Review: As A Conceit - Frown Upon Us

Everyone can agree that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find new talent in today's modern metal scene. In recent years, ...

Review: URSA - nulla

How “live” this release is up for debate, yet URSA’s full-length “nulla” is as captivating as any live (URSA) performance this year. Building on high definition bursts of drum rolls and guitars and everything in between, “nulla” demands a lot from the listener. The release walks an uneasy line between the accessibility of modern rock music and the obtuse experimentation of artists like… I don’t even know.

Essentially a mix of a number of longer tracks that come and go, this “set” feels like a nightmare in a dance club from a future we’ll always be hypothesising about and never reaching. At times noisy, at times dance hall ready, yet always exhilarating and relentless, we can only hope that this release is the sign of more to come from this exciting “new” name in experimental rock.

Stream / get the album from here.

Review: Anubis - The Second Hand

The Second Hand is perhaps Anubis’s most fully-realized recording, a true concept record broken out into nine songs, one of which is a prog epic, with “These Changing Seasons” triptych scattered around the record. Needless to say,  and all of the songs exist as portions of a whole. The theme Anubis tackles here is pervasive—the influence of media on those who consume it. 

Each musician in the band is performing at their peak, especially vocalist Robert James Moulding, whose voice works to tremendous effect on the album. He sounds weary of the betrayal of egalitarianism, the worship of money and those who have it, and the acquiescence of those who don’t. And then, on a dime, he becomes ageless, summoning up something of a prophet and because of that remarkably flexible voice, he doesn’t come off as a scold.

Scolding is probably the least of the album’s content, actually. To provide context, Moulding has been for years one of the sunniest of performers on the contemporary prog scene. The other outsized personality on the recording is keyboard player David Eaton. It is more like he has written the score, and because the majority of the record follows a non-linear, non-formulaic construction, his sounds move from tenderness to sonic chaos to real anger at times.

Holding down an insistent heartbeat throughout are bassist Anthony Stewart and drummer Steven Eaton. From the edges, guitarists Dean Bennison and Douglas Skene add in texture here, patterns there, and at times these don’t call attention to themselves. But when the emotion demands it, their guitars erupt and their presence is irrefutable (just listen to the great solo at the closing “These Changing Seasons III”).

This is an album that could not have been made in the old system of music-making. Aside from the previously mentioned aversion to the verse-chorus-verse song construction or the lack of an obvious feel-good single, the album is a protest, a eulogy, and a rather dark ride. It might have bit the hand that would have fed it. 

With this in mind, if you are not prepared to give the album your full attention, you may not be ready for it. As often beautiful, cathartic, and incriminating as it can be, if you are looking for bite-sized thrills to play in the car, you’re going to be perplexed. In order to get the full measure of the 16-minute “Pages of Stone,” you need to hear how it calls back from the opening title song or “Fool’s Gold,” and “While Rome Burns.” That requires an act of trust, and if you can’t relinquish that, the record’s not for you. It might be about you

Anubis arrive with an uncomfortable, uncompromising, but altogether magnificent recording. The Second Hand serves as a warning. What we break might take a very long time to repair, if repair is even possible, because it starts not with the corruption of the system, but the corruption of the soul.

The album is available here.

Interview: Machines of Man

Machines of Man is a prog metal quintet hailing from Salt Lake City, who recently released their debut single "Fractals," produced by Jamie King. The band is currently putting final touches on their debut album, and about this we talked with singer Austin Bentley.
Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how's life?
Life’s good! It’s starting to warm up around home, which makes me anxious to get back up into the mountains again. 
Speaking of new music, you have a single titled “Fractals.” What can people expect from it?
From a sort of conceptual point of view, Fractals is the idea of taking a step back and examining yourself, or more-so the idea of yourself. The thing that makes you, well, you. Call it the ego, spirit, whatever you want, but truly becoming aware of oneself and one’s own mortality can be a totally remarkable, and yet also absolutely horrifying experience. Am I me? Do I even exist? The song represents acknowledging those unknowns, those fears, those walls, and accepting that those elements have always been there in your life, with or without you knowing it. Change comes and goes, we’re just along for the ride. 
I suppose that “Fractals” is an introduction to your debut full length album. Do you have a release date for it?
There is absolutely an album, and Fractals is the last track. We haven’t officially set a date, but are aiming for a release this summer of 2017.
What was it like working on the album?
Working on this album was a surreal experience. I have known everyone in this project for many years, so not only is there a strong sense of family in the band, the musicianship and dedication to the material is totally humbling to me. Each song has grown from an abstract idea into an illustration of complex thought, and self. I’ve never found something more fulfilling in my life. 

Are there any touring plans?
In the works! We’re hoping to stretch out around the western US region, see some new faces, some old, in late 2017 or early 2018. 
Who and what inspires you the most?
The people that inspire me the most are the ones who have passion. True, unfiltered, undying passion for what they do. I know that’s super cliché to say, the whole “follow your dreams” coin. Really, it’s been said. But to hear someone say that, and feel it, are two totally separate things. As I grow older and see friends being caged into complacent lives, it is the ones that hang on to their creativity, their artistry, and their drive that really inspire me to keep moving. 
What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?
I try to listen to as broad a spectrum of genres that I can. I never want to limit myself to any kind of ideology of what good music should be, but I do think I tend to fall more towards metal naturally. However! I love and should mention artists and projects such as David Maxim Micic, Plini, Devin Townsend, Sianvar, Eidola, Between the Buried and Me, that kind of thing! I definitely think anything I listen to is going to have an impact on my writing, whether I like it or not!
I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

Like a total self-preserving harlot, I would happily encourage any and all to come visit us online, or on the road. I absolutely love seeing new people, collaborating, and seeing fresh ideas. Thanks for your time. 

Stream "Fractals" on Bandcamp here.

Review: Monolithic Elephant - Self-Titled

Just read the press release for Monolithic Elephant and you’ll learn there’s a lot to like about this trio from Milan, Italy. There are the stock-in-trade quotes about what the band is and what they want to be. There are all the conformist comparisons to who the band sounds like and allusions to who inspires their composition. All of that is informative and helps give some tangible frame of reference to the band, but it doesn’t speak to the band’s desire or heart.

However, the critical information that grants true insight into Monolithic Elephant is seeded in plain sight throughout the release: this is a band started by guys who are inspired by organic sound of rock music, and this album establishes the love and pure, unwavering fanhood for the classic rock and heavy metal that Monolithic Elephant worships. The production of the record is rough around the corners and downright frayed in some portions, but somehow the clouds deferentially part and “Monolithic Elephant” feels like “Kill ‘em All” in the sense that they are both gleefully unpolished labors of adulation (and before someone puts words in my mouth, I am not suggesting that Monolithic Elephant is the second coming of Metallica…not yet, anyway.) The dog-eared edges of the simple riff from the opening “Moloch” take you back to the building blocks of rock and metal, that solid crossroads where Black Sabbath planted a flag so many decades ago. This riff is custom built for guitar solo to spring forth like a viper. The solos and exhibitions throughout the album aren’t technically overwhelming or supercharged with insane velocity, but they fit, damn it, and sometimes that’s more important.

There is an intrinsic, instinctive likeability in the music of Monolithic Elephant, particularly for those well-heeled in the sludgy fuzz rock of the late 1970’s. Not so different from bands from the Orange Goblin school, Monolithic Elephant utilizes that warm, rounded guitar tone. Obviously, this is an excuse to listen to “Monolithic Elephant” as loud as possible. Just scope out the two-part “The Unbaptized and the Virtuous Pagans” and as the bass thuds by you’ll find it nigh impossible to not feel the rhythm projecting through the notes as though through a wall of Marshalls. At the very least, you’ll tap your foot. There’s a lot of groove to be had here, as Monolithic Elephant demonstrates a fanatical understanding of the relationship between heavy metal’s power and rock and roll’s traditional sensibilities.

Listen to throwbacks like “Carnival of Souls” or “Spleen Mountain's Giants” and you’ll find yourself transported to a hazy din of a basement dive bar somewhere, buried where the uptight building owner doesn’t want the upstanding general public to associate with the counter-culture detritus of rock and roll. It’s about 115 degrees in the basement and yet it’s stuffed to the gills with people who want to feel the release of a great night out at a show. It’s louder than hell and no one can hear themselves think above the crushing weight of power riffs; attractive women dance unencumbered while friends nod in unison to the beat. This is (is it?) the dream of Monolithic Elephant, and it’s what they burned into their record.

Monolithic Elephant did a hell of a lot of great things for their debut record, and their passion for their musical paradigm is an ever-present reminder of why we all feel so connected to our music in the first place. With a little refinement, big things could be down the road for them, and you should hop on the bandwagon now.

Interview: Mute Prophet

"Nightwish meets Periphery, Mute Prophet plays a unique brand of symphonic metal combining intensely technical guitar and infectiously catchy melodies." This is how a symphonic prog metal trio from St. Louis, Missouri, Mute Prophet, describe their sound. The band recently re-released their debut album "The Unheard Warning," and we talked with them about that.
What made you go for the name Mute Prophet? 
Kevin Goetz: I think Chris and I were literally just throwing names back and forth in high school, and that was just the first one that resonated in any meaningful way. Over time, it evolved into a kind of symbolism we really connected with, but at first it came up kind of randomly.
Chris Tompkins: From my perspective, we were looking for something that sounded kind of contradictory, or that could mean a couple different things depending. Is it someone who wants to say something but is choosing not to for one reason or another, or are they literally being silenced? 
How do you usually describe your music?
Kevin Goetz: Nightwish meets Periphery. It's like a combination of the melodic focus, keyboard and orchestrations of mid-2000s symphonic metal, with a vocalist who can handle both singing and growling/screaming, and the complex guitar riffs and crazy shred solos of modern progressive metal. 
What is your writing process like?
Kevin Goetz: I usually start out by writing in Guitar Pro. I use this for the drums, the orchestra and the vocal melodies. Those are then exported as MIDI files, which I plug into EZDrummer and my various orchestra plugins, which are all run through Reaper, where we'll then record the guitars, bass and vocals. 
Adrienne Odenthal: A lot of the time I'll free-write whatever lyrics pop into my head, and if any of them will fit into Kevin's song structures, he'll take them and work them in. I think we usually end up with about a 50/50 split on lyrics. 
Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?
Kevin Goetz: Alexi Laiho, Misha Mansoor, Rusty Cooley, Tuomas Holopainen.
Chris Tompkins: Periphery's really inspiring for me – they're just a bunch of dudes writing what they want to write, and not worrying about whether people like it or not. Children of Bodom, Nightwish, Paul Gilbert.
Adrienne Odenthal: Simone Simons, Floor Jansen, Tarja Turunen, and Angela Gossow.

What is your favourite piece on the “The Unheard Warning” album?
Kevin Goetz: Picking a favorite is really tough for me. We made a point to write them with something unique about each one, so they're all great for their own reasons. I guess I'd have to say Comprehension, the final track. It's an 11-minute beast that goes through several different moods and concludes the concept album's story.
Chris Tompkins: Yeah, it's really hard to pick one. I think I'd say Limits of Myself, the first song. It's a strong and straightforward opener that really defines our overall sound for the listener.
Adrienne Odenthal: For me it's a tie – Choke on the Smog, For the Blind, The Unheard Warning and As You Fall. I feel like those are all the most challenging, vocally. Choke on the Smog and The Unheard Warning have a lot of change-ups and aggression, For the Blind has a certain attitude that I don't use much, and As You Fall is tough because there aren't too many opportunities to take a breath, so it requires basically perfect timing. 
What makes “The Unheard Warning” different?
Kevin Goetz: I think the big thing for me is the fact that this is a genre combination that's basically never been done before. At least, if it has, I've never been able to find it. There really don't seem to be any bands creating symphonic metal that's driven by technical, modern guitar playing.
Adrienne Odenthal: I feel like it keeps all of my favorite elements from different metal sub-genres without overshadowing anything. It all blends together in a really unique way.
What should music lovers expect from “The Unheard Warning”?
Kevin Goetz: Variety. I know I've talked a lot about the crazy guitar work on this album, but the truth is it covers a lot of different sounds and a lot of different emotions. It's a concept album, and it does aim to tell a story from beginning to end, so it moves through different vibes as it goes.
Chris Tompkins: Yeah, in terms of styles and arrangements, it ranges from blues, jazz, classical, power metal, death metal...there's something for everyone. There's definitely at least one song on the album that every type of metal fan will like, so if you don't like the first song you hear, keep listening. 
Adrienne Odenthal: Emotion delivered in an unexpected way. It probably takes at least one listen through the whole album, but when someone starts dissecting the actual story of it, the message can come out of nowhere and be really surprising. It hits hard.
What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?
Kevin Goetz: I'd hope that the listener can connect with the emotions that are inherent in each song, whatever we were trying to communicate when writing. Especially considering that the album has an overall story to it – I'd really hope that listeners enjoy it and are in someway or another moved by it. 
Chris Tompkins: Whatever emotions they need to feel, if that makes sense. If they relate to a song and its message and it makes them angry, sad, happy, whatever, then that's what I'd like them to experience. 
Adrienne Odenthal: I think everyone will have a unique experience based on what they personally need, but will probably generally share similar themes throughout the album.
Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?
Kevin Goetz: Well, we haven't had the opportunity to tour yet, so I guess studio life wins by default! That said, we did all our recording from a home studio we put together in the basement, so that's gonna be pretty hard to beat.
Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.
Kevin Goetz: Once by Nightwish, Sinthetic by Shade Empire, and The Divine Conspiracy by Epica.
Chris Tompkins: Follow the Reaper by Children of Bodom, Iconoclast by Symphony X, and Select Difficulty by Periphery. 
Adrienne Odenthal: Follow the Reaper by Children of Bodom, The Jester Race by In Flames, and Oceanborn by Nightwish.

Get "The Unheard Warning" from Bandcamp here. Stay in touch with Mute Prophet via Facebook.

Interview: Aydin Zahedi of BURNT CITY

I have already wrote about Burnt City and the project's debut EP "Resurgence" here, but it's always great to know more about what it took to come up with a release, and Aydin Zahedi, the mastermind of the project, was kind enough to give us more information about the project, the release, inspiration.

What made you go for the name Burnt City?

There are few reasons, it’s the name of a 5000 years old mysterious city recently discovered in south of Iran, they have found an artificial eye which belonged to a woman (that’s why we put an eye in the cover art, if you look closely you can find it) and also a bowl which has sequential painting and by spinning it we can see an animation, I don’t want to go to details, readers can read about it online it is fascinating, I thought it is a good name for a band, also it was a name which hasn’t been taken so I could use it without any copy right issues, it is easy to remember because it is easy to visualise a burnt city.

How do you usually describe your music?

Power metal with a dash of progressive. I didn’t push for complexity in ‘Resurgence’, and there was no effort to make it technical.

What was your writing process like for the debut EP “Resurgence”?

I improvise and I record the interesting parts, and when I like a riff I start playing it over an over again, and I think about how I can expand it, usually different sections of the song are variation of the same riff, for other instruments I used to play everything with Guitar and describing the type of sound that I have in mind, but that was for the demo, Gus wrote the vocal melodies himself, same as Bob, George and Mike. So I had these demos, I sent them to the guys and they recorded their parts and they sent them back to me. In order George, Mike, Gus, Bob and then me again (Guitar solos) recorded the parts.

Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?

I have a very long list, but for this EP I name the bands that I was listening to at the time of writing, Annihilator, Megadeth, Helloween, Dream Theatre, Symphony X, Firewind, Ark, Judas Priest. But at the moment I listen mainly to western concert music and video game and film soundtracks.

What is your favourite piece on the “Resurgence" EP?

It is hard to tell since I have memories with each one of them, but I would say the title track Resurgence is my favourite. I enjoy playing it so much.

What makes “Resurgence” different from other prog-power metal albums?

I didn’t try to be different, and I don’t think it is that different to any other prog-power metal bands, but it has it’s moments, for instance vocals are heavier and more aggressive than most of the power metal bands, and it sounds darker than most progressive metal bands. the influence of each member can be heard vividly, and the combination is very interesting, the line up and their influence can be factor that might make it differrent to some audience.

What should music lovers expect from the EP?

Deep lyrics, powerful vocals, kicks drums, jaw dropping keyboard solos, detailed bass lines, good sound and catchy choruses and rhythms.

What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?

Anything that they can relate to, I don’t want to dictate how they should feel, It happened to me before that I related to a song in a certain way and the song writer described it in a completely different way and couldn’t have the same connection with that song again. So I rather not to dictate anything, but I would love to hear how audience feel about each song.

Are there any plans to bring Burnt City on the road?

I am working on it, I don’t think gigging with the recording members is possible since everyone is touring on different schedule and they are extremely busy, at the moment I am trying to find local musicians to play some gigs and see how it goes from there. But touring is my goal, and if everything goes according to plan I will definitely do my best to play with these guys live.

Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

Underworld by Symphony X, Scenes from a memory by Dream Theater, Queen’s greatest hits (if I can take compilation) otherwise I go with a completely different choice which is Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

Visit Burnt City's official website for more info, where you also can order the "Resurgence EP." Burnt City is also on Facebook and YouTube.

Review: Cast - Power and Outcome

Hailing from Mexico, Cast instantly grabs your attention with a giant classic prog sound bolstered by surreal keys, giant vocals, intense bass, and skilled guitar.  They love long songs and concept albums. Their sound is big and vibrant; even colorful.

“Power and Outcome” is a concept album of sorts.  The lyrics, however, are honestly not a major part of the music, as most of the album’s playtime is instrumental.  This record shows that there are few musician ensembles as tight, skilled, or unique as the one here in Cast.

This skill shows from the very first track on the album.  “Rules of the Desert” is an 11+ minute instrumental epic that absolutely blows my mind.  The band has returned with a much darker, less celestial sound.  It’s almost overwhelming at first, putting your heart into your throat.  This first track is especially fierce and driving, containing greyish shades and more intensity than I’ve heard on some of the previous releases of the band. It begins with delicate piano and beauteous effects, but transitions into a dark, jazzy retro vibe.

Other tracks, like the title song, feature the same vibe, only the sound is more surreal and even haunting, using violin almost like a distorted guitar. “Through a Stained Glass” and “Illusions and Tribulations”, for example, are more vocally driven and closer to classics such Camel and Yes, but there ever remains a certain dystopian color that stains their atmosphere, not to mention larger than life keys.  “The Gathering” might be my favorite track, though, with its wonderful vocals and its genuinely interesting instrumentals. 

“Power and Outcome” is a thoughtful, fierce experience from Cast. This is an album that strikes me as inspired from beginning to end, through all the machinations, excellent vocal lines, and flowing emotions. This is true progression from an under-appreciated band that is close to my heart. Make sure you get the chance to hear it.

Review: Emperor Guillotine - Emperor Guillotine

"Emperor Guillotine" is a debut album by Emperor Guillotine, a project fully managed by Dallas, Texas native Ben Randolph. The self-titled debut is a glorious homage to the heavy metal crunch, all the way keeping the prog sensibilities in mind. "Emperor Guillotine" is an instrumental album heavily inspired by Black Sabbath - Tony Iommi in particular. The synths can be heard throughout the record, but they are subdued in exchange for a rekindled devotion the almighty riff.

"Sea of Dust," "Witch  Mountain" and "The Bastille" are all powerful, rock- oriented songs driven by thick riff mastery. "The Unearthly" is a step above in terms of its sophistication, fitting in crunchy guitars with quite a few unsettling spots. 

"Emperor Guillotine" is a record worth giving a try for everyone who enjoys organic heavy metal / hard rock sound, and I am sure that there are people who still appreciate this over hyper-tight computerised albums.

Get a copy of Emperor Guillotine here.

Review: Hyaena - Existence

Progressive death metal is a genre that can be quite difficult to appreciate at times. It took me some time to get my head around some of its intricacies. I would now consider it to be one of my favourite sub-genres. Unfortunately there don't seem to be many bands from the northern hemisphere that are playing it so I was excited to hear what France's Hyaena had to offer. Straight off the bat it is clear that Hyaena have a bit more to them than some of the more generic progressive death metal bands around. 

The music is essentially a riff soup that is continually stopping, starting and changing tempo. There aren't any direct comparisons to be made to other bands though there are plenty of influences including Hate Eternal, Dillinger Escape Plan, Between the Buried and Me and Meshuggah. The sheer intensity of this album is something to behold. It has all the characteristics of a band that have been playing and recording together for years, and that’s true as they released two EP’s prior to this record. It is a credit to their musicianship and provides a glimpse and a hint towards what they may be able to achieve in the future. 

Not only is 'Existence' extremely heavy, it is ultra technical also. There isn't a moment where the entire band are resting on their laurels. While the guitars are shredding away, drummer is putting in one of the most spirited performances I have heard for some time. Though he isn't the fastest drummer I have ever heard his choice of beats and fills is really interesting and creative. His playing reminds me a lot of the late Steve MacDonald from Gorguts. The production of the album was handled by Jamie King, and that really makes difference. Everything is audible and certainly doesn’t lack the bite and the punch that would push the sound to the next level. 

Hyaena is an asset to France's metal scene and should have a long future if things keep going the way they are. Pre-order 'Existence' here.

Review: Pregnant Whale Pain - Blank

Pregnant Whale Pain is an experimental metal band from Budapest in Hungary, and "Blank" is their second release. In 2014, the band put out the self-titled full-length debut, and back in January they released "Blank."

What "Blank" shows is a band that honed its style to near-perfection. This is an EP that will definitely put the band on the map; for the most part "Blank" is a taste of what is to come for PWP. Most of "Blank" is blistering metal, oddly-timed rhythms that tear across the small length of recording. Pregnant Whale Pain is not afraid of exploring different music styles, and it’s fascinating how they can switch from a mathcore part to some weird mix of funk and psychedelia with ease. The sound is still very raw and well done, and the clear intent throughout the album is to give you something tangible before it leaves the listener in the dust.

For example, "Blank long Nights Kill Romance Vengefully" is bruising for all of its almost five minutes; it includes beautiful laid-back melody, only to hit you in the face with brutality of vocals, courtesy of Krisz Horváth, who absolutely shines on this record. His voice is an excellent example of the diversity these guys aspire to. Horváth is perfect with screams, spoken-word, and he definitely can sing.

"Cicada" pounds away right from the beginning, and giving the you just enough to move your head to. “When Home is Wrong" is quite a break after the previous song, its blindingly hasty rhythms still wrack your mind and ears.

This is without doubt one of the most exciting releases to appear at the beginning of 2017. "Blank" may be an EP, but with five tracks it’s a generous one and the songs are so good that it fully deserves full marks. If they can follow this work of genius with a full album of similar quality, they’ll very quickly find themselves among the elite.

"Blank" is available from Bandcamp here.


Serpentyne's Maggie-Beth Sand and Mark Powell discuss with Metal Horizons about their music, inspiration, the new album titled "The Serpent's Kiss."

What made you go for the name Serpentyne?

MAGGIE-BETH: We wanted a name that sounded mediaeval, but also somehow conveyed the notion of strength and power. We thought of “Serpent,” inspired by the medieval instrument the serpent which is a very long brass tube……but that had already been taken. Mark suggested “Serpentine,” like the lake in Hyde Park, so I then said, “Yes, but let’s spell it with a “y” making it sound more medieval as in the old word for time; tyme. We both liked it, so we went with that.

How do you usually describe your music?

MARK: One magazine editor described us as “Tarja meets Solstice,” which is a fairly good summation; a mix of Nightwish-style orchestrations with progressive rock. Although we’ve progressed from acoustic mediaeval band to rock, there is a world-mediaeval-fantasy thread running through everything that we’ve done.

What is your writing process like?

MARK Often I’ll hear a traditional tune, or be playing one myself for practice when I think; “Hmm, I could make a good song out of this.” Lyrically, a lot of my ideas come from plays or stories, like “The Dark Queen” and “The Serpent’s Kiss.” A track on “Myths and Muses,” “Alexandria,” was inspired by Homer’s Iliad. The reason we chose that as a theme was that after writing the tune, Maggie said “The chorus needs to be the name of a place or person with five syllables.” That was the only one that I could think of, but as it happened, the story goes perfectly with the song, which is based around a traditional tune from that part of the world. Our songwriting is always a joint effort- often Maggie will suggest an idea to me, I’ll write a tune, then she’ll come up with some ideas on how to improve it, so the end result may be quite different from how it started off. Or she’ll write something which gives me ideas. Looking back at all the songs, it’s impossible sometimes, to remember which one of us wrote which bits of each.

Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?

MAGGIE-BETH It comes from all sorts of sources - films, books, poems, paintings, or places we visit. We’ve played festivals in a lot of castles and mediaeval settings and they’re often very inspiring.

What is your favourite piece on the “The Serpent’s Kiss” album?

MAGGIE-BETH …I like all of them but I’d choose “Jeanne D’Arc” because the story is about a brave woman who went to fight for her people, and I think musically it’s a very strong theme.
MARK It’s hard to pick one. I love “Saltarello,” as it’s one of my favourite mediaeval tunes, but I also like “The Dark Queen” for the story. There again… no, I can’t say that I have a favourite; I like all of them.

What makes “The Serpent’s Kiss" different? What would you say is your biggest difference from other bands out there?

MAGGIE-BETH: The previous album, “Myths and Muses” was themed mainly around historical and mythical figures; Boudicca and the Valkyries, for instance. This one continues the legends and fantasy route, around Helen Of Troy, Jeanne D’Arc, Brigantia, the mythical; figure of the Morrighan for example - all powerful female figures. But it’s more loosely themed - one song, for example, “Spirits of the Desert” is about lost ghostly souls wandering the desert, while another, “The Dark Queen” is based on a Howard Pyle short story. There is a world-mediaeval-fantasy thread running through everything that we’ve done, which is, I suppose, what makes us different.

What should music lovers expect from “The Serpent’s Kiss”?

MARK: If you like a mix of progressive rock, metal, world and mediaeval music, you might like to give this a try! If you can’t imagine what that sounds like… well, here’s your chance to find out!

What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?

MARK: Any piece of music, of any style, can inspire different emotions in different people. They may feel excitement, joy, or pathos, depending on the song. If you can communicate any of these emotions, then your music is working.

Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?

MAGGIE-BETH: Both. Studio work, for me, means focusing on creativity and developing ideas into songs, and stories into compositions. This gives me a sense of achievement; the pleasure of thinking how much I would like to share this music with my audience. Being on tour gives me the opportunity to share directly with our audiences and it is always a pleasure to get this immediate feedback.

Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

MAGGIE-BETH: Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti. Within Temptation - The Silent Force. Carl Orff's Carmina Burana; the version recorded by the Choir and Orchestra of the  Deutschen Oper Berlin, with Eugen Jochum.

Visit http://www.serpentyne.com for more news from Serpentyne.