OPPOSING MOTION INTERVIEW

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We recently caught up with Kevin Deplanche and Joe McGurk of the promising progressive metal outfit Opposing Motion who saw their albums “Laws Of Motion” released earlier in 2013 via Lion Music.

Many thanks for agreeing to this interview and congratulations on the birth of “Laws Of Motion”.

Many thanks to you and VirtuosityOne for your interest in OPPOSING MOTION’s music!

Can you give us an overview of the bands background and how you’ve built up to the release of “Laws Of Motion”?

Kevin: OPPOSING MOTION was created when Joe and I met around a few beers in late 2005 and found out we had more than a few common musical influences rooted in early Malmsteen, Blind Guardian and Stratovarius.  We quickly started writing original material, pushing each other and integrating more prog-metal influences as we went along until we decided to record a-5 tracks E.P called “the Illustration” which was released in mid-2010, bringing in French singer Ludovic DeSa. This E.P received great reviews both in the UK and internationally and we quickly got given the opportunity to record a full debut album. “Laws of Motion” was written and recorded in late 2011 until mid-2012 and by this time the full line up (with my brother David on bass) was confirmed, we all could participate to the writing process. We were extremely excited to land a good first album deal with leading prog label Lion Music who released “Laws of Motion” in May 2013.

Joe: It may seem that we have taken our time with this release, having formed when we did, but things have never really felt that way.  It always takes longer than you anticipate getting a stable line-up that fits the direction of the music and we wanted to guarantee that we took our time and were happy with the tracks.  The end result has certainly been worth the wait as far as we are concerned.

How does being a half English/half French band work out and what do you think both nationalities bring to the band?

Kevin: it brings a lot of trouble during international football games! World cups are pretty problematic as it means we don’t speak to each other for a few weeks…

With modern producing and recording tools, we can work very efficiently and we speak pretty much everyday to discuss things surrounding the band. Organising gigs and video/photo shoots is a bit more demanding in terms of logistics but so far we have managed to make it work pretty well. The next step is to organise some gigs and we are working on this!

Joe: The Six Nations Rugby has kept me happy for a fair few years though, but in all seriousness I think geographical spread within bands is actually quite common in the prog genre.  This may be due to the fact that it is not easy to find musicians who firstly enjoy this style and secondly can actually play it.  We have the usual banter between England and France but it is all good fun.

As a four piece you cover a lot of ground in terms of musical textures, density and overall expression.  How do you go about finding the Opposing Motion sound?

Kevin: The concept for OPPOSING MOTION was to not confine ourselves to a specific genre in an attempt to digest as many influences from our musical heroes and create the album we would have liked to listen to ourselves as metal fans first and foremost. We listen to and play a wide range of music and, although OPPOSING MOTION’s music is deeply rooted in the metal scene, we love to explore different sound textures and arrangements akin to what the band ARK did with their two albums. From the reviews of “Laws of Motion” we saw, this approach can maybe be a bit “daunting” at first for the listener as the album does require some time before it opens up….and that ‘s where the real journey starts!

Joe: It is not something we actively sought but I reckon if you get passionate musicians together and let individual influences merge then a unique output will happen.  We always wanted to write songs that we wanted to listen to rather than conform to a set style and it seems that this has given us a unique sound which is great in my opinion.

I feel you have a quite unique sound in a lot of aspects, there is plenty for fans of other bands to latch onto but the end product is original. Is this originality a help or a hindrance in the grand scheme of building a career?

Kevin: We are extremely pleased to be noticed for our originality but as you mention…in the grand scheme of things, and in terms of developing a following, the complexity of our music may play against a rapid career development. To be extremely honest, we do not think too much about this yet. I think we would be very happy to slowly build a following of fans that appreciate and possibly look for this certain musical depth instead of taking a quick and easy route that may not fulfil us fully as musicians.

Joe: Yes, I guess there is always a mixture of responses, you are either criticised for not sounding like you should or similarly for not being original.  We will certainly keep trying to improve and keep doing what we feel is the right path for the band and our music.

On the album’s creation how does Opposing Motion generally construct a song?

Kevin: “Laws of Motion” is the fruit of almost 5 years work and, although all four of us had the opportunity to bring its own personality into each track, many tracks were in advanced demo stages by the time the track list for the album was finalised. Most of them started as simple jams between Joe and myself, then later developed into full songs. Others like “Las Lagrimas del Diablo” were pretty much brought by Joe on his own. Generally speaking, one of us will bring a theme, a riff, a rhythmic part or even a full proposed track structure and we all take it from there, bouncing ideas to each other to try to construct a full track. This often leads us to strange places and is at the same time a great technical challenge where parts can get pretty crazy like on “The Fallen Opera”…this is what makes OPPOSING MOTION so much fun!

Joe: As Kev says, we like to initially collate parts to lay down a skeleton, whether that is orchestral or around a big riff or chorus.  We then work around this and make sections more complex but never going away from the main melody.  Verses and bridges then seem to fall into place and before you know it, section by section, we have a track!

Do you work on more than one track at once or prefer to focus on the one task at hand?

Kevin: Absolutely! Joe is an extremely prolific writer and at times can send us pretty much a full 10 min of new music per day! I myself like to try to channel this creativity and prefer to focus on 2-3 tracks maximum at the same time to keep ideas fresh when hearing new material for the first time. I like to sit behind the kit and do a few takes without knowing the track, finding the most natural grooves before making them more complex as I get more familiar to the material or suggest structural changes etc.

Joe:  I think the others like to work on one or two at a time but I am guilty of getting ahead of the plan and carried away at times J

Can you give us any examples of how a writing method changed for the tracks on “Laws Of Motion”?

Kevin: As I mentioned before, I would say that most tracks on “Laws of Motion” already existed before we decided to record the album – even in a very early incarnation for example a simple chord progression of a symphonic part (on the track Laws of Motion), tracks that we had written after the recording of the EP and were there at 99% (Labyrinth of Mirrors), or early tracks that we reworked from the ground up (Echoes of the Soul). So most of the hard work was done. The Fallen Opera was a different beast though…Joe brought this ambitious track pretty late in the process and presented it to us as a full progression. It sounded so epic that we decided to include it in “Laws of Motion” and this is the first track were all four of us had equal input in terms of ideas, lyrics, structure etc. We are very pleased by the final result and it is a great taste of the things to come as we write more tracks as a full band.

Joe:  I agree with Kev but if I had to single one out that was different I would go with the title track.  Usually we have too much happening and too many ideas but the title track of the album was written differently than the others as we built it up rather than reduced down.

Please give us a track-by-track rundown of the album with your thoughts on each track.

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Deus ex Machina:  A short album opener to get you to know what you’re dealing with! Symphonic arrangements backed by fast guitars and complex time signatures.  What Deus represents is an excellent introduction to OPPOSING MOTION’s music and sets the pace before linking in with Forever’s Edge – the single of the album

Forever’s Edge: Most definitely the easiest way to enter our sound. Forever’s Edge is a classic power-prog track that featured already on our “Illustration” E.P and has always earned us glowing comments. The track is fairly straightforward by Opposing Motion’s standards and gives Ludo, our singer, the spotlight. The opening solo shows some Malmsteen inspiration while the fast drums beat is a tribute to the track “Red sharks” by the mighty CRIMSON GLORY.

Labyrinth of Mirrors: One of the strongest tracks of the album, Labyrinth is exactly that…a tortuous track that leans a lot towards early FATES WARNING material with John Arch, alternating four to the floor and faster sections with many odd time signatures during the breaks. Ludo shows his versatility on this track, from spoken parts to high screams, while Joe’s solo is pure virtuosity, cleverly linking the two main sections before the finale. A track that is strongly reminiscent of early SHADOW GALLERY, one of our favourite bands.

Las Lagrimas Del Diablo: Another track that has been with us for a few years but, contrary to others, not a single note has been changed through the years as it felt complete since day one. Ludo’s strong appreciation of Roy Khan can be heard here and the track itself is not too far from the tasteful ballads of early KAMELOT albums. The presence of a ballad is sometimes seen as a cliché in a metal album. For us it was a necessary breather for the listener given the density of the album.

Rites of Passage: Probably the most progressive (and complex!) track of the album.  Rites can sometimes be seen as a musician’s capital sin where technique and complex time changes take over the overall melody akin to what was doing a band called POWER OF OMENS…but we do like to think that there are enough melodic hooks in the track to grab the listener. The track is certainly led by vocals and features a strong chorus and very personal lyrics. The heavy use of synths and more measured pace brings it closer to prog rock than metal and shows our love to this scene: ELP, WAKEMAN, YES and later bands from the Neo prog movement and bands like PALLAS, ARENA, ARAGON, MARILLION.

Echoes of the Soul: Raw power! Echoes is one of our oldest tracks, put together in probably just a few hours of frantic jams. This track is more akin to power-prog and explodes from the beginning into a frantic pace, which slows down only during the first half of each verse. Echoes brought us many great reviews for its strong chorus (possibly leaning towards THY MAJESTIE) and its very complex instrumental section, reminiscent of the great SYMPHONY X, where the bass ostinato is actually the driving force. A track that we cannot wait to play live…

Laws of Motion: The second breather of the album, the title track is an atmospheric pause led by vocals, orchestral arrangements and subtle guitar parts. In hindsight, we probably could have developed this track, which shines from its chorus, into a full piece. This track is musically strongly linked with the instrumental track “the Illustration” from our first EP, which put the band into the spotlight in 2010 because of the very intricate parts.

The Fallen Opera: The final track and “piece de resistance”! The Fallen Opera was originally near 15 mins long but we decided to cut it down to a more reasonable 10 mins to make sure we could nail all the arrangements. We wanted to have a go at producing an epic track, which would contain all the trademark elements of OPPOSING MOTION – strong guitar-driven melodies supported by discrete orchestral arrangements and complex rhythmic layering. The Fallen Opera is a good representation of the overall direction of the band, although we want to improve further on our overall sound to make it fuller, more accessible in parts through bigger vocal hooks and riffs. The Fallen Opera is the perfect closure for “Laws of Motion” and, at the same time, the beginning of a new journey as we started writing new material in direct continuation of this track.

How does the band as a unit go about working out complex instrumental passages, “Echoes Of The Soul” for example has some very intricate changes happening.

Kevin: Yep, the instrumental section of Echoes is sure very fun to play! We build those sections though layers of instrumentation, first roughly recording what the ostinato should sound like as we imagine it then working out the precise time changes via putting down time signatures etc. Then I would work out a rhythmic progression, knowing roughly how the symphonic parts will sound and propose to others who will each work out a theme for the progression and find their own way to count the part. We meet up to try various directions and usually after 2-3 iterations we find the one that we feel make us “lock in” usually through smooth resolution of a rhythmic displacement like in Echoes and the end of Fallen Opera.

Joe: Yes it can be tough as usually a pattern will be either on guitar or drums first and others have to follow and think of something to add.  For example the main pattern on the EP title track was on drums and guitars had to mimic.  For Echoes of the soul the passage was on guitars and the drums had to find a creative space…with the aim that it lifts up the track!

Do all band members read music and if not how do you convey progressions to each other?

Kevin: We have a great mixture of personalities in that sense – Joe and Ludo have more of a classical training background while Dave and I are self taught but have extensive stage/studio experience in various bands across many genres and have developed good listening skills. Everybody in the band has a great musical ear and it is very easy to communicate chord progressions to each other. We are all equipped with pretty decent home studio gear to bounce ideas to each others and personally I do like to see written parts for drums to understand and ride the many time signature changes that OPPOSING MOTION tracks can have. For a track like Rites of Passage, I absolutely had to write each part before tracking it!

Can you give us a run down of what gear the band uses and any endorsement deals you may have?

Kevin: No one has any formal endorsement so far. For drums, I use a set of Yamaha Beech Custom Absolute series in 8/10/12/14/16 configuration with fusion size shells and a Taye Studio Maple snare in 14×6. Cymbals are a mixture of Sabian HHX and Zildjian A series with Istanbul rock hats. I use  Axis A longboards double pedals. On bass, Dave plays a Musicman Stingray 3 EQ 4 strings. On Guitars, Joe plays ESP LTD MH Series, Boss pedals, Hughes and Kettner valve amp, Ernie Ball strings. Ludz loves his Neumann and Sennheiser microphones

The reviews I have seen have all been pretty stellar, has the album been widely liked?

Kevin: I must say we have been extremely pleased by the reviews so far. I can remember 2 out of the 20 or so reviews we have noticed that were a bit tougher on us…but that’s part of the game! Those encouraging reviews by big names in the prog world are a great boost as a new band on the international scene but even more important is the feedback from the metal fans and here we were delighted by the messages we received. The album seems to have found its place on people’s playlists and we had some great feedback there too! Echoes of the Soul and Forever’s Edge seem to be hot favourites!

Joe:  We cannot complain, the reception has been very pleasing and we just hope to keep going and keep improving.

You’ve recently released a video for “Forever’s Edge”, tell us about it.

Kevin: We are extremely excited about this video. The story line is quite dark but very original; we left it deliberately very open to the viewer’s interpretation even though we have something very precise in our minds…the location – a 19th century painter studio was absolutely spot on in terms of atmosphere and I am sure the video will make a lot of people discover the band. Forever’s Edge was the obvious choice for the video as it displays the most accessible side of our music.

Joe:  This is our first video and I was really unsure what to expect.  The filming was great fun and the end product is exactly what we hoped for.  Hopefully this is the first of many…please check it out!

What do you see ahead for Opposing Motion in 2013 and beyond?

Kevin: A lot of great things! We are already sketching ideas for a new album and we are raising the bar in terms of music writing, taking into account the very constructive feedback from the press and fans alike. This time around, in LION MUSIC, we know we are backed by truly passionate people, which will undoubtedly bring out the best in us. We will keep pushing “Laws of Motion” for the rest of 2013 and early 2014 and try to follow it up very quickly with an even stronger release to strengthen our following in the prog- metal community. This should lead us to start gigging in the next year or so….OPPOSING MOTION is built for the stage!

Joe:  We are working very hard on a new album, it will be bigger and better for sure.  We are also working hard to take things on the road and on stage which will be an exciting time indeed.

Anything else you’d like to tell the readers of virtuosityone.com?

Kevin: If you have not heard our music yet..come check us out! Any prog metal fan leaning towards the likes of FATES WARNING, VANDEN PLAS, CIRCUS MAXIMUS, ASPERA should enjoy “Laws of Motion” after a few spins 😉

Joe:  And thank you for taking the time to find out a bit more about us, we hope you enjoy the album and keep an eye on us over the next few years.

Many thanks for your participation.

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OPPOSING MOTION – LAWS OF MOTION

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Out now on Lion Music

New to the Lion Music roster and a new name for us, Opposing Motion represent everything we’ve come to expect from Lion now .e.g progressive metal that’s well played and written.  “Laws Of Motion” ticks all the boxes and isn’t a million miles away in approach from label mates Seventh Wonder yet the band have enough of their own hallmarks to keep them sounding original.

Melody is high on the Opposing Motion list of traits with a strong leaning towards memorable melodic  vocal motifs from Ludovic Desa, yet these tend to remain at the more aggressive end of the spectrum.  The Deplanche brothers (David and Kevin) form a rock solid rhythm backdrop for guitarist Joe McGurk to lay down strong riffs and lead work over. This is definitely intelligent metal and you get the impression is all comes sickeningly easily for the band such is the confidence displayed in the material.

After several spins “Forever’s Edge” is the pick of the bunch song wise, yet the closing epic title track runs a close second.

Areas of improvement? The production is quite wet with a lot of reverb, something which does take away a little power and see some intricacies get lost in the mix but otherwise its all strong stuff and another good find by Lion Music.

Rating – 85%

THE MOOR – YEAR OF THE HUNGER

Out now on Lion Music

Following on from a 5 track EP released at the turn of the year, Italian metal outfit The Moor return for their full blown debut album and quite impressive it is too.

Possessing a sound a little left field for Lion Music this is still progressive metal but with a more organic texture yet with hints of death metal, doom, folk and 70s influences.  At its heaviest it reminds me a little of Opeth (who wrote the track from whom the band take their name) and at its more sedate Porcupine Tree or indeed labelmates Waterclime.  This has an original sound to it though.

Vocalist/guitarist Enrico Longhin delivers a vocal that is quite original (none of your LaBrie style wailings here) whilst the musicianship is first rate yet avoids all out shred, preferring to place emphasis on grooves and textures, once again the word organic comes into play, yet the band can riff with the best of them on the likes of “Liquid Memories”.

Over Year Of The Hunger is a fine mature sounding debut suggesting the band have a bright future ahead, well worth checking out.

Rating – 90%

SPEAKING TO STONES – ELEMENTS

Out now on Lion Music

Back some six years after their self-titled debut are the progressive metal outfit Speaking To Stones led by guitarist/founder Tony Vinci.  Over the intervening years the band have seem some personal changes most notably with Andy Engberg (Section A) now behind the mic and Mark Zonder (Fates Warning) on drums.

For the most part this is somewhat heavier than the bands “Images & Words” inspired debut and more original, let along infinitely better produced and is overall a fine collection of prog metal tracks.  5 in total, but with running lengths from a minimum of 9 minutes to 14 minutes value for money is here with a running time of a hair under an hour.

Perhaps as to be expected there is a lot to digest and it will take repeated spins to fully get into, but its time well spent with “Elements” revealing itself to be a strong album with numerous highlights and instrumental passages, this is also the best I have heard Andy Engberg too which is saying something.

Recommended for prog metal enthusiasts, or fans of heavy music with intelligent compositions.

Rating – 88%

 

STATUS MINOR – OUROBOROS

Out now on Lion Music.

Second album from the Finn progressive metallers Status Minor.  Their debut Dialog was a very solid opening gambit and Ouroboros steps up the quality further. 

On the darker side of the prog metal spectrum, Status Minor kick some sizeable ass with openers The Wind and Hollow.  Both of which contain chunky riffs, impressive drum work and some fine melodies from vocalist Markku Kuikka and the album follows a similar pattern throughout.

Ouroboros is arguably a more accessible album that its predecessor with the likes of the excellent, and contender for album highlight Glass Wall packing a strong commercial punch. In fact fans of label mates Seventh Wonder would find much to enjoy throughout this track and indeed the album in general.

Like A Dream and Confidence Of Trust (guest lead vocals by Anna Murphy of Eluveitie) offers up a couple of moments of relative calm before the 6 minute Stain showcases the multi-faceted Status Minor sound rather nicely.  Smile is pissed off and angry before Flowers Die might be a little too plodding in nature for some incomparison and one track I could live withouth. 

The other contender for album highlight comes in the 10 minute progressive treat that is Sail Away, which I could see appealing to fans of Metallica and Dream Theater’s earlier classic work in equal measures with its tight riff work, flamboyant delivery and all round high quality making it a track worthy of your time.  And just when you think the band might end on a soft note Verge Of Sanity serves up more crushing riffs over an array of dizzying time signatures and more fine vocals from Kuikka.

Ouroboros is a nice build on the bands debut, and hopefully one that will see the band catch a little more attention from fans of the genre as Status Minor serve up high quality progressive metal with enough of an original take on the genre to stand their own ground.

Recommended.

Rating – 90%

BEYOND THE BRIDGE – THE OLD MAN AND THE SPIRIT

Out now on Frontiers Records

Progressive Metal is something of a rarity on Frontiers.  Normally you see them throwing big bucks (perhaps) at established names like Vanden Plas but seldom do you see them giving new prog metal bands a shot.  Beyond The Bridge is the exception to this trend though.  A 7 piece band hailing from Germany, “The Old Man And The Spirit” has been in the works for close to 2008 according to the promo sheet and certainly is well crafted yet is not without its pitfalls.

Musically its hard to avoid Dream Theater in prog metal and Beyond The Bridge share a number of musical traits with the American genre leaders.  However, vocalist Herbie Langhans is far less grating on the ears than LaBrie and possesses a Lande’ esque tonality, his vocals are paired with the female leads of Dilenya Mar, not the most accomplished female vocalist out there but at least she has an original quality rather than aping the likes of Sharon den Adel.

Lead guitarist Peter Degenfeld is not a million miles away from Mr Petrucci with first rate technical ability, yet he also shares Mr Petrucci’s less than exciting guitar tone.

Fabian Maier handles the drums with equal apblomb and knows when to lay off the flash and groove so extra marks here.

Highlights come in the guise of opener “The Call” which is a strong first track, good melodies and nice chord progressions. “The Apparition” follows and is a very enjoyable 8 minute ride, dark with good melodies and nice musical interludes.  “Doorway To Salvation” is a high energy up-tempo number with some 7 string riffery and reminds a little of Adagio at the start before progressing through some different areas.

All is not great though, the poppier textures of “World Of Wonders” is just a little too twee, clichéd and lacking in staying power.  Likewise “The Struggle”  features some quite dreadful vocals, supposedly two sides of a personality in conflict one suspects, but its effect to these ears is somewhat annoying, and “Where The Earth & Sky Meet” is a slushy power ballad, the likes of which Dream Theater gave up on after Another Day.

Indeed it’s the second half of the album is where my interest seriously started to wane, as highlighted by the tracks in previous paragraph.  Its here you feel the band got a little too bogged down in the story telling and, well, went a little too far up their own arses for their own good.  You can see where the albums 3 year creation process went, ultimately the album comes across as overly long, overly intricate (and not in a good way for a prog metal release) and ultimately sees it loose marks.

There is no denying that Beyond The Bridge do have the tools to be able to make a great album, this is halfway towards that, and whilst the weaker moments are a little too frequent when its good, its very good.  Overall, one to watch and hopefully Frontiers will give the band time to grow and not look for an overnight success.

Rating – 75%

LORD OF MUSHROOMS – PERSPECTIVES

Out now on Lion Music

French progressive metallers return after a 7 year absence with 3 new members (including new vocalist Gus Monsanto (ex Adagio) and “Perspectives” shows the time away has been well spent.

The bands last offering “7 Deadly Songs” was a good body of work, yet one that lacked a decent production.  “Perspectives” continues down a similar path yet comes aided by a better sound.   Monsanto fits well into the bands take on prog metal and the album has enough of an original edge to maintain the interest of even the genres most hardened cynic.

Fusing strong guitar parts with a massive amount of melody from both vocals and keyboards this is a rich music tapestry.  Special mention must go to the drum work of Marco Talevi who manages to balance the fine line of groove with technical proficiency.   Laurent James is also no slouch in the guitar stakes, although his guitar tone is a little lifeless.

Stand out tracks are opening number “Imago”,  the riff-tastic “Warmth In The Wilderness” which fuses strong guitar riffs with great keyboard work and the 8 minute “Raindrops On My Wings” which sees great musical interplay from the whole band.

“Perspectives” is by no means an immediate album, it does take repeated spins to reveal its true depths and make sense but given time it’s a very strong offering indeed.  Welcome back Lord of Mushrooms.

Rating – 90%

SUN CAGED – THE LOTUS EFFECT

Out now on Lion Music

Sun Caged, the Dutch progressive metallers with two impressive albums already under their belts return after a four year absence with “The Lotus Effect”.  This new album sees the band consolidate their sound in fine style with an album that’s clocks in at over 70 minutes across 14 tracks and has been well worth the wait.

“The Lotus Effect” sees Sun Caged deliver not only their heaviest album to date, but also their most varied with a lot of different musical textures adding to the big riffs coming out of guitar master Marcel Coenen’s guitar.  The melody is high in most numbers, aided by Paul Adrian Villarreal’s distinctive and impressive vocals and Rene Kroon’s keyboard work also covers a lot of ground.  New bassist Daniel Kohn has also formed a formidable rhythm unit with drummer Roel van Helden.

Opener “Seam Ripper (and the blanket statement)” is an 8 minute stunner which perfectly characterises Sun Caged unique take on prog metal. “Tip-Toe the Fault-Line” and the blinding “Shades Of Hades” (see audio player above) deliver a more straight-ahead delivery with potent riffs and strong choruses.  The melody is high in numbers such as “Ashes To Earn” and the 10 minute epic “Pareidolized (The Ocean in the Shell)” which is a stunner pure and simple.  Elsewhere the quality is exceptionally high. Whilst the album takes several spins to full reveal itself the listener is rewarded further with each passing play – and this is a release you will find yourself coming back to.

“The Lotus Effect” may have taken some time to see the light of day, but its Sun Caged finest release thus far and an essential slice of progressive metal.  For those fed up of the hundreds of Dream Theater and Symphony X clones check out this album for a refreshing and original take on the progressive metal genre.

Rating – 95%

AN INTERVIEW WITH DANIELE LIVERANI OF TWINPSIRITS

Daniele, congratulations on the new Twinspirits album ‘Legacy’ it’s a fantastic piece of work.Twinspirits have been building rapidly since the debut ‘The Music That Will Heal The World’, with the excellent ‘The Forbidden City’ and now ‘Legacy’.  You seem to be very inspired with this band, what is it about the band and music that you inspires you?

D: Thank you very much! Well, what can I say, Twinspirits has born in 2004 and the main concept behind this line up was to gather some very cool musicians I’ve been discovering during my musical path and working with for my past projects (Genius/Khymera etc..). Twinspirits is the most inspiring environment for me at the moment, because it continues the musical thread I started with the genius rock opera back in 1998/1999, and therefore it’s the situation that represent me the most in terms of songwriting and musical vision. Of course the talent and musicality of all bands members is a constant inspiration for me, when writing and producing, and they arrangements contributions to my songwriting is also very important and it really gives life to the songs.

Can you give our readers an overview of how the creative process for the album took place?

D: Basically I write the music and Lyrics and a pre-produce a rough version of the songs by myseld which becomes a sort of sketch for the songs, then I give it to the guys and they arrange their parts, write solos, give suggestions a songs structures and I take care of their feedback, of course trying to make a synthesis of all ideas without loosing the vibe and the direction of the original songwriting. Then we record each instruments, starting from Drums, then bass and guitars, then Keyboards and finally vocals and backing vocals. Then I mixed the album in my home studio. It took almost 2 months to mix this Legacy album, since I really wanted everything to sound acoustic and natural (no triggers or stuff), and I really did my best to take care of all details and give justice to the songs, I have to say that, so far, I’m very happy of the result.

You found a fantastic vocalist in Goran Nyström whose range is very impressive, is this a voice you enjoy writing for and what role does Goran play in his vocals ideas?

D: Yeah! Goran is absolutely an amazing discover, he’s so versatile, got great range, can sing almost in all ways and styles and has a good tone…what else can you expect from a singer? Basically I submit him the preproduction’s with lyrics I write, and when we work together in the studio we go along all phrases and find substitution when the sound he wants to achieve is not compatible with the words I wrote, so there’s a good interaction with him in the studio, and he adds a lot of arrangements and gives life to the initial ideas with a lot of creative adds in terms of style, passages and stuff. Album by album we are construction a great interaction process and it becomes more natural for me to write songs for him, and for him to arrange and give songs the right mood/vibe. It’s really a pleasure to write lyrics for Goran, because you don’t have actual limits to the creative part, he can sing everything!The main nucleus of the band have been together for a while now, and having played a number of live dates in the run up to the recording of ‘Legacy’ shows in the performances and tightness of the band.

How do you feel playing live have benefited the band and music?

D: It’s been extremely beneficial, we had the change to play live many gigs during the promotion of “The Forbidden City” in 2009/2010, and that live experience has given us more strength, tightness, and you can really hear in Legacy, in my opinion, this improvement. It sounds more natural and every member is more comfortable with their role. Playing live is so important, and we’re continuing to do that as much as we can!

‘Legacy’ can be split into two distinct sides with the first half being quite commercial songs that are not tied together, whilst the second half sees a mini suite that I believe is probably the best thing you have released.  Can you tell us what led to the 2 halves or “sides” of Twinspirits and when did it become clear that this would work?

D: Well, I had in mind the concept behind “The Endless Sleep” suite since years, and I decided to record a preproduction of the whole suite (30min) and I found out that it was very inspired and I really liked the result. That’s why I decided to go ahead and include that song in the new album. I new it was a challenge, but I thing it’s a well structured multi part suite, and we’re experiencing that is working very well also live and it turned out to be the favourite song of all band members!  So the first 6 songs are more straight to the point, even if still progressive in many ways, to balance the complexity and long journey of the second part of the album which is more dramatic, intense and needs more listens to get into. “The Endless Sleep” is been one of the most demanding compositions of my life, and I’m so happy about the result and how all band members gave life to it…

‘The Endless Sleep’ suite is superb, tell us more about its creation and in what phases it was recorded?

D: Thank you! Well it’s creating lasted a couple of months, initially I wrote the lyrics and after that a put them in music. I have to say that it came out very fluently part by part, and it’s been a natural process, I didn’t had to force any aspect of the creation, and that’s why in my opinion it’s a  long piece of music that really flows fast. So it’s been written all together in a couple of months, it’s not the result of a year lasting process.

Does recording something as ambitious as this get easier over time as the last 2 albums weren’t lacking in big compositions either?

D: Well, it’s of course ambitious to create, arrange and produce a 30 min suite, and probably now the band is more mature and it was a good moment for this challenge. Anyway when I write I tend to be free from any rule or external influence and environment that the music will be produced with. I have to be free to create, and the suite “the endless sleep” just came out in this last 2 years period, you really can’t expect what will come next in your creation process, at least speaking of my type of creation process. It just came at the right point of the band evolution I think, and I feel lucky for that inspiration at the right time!

Do you provide music transcripts of the parts you want the rest of the band to play or do they play from ear and add their own ideas?

D: I provide basically full preproduction recordings (also sung by me in a rough way) in an organised multi session project that includes also midi of most of the parts (except guitars and vocals), it’s enough for the guys to pick up the song and start to work on arrangements. The midis and scores for guitar player and bass player are very useful for the more challenging parts like duets, tricky parts or tricky harmonies.

Twinspirits have their own voice in the progressive metal scene, is this something you strive hard to create?

D: Well, I think it’s the goal of every artist/band is to create their own voice on the scene. I’ve always worked in that direction, trying not to follow any stereotype and to transform all influences I had into something possibly new and fresh. It’s very difficult nowadays to be very different, so having some sort of original formula into a genre is already a great result in my opinion.

You have worked with Tommy Ermolli for a number of years now on different projects, what is it about his playing that you find inspiring and how do you feel he has grown as a player over the years?

D:Tommy has always been a mature musician, even when he was 13. That’s what’s amazing in his musical side and was the most impressive aspect I noticed when I discover him back in 2002: his musical taste and incredible melodic sense in addition to a great technical skill. This is very rare in a musician in my opinion. By the way, year by year and album by album you can hear a great evolution of his playing. Now he’s focusing also into the big picture and his style has evolved into a very consistent playing and arranging of the Twinspirits material. So I think that the talent and the musicality have always been there, but evolutions of his playing can be noticed constantly album by album.

‘Pay For Their Art’ touches on a subject that many bands are scared to speak up about – illegal downloading of music.  How has this affected Twinspirits and what do you believe the future holds?

D: Illegal downloading has affected Twinspirits and all my release of the past in a major way unfortunately. And as me, many other artists have been seriously damaged by this new era behaviour. I wrote that song cause I felt the urge to say something about this issue to our fans an to all listeners in general. It’s really a heavy topic for both label and bands in this period, many situations are at risk of disappearing if things won’t change in some ways. I think that the message of “pay for their art” is a positive message, and tries to reach the fans and let them understand what’s behind the music they listen to, the work, the passion, the nights spent in recording, producing and mixing, a live spent in writing music to deliver the “soundtrack of  your life”.

I think that the only way to solve this problem is to create a new culture that can teach to new generations a new level of sensibility of what they do when they download an album illegally. It’s became normal behaviour nowadays, and it’s been lost the idea that you’re doing something wrong and stealing something. We have to teach younger generation to become more responsible about this topic, I don’t believe that technical solutions (internet blocking or stuff) will be a solution to prevent this phenomenon, it has to start from the culture and from the right educations about this topic, that’s why I decided to write my little piece of message into the song “pay for their art”. In that song you can hear a sort of dialogue from 2 different kind of persons, a responsible one and a person who things it’s “cool” to download illegally, the first one trying to explain why he should “pay for their art”.

What other lyrical subjects are touched upon through the album?

D: Most of the songs are inspired from life thoughts, and personal experiences…we have a sort of “relationship ending” topic on song Senseless, then other topics like “the difficult world we’re living in” in Slave to this world, the difficult process of understanding our right path in life in “blind soul”…I usually write and put on paper my thoughts about life. The endless sleep is  different, it’s a visionary story I developed where a young person, due to a premature ending of his life, gets the change to discover and meet a superior entity that approaches him in the afterlife and gives him the chance to get back to the real world for a limited  period of time with a mission to accomplish that could lead to ease the pain and all the suffering of the current world…very difficult to explain all the concept and the story in a few words, but what’s nice in my opinion is that you can give different interpretations to what you read in the lyrics, I tend to write in a very open way, poetically, without explicit connections to specific religions, politics, real events, remaining very visionary and abstract to give a sort of freedom to the listeners to create their own idea of what’s behind some concepts/story I write, whatever are their life styles, ideas, profiles.

I believe the band will be hitting the road again in support of ‘Legacy’, can you give us more details of what to expect?

D: We’re doing shows in March 2011, travelling Italy and Switzerland, touching cities like Uster, Venezia, Bari, Caserta, Reggio Emilia and Vicenza…and more shows are in the organization phase, you can find all details and dates updates in our myspace profile http://www.myspace.com/twinspiritsband or our web site http://www.twinspirits.net

What else is in store for 2011 from Twinspirits?

D: Well, a lot of live appearances hopefully and some footage material of the “making of Legacy” and the making of the 2 videos we release recently “number One” and “Slave To This World”

Daniele, many thanks for your time.

D: Thanks to you for the support and to all Virtuosityone readers!!!

TWINSPIRITS – THE FORBIDDEN CITY (ARCHIVE)

Out now on Lion Music

Back with their second album, Twinspirits led by keyboard whiz and general musical genius Daniele Liverani follow up the debut album “The Music That Will Heal The World” with another progressive metal offering in “The Forbidden City”.  With one line up change happening between albums, the band welcome in new vocalist in Swedish powerhouse Göran Nyström, whose vocals are simply superb.  The rest of the line-up is “as you where” with the Italian contingent of the aforementioned Liverani handling all keyboards, guitarist Tommy Ermolli, bassist Alberto Rigoni and drummer Dario Ciccioni.

Our glowing reviews of the bands debut (here) ended by saying it would be interesting to see where the band headed on their second album.  Well in short, Twinspirits have consolidated their own sound which was evident in a number of places on the last album.  New vocalist Göran Nyström plays a big part in this with superb range, yet an original tonality and deserves a lot of praise.  But then you also get the impression Liverani had a clearer idea of where to take the bands sound.  So essentially all is good, the production is superb, a great powerful sound, great separation between the instruments and excellent clarity, arguably one of the years best so far.

Musically the band still plays accessible progressive tinted metal with a strong melodic edge.  Whilst not overloading the album with overly extended instrumental segments like DT, Twinspirits use their instrumentation skills for purely for the song and the flashes of musical brilliance are there to enhance the proceedings.

Opening with the ten minute title track is a bold move, yet the track “The Forbidden City”, is strong enough to maintain your interest throughout.  In initially teasing the listener for close to 3 minutes building the track instrumentally Göran Nyström makes his grand entrance and instantly you feel he is a better match for the band than his predecessor. This is a voice which is rich, powerful and quite original in character, similar in power to Jorn Lande but with a different tonal slant more in tune with say Bruce Dickinson. “Taste The Infinity” brings the tempo down to a soothing dark ballad, lone piano starts and once again Nyström makes his mark on this subtle, yet captivating track.

“Number One” is a fast paced track with intense riffing, vocally the track is interesting due the different voices Nyström uses to add character.  “Everything” is back to the classic prog sound, those that heard Liverani’s last Cosmics album will instantly feel at home here as the musical reminds me a lot of that release. Building nicely, with keyboard working heavily over simple power chords the impact is impressive before working to another dark riff for the verses. The track has a great chorus, powerful and melodic.

Guitarist Tommy Ermolli gets to shine on “One Of Us”, arguably the most commercial number musically speaking on the album, its powered along with a very tasty riff from Ermolli, simple yet melodic with Liverani layering keyboard and organ textures to enhance the sound further.  The pre-chorus is quite unique in character, with an ascending chord progression before the luxurious main riff charges in hard for the chorus.  Ermolli also delivers a glorious solo, yet is painstakingly too short.  A massive track.

The instrumental “BTR” plays around with exotic time signatures and again the mix of guitar and keyboard work incredibly well.  The rock solid bedrock of Dario Ciccioni and Albert Rigoni is highly impressive on this track as well. Ballad number two “Hide This Feeling” is a much more joyful affair than the “Taste The Infinity”, presented in a major key tonality the track features Nyström duet-ing with Irene Ermolli who also possesses a superb voice.  “My Future” presents itself as a nice fusion of metal and modern musical styling, dark and home to a mysterious quality that is quite unique, yet I find it strangely alluring and captivating, and after repeated spins has become a favourite.

The closing duo is started with “Reaction” which comes across in the early stages like modern Deep Purple before the band mold the track into a melodic metal direction.   Again highly melodic and Nyström gets the chance to show us what he can do in more straightforward rock waters, and again he impresses, the commercial is reminiscent of the heavier numbers from Journey i.e. interesting melodic structure.  Tommy Ermolli goes a little Marty Friedman meets Neal Schon in the songs solo, exotic melodies mixed with sustained melodic content – nice.  Another 10 minute epic “I Am Free” closes the album in even more fine style.  One of the heaviest numbers on the album with numerous segments which work well to form a solid cohesive unit finishing with a big finale.

With “The Forbidden City” Twinspirits have passed the often tricky second album with flying colours.  As already mentioned the album builds upon the debut in every department and this album deserves all the praise I can see it getting from the prog metal crowd.  Whether this will translate into mainstream media remains to be seen, yet any metal fan with an open mind will find a great deal to like.  Daniele Liverani has penned a number of great albums over the last few years but this has to be considered his Magnum Opus.  This collection of 10 tracks is pretty much superb from start to finish, with nothing that sounds surplus to requirements.  In short, if you like your metal well played, with strong melodies and delivered in a great sound then Twinspirits have the album for you.
 
Hot Spots : Taste The Infinity, One Of Us, My Future
Rating : 95%