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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/within-progress-interview/

Thessaloniki, Greece based progressive rock/metal quintet Within Progress was formed in 2017. The band recorded their debut EP ‘Oceans of Time‘ same year, and released it in April 2018. While the group is currently working on songs for their upcoming full-length release, we featured a song from a debut EP on our latest Progotronics compilation, and as a result of that we talked with the band about their work.

Define the mission of Within Progress.

We are five very different people who came together from our love of music. We don’t “do” genres, we gather together to write music we love and want to hear, and we think that it has a potential for something unique, because of how different each one of our personality and mindset is. Our mission is to get that across to as many people as we can.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut EP “Oceans of Time” and the themes it captures.

“Oceans of Time” is the collection of the best songs we ever tried to write together as a band. The basis of all songs was written by only two of current members and an ex-guitarist who would get together 1-2 times per week and see what kind of music they could compose together. Since the current line-up was completed very shortly before we started recording, many things were re-written during the sessions. Music always came before lyrics and it’s almost always like that for us as we are more expressive with music than with lyrics. We also didn’t have a singer during the majority of the time that the songs were being written so what you hear on the EP are mainly guitar/riff driven compositions with vocals placed on top as efficiently as we could. It was the first serious songwriting attempt for all us and we think we got a very stellar result.

The themes that “Oceans of Time” captures are mainly based on negative aspects of modern day society, with a slight emphasis on certain human behaviors and patterns, and how those cause hostility and alienation in our relationships. For example, we question the beliefs of parents that are passed on to their children at an age when they haven’t developed their own free will or how sometimes we would rather appear knowledgeable to impress our peers than admitting that we in fact know very little of that certain subject.

What is the message you are trying to give with “Oceans of Time”?

It’s always more controversial when someone speaks about the negative side of things and provokes people and lyrically we wanted to do just that. To make people aware of these situations, acknowledge that they’re there, they’re real and they affect our daily lives, and try to better ourselves and our relationships with each other in spite of them.

Musically, “Oceans of Time” is a kind of “we’re here” statement. We wanted to introduce ourselves to the scene with just a small taste before we set on to release more ambitious things.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

We would always write everything on software and orchestrate the songs from the computer first before we played them live in the studio. There’s an upside and a downside in doing this. We chose to work in this manner because of the nature of progressive music. For example, you can’t go in the studio and suddenly jam syncopated riffs in odd time signatures from scratch. You have to actually see everything written down on paper or on screen. So each new idea was first written on sheet music on the computer and we worked our way up from there. Usually the guitar was the driving force of the songs except for the song “Oceans of Time” in which the drums were written first.

The downside of our approach to songwriting is that the music isn’t as spontaneous as it could be if it was written while rehearsing. We try to balance the two approaches when we write music now.

Oceans of Time

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

The fact that the pieces are carefully architected is a bit of an understatement (haha), and we don’t mean that in a pretentious way. The songs are most definitely not perfect but we’re not the kind of band that writes a song in a few hours and calls it a day. The basic structure of the song could be written in a short amount of time but it takes weeks before we’re happy with the end result. We always ask ourselves “How could this part be better?” or “Is this section really as good as it can be?”. For “Oceans of Time”, many sections were re-arranged and re-written, parts were erased or added, even during the recording sessions, while always serving the song.

Describe the approach to recording the EP.

We recorded the EP in Fireball Music Studio in Thessaloniki. We had already decided which 5 songs we would include in the album. Before recording we listened to the songs with the producer from demos we had made ourselves and some others in MIDI form. He offered some suggestions for the songs themselves and for how we would approach recording.

Drums & percussion were recorded first in 3 days followed by guitars, bass and piano/synths. Because of the two bassists that came before our current one, the bass parts were the ones that suffered the most alterations during the process as they did not fit well with the drums so many things were changed on the spot. Finally vocals came last and took the longest. Our singer actually recorded the entire album in a day but decided to erase the whole thing and redo everything as he wasn’t happy with the result. During recording, at least two band members were present to offer suggestions and help so no one actually recorded alone. Our producer helped us hugely in both the compositional side of things as well as the recording process itself and we took his advice when we thought that it improved the song. That was the case in many different occasions. It was the first official recording session for all of us during which we discovered how different the studio is from a live setting but we also grasped our capabilities as musicians in our own respective instruments.

How long was “Oceans of Time” in the making?

The songs were written in a year although some ideas existed long before. The recording sessions for drums, guitars took place in July 2017 while bass, piano/synths and vocals went on during the autumn of 2017. The album was mixed and mastered by Joe FK by February 2018 and the first song was released in March with the entire album release in April 2018. In general, the entire album was almost a year and a half in the making, from the songwriting to the mastering stage.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

The songs were being written while the main songwriters of the band were out of their heavy metal phase and into discovering more and more progressive bands. So you can expect the “classic” Tool, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree influence on the music as well as more modern examples like Tesseract, Leprous, Mastodon & Gojira and also Hans Zimmer on the track “Celestial Notion”. A lot of our guitar work was actually inspired by Greek traditional music where odd time signatures and a lot of “eastern” sounding melodies are commonplace. That theme is actually very upfront on the record and many people have noticed it.

What is your view on technology in music?

We live in an age where you can take basically any sound and manipulate or process it in any way you see fit. With that fact alone, the sky is the limit when it comes to making music which to us is unbelievably fascinating. We’re big fans of using effects or plugins, reversed sounds and processed audio in an unconventional way just to see what sound they make and how that can be used musically. All that is now at your fingertips, at a click of a button and with basic computer knowledge, anyone can try it. Also, thanks to technology anyone can record and produce music even with a very low budget which also means that there is more music being released today than ever before. It really is exhausting to think how much music is out there and so much of it is really good!

There’s absolutely no way that you won’t find something to your liking.
That being said, it is so easy to use technology nowadays to edit your playing and alter your sound into something that you haven’t thought about how you’ll play or recreate live. That to us is a big mistake as you can easily reassure yourself that you’ll fix it in the editing stage or in the mix when you actually haven’t played the part as well as you could. It is fun to use technology to our advantage but let’s not forget that we’re people who play music live.

Within Progress live

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Of course we do. Music is for so much more than just listening. It makes you feel things that no other medium can make you feel. It’s raw and pure emotion and it can be cathartic. When you haven’t had the best day, a small piece of lyric behind beautiful harmony can change that. When you’re happy, a happy song can amplify your feelings. It can simply get you in the right frame of mind when you want to accomplish goals. Music (as well as film) is one of the most powerful ways to deliver a message or story and (cliché aside) it really does bring people together because it is culturally universal, whether it is a 20-minute long progressive metal symphony or a 3 minute pop song.

What are your plans for the future?

We are currently writing songs for our first full-length album and there are a lot of exciting and new ideas! So many that some will have to go to the 2nd album or later releases. It is the first time the entire current line-up is in the same room composing music from scratch together so the result will be quite different from “Oceans of Time”. We’re also thinking about how we will release our LP and so far we have just been brainstorming ideas. When it comes to gigs, we have put that on hold right now as finishing our album is priority number one and we want it to be as good as it possibly can. However we’re always on the lookout for live shows that can get us exposure to more people (so far in Greece).

Thank you for having us and for the very nice questions!

Oceans of Time is available from Bandcamp here. Follow Within Progress on Facebook and Instagram.

The post WITHIN PROGRESS: Different Mindsets appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/within-progress-interview/

Thessaloniki, Greece based progressive rock/metal quintet Within Progress was formed in 2017. The band recorded their debut EP ‘Oceans of Time‘ same year, and released it in April 2018. While the group is currently working on songs for their upcoming full-length release, we featured a song from a debut EP on our latest Progotronics compilation, and as a result of that we talked with the band about their work.

Define the mission of Within Progress.

We are five very different people who came together from our love of music. We don’t “do” genres, we gather together to write music we love and want to hear, and we think that it has a potential for something unique, because of how different each one of our personality and mindset is. Our mission is to get that across to as many people as we can.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut EP “Oceans of Time” and the themes it captures.

“Oceans of Time” is the collection of the best songs we ever tried to write together as a band. The basis of all songs was written by only two of current members and an ex-guitarist who would get together 1-2 times per week and see what kind of music they could compose together. Since the current line-up was completed very shortly before we started recording, many things were re-written during the sessions. Music always came before lyrics and it’s almost always like that for us as we are more expressive with music than with lyrics. We also didn’t have a singer during the majority of the time that the songs were being written so what you hear on the EP are mainly guitar/riff driven compositions with vocals placed on top as efficiently as we could. It was the first serious songwriting attempt for all us and we think we got a very stellar result.

The themes that “Oceans of Time” captures are mainly based on negative aspects of modern day society, with a slight emphasis on certain human behaviors and patterns, and how those cause hostility and alienation in our relationships. For example, we question the beliefs of parents that are passed on to their children at an age when they haven’t developed their own free will or how sometimes we would rather appear knowledgeable to impress our peers than admitting that we in fact know very little of that certain subject.

What is the message you are trying to give with “Oceans of Time”?

It’s always more controversial when someone speaks about the negative side of things and provokes people and lyrically we wanted to do just that. To make people aware of these situations, acknowledge that they’re there, they’re real and they affect our daily lives, and try to better ourselves and our relationships with each other in spite of them.

Musically, “Oceans of Time” is a kind of “we’re here” statement. We wanted to introduce ourselves to the scene with just a small taste before we set on to release more ambitious things.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

We would always write everything on software and orchestrate the songs from the computer first before we played them live in the studio. There’s an upside and a downside in doing this. We chose to work in this manner because of the nature of progressive music. For example, you can’t go in the studio and suddenly jam syncopated riffs in odd time signatures from scratch. You have to actually see everything written down on paper or on screen. So each new idea was first written on sheet music on the computer and we worked our way up from there. Usually the guitar was the driving force of the songs except for the song “Oceans of Time” in which the drums were written first.

The downside of our approach to songwriting is that the music isn’t as spontaneous as it could be if it was written while rehearsing. We try to balance the two approaches when we write music now.

Oceans of Time

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

The fact that the pieces are carefully architected is a bit of an understatement (haha), and we don’t mean that in a pretentious way. The songs are most definitely not perfect but we’re not the kind of band that writes a song in a few hours and calls it a day. The basic structure of the song could be written in a short amount of time but it takes weeks before we’re happy with the end result. We always ask ourselves “How could this part be better?” or “Is this section really as good as it can be?”. For “Oceans of Time”, many sections were re-arranged and re-written, parts were erased or added, even during the recording sessions, while always serving the song.

Describe the approach to recording the EP.

We recorded the EP in Fireball Music Studio in Thessaloniki. We had already decided which 5 songs we would include in the album. Before recording we listened to the songs with the producer from demos we had made ourselves and some others in MIDI form. He offered some suggestions for the songs themselves and for how we would approach recording.

Drums & percussion were recorded first in 3 days followed by guitars, bass and piano/synths. Because of the two bassists that came before our current one, the bass parts were the ones that suffered the most alterations during the process as they did not fit well with the drums so many things were changed on the spot. Finally vocals came last and took the longest. Our singer actually recorded the entire album in a day but decided to erase the whole thing and redo everything as he wasn’t happy with the result. During recording, at least two band members were present to offer suggestions and help so no one actually recorded alone. Our producer helped us hugely in both the compositional side of things as well as the recording process itself and we took his advice when we thought that it improved the song. That was the case in many different occasions. It was the first official recording session for all of us during which we discovered how different the studio is from a live setting but we also grasped our capabilities as musicians in our own respective instruments.

How long was “Oceans of Time” in the making?

The songs were written in a year although some ideas existed long before. The recording sessions for drums, guitars took place in July 2017 while bass, piano/synths and vocals went on during the autumn of 2017. The album was mixed and mastered by Joe FK by February 2018 and the first song was released in March with the entire album release in April 2018. In general, the entire album was almost a year and a half in the making, from the songwriting to the mastering stage.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

The songs were being written while the main songwriters of the band were out of their heavy metal phase and into discovering more and more progressive bands. So you can expect the “classic” Tool, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree influence on the music as well as more modern examples like Tesseract, Leprous, Mastodon & Gojira and also Hans Zimmer on the track “Celestial Notion”. A lot of our guitar work was actually inspired by Greek traditional music where odd time signatures and a lot of “eastern” sounding melodies are commonplace. That theme is actually very upfront on the record and many people have noticed it.

What is your view on technology in music?

We live in an age where you can take basically any sound and manipulate or process it in any way you see fit. With that fact alone, the sky is the limit when it comes to making music which to us is unbelievably fascinating. We’re big fans of using effects or plugins, reversed sounds and processed audio in an unconventional way just to see what sound they make and how that can be used musically. All that is now at your fingertips, at a click of a button and with basic computer knowledge, anyone can try it. Also, thanks to technology anyone can record and produce music even with a very low budget which also means that there is more music being released today than ever before. It really is exhausting to think how much music is out there and so much of it is really good!

There’s absolutely no way that you won’t find something to your liking.
That being said, it is so easy to use technology nowadays to edit your playing and alter your sound into something that you haven’t thought about how you’ll play or recreate live. That to us is a big mistake as you can easily reassure yourself that you’ll fix it in the editing stage or in the mix when you actually haven’t played the part as well as you could. It is fun to use technology to our advantage but let’s not forget that we’re people who play music live.

Within Progress live

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Of course we do. Music is for so much more than just listening. It makes you feel things that no other medium can make you feel. It’s raw and pure emotion and it can be cathartic. When you haven’t had the best day, a small piece of lyric behind beautiful harmony can change that. When you’re happy, a happy song can amplify your feelings. It can simply get you in the right frame of mind when you want to accomplish goals. Music (as well as film) is one of the most powerful ways to deliver a message or story and (cliché aside) it really does bring people together because it is culturally universal, whether it is a 20-minute long progressive metal symphony or a 3 minute pop song.

What are your plans for the future?

We are currently writing songs for our first full-length album and there are a lot of exciting and new ideas! So many that some will have to go to the 2nd album or later releases. It is the first time the entire current line-up is in the same room composing music from scratch together so the result will be quite different from “Oceans of Time”. We’re also thinking about how we will release our LP and so far we have just been brainstorming ideas. When it comes to gigs, we have put that on hold right now as finishing our album is priority number one and we want it to be as good as it possibly can. However we’re always on the lookout for live shows that can get us exposure to more people (so far in Greece).

Thank you for having us and for the very nice questions!

Oceans of Time is available from Bandcamp here. Follow Within Progress on Facebook and Instagram.

The post WITHIN PROGRESS: Different Mindsets appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/atomic-shadows-interview/

Serbian metal four-piece Atomic Shadows are set to launch their full-length debut album entitled ‘Red’ later this year. The band has recently premiered a first single off of the album for the song “Hiraeth” which was a part of the Progotronics 15 sampler. Singer Dragisa Beric spoke for Prog Sphere.

Define the mission of Atomic Shadows.

Well our mission is to make the music that we enjoy playing and evolve over time, not losing the fun in the process. We hope to do this for a long time and experiment, trying not to be confined by any particular genre, and aim to make every new album different and exciting.

The first single titled “Hiraeth” from your upcoming album was a part of our recent Progotronics compilation. What can you tell me about the upcoming release, and how does “Hiraeth” fit into it?

Yes and we are very happy to be the part of your 15th Progotronics compilation. Our upcoming album will be the part of trilogy, so the next 3 albums are going to be connected with color themes as expression of emotions. So we will take this opportunity to announce the name of the first album, and it will be called “Red”. Red is stimulating and exciting colour and depending of the shades of red it can range from anger, wrath to heat, longing, lust and so on. So Hiraeth is more in a range of lust and longing emotionally.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your upcoming album and the themes it captures.

In the beginning we just started working on new songs, and as we’ve progressed the material started unfolding into a theme, for which the idea for trilogy album came out. Inspiration and work ethic are working well for us, because by just playing the ideas emerge spontaneously.

What is the message you are trying to give with “Hiraeth”?

We’re not really trying to give any particular message with this song. Hiraeth is concepted so that the listener can interpret and connect in his own way with the song, as most of our songs. As we’ve said before, this song is lyrically and musically in a range of lust and longing emotion, like the title of the song says. The word cannot be completely translated, meaning more than just “missing something”.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

We record every rehearsal and listen to it later. For us this is the very important step, because it drives new ideas while listening. Also because the lyrics usually come after the music is done, it allows us to feel the emotion of the music, and blend the lyrics theme easier with the music.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

By the time we are ready to enter the studio, we have a general view on how the songs should sound like. However, we always leave some room for creative process to happen in the studio as well. We don’t try to control the things to much, because that’s the right way to let the magic happen. Also our producer Milos Mihajlovic is very helpful in this process by trying to make the most out of each take.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Well we can name the bands that influenced us generally, like from Led Zeppelin, The Stooges, Joy Division, to Faith No More, Tool,Porcupine Tree, Deftones, Pantera, Down, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, The Melvins, Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Prodigy, Black Flag, My Bloody Valentine etc.. However we can’t point out to any specific genre or bands that influenced this release, because it’s a blend of a lot of different influences.

What is your view on technology in music?

When used the right way the technology can be very well utilized . The most important thing is that it doesn’t sound too sterile, it needs to keep the natural sound and capture emotion in the right way.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Depends on the perception of what could be beyond music. We are acting out all the possible emotions playing as well as listening to music, and it is definitely a big part of our lives.

What are your plans for the future?

Our plans are to release this album in the very near future, the songs are done and we’re just doing mixes right now. To present it in the best way that we can, by doing gigs and releasing more music videos. Also we are already doing some new songs.

The post ATOMIC SHADOWS: Spontaneous Ideas appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/atomic-shadows-interview/

Serbian metal four-piece Atomic Shadows are set to launch their full-length debut album entitled ‘Red’ later this year. The band has recently premiered a first single off of the album for the song “Hiraeth” which was a part of the Progotronics 15 sampler. Singer Dragisa Beric spoke for Prog Sphere.

Define the mission of Atomic Shadows.

Well our mission is to make the music that we enjoy playing and evolve over time, not losing the fun in the process. We hope to do this for a long time and experiment, trying not to be confined by any particular genre, and aim to make every new album different and exciting.

The first single titled “Hiraeth” from your upcoming album was a part of our recent Progotronics compilation. What can you tell me about the upcoming release, and how does “Hiraeth” fit into it?

Yes and we are very happy to be the part of your 15th Progotronics compilation. Our upcoming album will be the part of trilogy, so the next 3 albums are going to be connected with color themes as expression of emotions. So we will take this opportunity to announce the name of the first album, and it will be called “Red”. Red is stimulating and exciting colour and depending of the shades of red it can range from anger, wrath to heat, longing, lust and so on. So Hiraeth is more in a range of lust and longing emotionally.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your upcoming album and the themes it captures.

In the beginning we just started working on new songs, and as we’ve progressed the material started unfolding into a theme, for which the idea for trilogy album came out. Inspiration and work ethic are working well for us, because by just playing the ideas emerge spontaneously.

What is the message you are trying to give with “Hiraeth”?

We’re not really trying to give any particular message with this song. Hiraeth is concepted so that the listener can interpret and connect in his own way with the song, as most of our songs. As we’ve said before, this song is lyrically and musically in a range of lust and longing emotion, like the title of the song says. The word cannot be completely translated, meaning more than just “missing something”.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

We record every rehearsal and listen to it later. For us this is the very important step, because it drives new ideas while listening. Also because the lyrics usually come after the music is done, it allows us to feel the emotion of the music, and blend the lyrics theme easier with the music.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

By the time we are ready to enter the studio, we have a general view on how the songs should sound like. However, we always leave some room for creative process to happen in the studio as well. We don’t try to control the things to much, because that’s the right way to let the magic happen. Also our producer Milos Mihajlovic is very helpful in this process by trying to make the most out of each take.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Well we can name the bands that influenced us generally, like from Led Zeppelin, The Stooges, Joy Division, to Faith No More, Tool,Porcupine Tree, Deftones, Pantera, Down, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, The Melvins, Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Prodigy, Black Flag, My Bloody Valentine etc.. However we can’t point out to any specific genre or bands that influenced this release, because it’s a blend of a lot of different influences.

What is your view on technology in music?

When used the right way the technology can be very well utilized . The most important thing is that it doesn’t sound too sterile, it needs to keep the natural sound and capture emotion in the right way.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Depends on the perception of what could be beyond music. We are acting out all the possible emotions playing as well as listening to music, and it is definitely a big part of our lives.

What are your plans for the future?

Our plans are to release this album in the very near future, the songs are done and we’re just doing mixes right now. To present it in the best way that we can, by doing gigs and releasing more music videos. Also we are already doing some new songs.

The post ATOMIC SHADOWS: Spontaneous Ideas appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/how-to-get-into-heavy-metal/

Everybody has a different taste in music. While some may prefer a classic and soothing rhythm, others may lean towards a pounding beat of a drum. If you are one of those who are fascinated by the heavy metal music genre, perhaps it is about time to get your hands into its beat.

Reset your views

The first step to get into heavy metal music is by re-aligning your views regarding this genre. In the past years, heavy metal music was stereotyped as a loud noise with lyrics full of profanities, being generated by a band composed of guys who wore all black. On the contrary to this thinking, heavy metal music is melodic but very technically challenging. Most heavy metal bands are composed of musicians playing an electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, and vocal lead. Others may even have an additional electric guitar player or a keyboard. While most heavy metal bands stick to rhythms and melodies, limiting the lyrics, others opt to write about more aggressive or controversial topics. There are even heavy metal bands that produce religious music. There is also a wide range of vocals involved in this genre, mostly requiring the lead vocal to growl, shriek, or scream. While it is initially an avenue for a lot of male performers, the heavy metal scene already saw a lot of successful female leads.

Consider your preferences

The next step after re-assessing your views towards the genre is to assess yourself in terms of your music preferences. Try to look in the past and consider the type of music you have grown to love. This is a very good basis in determining the specific heavy metal music you may be inclined to. Heavy metal music is such a wide genre that there are several types of melodies produced in this genre, depending on the particular instrument used.

  • Heavy Metal

By far, heavy metal is known to be more aggressive than rock. It is characterized by guitar solos, sometimes rhythm, other times bass guitars, without any growling in the vocals. Another branch of heavy metal is Goth metal, which typically features goth lyrics and a dark atmosphere.

  • Thrash Metal

Contrary to the melodic guitar solos of the basic heavy metal, thrash metal features guitar shredding with aggressive vocals. It is a fast-paced music with influences from punk. Over the years, thrash metal has been dominated by ‘the big four’, which are bands eloquently playing this music. These are Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax. A branch of thrash metal music is crossover thrash or thrashcore that leans more on punk rock.

  • Power and Speed Metal

Power metal, usually have a melodic streak in terms of soaring vocals and guitar shreds. The music is commonly about fantasy and mythology, which are more melodic compared to thrash metal. On the other hand, speed metal is extremely fast and considered as the most demanding heavy metal music form in terms of technicality.

  • Black, Doom, and Death Metal

The song structure of black metal has a wide range. It can be anywhere from complex to raw, with distorted guitars and shrieking vocals. Black metal sounds usually are set in a cold and dark atmosphere. On the other hand, doom metal sound is made up of either clean vocals or a growl. It is usually slow in pace, with a lyrical theme revolving around doom and despair. In contrast to doom metal, death metal is fast-paced with a complex song structure. It incorporates heavy growling. Death metal with more complex rhythmic patterns are often referred to as technical death metal. Conversely, death metal with a slower pace that incorporates the use of keyboards or piano is also known as melodic death metal.

  • Progressive Metal, Metalcore, and Mathcore

The progressive metal subgenre of heavy metal music is guitar-driven with some of the most unusual signatures such as dynamic shifts and complex playing of progressive rock. Progressive metal that infuses the sound of the piano or keyboards are often referred to as djent. Metalcore, on the other hand, is a combination of hardcore punk and extreme metal, which incorporates extreme vocals. Metalcore infused with more harmonies and vocal ranges from screaming, growling, and singing is known as melodic metalcore. Odd time signatures are apparent for Mathcore, coupled with various complexities.

Take time to listen

Once you choose a certain type of heavy metal music to listen to, take time to actually indulge in paying attention to it. Heavy metal music needs focus and attention, and there is a great possibility that you will not be able to appreciate it if you will just play it in the background. Apart from familiarizing yourself with the vocals, try to have an open ear for each of the instruments being played. Unlike mainstream pop or rock, heavy metal music doesn’t offer a groove or a beat that will instantly make you remember. It entails the need for you to listen to it a couple of times before you uncover each layer of instrument and melodic rhythm. Don’t be discouraged if at first you will not be able to understand the music at all. The appreciation for heavy metal music grows over time, but while it doesn’t happen frequently, sometimes it can be that you fall in love with it the first time.

For beginners though, here are some of the top albums that you can listen to:

  • Metallica’s self-titled album in 1991. This is considered the best heavy metal album to date, considering that most contemporary heavy metal bands emerged because they were inspired by this album. Some of the most popular songs in this album, which are truly easy to digest for those novice in heavy metal are “Enter Sandman”, “Sad but True”, “Wherever I May Roam” and “Of Wolf and Man”.

  • ‘The Number of the Beast’ album released by Iron Maiden in 1982. Heavy metal enthusiasts all claim that all the songs in this album are written perfectly, from the opening drums of the first song to its closing tracks.

  • Black Sabbath’s Paranoid album released in 1970. Apart from paving the way for the heavy metal music scene, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid album is a testament to its popularity. The perfect guitar pieces towards the end of the album will surely be an inspiration for you to lift up your guitar and strum some of those strings.

  • Slipknot’s self-titled album in 1999. This album paved the way for modern metal with all songs deemed as favorites by most heavy metal enthusiasts.

  • Rage Against the Machine’s self-titled album in 1992. This band opened the doors for heavy metal to delve into politics and socialism through their well-crafted and socially-enlightened lyrics.

Take time to watch

Apart from indulging your ears to listen to heavy metal music, it is also a good idea to take time to watch a concert, a show, or a performance of a band into heavy metal music. This is a good way to get into this type of music because you will have the opportunity to bask in the music scene atmosphere. While it is better if you do actually go into an actual live performance, you may also watch shows online. Look at how each band member put in the effort to create heavy metal music with their respective instruments. This will give you an idea of the effort they put in, and on how much effort is needed from your side if you decide to play the instrument yourself, or if you are already playing one.

Take time to play.

Try to enjoy the heavy metal music by playing your own instrument. While going to live performances and being thrown in a mosh pit sounds inviting, heavy metal music is best appreciated when you play an instrument yourself. Apart from listening into its rhythm and melody, it is best if you create your own too.

Here are some of the common instruments played to generate heavy metal music:

Electric Guitar

The electric guitar itself has many variations. While there is the typical 6-string instrument, there are also seven or eight-string guitars that offers a wider note range. However, for heavy metal, an electric guitar with high amplification is preferred. In most bands, two musicians often play the electric guitars, with one being the lead guitarist playing the guitar solos, and the other playing the general melody or rhythm. Heavy metal music also incorporates guitar shredding techniques such as finger tapping and fast scales. Guitarists who perform a guitar shredding technique usually use a guitar amplifier. On the other hand, double-cutaways in a guitar allows a musician to easily access high frets.

Bass Guitar

In contrast to the strumming of an electric guitar, the bass guitar is normally played by slapping or thumping its strings. It is made up of only four strings compared to the six to eight strings making up the electric guitar. However, like with the electric guitar, it is often played through an amplifier. The bass guitar forms the rhythm section, especially when played in conjunction with the rhythm guitars and drums, or keyboards if present. Usually, bass guitars for metal play a definitive role in the entire melody, so much so that it is often up for solos. The lower vibrations of a bass guitar will tend to move your soul. Hence, the bass guitar is and should always be present in heavy metal music because it is used to play the low-end sound that is essential to make the sound seem heavy, thus, the term heavy metal music. Like with the electric guitars, there are also a wide range of bass lines that musicians use, depending on the subgenre of heavy metal music.

Drums

The third element of a heavy metal music is the beat of a set of percussion instruments, which is normally the drums. In the past, the tone of the drums is generally not set, but over the years, musicians already learned to tune the drums in a medium or low tuning to give way to the pitch of the other instruments. Additionally. The drum sets seen today are the enhancement of the basic drum set used back in the day. More often than not, the drums set the beat and the speed of the music, along with its mood. In heavy metal music, the drums are the key in giving the overall sound a feel of aggressiveness through rapid double bass drumming.

Vocals

While not a man-made instrument, the human vocals have a key role in heavy metal music. The vocal sounds can darken the mood of the entire sound and the vocalist who specializes in doing so is often referred to as the screamer. The lyrics of the song are often sung through various scream levels. There are different types of scream such as the pig squeal which is a high-pitched scream, the death growl, which is a low pitched growl, and the normal singing voice.

Keyboards

While still generally deemed as an optional instrument in heavy metal music, the keyboards can offer a good twist. A keyboard will allow for a more dramatic sound effect in the total melody.

Do your research.

Music is ever evolving and so is the heavy metal genre. To continuously get into the heavy metal music groove, take time to do your research and continuously learn about its history, in order to find ways on how to make this genre better. If you are equipped with more knowledge about this music genre, then there is a greater possibility that you will be able to appreciate it more and be good at it too.

musician-2708190_1920

Music comes in a variety of forms and several genres. The preferences of one may greatly differ from another. Nevertheless, there is one common benefit that one gets from listening to music, and generating it. Heavy metal music is a form of self-expression. Thereby, feel free to express your mood or your emotion, or just practice your skills, through the art of music. Pick up those sticks and beat that drum or get your guitars ready for a strum.

The post How To Get Into Heavy Metal Music appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/how-to-get-into-heavy-metal/

Everybody has a different taste in music. While some may prefer a classic and soothing rhythm, others may lean towards a pounding beat of a drum. If you are one of those who are fascinated by the heavy metal music genre, perhaps it is about time to get your hands into its beat.

Reset your views

The first step to get into heavy metal music is by re-aligning your views regarding this genre. In the past years, heavy metal music was stereotyped as a loud noise with lyrics full of profanities, being generated by a band composed of guys who wore all black. On the contrary to this thinking, heavy metal music is melodic but very technically challenging. Most heavy metal bands are composed of musicians playing an electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, and vocal lead. Others may even have an additional electric guitar player or a keyboard. While most heavy metal bands stick to rhythms and melodies, limiting the lyrics, others opt to write about more aggressive or controversial topics. There are even heavy metal bands that produce religious music. There is also a wide range of vocals involved in this genre, mostly requiring the lead vocal to growl, shriek, or scream. While it is initially an avenue for a lot of male performers, the heavy metal scene already saw a lot of successful female leads.

Consider your preferences

The next step after re-assessing your views towards the genre is to assess yourself in terms of your music preferences. Try to look in the past and consider the type of music you have grown to love. This is a very good basis in determining the specific heavy metal music you may be inclined to. Heavy metal music is such a wide genre that there are several types of melodies produced in this genre, depending on the particular instrument used.

  • Heavy Metal

By far, heavy metal is known to be more aggressive than rock. It is characterized by guitar solos, sometimes rhythm, other times bass guitars, without any growling in the vocals. Another branch of heavy metal is Goth metal, which typically features goth lyrics and a dark atmosphere.

  • Thrash Metal

Contrary to the melodic guitar solos of the basic heavy metal, thrash metal features guitar shredding with aggressive vocals. It is a fast-paced music with influences from punk. Over the years, thrash metal has been dominated by ‘the big four’, which are bands eloquently playing this music. These are Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax. A branch of thrash metal music is crossover thrash or thrashcore that leans more on punk rock.

  • Power and Speed Metal

Power metal, usually have a melodic streak in terms of soaring vocals and guitar shreds. The music is commonly about fantasy and mythology, which are more melodic compared to thrash metal. On the other hand, speed metal is extremely fast and considered as the most demanding heavy metal music form in terms of technicality.

  • Black, Doom, and Death Metal

The song structure of black metal has a wide range. It can be anywhere from complex to raw, with distorted guitars and shrieking vocals. Black metal sounds usually are set in a cold and dark atmosphere. On the other hand, doom metal sound is made up of either clean vocals or a growl. It is usually slow in pace, with a lyrical theme revolving around doom and despair. In contrast to doom metal, death metal is fast-paced with a complex song structure. It incorporates heavy growling. Death metal with more complex rhythmic patterns are often referred to as technical death metal. Conversely, death metal with a slower pace that incorporates the use of keyboards or piano is also known as melodic death metal.

  • Progressive Metal, Metalcore, and Mathcore

The progressive metal subgenre of heavy metal music is guitar-driven with some of the most unusual signatures such as dynamic shifts and complex playing of progressive rock. Progressive metal that infuses the sound of the piano or keyboards are often referred to as djent. Metalcore, on the other hand, is a combination of hardcore punk and extreme metal, which incorporates extreme vocals. Metalcore infused with more harmonies and vocal ranges from screaming, growling, and singing is known as melodic metalcore. Odd time signatures are apparent for Mathcore, coupled with various complexities.

Take time to listen

Once you choose a certain type of heavy metal music to listen to, take time to actually indulge in paying attention to it. Heavy metal music needs focus and attention, and there is a great possibility that you will not be able to appreciate it if you will just play it in the background. Apart from familiarizing yourself with the vocals, try to have an open ear for each of the instruments being played. Unlike mainstream pop or rock, heavy metal music doesn’t offer a groove or a beat that will instantly make you remember. It entails the need for you to listen to it a couple of times before you uncover each layer of instrument and melodic rhythm. Don’t be discouraged if at first you will not be able to understand the music at all. The appreciation for heavy metal music grows over time, but while it doesn’t happen frequently, sometimes it can be that you fall in love with it the first time.

For beginners though, here are some of the top albums that you can listen to:

  • Metallica’s self-titled album in 1991. This is considered the best heavy metal album to date, considering that most contemporary heavy metal bands emerged because they were inspired by this album. Some of the most popular songs in this album, which are truly easy to digest for those novice in heavy metal are “Enter Sandman”, “Sad but True”, “Wherever I May Roam” and “Of Wolf and Man”.

  • ‘The Number of the Beast’ album released by Iron Maiden in 1982. Heavy metal enthusiasts all claim that all the songs in this album are written perfectly, from the opening drums of the first song to its closing tracks.

  • Black Sabbath’s Paranoid album released in 1970. Apart from paving the way for the heavy metal music scene, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid album is a testament to its popularity. The perfect guitar pieces towards the end of the album will surely be an inspiration for you to lift up your guitar and strum some of those strings.

  • Slipknot’s self-titled album in 1999. This album paved the way for modern metal with all songs deemed as favorites by most heavy metal enthusiasts.

  • Rage Against the Machine’s self-titled album in 1992. This band opened the doors for heavy metal to delve into politics and socialism through their well-crafted and socially-enlightened lyrics.

Take time to watch

Apart from indulging your ears to listen to heavy metal music, it is also a good idea to take time to watch a concert, a show, or a performance of a band into heavy metal music. This is a good way to get into this type of music because you will have the opportunity to bask in the music scene atmosphere. While it is better if you do actually go into an actual live performance, you may also watch shows online. Look at how each band member put in the effort to create heavy metal music with their respective instruments. This will give you an idea of the effort they put in, and on how much effort is needed from your side if you decide to play the instrument yourself, or if you are already playing one.

Take time to play.

Try to enjoy the heavy metal music by playing your own instrument. While going to live performances and being thrown in a mosh pit sounds inviting, heavy metal music is best appreciated when you play an instrument yourself. Apart from listening into its rhythm and melody, it is best if you create your own too.

Here are some of the common instruments played to generate heavy metal music:

Electric Guitar

The electric guitar itself has many variations. While there is the typical 6-string instrument, there are also seven or eight-string guitars that offers a wider note range. However, for heavy metal, an electric guitar with high amplification is preferred. In most bands, two musicians often play the electric guitars, with one being the lead guitarist playing the guitar solos, and the other playing the general melody or rhythm. Heavy metal music also incorporates guitar shredding techniques such as finger tapping and fast scales. Guitarists who perform a guitar shredding technique usually use a guitar amplifier. On the other hand, double-cutaways in a guitar allows a musician to easily access high frets.

Bass Guitar

In contrast to the strumming of an electric guitar, the bass guitar is normally played by slapping or thumping its strings. It is made up of only four strings compared to the six to eight strings making up the electric guitar. However, like with the electric guitar, it is often played through an amplifier. The bass guitar forms the rhythm section, especially when played in conjunction with the rhythm guitars and drums, or keyboards if present. Usually, bass guitars for metal play a definitive role in the entire melody, so much so that it is often up for solos. The lower vibrations of a bass guitar will tend to move your soul. Hence, the bass guitar is and should always be present in heavy metal music because it is used to play the low-end sound that is essential to make the sound seem heavy, thus, the term heavy metal music. Like with the electric guitars, there are also a wide range of bass lines that musicians use, depending on the subgenre of heavy metal music.

Drums

The third element of a heavy metal music is the beat of a set of percussion instruments, which is normally the drums. In the past, the tone of the drums is generally not set, but over the years, musicians already learned to tune the drums in a medium or low tuning to give way to the pitch of the other instruments. Additionally. The drum sets seen today are the enhancement of the basic drum set used back in the day. More often than not, the drums set the beat and the speed of the music, along with its mood. In heavy metal music, the drums are the key in giving the overall sound a feel of aggressiveness through rapid double bass drumming.

Vocals

While not a man-made instrument, the human vocals have a key role in heavy metal music. The vocal sounds can darken the mood of the entire sound and the vocalist who specializes in doing so is often referred to as the screamer. The lyrics of the song are often sung through various scream levels. There are different types of scream such as the pig squeal which is a high-pitched scream, the death growl, which is a low pitched growl, and the normal singing voice.

Keyboards

While still generally deemed as an optional instrument in heavy metal music, the keyboards can offer a good twist. A keyboard will allow for a more dramatic sound effect in the total melody.

Do your research.

Music is ever evolving and so is the heavy metal genre. To continuously get into the heavy metal music groove, take time to do your research and continuously learn about its history, in order to find ways on how to make this genre better. If you are equipped with more knowledge about this music genre, then there is a greater possibility that you will be able to appreciate it more and be good at it too.

musician-2708190_1920

Music comes in a variety of forms and several genres. The preferences of one may greatly differ from another. Nevertheless, there is one common benefit that one gets from listening to music, and generating it. Heavy metal music is a form of self-expression. Thereby, feel free to express your mood or your emotion, or just practice your skills, through the art of music. Pick up those sticks and beat that drum or get your guitars ready for a strum.

The post How To Get Into Heavy Metal Music appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/the-outsider-suicide-is-progress-premiere/

Mexican Avant-garde Extreme Metal project The Outsider returns later this year with the release of a new album. The project—founded by composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist The Outsider—is launching a first single from the album for the song “Suicide is Progress,” which features guest performance by saxophonist Jørgen Munkeby (Shining, Ihsahn, Emperor). Stream the song below.

The Outsider commented: “‘Suicide is Progress’ is about madness, the overall concept of the album is like a compendium of Horror, in its different types, and as something that covers other negative things such as fear, despair or sorrow. The Outsider started as a Lovecraftian Cosmic Horror inspired project but now it is about many types of horror, there are songs about cosmic horror, horrific sci-fi scenarios, dark mythology; and ‘Suicide is Progress’ covers the humane part of these negative things and its impact, that’s why lyrics deal also with religion, society and even politics and also that is why it’s the most insane song in the album, because humane madness is real, not fiction.

About working with Munkeby, he said: “Working with him was great, not only because I truly admire his work and like his projects, but because I knew that his playing style would entirely fit into the song and its concept, he had a lot of freedom on recording his parts, I like to work that way when I ask other musicians to collaborate on my tracks, not giving strict instructions but letting ideas flow, hearing suggestions and giving any type of freedom, I think is the best way to get great results, so with Jørgen I just told him from which bar to which bar I wanted his solos to be in, the playing style, and he did the rest. I am more than satisfied with the outcome.

For months it’s been spoken about the musical evolution in the project and “Suicide is Progress” perfectly represents this change, with a sound that moves away from the symphonic metal and gets close to the experimentation and avant-garde sound, with musical elements such as synths and jazz, also moving away from the cosmic horror lyrics, but keeping its trademark dark sound. The orchestra and the Middle East influences are still there for the rest of the album, but this new single displays The Outsider’s evolution and challenges everyone’s ear, because it will be that way henceforth.

Stream “Suicide is Progress” on below. The single will be available on streaming platforms on October 11th. Stay tuned for the upcoming The Outsider album by following the project on Facebook and Bandcamp. 

SIP

The post Exclusive: Stream THE OUTSIDER’s New Single Feat. SHINING’s JØRGEN MUNKEBY appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/the-outsider-suicide-is-progress-premiere/

Mexican Avant-garde Extreme Metal project The Outsider returns later this year with the release of a new album. The project—founded by composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist The Outsider—is launching a first single from the album for the song “Suicide is Progress,” which features guest performance by saxophonist Jørgen Munkeby (Shining, Ihsahn, Emperor). Stream the song below.

The Outsider commented: “‘Suicide is Progress’ is about madness, the overall concept of the album is like a compendium of Horror, in its different types, and as something that covers other negative things such as fear, despair or sorrow. The Outsider started as a Lovecraftian Cosmic Horror inspired project but now it is about many types of horror, there are songs about cosmic horror, horrific sci-fi scenarios, dark mythology; and ‘Suicide is Progress’ covers the humane part of these negative things and its impact, that’s why lyrics deal also with religion, society and even politics and also that is why it’s the most insane song in the album, because humane madness is real, not fiction.

About working with Munkeby, he said: “Working with him was great, not only because I truly admire his work and like his projects, but because I knew that his playing style would entirely fit into the song and its concept, he had a lot of freedom on recording his parts, I like to work that way when I ask other musicians to collaborate on my tracks, not giving strict instructions but letting ideas flow, hearing suggestions and giving any type of freedom, I think is the best way to get great results, so with Jørgen I just told him from which bar to which bar I wanted his solos to be in, the playing style, and he did the rest. I am more than satisfied with the outcome.

For months it’s been spoken about the musical evolution in the project and “Suicide is Progress” perfectly represents this change, with a sound that moves away from the symphonic metal and gets close to the experimentation and avant-garde sound, with musical elements such as synths and jazz, also moving away from the cosmic horror lyrics, but keeping its trademark dark sound. The orchestra and the Middle East influences are still there for the rest of the album, but this new single displays The Outsider’s evolution and challenges everyone’s ear, because it will be that way henceforth.

Stream “Suicide is Progress” on below. The single will be available on streaming platforms on October 11th. Stay tuned for the upcoming The Outsider album by following the project on Facebook and Bandcamp. 

SIP

The post Exclusive: Stream THE OUTSIDER’s New Single Feat. SHINING’s JØRGEN MUNKEBY appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/half-shell-interview/

Progressive/alternative rock trio Half Shell launched their debut album ‘Truly Tragic‘ in October last year. The group was a part of our recently released Progotronics compilation, and following that they answered our questionnaire.

Define the mission of Half Shell.

Our goal is to make unique and meaningful music that’s interesting and accessible, but still complex and challenging.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut album Truly Tragic and the themes it captures.

We have an entirely collaborative songwriting process. The three of us started Half Shell in 2016, after having to part from our college band Mollusk (get it?). We were a five piece band down two members, so we decided to start a new project that integrates technology rather than trying to find new people to play with as it just wouldn’t feel right. Our creative process came from a need of having to learn how to work in a way that was new to us, using unfamiliar technology, together as a team. Typically, Caitlin [Kullberg – bass, guitar] and Jesse [Guterman – drums, keyboards] do most of the music writing and Nicole [Hogan – vocals] writes lyrics and vocal melodies. However, all of us contribute to the music as a whole, and we all make suggestions for how different parts should sound or feel. It helps that we are all best friends with excellent creative chemistry. We wrote Truly Tragic during some big turning points in our lives after graduating college. As such, it grapples with a variety of themes that all come back to trying to understand and explain an ongoing existential crisis equally fueled by personal struggle and societal disappointment.

What is the message you are trying to give with Truly Tragic

Truly Tragic is pretty dark at times, but it is actually also very playful right down to its title (which is a slightly sarcastic hook taken from the second song on the album, “Maybe Ghosts”). It aims to deal with crisis in a way we’ve best defined as “catchy and grim.” Truly Tragic tries to show that there is a lot of darkness and things that don’t make sense. But a person has to suffer through, should question everything, and above all else must hold compassion for those who are also suffering. There has to be hope for the world even if it seems heartless and cruel.

Half Shell - Truly Tragic

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Since we usually have a few weeks in between practices, it’s really important that we have recordings of what we worked on in each practice.  We keep a chord book and a lyric book, and make little recordings on our phones.  Most of our keyboards are done through Ableton Live.  So, the keyboard tracks are recorded right on to Ableton, which we then use as backing tracks during our shows.  Sometimes we’ll also add bass, vocal, and drum recordings to those files to give us a full demo of our songs in progress.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

We are chronic overthinkers, and everything is intentional. Each song itself does have a careful structure, and the flow of songs overall is also intentional in a way that aims to mimic the highs and lows of struggle in life. About half of the songs on the album deal with more personal, emotional crises, and the other half are more outward, observational, societal critique. The track listing for Truly Tragic alternates between these internal vs. external songs. Musically, the songs move on a curve from our lighter ones, to darkest ones, and back to the lighter ones at the ending.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

A few weeks prior to recording, Jesse worked on refining and finalizing the keyboards at home on Ableton.  Then, we sent those files to our recording engineer and producer, Chad Maggs.  He’s super awesome and we love working with him.  From there, it was pretty straightforward.  We spent one weekend recording drums in Burlington, Massachusetts.  Then, one weekend recording bass, and a little guitar in Lowell.  Then, one more weekend recording vocals.  We experimented a little with pedals and effects along the way, but mostly, we just laid down the tracks, and once everything was together we made tweaks and added some interesting things in processing.  We couldn’t wait to record these songs and we had an absolutely fantastic time!

How long Truly Tragic was in the making?

Truly Tragic took two years to come alive. We work over a long period of time with everything, since we aren’t able to practice as often as we’d like.

Which bands or artists influenced our work on the release?

This question is always a very difficult one for us, as we draw inspiration from a variety of artists and this influence isn’t always audibly apparent. Each of us has different influences. Caitlin’s ideas for bass draw from Yes and Pink Floyd, but also from bands outside of the progressive rock genre, such as Boston, Steely Dan, and the Motown hits.  Jesse is influenced by older bands like Genesis and King Crimson to modern bands like Porcupine Tree, Haken, and Pain of SalvationNicole comes from a slightly different musical background, having grown up listening genres like post-hardcore, mathcore, and hard rock. These genres definitely inform her thinking, and vocally she’s inspired by female vocal acts like The Dresden Dolls, Stolen Babies, and Emilie Autumn.

What is your view on technology in music?

Honestly, we love it for our band. Sometimes we refer to the technology we use as our fourth band member. It helps us find new sounds, pushes us to be better musicians, and hopefully makes our music sound unique and fresh. Of course, sometimes technology can take over a song and you lose some human qualities in the music. But if you don’t let that happen, then we think it’s a really helpful tool. It’s actually essential to us not only in how our music sounds, but in how we practice. Since we live in apartments, we often have to do songwriting through headphones into Ableton, with Jesse on an electronic kit.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Well, it definitely does for us. Music is an emotional and creative outlet for everyone. Even though we are not there yet, we hope someday our music does for other people what it does for us.

What are your plans for the future?

 We’re always trying to write new music and play shows, and we are not stopping any time soon. Right now, we are planning a pretty intense concept album. About three songs are finished and many more are in the working stages. It’s a fun and challenging process for us. Secretly, Jesse had wanted to do a concept album eventually but didn’t feel ready. Nicole brought it up and wanted to tackle the challenge of making one, so here we are. The songs are about facing a difficult truth of impending doom, and whether or not you will embrace or cover up that truth. We are excited about how it’s sounding and feel it definitely is taking our sound to the next level.

Truly Tragic is available from Bandcamp. Follow Half Shell on Facebook and Instagram. Download Progotronics 15 sampler featuring songs from Half Shell and ten more acts. 

The post HALF SHELL: Questioning Everything appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/half-shell-interview/

Progressive/alternative rock trio Half Shell launched their debut album ‘Truly Tragic‘ in October last year. The group was a part of our recently released Progotronics compilation, and following that they answered our questionnaire.

Define the mission of Half Shell.

Our goal is to make unique and meaningful music that’s interesting and accessible, but still complex and challenging.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut album Truly Tragic and the themes it captures.

We have an entirely collaborative songwriting process. The three of us started Half Shell in 2016, after having to part from our college band Mollusk (get it?). We were a five piece band down two members, so we decided to start a new project that integrates technology rather than trying to find new people to play with as it just wouldn’t feel right. Our creative process came from a need of having to learn how to work in a way that was new to us, using unfamiliar technology, together as a team. Typically, Caitlin [Kullberg – bass, guitar] and Jesse [Guterman – drums, keyboards] do most of the music writing and Nicole [Hogan – vocals] writes lyrics and vocal melodies. However, all of us contribute to the music as a whole, and we all make suggestions for how different parts should sound or feel. It helps that we are all best friends with excellent creative chemistry. We wrote Truly Tragic during some big turning points in our lives after graduating college. As such, it grapples with a variety of themes that all come back to trying to understand and explain an ongoing existential crisis equally fueled by personal struggle and societal disappointment.

What is the message you are trying to give with Truly Tragic

Truly Tragic is pretty dark at times, but it is actually also very playful right down to its title (which is a slightly sarcastic hook taken from the second song on the album, “Maybe Ghosts”). It aims to deal with crisis in a way we’ve best defined as “catchy and grim.” Truly Tragic tries to show that there is a lot of darkness and things that don’t make sense. But a person has to suffer through, should question everything, and above all else must hold compassion for those who are also suffering. There has to be hope for the world even if it seems heartless and cruel.

Half Shell - Truly Tragic

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Since we usually have a few weeks in between practices, it’s really important that we have recordings of what we worked on in each practice.  We keep a chord book and a lyric book, and make little recordings on our phones.  Most of our keyboards are done through Ableton Live.  So, the keyboard tracks are recorded right on to Ableton, which we then use as backing tracks during our shows.  Sometimes we’ll also add bass, vocal, and drum recordings to those files to give us a full demo of our songs in progress.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

We are chronic overthinkers, and everything is intentional. Each song itself does have a careful structure, and the flow of songs overall is also intentional in a way that aims to mimic the highs and lows of struggle in life. About half of the songs on the album deal with more personal, emotional crises, and the other half are more outward, observational, societal critique. The track listing for Truly Tragic alternates between these internal vs. external songs. Musically, the songs move on a curve from our lighter ones, to darkest ones, and back to the lighter ones at the ending.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

A few weeks prior to recording, Jesse worked on refining and finalizing the keyboards at home on Ableton.  Then, we sent those files to our recording engineer and producer, Chad Maggs.  He’s super awesome and we love working with him.  From there, it was pretty straightforward.  We spent one weekend recording drums in Burlington, Massachusetts.  Then, one weekend recording bass, and a little guitar in Lowell.  Then, one more weekend recording vocals.  We experimented a little with pedals and effects along the way, but mostly, we just laid down the tracks, and once everything was together we made tweaks and added some interesting things in processing.  We couldn’t wait to record these songs and we had an absolutely fantastic time!

How long Truly Tragic was in the making?

Truly Tragic took two years to come alive. We work over a long period of time with everything, since we aren’t able to practice as often as we’d like.

Which bands or artists influenced our work on the release?

This question is always a very difficult one for us, as we draw inspiration from a variety of artists and this influence isn’t always audibly apparent. Each of us has different influences. Caitlin’s ideas for bass draw from Yes and Pink Floyd, but also from bands outside of the progressive rock genre, such as Boston, Steely Dan, and the Motown hits.  Jesse is influenced by older bands like Genesis and King Crimson to modern bands like Porcupine Tree, Haken, and Pain of SalvationNicole comes from a slightly different musical background, having grown up listening genres like post-hardcore, mathcore, and hard rock. These genres definitely inform her thinking, and vocally she’s inspired by female vocal acts like The Dresden Dolls, Stolen Babies, and Emilie Autumn.

What is your view on technology in music?

Honestly, we love it for our band. Sometimes we refer to the technology we use as our fourth band member. It helps us find new sounds, pushes us to be better musicians, and hopefully makes our music sound unique and fresh. Of course, sometimes technology can take over a song and you lose some human qualities in the music. But if you don’t let that happen, then we think it’s a really helpful tool. It’s actually essential to us not only in how our music sounds, but in how we practice. Since we live in apartments, we often have to do songwriting through headphones into Ableton, with Jesse on an electronic kit.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Well, it definitely does for us. Music is an emotional and creative outlet for everyone. Even though we are not there yet, we hope someday our music does for other people what it does for us.

What are your plans for the future?

 We’re always trying to write new music and play shows, and we are not stopping any time soon. Right now, we are planning a pretty intense concept album. About three songs are finished and many more are in the working stages. It’s a fun and challenging process for us. Secretly, Jesse had wanted to do a concept album eventually but didn’t feel ready. Nicole brought it up and wanted to tackle the challenge of making one, so here we are. The songs are about facing a difficult truth of impending doom, and whether or not you will embrace or cover up that truth. We are excited about how it’s sounding and feel it definitely is taking our sound to the next level.

Truly Tragic is available from Bandcamp. Follow Half Shell on Facebook and Instagram. Download Progotronics 15 sampler featuring songs from Half Shell and ten more acts. 

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