heavier and punkier at the same time.

AD: Yeah, I think we’ve added a bunch of songs that have more hooks to them, definitely.

Last year, you played at Download, supported King 810, and opened for Korn frontman Jonathan Davis in Manchester, which must have been quite an experience for the band.

PAUL: It was wild, and actually, it was Dan’s first show with us, wasn’t it, mate?

DAN PARTRIDGE (drums): Yes, it was.

PAUL: So you went straight in at the deep end.

DAN: Yeah, it was pretty fucking crazy, man, because we all grew up listening to Korn.

“GIZ”: It was a hell of an inititation.

(The band all laugh)

DAN: Yeah, definitely.

PAUL: When Dan joined, we just said to him, “By the way, your first show with us is going to be opening for Jonathan Davis“, but it was ace, man, and the Korn fans in the crowd got us, so it was good, like.

And how is it, overall, performing live on stage?

“GIZ”: Fun, real fun.

PAUL: It’s real fun.

AD: And we pray that it will never become a chore for us.

PAUL: We do what we do, and we fucking love doing it, especially when it all pays off, unless we’re feeling sick, but even then, we will still give everything to it.

AD: And now that we’ve just done our sound check, we can’t wait to get back out there.

And finally, what are the band’s plans following the release of ‘You Are Filth’?

PAUL: Shortly, we’re going to be announcing something that we can’t go into too much detail about at the moment, and then for the rest of this year, we’re just going to sort out what we are going to do.

AD: Stuff will definitely be happening.

PAUL: We’ll also be bringing out a few more singles from the EP, and a few videos as well, so yeah, a lot of content, and loads more live shows too.

Death Blooms EP Cover











blacklist 9 band photo

BLACKLIST 9 (from l-r): Josh May (bass), Kyle Silva (lead/rhythm guitar), Lonnie Silva (drums), Graham Fletcher (vocals)


In 2013, experienced Southern Californian drummer Lonnie Silva decided to get together with his guitarist son Kyle, and form a groove metal outfit.

Eventually being joined by vocalist Graham Fletcher and bassist Ray Burke, and christening themselves Blacklist 9, the four-piece have not looked back, amassing a devoted following with a sound packed full of raw power and energy, coupled with lyrics that tackle a host of social issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, and government greed.

With a debut album coming out this March, Kyle spoke to me about what can be expected of that, the experience of playing iconic Los Angeles venue Whiskey A Go Go, and much more.

How did the name Blacklist 9 come about?

Lonnie, our drummer (and my father), was sitting on the couch one day and saw a commercial for the show The Blacklist, and he thought it was a cool name, but he knew there had to be something at the end of it, so he started counting, and when he got to nine, it flowed, and he knew that was it.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

For me personally, most of the time, for a riff or song to really stick, it has to be more than a riff, as for the music we write (being heavy metal), it has to have a certain feel of aggression, groove and energy, for example, our song ‘Madness’ has a really cool groove that people like, the riff has this insane asylum feel, it sounds like it could be on the soundtrack of a Rob Zombie movie, and also with the energy that Graham brings with his vocals, it all comes together nicely.

In March, the band will be bringing out their debut album, Mentally Ill, Legally Sane. How has the recording process been for that?

It’s gone very smoothly, and when we listened back to it in the studio, we started hearing all these little things you could improve upon, which was awesome, because that can bring the song to a whole new level.

And you have been putting the album together with Jeff Collier and Frank Gryner, who have produced and mastered for the likes of Rob Zombie and A Perfect Circle. How was working with them as an experience?

Working with Jeff Collier as our producer is always a blast, as he brings in good vibes, and is very knowledgeable.

Working with Frank was awesome too, and knowing that he worked with A Perfect Circle and Rob Zombie, on albums that I grew up listening to, it really was quite an experience.

Also, what can be expected from the upcoming release?

Every song on this album is different from each other, but it doesn’t lose its power or raw energy.

In 2017, the band supported John 5, former Marilyn Manson and current Rob Zombie guitarist, at infamous Los Angeles music venue Whiskey A Go Go. How did that come about?

From what I can remember, that was a last-minute thing. We had worked with the Whiskey A Go Go before, so the promoter contacted us, said he needed one more band, and asked us if we would like to open up for John 5. How could we say no?

And that must have been quite an experience for you all.

Oh yes, it was, and both Rob Zombie and Slash made special guest appearances, which was really cool. We also got to see John 5’s sound check while we loaded in our equipment and wow, that guy can play.

How is it, overall, playing live?

For me personally, I love it, as there is nothing like it in the world, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a parking lot, a club, a house show, or five or 1,000 people at your show or 1,000, I just love every minute of it.

Will the band be doing anything to promote the album, for example, a tour or a release show?

Yes, we are planning a tour as we speak, and we will be announcing that on all of our social media pages.

And finally, what are your plans following the unveiling of Mentally Ill, Legally Sane?

Tour, play shows, and try to get the word out there!

blacklist 9 album cover








astronoid band photo

ASTRONOID (from l-r): Casey Aylward (guitar), Dan Schwartz (bass), Brett Boland (vocals/guitar), Matt St. Jean (drums)


From the American city of Boston, Astronoid are a rapidly-rising four-piece specialising in a thrash metal sound that is both dreamy and dynamic.

The band’s debut album, 2016’s ‘Air’, was an instant hit with critics and fans, and resulted in live sets supporting the likes of TesseracT, Ghost, and Zeal & Ardor.

With a hectic couple of months ahead, what with the upcoming release of their eagerly-anticipated self-titled second offering, and embarking on a US tour with Between The Buried And Me, and TesseracT once again, the quartet’s frontman, Brett Boland, spoke to me about what can be expected from all of that, as well as the whirlwind journey that him and his bandmates have been on these past few years.

How did the band form?

Astronoid formed in 2012 when Dan and I were asked to do a project for school. He
needed to record a band, and I had a song or two that I thought we could do. We recorded the songs, and they came out really great.

We then threw them online under the Astronoid moniker and just sort of forgot about them, but a little while later, they started to pick up some steam online, and we decided to keep making some music, and here we are now.

How did the name Astronoid come about?

While recording our debut EP, ‘November’, Dan and I were both playing Mass Effect 3. I don’t really remember exactly what we were talking about, but I screwed up saying either “astronaut” or “asteroid”, and Astronoid came out. We laughed, we then named a song after it, and then we named our band after it.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

Our influences have changed over the years. The most prominent influences have
been Mew, M83, Devin Townsend, Coheed and Cambria, and everything else we
listen to, but what makes the band special to me is that we can pull from our entire
catalogue of the music that we love.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

The general approach is that I will start a song and see it to the end. Sometimes, I will start with a drum beat from my V-drums, or a guitar melody, and chase the idea from there.

I’ll then send a complete demo (drums, bass, guitar, vocals) to the band, we will pick it apart, and then see how it can be improved upon.

What inspires the band lyrically?

I would say the primary inspiration to my lyrics are my observations and experiences in life, as that’s what just comes naturally to me.

The music determines the mood or what the song is about, and that’s why I never start with lyrics, as I need to have the lyrics be an extension of what the music is saying.

After bringing out two EPs, in 2016, the band unveiled their debut album, ‘Air’,
which was an instant hit, both with fans and critics, and has so far had over three million Spotify streams. Honestly, was the response, and the volume of it, expected from any of you at all?

Before putting out ‘Air’, I had a really good feeling about it, as I felt it would resonate
with people in a new way. I’m so proud of what we have accomplished with that
album, and I feel so fortunate for all the support which we have gained over the past
few years.

And the success of the album enabled you to tour North America with the likes of TesseracT, Periphery, Ghost, and Zeal & Ardor. How were they as experiences?

It really is incredible getting to play with bands that you look up to. TesseracT was
one of the bands that I looked to when we were thinking of totally dropping the
screaming from the music.

I also remember hearing all the music nerds in college talk about Periphery before they put out their first full-length, I went to Ghost’s first US show, and Zeal & Ardor put their record out around the same time as ‘Air’, and I remember listening to it on Bandcamp for the first time.

All these bands have special memories attached, and it was incredible to be able to perform alongside them. They are all incredible people, and incredibly-talented musicians, and the memories we have from these tours will always be cherished.

Also, how is it overall, for the band, performing live?

We love to perform live. This is the first band I have toured in as a lead vocalist and it has been a learning experience.

You find things that work for you, and what doesn’t, and the more the band plays together, the more we feel like a unit, as when we play live, it isn’t about the individual, it’s about performing these pieces with emotional intensity as a group.

The music then takes on a life of its own, and we serve the songs for our fans.

Next month, you will be bringing out your self-titled second album. How has the
recording process been for that?

The recording process for ‘Astronoid’ was way easier than ‘Air’. We had a bit of a
time crunch at the end, but it all worked out.

We recorded the drums at Futura Productions in Roslindale, Massachusetts, and we did the rest of the recording at our home studios, with both Dan and I mixing the record, and Magnus Lindberg, of Cult Of Luna, mastering it.

We came into recording this album at an advantage, because everything had already been demoed fully, and when it was time to record, we just played the parts for real, being able to point back to the demos for reference.

And how will the upcoming release differ to ‘Air’?

The way that I’ve been seeing it is that ‘Air’ was more of a surface level of myself,
and the new album is more of an introspective. I feel very confident in this release, very similar to how I felt when we finished ‘Air’, as every decision made on this album was with the music being the main priority.

The band hail from Boston. How is the contemporary music scene in the city, in
your opinion?

I feel like we have always been the outlier in our area. There are a lot of great bands
in our area that have had a huge impact on our development as musicians.

Our old band used to play a lot around Boston and Lowell, and that helped make us become who we are now as musicians. Our surroundings absolutely had an effect on us, as we wouldn’t have become who we are if we had started in a different area.

You’ve so far played every one of your live sets in North America. Is there any plans to come over to Europe any time soon?

Right now, we have no confirmed plans about coming over, but we are working hard
to make it happen. I’d love to bring the band to Europe, as we have had a lot of support from overseas, and it would be incredible to finally play there.

Aside from that, and the album, what else does the band have planned for 2019?

Right now, our priority is to get out there and support our new record, going to play
as much as possible, and to have as much fun as possible. I’m not sure what 2019
holds for us, but I’m excited to see what it brings.

And finally, you’ve already achieved much over the last couple of years. What
would you, as a band, like to accomplish over the next few years?

I’d just like to see this album reach as many people as possible. We are just going
with our gut and play music that we love to play, and hopefully, other people can find something in our music as well.

astronoid album cover



astronoid tour poster









asleep at the helm band photo

ASLEEP AT THE HELM (from l-r): Adam Kenyon (guitar/vocals), Brandon Carson (guitar/vocals), Dylan Barrett (lead vocals), Alex Dawson (drums), Ryan Johnson (bass/vocals)



Coming up to exactly one year since their formation, Asleep At The Helm truly made a mark on the metal scene of Manchester, their home city, in 2018, and things are very much looking up for them in 2019, having already received much positive feedback for debut album, ‘Dissonance’, which came out just before Christmas.

I recently chatted with the band’s lead vocalist, Dylan Barrett, and guitarist, Brandon Carson, to find out more about their experiences up to now, as well as what they have planned next.

How did the band initially get together?

DYLAN BARRETT (lead vocals): The band initially formed from me and Brandon trying to do a farewell thing with an old band, like a little EP, and then when the songs started to come together the way they did, we were surprised at how good some of the stuff was that we were writing, and then from there, Brandon got in touch with everyone else, and it just sort of fell into place.

How did the name Asleep At The Helm come about?

DYLAN: I’m sure the name came from Adam just firing out an endless list of band names, and we were pretty unsure about any of them, actually at one point, we were gonna go with the name Eyes Wide Shut, but then someone said Asleep At The Helm, and it just felt right!

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

DYLAN: In terms of songwriting, I can’t really comment for anything other than lyrics, but I feel the general approach is just Brandon and Adam spitballing ideas, and the ones we all like, we work on bit-by-bit and try to develop to a point where we all eel confident we have something we can call a song.

What inspires the band lyrically?

DYLAN: A lot of the lyrics are drawn from experiences, I wouldn’t say specific past experiences, but more in the sense of how something may have happened in life, and it made us feel a certain way, and then the rest is just finding other words that don’t sound cliched or absolutely stupid!

Just before Christmas, you brought out your debut album, ‘Dissonance’. How was the recording process for that?

DYLAN: The recording process was for the best part really fun, but there were days, especially for me, recording when we would have a full day’s worth of recording behind us, but I still wasn’t feeling like I was getting the right sounds to do the songs justice, and those days felt like a proper test, but we did it, we grinned and bared it, and stuck at it.

BRANDON CARSON (guitar/vocals): We produced the album by ourselves mainly, we tracked all of Alex’s drums at my old college I now work at (Bury College), who we would like to thank, by the way!

Tracking drums can be the hardest part during the recording stage of an EP or an album, so they really helped us out in that aspect with the tracking.

We did all of the guitars at Adam’s house, we then did the bass at my house, and then, we went back to Adam’s to do all the vocals there. We then sent all of our tracks off to Oskar Sutton at Infinite Audio, who did an incredible job mixing and mastering the album, and he is someone we would also like to thank!

And how has the reaction been to the album so far?

DYLAN: The reaction so far has been much better than what we could have expected, we’re hardly overnight sensations, but some of the reach the album has got and the support we’ve in turn received from all over has been breathtaking, and again, we couldn’t be more grateful for the people who have listened and enjoyed because ultimately it’s them who give us success.

BRANDON: We’ve also had great feedback from people who are in established bands in the metalcore scene such as Our Hollow, Our Home and InVisions, which we’re very blown away by!

The band hail from Manchester, a city that is better known for its indie music rather than its metal bands/artists. How is the metalcore scene there currently, in your opinion?

DYLAN: Honestly, the metal scene in Manchester used to be a lot bigger, but it’s the general musical influence of the city that allows us to get as many gigs as possible, as Manchester will always be a place where you will always find somewhere to gig, and it’s been that way since I can remember, and me and Brandon have gigged in Manchester since we were 15/16.

How is the overall experience, for you all, of playing live?

DYLAN: Playing live with the band, for me, is bliss. There’s simply no other way of putting it, because I feel like I’m completely unstoppable when I’m on stage with them, whether we’re playing to a small room of people or even just a couple of our friends at a local show, every gig just has that energy, and it’s incomparable to most other feelings.

What are the band’s plans for the year ahead?

DYLAN: So the year ahead for us is just practice, gig, and push the album as hard as we can, as we want ‘Dissonance’ to speak volumes for the work we’ve put in, which subsequently means putting more work in, but I speak for all of us when I say we’re ready for that!

BRANDON: The plan for the Asleep At The Helm camp this year is to just get out there really, we’re gonna be going further out in to new cities like Sheffield, Blackpool, and a few other places, which we will be announcing about very soon.

We’re more than ready to really hammer this year and pull in a lot of new listeners, possible new fans, and hopefully start touring!

And finally, what is your long-term aim?

DYLAN: The long-term aim is to make the music we love, with the people we love, for as long as possible.

Obviously, everyone dreams of seeing their name in big lights and having thousands of fans screaming at them when they play, but honestly, I would still be content with playing the local Manchester shows with the boys.

asleep at the helm album cover











Melissa VanFleet photo


Hailing from the American city of Philadelphia, Melissa VanFleet is a person of multiple talents.

In addition to being a guitarist, pianist, and a trained dancer, VanFleet also specialises in crafting atmospheric alternative metal songs which naturally gravitate lyrically towards dark themes and topics, led by an emotionally intense vocal delivery, which has led to favourable comparisons to the likes of Adele, Alanis Morissette, and Amy Lee of Evanescence.

Having recently brought out a new album, entitled ‘Ode To The Dark’, which was produced by the team behind Lacuna Coil’s sublime 2016 offering, ‘Delirium’, and saw her collaborate with Doug Blair, lead guitarist of legendary Los Angeles metal collective W.A.S.P., and has so far garnered much critical acclaim, Melissa chatted to me, frankly and in-depth, about that, her journey up to now, as well as a little of what she has planned for the forthcoming year.

What was the first musical experience that you can recall?

Every memory I have from my childhood was accompanied by some sort of music, and my favourite activity as a two-year old was standing on a tiny makeshift stage in front of the TV, singing along with Alice Cooper and Lita Ford into a toy microphone, and I can vividly remember pretending that I was them performing on stage.

Are your parents musical at all?

My dad played piano and trombone, but most importantly, they both instilled in me a deep connection to music by surrounding me by all different types constantly.

The most prevalent genre was heavy metal, and some of my earliest memories involve my dad rocking me to sleep to Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Shot In The Dark’, or teaching me names of musicians in his favourite bands.

My mom has an amazing ear, and she also amazes me with her knowledge of lyrics.

As a child, you wrote poetry and lyrics to help deal with the complications of having a parent with a chronic illness. I can imagine that was a rather tough experience for you to have to go through growing up. 

It definitely was, and continues to be challenging, but I believe it has made me a stronger person. I have always strived for optimism, and writing helped me to stay positive.

As I got older, I started playing instruments, and therefore, I could finally put melodies to the lyrics I was writing.

When was the moment you realised that you wanted to pursue a career as a musician?

My first studio recording was at age 12, and I knew then that I wanted to be a vocalist and musician. I was actually accepted into several schools to study dance, but decided at the last minute to focus on my music instead.

What are your main musical influences?

I have always been drawn to bands with powerful and unique vocalists. I remember watching a Ronnie James Dio concert videotape with my dad when I was in the fourth grade, and thinking I wanted to be up on a stage like that some day.

He had a huge dragon prop, and captivated the audience with his unbelievable vocals and performance.

Around the same time, I discovered Alanis Morissette, and I was immediately empowered by how she was so unapologetically herself in her music, and I am also obsessed with darker classical music, especially ‘Swan Lake’ by Tchaikovsky.

Working with Marco Coti-Zelati and the team behind Lacuna Coil’s latest release ‘Delirium’ has been very influential to the music I’ve been making, as well. I listen to so many different types of music, and lately I’ve been listening to witch house and dark electronic, because it has such a definitive mood, and is perfect to play in the background.

You are also a trained dancer, in all styles. What attracted you to that?

I began dancing when I was three years old. My mom found a local studio, because I was dancing and singing around the house, and she thought I would pick it up easily.

I am so grateful for my dance training, as it has taught me discipline, which in turn,  is an integral part of having a career as an independent musician.

And do you still dance professionally, in addition to your musical career?

I teach master classes in dance, as well as exploratory classes for young children in every style.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

My songs usually begin with a chord progression or a melody idea, interlaced with abstract lyrics and thoughts, and it eventually develops into its own entity.

Melodically, I prefer to write on piano, as I find it more emotive and powerful for my writing style. When I have the structure of the song finished, I record a demo to get my ideas down, and then listen to it a week later to see if I really like it, and decide if it might have the potential to be as strong as some of my better songs.

And in regards to lyrics, you tend to naturally gravitate towards dark themes. Why is that?

The dark subject matter correlates with the melodies I come up with, and consequently, the lyrics and music feel cohesive.

I tend to write from a biographical standpoint, and typically research an idea of something that interests me to find out more information about it, and then write the lyrics as if I was the person experiencing the topic.

I have obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety, as well, and I’ve learned over time that it is cathartic to channel that darkness through my music.

In 2012, you recorded a piano cover of legendary Los Angeles metal outfit W.A.S.P.’s 1984 ballad, ‘Sleeping (In The Fire)’, for your father’s birthday. What made you decide to do that specific track?

It is one of my dad’s favourite songs. I recorded it in an hour, and never intended for anyone to hear it other than him, but he convinced me to put it on YouTube, so others could hear it.

You then subsequently uploaded that onto YouTube, where it got much positive feedback, most notably from members of W.A.S.P. themselves, past and present. Was that something you were rather taken aback by initially?

I was definitely not expecting it! After the W.A.S.P. cover, I recorded a Black Sabbath song, and that helped me to realise that the response from the other video wasn’t only a one-time occurrence.

I began to focus my attention on more metal covers, and released an album called ‘Metal Lullabies’ in 2015, with piano versions of some of my favourite metal songs, and acoustic original songs, as well.

That year, after bringing out ‘Metal Lullabies’, you were invited to perform on the Wacken Full Metal Cruise, alongside the likes of Wolfsbane and former Iron Maiden frontman Blaze Bayley, and Swedish heavy metallers Hammerfall. How was that as an experience?

It was so much fun. The crowd energy was unbelievable. Having conversations with the other bands and artists, as well as the fans aboard the ship, was an experience that I’ll never forget.

You’ve just brought out a new album, ‘Ode To The Dark’, which you recorded with the team behind Lacuna Coil’s 2016 album, ‘Delirium’. How did that come about?

I have been a fan of Lacuna Coil for over 15 years, and after listening to ‘Delirium’, produced by Marco Coti-Zelati, I couldn’t believe how the arrangements were exactly what I heard in my mind with the new collection of songs I was writing.

I was very fortunate to work with the entire team behind that album, including Marco Barusso, Dario Valentini, and Marco D’Agostino.

And during the recording process for the album, you collaborated with W.A.S.P’s lead guitarist, Doug Blair. That must have been quite an experience for you.

Doug is an insanely talented musician with such intense emotion behind his guitar playing, and it is always an honour to work with him.

And for those who have yet to listen to ‘Ode To The Dark’, how does it differ to ‘Metal Lullabies’?

‘Metal Lullabies’ was an acoustic album of metal covers and original songs. I was strictly an acoustic artist for a long time, and it was solely my piano and myself from the writing process to performing.

‘Ode To The Dark’ builds off of the same organic writing style, but incorporates heavy instrumentation, as well as atmospheric and gothic elements, however, despite the fuller sound of my new music, I’ll never lose that raw foundation, because my approach to songwriting has not changed.

You hail from the city of Philadelphia. How is the music scene there currently?

Philadelphia is the epitome of an arts-driven community, and it is inspired to be surrounded by such individuality is inspiring.

What are your initial plans for 2019?

Several new musical collaborations are going to be released in the winter. I am also looking to continue writing new material, and moving forward with touring and live show ideas.

And finally, what advice would you give to any bands/artists who are currently trying to break through?

I would say be true to yourself, not only in your art, but also in your career decisions. I know it might sound cliché, but it is so important. I would suggest, as well, to go with your initial instincts when you meet someone that wants to be part of your team.

Lastly, I’ve learned that no-one will ever care as much about your career as you do, so it is absolutely vital that you are content and confident with the music you are releasing.

Melissa VanFleet Album Cover











Vulgore band photo


Vulgore are a five-piece from Stoke-on-Trent, comprising of vocalist Ian Bennett, lead guitarist David Jones, rhythm guitarist Andy Lovatt, bassist Sam Williams, and drummer Hayden Ball.

Influenced by such bands as Black Sabbath, Lamb Of God, and Gojira, the outfit play a loud, brash heavy metal sound, laden with grooves and melodies, and since they unveiled their debut EP, ‘Bliss’, earlier this year, the collective have risen rapidly, having gained a growing devoted following, as well as performing a set at this summer’s Bloodstock festival.

Vulgore told me more about all of this prior to a recent set supporting American black metallers Abigail Williams in their home city.

How did the band get together?

DAVID JONES (lead guitar): I got bored of not being in a band after a few years, so I decided to set one up, and I started looking around for other members. I found Hayden first, as we had been in a band together before, then Sam came in, then Andy joined, and finally, Ian.

We all immediately gelled, and it went from there. We’ve now been going for a year-and-a-half.

How did the name Vulgore come about?

DAVID: To be honest, it was just a random name that came to us, and we all liked the sound of it.

What would you say was your songwriting approach?

DAVID: Really, we just throw stuff around, see what works best, and we just work from there.

What inspires the band lyrically?

DAVID: What goes on in everyone’s heads. It depends, really, for example, if we do a faster-paced song, the lyrics tend to be darker.

SAM WILLIAMS (bass): Mentally, we’re all quite similar.

ANDY LOVATT (rhythm guitar): Yeah, we all have a mental age of around 12!

(The band all laugh)

IAN BENNETT (vocals): I would write lyrics more often, but I think I would be thrown into prison if I did!

(The band all laugh)

Earlier this year, you brought out your debut EP, ‘Bliss’. How was the reaction to that?

SAM: The reaction was decent, it got some pretty good reviews, but having played a lot of gigs since then, including a set at Bloodstock, I think it’s now starting to get a lot more attention.

IAN: Yeah, the more people we play to, the more who will listen to it.

The band entered their local Metal To The Masses, which they won. That must have been a good feeling for you all.

SAM: It was strange, because we genuinely had no idea, as the first heat of that was actually the first gig we had ever played as Vulgore, and we won that, and got through to the final.

DAVID: We were genuinely surprised, more so when we actually won the final. It was unreal.

IAN: We were fortunate, though, because it was the first time that Metal To The Masses had been held in Stoke-on-Trent, therefore, there weren’t as many heats as there could have been, but that’s not to take away the fact that there were some really good bands who were also in the competition.

And the prize for winning Metal To The Masses was a set at this year’s Bloodstock festival. How was that as an experience?

SAM: To be honest, until we walked out onto the stage at Bloodstock, none of it felt real.

IAN: It only really hit us when we saw a sea of people watching us come on. It was just crazy.

DAVID: The weather was on our side that day, as well, as it was raining, and as the stage we were playing on was in a tent, loads of people were coming in.

SAM: It was great to be representing Stoke-on-Trent there, as well.

Also, the band have supported the likes of Infernal Conflict and Proteus, and you’re playing with Abigail Williams this evening. How is it, for you all, performing live?

DAVID: We love it, as there’s literally nothing better. We’ve got to a point now where we kind of base our lives around our live sets, which sounds crazy, but it’s worth it.

2019 is just around the corner. What are your initial plans?

SAM: We’ve already got quite a lot planned for next year, we’re going to get some new material out, and we’re also going to play as much as we possibly can, to as many places.

DAVID: We’ve also got our second EP in the pipeline.

And finally, what is the band’s long-term aim?

SAM: Our long-term aim is to dominate the world!

(The band all laugh)

To be honest, we just want to make this our full-time career.

DAVID: And if we manage to play with some really monstrous bands, then that would be a dream come true for all of us.

SAM: Also, it would be great to use those as opportunities to really big up the metal scene in Stoke-on-Trent.

Vulgore EP Cover



Vulgore gig poster




Tides Of Ruin band photo

TIDES OF RUIN (from l-r): Dom Birkin (bass), “Lankie McTall” (vocals/guitar), Dan Smallwood (guitar/vocals), Leighton Reed (drums)


From Stoke-on-Trent, four-piece Tides Of Ruin have their sights firmly set on domination of the metal world with a unique metalcore sound.

Before that, though, the band’s main aim is to get their debut EP recorded and released, and I spoke to them about that, and more, prior to the quartet’s recent set supporting American black metal juggernauts Abigail Williams in their home city.

How did the band get together?

DAN SMALLWOOD (guitar/vocals): We rose from the ashes of a previous band, Behead The Bride, and we’ve had a few line-up changes since we formed, but our current line-up is the most stable one we’ve had.

How did the name Tides Of Ruin come about?

DAN: Well, it came out of two names we had initially seriously considered. Lankie wanted the band to be called Throes Of Ruin, whereas I wanted us to be called The Conflicting Tides, so we decided to take parts of both names, and put them together.

What would you say was your songwriting approach?

DAN: Originally, I just brought songs to the table, but I think, as a band, you need everyone to bring some of their own input, so now, we all bring ideas to our practice sessions, which we will then jam out.

DOM BIRKIN (bass): Everyone sort of brings their own key things to the songwriting process, for example, Dan and Lankie will be thinking of guitar riffs, whereas obviously for me, as a bassist, I will be thinking more of structures, like “Shall we slow things down, or shall we speed things up?“, and stuff like that.

What inspires the band lyrically?

DAN: A lot of things, really.

DOM: Some songs have a political edge to them, actually, one of our songs, ‘Iceni’, is about the tribe of Boudica, so that’s historical.

DAN: Yeah, the idea for that came from a comic that Lankie had drawn on the subject.

DOM: Another one of our songs deals with mental health.

DAN: It’s kind of the stuff that we are all passionate about.

“LANKIE McTALL” (vocals/guitar): Another song we’ve done is about FGM, female genital mutilation, which is a really fucked-up concept, and happens in countries all around the world.

DAN: It’s something we all feel very strongly about.

Your main aim is to get your debut EP recorded and released. How far are you off achieving that at the moment?

DOM: We’ve been saying we’re going to get that out for the past two years!

DAN: It will come out eventually.

DOM: We’re aiming to get it out at some point next year, it’s just a case of time and money.

DAN: Our main aim, in addition to that, is to make sure that we don’t run out of things to do before we do get it out.

DOM: We’re definitely more of a gigging band, and obviously, you have bands who get stuff out every year or two, but we prefer to just focus on the gigging.

DAN: We do actually have some stuff recorded, some of which was taken from our live sets, but I suppose you could call ‘Iceni’ a single, as we recorded that earlier this year, and that’s something of ours that you can listen to at the moment, but you really do have to see us to get the full experience.

DOM: Yeah, that’s where it lies.

How is the experience, for you all, of playing live?

DOM: The best thing about being in a band, by far.

DAN: On stage, you can be, not necessarily somebody that you’re not, but you can afford to be more extravagant.

DOM: The day after a gig, though, is always the fucking worst, because your neck is absolutely killing you.

DAN: Too much headbanging, I reckon.

And finally, what is the band’s long-term aim?

DOM: I don’t think we’ve actually got that far, to be honest.

DAN: To get the EP recorded!

Tides Of Ruin Single Cover