Oceans Of Slumber

Supporting Epica’s European Tour.

Firstly, apologies for not being able to get down to Nottingham’s Rock City early enough to conduct a face-to-face interview with you guys – I was very much looking forward to meeting with you in person. Sadly, the day job got in the way, but all was not lost as I managed to catch your entire set, which was great. Never have I witnessed a crowd so content with listening to a new band! Many here in the UK are probably only just discovering you on the strength of your new album ‘The Banished Heart’ which I can only describe as a masterpiece.

If I may, I’m going to ask ten questions, If you could answer them briefly, to keep it short and sweet, I’d very much appreciate it. I’d like to add this into my live review. I know you are busy touring the UK and Europe with Epica, so I can appreciate your time is precious which leads me onto my first question.

1. Were you invited to join this tour, or did you apply?

[Cammie] We were invited by Epica to join them on the UK leg of this tour. It came as a bit of a surprise but we were happy to join as we have a strong following in the UK as well.

2. Have you toured the UK much since the bands conception? If so, what is it about the UK you like and how do we fare compared to other countries?

[Cammie] Our first time through some of the UK was last year with Enslaved and Ne Obliviscaris. It went well and was great, so we were not hesitant to gig here again.

3. The band are primarily from Houston, Texas. How are you received in America, compared with Europe and the rest of the world?

[Cammie] We have a strong following in the US, but find the push and promotion for what we do stronger here in the UK and Europe. While there are a collection of fans for OOS all over the world, we continue to push forward to grow and spread our music.

4. It would appear the band enjoy playing the odd cover song. You’ve performed a version of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’ – why did you choose this song? You’ve also recorded a version of ’Nights in White Satin’, which appeared on your second album ‘Winter’. Why this song, by the Moody Blues? Performing covers is a great way to connect with people, who may not know who you are, yet tells them who you admire musically, would you agree? If not, why do you enjoy performing covers of other artists music?

[Cammie] I agree, doing cover songs is a great way to simultaneously show people who our influences are while connecting with them over songs different from what the band will create originally. It’s also our way of giving respect to those musicians and those songs that have played such pivotal roles in our musical development.

5. I’ve listened to all three studio albums and the latest ’The Banished Heart’ clearly stands out as being the most polished. I love the brutal honesty you’ve given us. However, is it hard to re-live those sad times or do you embellish each song every time you perform them, knowing you’re creating something truly wonderful from a dark period in life?

[Cammie] I find the more I perform each song the more meaningful it becomes as it changes from my singular experience to something I am sharing with those who relate to it from the crowd. I hope that by having created something so raw and real that it will find a purpose among those that need its catharsis.

6. My favourite track, off the latest album is ‘The Decay of Disregard’ that guitar riff is AMAZING. LOVE IT. Thankfully, you played it live last night (thank you): my question is, to anyone who wants to answer (please state who) which is your favourite track to perform live and to listen too, off the new album? Is there any chance of last nights set list as well please?

[Cammie] The most difficult, and my favorite song to perform, is No Color No Light. For me, the greatest gift of performing is the connection with the crowd. During this song I can often see teary eyes, or solemn faces and I know that we are all sharing in a moment of loss and hurt. When the song is finished there is this big sigh of relief we all share.

Set List: 1.Fleeting Vigilance 2.A Path to Broken Stars 3.Howl of the Rougarou 4.The Decay of Disregard 5.No Color No Light

7. I would have loved to have met Dobber, as I’ve read he is largely responsible for the bands sound and is a massive contributor, creatively within this band, so my question to him is, what lead him onto his musical path? Who inspired him to start writing music? Who influenced his sound? If any?

I grew up surrounded by music. My dad listened to old country, Motown, and doowop music from the 50’s-80’s respectively. My brother and sister were kids of the 70’s and that’s where the NWOBHM and blues music came from in my life. As a child I would be kind of cut loose with the radio and MTV which led me to seeing David Gilmour solo on Comfortably Numb at some live concert around 1986-87, which would make me 8 or 9 years old at that time.

Combine that with Franz Liszt and Wagner music from the Looney Tunes world and you arrive roughly to me now. Somewhat.

8. A question for Cammie Gilbert, how did you discover your voice? Were you always destined to be a singer? Does it come naturally, or do you have to work hard at it?

[Cammie] I suppose I came out of the womb singing. My parents met when my father was a church choir director and my mother was in the church choir. Having been labeled a very loud baby, always chirping and carrying on, I don’t remember a time before I sang. As I’ve come to this arena of performing and touring I’ve had to be more mindful of caring for my voice, but I try not to stress too much over being too technical or sounding perfect with a performance; for me that is time to show more emotion.

9. In your Facebook Biography, Dobber states; “We’d love to be heard by a wider audience and I know the audience for this kind of music exists all over the globe, but they’re hard to reach sometimes,” My question is, has this new album achieved what it is you was hoping for? From what I’ve read, from other music sites, who’ve reviewed the new album, they’re all giving it 10/10. Must feel good right, knowing people get what it is you’re saying?

[Cammie] Absolutely, it gives us hope to know the work and dedication that went into this album has affirmed OOS into the hearts and minds of more listeners. There was such a deep understanding of the depth of this album that certainly made us feel understood both musically and mentally. Refreshing to say the least.

Incidentally, Dom Lawson’s write up makes you sound very intellectual. Would you say that’s a true reflection of the band? Would you consider yourselves as being intelligent? In my opinion, It sure takes a great amount of talent, to produce the music you do. It’s probably a good thing we never met! Haha!

[Cammie] Thank you for the compliment. Intelligence can be a tricky thing to measure; I’d say we consider ourselves hard working. We work very hard and are always striving to get better and grow as individuals. We don’t like becoming stagnant in any way, whether that be with our music or our lives.

10. Where do you go from here? Having been through troubled times and still managed to come out of the other side, producing an amazing album (some are saying the album of 2018) regardless. Do you now purposely seek out trouble and strife, to help fuel your creative juices? Or will your next album take a new direction? Is life better, or is the world so messed up, there’s still plenty more you want to say. Honesty appears to have worked for you, will you continue being so honest?

[Cammie] Haha, there is no need to seek out any trouble or strife. Guaranteed it will always find a way to penetrate ones life. We found our stride within the process and internal searching of this latest album and we only aim to dig deeper and go heavier moving forward.

I look forward to reading your answers and I thank you for your time, in advance. Enjoy the rest of the tour, with Epica.

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Epica

Epica with support from Myrkur and Oceans Of Slumber.
Rock City Nottingham 6th April 2017.

It feels like forever since I last attended a gig, but in fact it has only been two weeks ago. Once upon a time, I use to attend two gigs a week but truth is the gap helps me to appreciate it more, when I do eventually get out to a show and tonight’s was very much appreciated indeed and was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Here come the girls. All three bands that featured tonight, all have female vocalists and all three couldn’t be more different if they tried, yet they all complemented each other rather well, I thought!

I was given exclusive access to interview tonight’s first band ‘Oceans of Slumber’ from Huston Texas. Sadly, due to their stage time, I couldn’t get to Rock City in Nottingham early enough to conduct an interview, which saddened me greatly. Thankfully, the bands excellent PR company, The Noise Cartel, managed to organise an emailer, which you can read here.

To conduct my interview, I did undertake a fair amount of research about OSS, in preparation. To do this, I obviously had to listen to the bands music, all three albums, in fact. Their latest album ‘The Banished Heart’ clearly stands out as being a master piece and so say many other music journalists, not just me and as a collective, we can’t all be wrong! I urge you to check it out if you’re a fan of Doom/Prog music and in general, music that moves you!

Tonight’s set only consisted of five songs, which was way too short but it was no less powerful – I’ve never witnessed a crowd listen so intently! It was very moving indeed. I loved the fact that I got the opportunity to see this band live and I urge you to do the same. Singed to Century Media Records.

Set List: 1.Fleeting Vigilance 2.A Path to Broken Stars 3.Howl of the Rougarou 4.The Decay of Disregard 5.No Color No Light

Next up, a band that I have mixed emotions about, who go by the name Myrkur, which means darkness, in Icelandic. Classically-trained multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Amalie Bruun, is in fact from Denmark and primarily sings in her native tongue which is quite rare in this day and age, although music is considered a universal language so you can either relate to it, or not. This is by no means a disadvantage, in fact, it works rather well in adding to the mystery within the music she produces. After releasing only one EP, Relapse Records signed her up which is pretty impressive really. We miss you Relapse!

Considered primarily as black metal, it is very powerful indeed and was executed perfectly tonight. Incidentally, I’ve never seen a bass guitar being played with a violin bow before, but it sounded very eerie, indeed, which sums up the music you hear from this band. I’ve listened to Myrkur’s music at home since this live performance and it works and wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to the hit TV show, Vikings. Live though, I couldn’t get into it, as it’s not the sort of music you can start a mosh pit with. They play Download Festival this year as well as continuing on with Epica, so I’ll let you make your own mind up.

The bands website states Amalie is a solo artist, so she’s probably employed professional musicians to accompany her on this tour as she can’t very well play all the instruments herself, which may explain why, they guy playing guitar was very reluctant to have his photo taken tonight. Every time I pointed my camera at him, he just turned away and faced his amp. After two or three attempts, I gave up trying.

Tonight’s main event came courtesy of Epica, who are one of the best symphonic metal bands in the business. Currently touring the UK, they themselves are very much a mixture of European decent. Lead singer and fiery red head bomb shell, Simone Simons comes from the Netherlands. No disrespect to the rest of the band, as they are all born performers but Simons, in my opinion, is the main attraction in this band! As a friend (Ben Cook) stated on the night, Epica do exactly what they state ‘BE EPIC’! Simons has openly admitted that a live show should look pretty and I agree. No one want’s to stare at a band, for the best part of forty five minutes, who look at the floor and do nothing and expect you to pay for the privilege!

Signed to Nuclear Blast, Epica released the band’s sixth full length album ‘The Holographic Principle’ on September 30, 2016, and was described as the bands most ambitious offering to date. On September 1, 2017, the band released their first EP ‘The Solace System’ during the second North American leg of the tour. The EP features tracks that were planned and recorded but never included in The Holographic Principle.

The band will celebrate their 1000th show, when they reach Tilburg in the Netherlands, which should act as a home town coming. To celebrate, they have a whole days worth of entertainment planned and I’m aware many die hard fans from the UK have planned to make the trip over, to celebrate with this truly wonderful band! They are in deed epic!

Set List: 1.Eidola 2.Edge of the Blade 3.Sensorium 4.Fight Your Demons 5.The Essence of Silence 6.Storm the Sorrow 7.Ascension – Dream State Armageddon 8.Dancing in a Hurricane 9.Victims of Contingency 10.Cry for the Moon 11.Unchain Utopia 12.Once Upon a Nightmare 13.Sancta Terra 14.Beyond the Matrix 15.Consign to Oblivion

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Witch Tripper

With support from Ritual King, 28 Double and Primal.
The Hairy Dog Derby 23rd March 2018.

A week ago, yes it’s taken me this long to write a review, I was personally invited by Witch Tripper to attend their show at the Hairy Dog. Personally, I love this band so obviously I attended! To top it off, we had some great bands in support.

I’m going to assume this was a warm up show for their album launch, soon to take place at The Old Salutation Inn, in Nottingham, which will mark the release of their second album ‘I, of the storm’. We’ve also been granted access to this album, ahead of its official launch on the 14th of April 2018 and it’s a corker but more on that in a bit!

Up first tonight, we had Primal who are a three piece rock band from Nottingham or so their Facebook says – it also says they are from Derby, maybe they moved? I’ve not encountered this band before and they openly admit that their chosen style of music is a little different from the other bands on tonight’s bill. None the less, they do play a style of rock that leans more towards the Deftones, rather than the psychedelic tones of say, Ritual King. I enjoyed what I saw and with a few more shows, maybe even getting on as a support band for a decent tour around the UK, this would offer the band an opportunity to figure out their stage presence and live performance style, which sadly was lacking in parts tonight. Primal currently have a new four track EP out and I would certainly recommend giving it a listen, especially to fans of Rival Sons and Black Keys!

Next up were Derby based, 28 Double, who I first saw a few months ago, again, supporting Witch Tripper and then, I though, ok, they’ve got a style, it needs work but they had potential. Back then, I picked up on the similarities in Nick’s vocal style and sound, to that of Miles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) who he openly admits is one of his idols, vocally. Tonight’s performance was a triumphant success, in my eyes, as they appear to have grown in confidence which showed on stage. Rob’s guitar playing is impeccable and is mesmerizing to watch. Gav’s got his bass face down to a T, along with his instrument! Nick has certainly improved on his stage presence and banter with the crowd, he even had time to pose for selfies, whilst performing on stage! He also appears to have discovered some new dance moves, all be it questionable, as far as dancing goes, but he appeared to be enjoying himself up on stage! Their new music is sounding really good too and if you can, check out their track ‘Grind’ what a banger that is and in my opinion, they need to do more with this track, like releasing a music video or something? Keep it up lads – I thoroughly enjoyed your set!

It’s always a pleasure to see Ritual King (who are from Manchester), appear on a bill and tonight was no exception! In my opinion, this band deserve to be massive! Whilst speaking with the band outside, they told me that their biggest listener base is actually in America! They also announced that they’ll be performing at a HRH event later in the year, not sure if it’s been officially announced yet, so I won’t say which one but I’m sure you can guess though! The first time I saw this band, their regular bassist couldn’t attend so I was keen to see how Dan would fair. Jordan’s well into his guitar playing, which is clearly evident, as are all three band members but when you play stoner, you have to be, I guess! I love their psychedelic sound, it’s still one of my favourite genres at the moment and as you’d expect, these guys are all about the music. Stage presence came courtesy of Dan, who was a box of frogs on stage tonight which helped me get more involved! According to Jordan, if the band manage to write one song a month, they’re happy with that so I suggest getting yourself a copy of the bands latest EP ‘Earthrise’ as you may be waiting a while for a full length album!

As stated, Witch Tripper have their second album coming out, titled ‘I, of the Storm’ on the 14th of April. Not sure why the album title isn’t ‘eye’ of the storm but I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation – I will be sure to ask, the next time I see the band. The album was recorded at Electric Bear in Mansfield, by Phil Abraham and took all of five whole days, to complete, which is pretty impressive. This album has been a labour of love, for Ritchie in particular, who has penned most of the lyrics. I’d love to know where his head was at, when he wrote the lyrics for the track ‘Poonstar’ – or would I, as I’m not sure getting inside his head is a good idea, to be honest with you! Haha!

I’ve also recently discovered Ritchie’s love for road markings, hence the track ‘White Lines’ cough! Both of these tracks are belters, but for me, tracks ‘Roll The Dice’ and ‘Hell Bound’ really stand out, as they are 100% Witch Tripper bangers! ‘Roll The Dice’ sums this band up perfectly. Deep, bluesy rock with thunderous bass lines, sumptuous riffs and heavy bashing of the skins that is deep and soulful. Ritchie’s voice suites this track exceptionally well, what with his deep gravel tones. Throughout this album and it’s nine tracks, you are made acutely aware of this bands talents and musicianship. For some reason, when ever I listen to this album, I can’t help but think of Alice Cooper, I can’t imagine why? Although the number of live shows this year are nowhere near as many as last years 86 growlers, Witch Tripper have got some great shows coming up. Obviously, their album launch is fast approaching which promises to be a great night, they’ve also got HRH Ibiza coming up along with Amplified Festival and Facebarmegeddon plus there are many other dates in between aswell, so be sure to catch them at a show real soon! AND BUY THEIR NEW ALBUM, IT’S KILLA! Peace!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)