Lord Symphony is an ambitious metal band from Solo, Central Java in Indonesia that mixes epic European power metal with traditional Gamelan music. The band exposes us to epic stories of their home country but also spreads a message of hope in the name of the Lord. The sextet just released its second full length conceptual record The Lord’s Wisdom but they don’t want to stop there. The band is already planning an ambitious rock opera, the re-recording of their first output with their new singer and a follow-up to their first album. I decided to contact the band and they exposed me to the concept behind their music, the surprisingly rich Javanese metal scene and a fascinating lesson in arts and history. I’m still impressed and want to share the interview with metal fans from all around the world that are looking for new and thrilling power metal bands.
TMO: “Hello Lord Symphony and thank you very much for taking your time for this interview with me. First of all, could you please introduce yourselves to our readers?”
LS: “Hello, we are Lord Symphony, epic power metal band from Solo, Central Java, Indonesia. If you’re fans of power metal bands like Helloween, Rhapsody of Fire, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, etc, then “try” us.”
TMO: “Apart of being musicians, what do you do in your everyday lives?”
LS: “Most of the band members work as self-employed, our guitarists Fuad & Fa’i who are brothers own a small guitar factory. Bassist Ichsan Anggoro works in a printing company, Arif aka Monk Bhodi (vocalist) and Dani (keyboards) have their own businesses while the youngest member Uji (drums) is still at the college.”
TMO: “You have all been involved or are still involved in other band projects. Could you tell us more about these involvements? How far did they influence your work in Lord Symphony?”
LS: “Only some of us are still involved in other bands. Arif/Monk Bhodi still sings for his previous band Powerbeat who plays covers of well-known classic rock tracks. Uji also plays with Liberty, a power metal band from Solo who plays cover tracks of well-known power metal bands, and his college band.”
TMO: “Recently, your previous singer Tobias Derisian left after almost seven years in your band and Arif Hartoyo joined as new lead vocalist. How did it come to this line-up change and what are the main differences between both vocalists?”
LS: “Tobias Derisian had to leave the band due to his different vision from other band members. He has an important role in the band’s history. After Tobias left the band, we were urgently searching for a replacement. We did two auditions and we finally chose Monk Bhodi. Monk Bhodi has never sung for a power metal band before but we really liked his vocal character which is a heavy high pitched voice. The difference between Monk and Tobias is that Monk has a more “epic” character with a “heavier” harsh voice, while Tobias has a clean voice like Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween). Some critics told us in the past that Tobias’ voice did not fit with our epic power metal style.”
TMO: “You are six band members and I imagine that you all have different personalities. How do you manage to do compromises and work together as a team? How does your song writing approach work for example? Are their different roles and tasks for each member or do you do everything together at the same time?”
LS: “We “work” as a family here. All of our songs were composed by Fuad. The lyrics were written by our vocalists. Our manager Hendro also helped us out to write lyrics for some songs. Then we worked together on the arrangements in the studio. We are open for any “input” from all members. Sometimes we also listened to non power metal tracks to find any inspiration for arrangements, including inspiration from our Javanese traditional Gamelan music which gives us a different style from any well-known power metal band. You can hear the Gamelan music in our “Black Dawn” single and in two songs called “Down To Holyland” and “Devil’s Emotion” from our new album The Lord’s Wisdom.”
TMO: “What is the concept behind your band name Lord Symphony?”
LS: “Symphony for God or God’s symphony. Basically, because we believe in God.”
TMO: “Indonesia is very well known for its big death metal and grindcore scene but power metal bands are rather rare. What inspires you to go a different way and what do you do to stand out and get some attention with your music in your home country?”
LS: “We do agree with you on this. The death metal and grindcore scenes are bigger here, but actually power metal bands aren’t that really rare here. In some cities like Surabaya, the birthplace of the legendary Indonesian band Powermetal, there are lots of bands who play power metal, and there are many gigs there from small shows in cafes to big open air shows. But most of the time, power metal bands rarely get the chance to play at a big metal festival here. Maybe they think that power metal bands draw less audience than death metal bands, but in fact, power metal fans are huge here. Helloween’s first concert in Indonesia was attended by around 25.000 fans in Surabaya and their last show here in Tenggarong was attended by more than 30.000 people.
We play power metal, because we like the POWER, melodies, harmonies, and most power metal bands have positive lyrics. We want to show that metal bands aren’t always related to brutalism, Satanism, dirty lyrics or other negative thoughts to people who hate or don’t understand metal.”
TMO: “Could you name us other interesting bands from your country? What are Indonesia’s biggest metal acts, records and venues? What about promising newcomer bands?”
LS: “From the power metal scene we recommend Powermetal, Umbra Mortis from Jakarta, Valerian from Surabaya, Devarock from Sidoarjo. Concerning other metal genres, we recommend Burgerkill, Deadsquad and Jasad. The biggest metal band? It’s probably Burgerkill. They won last year’s Golden Gods award in the “Metal As Fuck” category. The biggest records? We don’t have any metal labels that really big here, most metal bands produce their albums independently here. Biggest venues? Hammersonic in Jakarta, Kukar Rockin’ Fest in Tenggarong, Bandung Berisik & Hellprint in Bandung and Rock In Solo in Solo.”
TMO: “What are your different musical inspirations?”
LS: “Our traditional Javanese Gamelan music, a music style you won’t find in any of the world’s well-known power metal bands.”
TMO: “Your first album Bharatayudha is about an important battle in Javanese history. Could you tell us a little bit more about this concept and important elements of Javanese history in general?”
LS: “It’s not about an actual battle event but inspired by a “book” written by ancient writers around 1500 AD. Bharatayudha is the final part of the Mahabharata Epic Story written by Empu Sedah & Empu Panuluh. We were inspired by Rhapsody (Of Fire) or Blind Guardian who made albums inspired by the epic battle and war stories by Tolkien’s. So we thought: Why don’t we adapt our own country’s epic stories to our albums?”
TMO: “This album is subtitled as Part I. Are you working on a follow-up or did you decide to abandon the concept and try out something different?”
LS: “Actually, we already have some tracks for part II, but when Tobias left the band, we thought that we won’t do the second part with a different vocalist. Then we decided to postpone Part II. We are planning to re-record part I with our new vocalist Monk Bhodi along with Part II someday in the future and release the BHARATAYUDHA as a double album.
Before starting the double BHARATAYUDHA album we may manage to release one more album after The Lord’s Wisdom. We are dreaming to have a metal opera album like Avantasia or Avalon.”
TMO: “In early 2013, you already announced your second record and released its cover artwork and track list. A few things have changed since then. The song order is different, some names have changed and other tracks don’t seem to be included on the final version. What did you change between your first announcement and the actual release?”
LS: “We had a lot of material from our previous The Lord’s Wisdom demo and we announced these songs first. Later, we have changed some things after discussions among band members and finally we chose to put eleven tracks on the actual release with some new tracks (Prelude & Interlude). The Interlude part was composed by Annisa Wulandari, who mixed our album. The Helloween cover track “Kings Will Be Kings” was actually recorded during the “Black Dawn” single recording session, but then we decided to put it as bonus track on the digital version of The Lord’s Wisdom album.”
TMO: “You have right now released The Lord’s Wisdom. What is the concept behind this album?”
LS: “The Lord’s Wisdom is a conceptual album with religious contents. The album has eleven tracks with one bonus track, a Helloween cover on the digital version. The whole album story is about a man and his way to the “Gate Of Lord”. It’s a warrior who feels as a sinful human after a war, after having killed his enemies with “Devil’s Emotion”. He looks in the “Mirror”, questioning “who am I really, am I evil?” “Earth Beneath The Sky” has some sort of a double sense. On one side, the song tells about a war representing the warrior’s war but lyrically this song is also about our recent war against pollution, a war for a green earth. It’s the “Magic Knight’s Destiny” to save the Earth, to “Save The Universe”. “Moment of Silence” represents the moment when the warrior is doing his prayer to God and then he finally finds his way “Down To Holyland” where he finds the “Eleven Keys” as the “Key To Heaven”, to the “Gate Of Lord”! The cover artwork of The Lord’s Wisdom album was designed by Mayte CG from Spain who also designed cover art for Turkish power metal band Pinnacle Of Heaven and Gillian Glover’s album. Gillian is the daughter of Deep Purple’s Roger Glover. Our artwork also represents the story of the album. You can see the Magic Knight standing between two towers of a Prambanan temple, while heavenly bright light from above, from the Gate of Lord, shines in front of him. Mayte has perfectly implemented the concept prepared by our manager Hendro, into an epic digital matte-painting masterpiece.”
TMO: “I have read about your album on many different international websites. What did you do to increase the promotion for your new record and to spread your band’s name?”
LS: “We do promotion via social networks like Facebook, Myspace, ReverbNation, etc and we are also promoting our album via some radio stations, online and printed magazines and newspapers. And for our The Lord’s Wisdom, we got a full support from our label Semax Records from Germany.”
TMO: “What have been your most valuable concert experiences to date? Did you play with any famous bands? Did you play in foreign countries? Did you participate at any festivals?”
LS: “The most important concert was when we played as semi-finalist at Gudang Garam Rock Competition (GGRC) in Bandung 2005. We had a chance to perform on the same stage as the legendary Powermetal and headliners Jamrud. Then we were selected as one of the opening band for Helloween during their Hellish Rock Tour in Jakarta in the year 2008.
We never played in foreign countries. We were invited to play in Australia’s Stormrider Festival this April with Black Majesty and Silent Knight as headliners, but since we are not a rich band, we can’t afford to buy tickets to fly there.
We also participated in many festivals like Surakarta Hitam, Wonogiri Supersonic Fest, etc.
Once, we also had an opportunity to perform with a real “Gamelan” orchestra when we headlined a full day art and culture event at Sangiran Pre-historic Museum in Sragen, Central Java.”
TMO: “What are your plans for the rest of the year 2014?”
LS: “We have some show scheduled in our hometown Solo and some other cities. Then, we are going to prepare the release of another album for next year before we work on the double BHARATAYUDHA album.”
TMO: “Thank you again for this great interview. I hope I can help you to spread the name about your amazing music. Do you have a final message to our readers from all around the world?”
LS: “Support us! We hope you guys like our music.”
Please visit Lord Symphony’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/lordsymphony
Bader Nana is one of the few truly intriguing one man projects. The Kuwait-based Libanese multi-instrumentalist has released two progressive rock and metal orientated full length records so far with Wormwood in 2011 and Anthology in 2013. The musician and singer is always often for experiments and has also released acoustic tributes to Michael Jackson’s greatest hits or honoured different video game soundtracks. Right now, Bader Nana is already working on his third full length effort. I was able to contact this rising star of the progressive metal scene and ask him a few questions.
TMO: “Hello Bader Nana and thank you very much for accepting this interview occasion for The Metal Observer. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?”
BN: “Hello, thank you for this interview. My name is Bader Nana and I’m a one man band. I write, record and produce my own music. I’m from Lebanon and living in Kuwait.”
TMO: “How would you describe and classify your music?”
BN: “I mainly like progressive rock but I like to experiment and add other genres along the writing process.”
TMO: “You are living in Kuwait and of Lebanese origin. It’s quite rare to find progressive rock and metal artists from both places. How did you get in touch with this kind of music? Are there any other promising bands or projects in these countries that one should know about?”
BN: “I was born in Kuwait but I’m originally from Lebanon. I love music since I was a kid and started playing the guitar at the age 18. My good friend Khalid Abu Warda was my guitar teacher. A few years later I met the Ramman brothers Ramzi and Ziad. They introduced me to one of my favorite bands of all time now: “Dream Theater”. This is where it all began for me. The Lebanese music scene is big, you could find every kind of musicians and bands there. Just let me mention a few: JLP, The Karma Initiative, Who Killed Bruce Lee and so on. It’s hard to find a band in Kuwait that focuses on progressive music but you could find some that play classic rock, jazz and death metal.”
TMO: “Apart of a few guest appearances you record all instruments on your own. What are the first instruments you have learned to play? Do you have any favorite instrument?”
BN: “My first instrument was the guitar. Later on, I played some keyboards, bass and drums. My favorite instrument is the flute.”
TMO: “What do you do to constantly improve your skills?”
TMO: “Usually, I think records of multi-instrumentalists are rather boring because most musicians just make them to show off their talent and Elaborate on overlong solo passages instead of focusing on coherent song writing. You are in fact the only solo project that I really adore because your music sounds very atmospheric, diversified and well elaborated. What is your secret to convince critical minds like me?”
BN: “It’s not about showing your talent! You can play very slow and still make people cry. That is where you really show it off. You have to make people live every second of the pieces you write. That’s what I basically aim for.”
TMO: “Did you ever play in an actual band or did you ever give live concerts until now?”
BN: “I was in few bands before I went solo. My favorite one was Terminus. I was the lead singer and guitarist. We did some live shows around Kuwait.”
TMO: “In the beginning of your career, you have recorded an album with acoustic versions of Michael Jackson songs. That’s a rather unusual choice for a progressive rock and metal musician and singer like you. What makes Michael Jackson so special for you? ”
BN: “Michael Jackson is my idol. I started listening to him when I was 3 years old. I still have a video of me and my brother in 1986 dancing to “Billie Jean”. I might post that soon, hehe. The acoustic versions I made were my tribute to him.”
TMO: “Apparently you are also a big fan of video games and their soundtracks. You have recorded tributes to game soundtracks such as God Of War, Gears Of War, Battlefield, Assassins Creed and so on. What is so fascinating about video game soundtracks for you?”
BN: “I love gaming, it’s in my blood. Soundtracks in games are like movie scores nowadays and I’m a big fan of movies scores. So I really pay attention to music in games while I’m playing and some of it really hit me hard.”
TMO: “What are the progressive rock and metal bands that had an important impact on you?”
BN: “I would say Dream Theater, Symphony X, Neal Morse, Spock’s Beard and Transatlantic.”
TMO: “Your first record with own material is called Wormwood and came out in 2011. How much time did it take to write and record this album?”
BN: “It took me a year to finish it. It was a journey to remember. Thanks to my good friend Hadi Sarieddine for accompanying me during the entire writing and recording process.”
TMO: “Why did you finally decide to compose and release your very own music?”
BN: “Well, I realized that I could produce more while I’m working on my own. I simply understand myself.”
TMO: “How did you promote your first record and what kind of reactions did you get?”
BN: “Bandcamp was the first thing I heard about through a friend. I posted the whole album as a free download so the world could listen to it. The feedback I got from all around the world was incredible.”
TMO: “Your second full length release of own material is entitled Anthology and came out in 2013. Why did you call the record that way?”
BN: “I didn’t want to write a theme album like Wormwood so I came up with that album title before I even wrote the songs. Basically, my inspiration was to write about different topics from different times. It’s a complete collection of works. That’s what Anthology is all about.”
TMO: “What are the main differences between your first and your second release?”
BN: “The first one was a themed album telling a story from the beginning to the end. The second one was talking about different topics.”
TMO: ““My favorite song from your amazing records is probably “War” because it mixes a dark atmosphere with a message of hope and love in the catchy chorus. What was the concept behind this particular track?”
BN: “Ah, “War” is a very strong song. It mainly talks about how war never ends and still so many people are losing their loved ones cause of it. It’s a sad thing.”
TMO: “Do you have any personal favorite tracks among your songs?””
BN: “I love’em all, hehe. But honestly said, my favorite track from Wormwood would be “Destroyer of Worlds”. My favourite song from Anthology is “The Discovery.”
TMO: “Right now, you are already in the making of a third full length release. What can we expect from your next album?””
BN: “Hmm…well, I hope this next album turns out the way you’re expecting it to be. Expect a very long track, too.”
TMO: ““Do you have any plans for spreading your next record’s name around the world?””
BN: “Not at the moment, but soon.”
TMO: “Thank you again for this interview. I’m eager to listen to your upcoming release. The last words to our readers are yours.””
BN: “Thank you and keep it real!”
Please vist: http://badernana.bandcamp.com/
Liebe Leserinnen und Leser meines Blogs!
Es ist endlich vollbracht. Angespornt von meiner Leidenschaft für die russische Kultur und meiner Liebe zur Horrorliteratur hatte ich nach dem Abschluss meines längsten Romans "Die Todesinsel" im Jahr 2009 an einem neuen Roman zu arbeiten begonnen. Schon bald stand für mich fest, dass ich keinen einzelnen langen Roman, sondern eine Serie kurzer und mitreissender Romane verfassen wollte. Zudem wuchsen mir die vielen Figuren des ertsen Romans ans Herz und ich hatte jede Menge Ideen, was mit ihnen noch so alles passieren sollte. Im Sommer 2009 beendete ich den ersten Roman der neuen Serie namens "Aljenikow und der Hafen des namenlosen Grauens". Es ist ein sehr aktionsreicher Roman, der Elemente aus dem Genre der Kriminalgeschichten mit übersinnlichen Fantasy-Elementen vermischt und in meiner Lieblingsstadt Sankt Petersburg spielt. Ich verschickte meinen Roman an mehrere Verlagshäuser, aber meine Manuskripte kamen wie sooft unangerührt wieder zurück oder wanderten vor Ort einfach in den Müll, ohne das man sich die Mühe machte sie mir zurück zu schicken.
Von der Ignoranz der Verlagshäuser liess ich mich aber nicht entmutigen, denn das Schreiben machte mir weiterhin ganz viel Spass und ich glaubte an mich. Ich fing zu der Zeit im Sommer 2009 auch schon mit der Fortsetzung an, die im hohen Norden, genauer gesagt im Oblast Murmansk spielen sollte. Sie trägt den Namen "Aljenikow und das Todesdorf aus dem ewig eisigen Norden".
Nachdem ich vielleicht ein Viertel des Buches geschrieben hatte, gab es viele Ereignisse in meinem Leben, die dazu führten, dass ich das Schreiben ganz hinten anstellen musste. Ich zog in ein fremdes Land, integrierte mich in eine neue Kultur und begann mein vierjähriges Studium inklusive vier Praktika an ganz verschiedenen Orten. Ich musste mich um Visa und Arbeitserlaubnisse kümmern, fand meine ersten richtigen Jobs als Journalist, Lehrer oder Sicherheitsmann und reiste auch nach meinem Studium durch die Weltgeschichte um endlich erfolgreich eine erste richtige Arbeitsstelle in meiner Domäne zu finden. So musste ich mich auch dann wieder an einem neuen Ort einleben, mich in meinem neuen Beruf zurechtfinden und jede Menge neuer Leute kennenlernen. Viele Freunde und auch Freundinnen wechselten und langsam fand ich dann auch wieder etwas Zeit für mich. Um vom Berufsleben abzuschalten widmete ich mich wieder vermehrt dem Schreiben und entschloss mich dazu an meiner Serie um die Abenteuer des Vitali Aljenikow weiter zu arbeiten. Ich schrieb Teile des Ursprungsmanuskriptes um und führte die Geschichte langsam weiter und schliesslich zu Ende. Meine Ausdrucksart und Herangehensweise an einen Roman hatten sich nach fast fünf Jahren im Ausland sicher verändert und so steckte ich besonders viel Arbeit und Detail in diese Fortsetzung.
Mit Stolz kann ich nun verkünden, dass der zweite Roman um Vitali Aljenikow abgeschlossen ist. Ich lade Sie deswegen ganz herzlich ein die Fortsetzung "Aljenikow und das Todesdorf aus dem ewig eisigen Norden" exklusiv und umsonst hier auf meinem Blog zu lesen:
Über konstruktive Kommentare oder Tipps jeglicher Art würde ich mich unglaublich freuen. Vielleicht hat der ein oder andere Leser ja auch eine Idee, wie ich meinen Roman möglichst kostenfrei und unkompliziert an eine grössere Leserschaft bringen könnte.
Die Abenteuer des Vitali Aljenikow werden sicherlich weitergehen. Ich habe schon jede Menge neue Ideen zu einer ereignisreichen Zugfahrt mit der Murmanbahn zwischen Murmansk und Sankt Petersburg. Allerdings habe ich auch einige andere Romane in Vorbereitung. Einer ist eng mit Dmitri Gluchovskis Science-Fiction-Zyklus "Metro 2033" verknüpft und spielt in der Metro von Toronto in Kanada. Ein weiterer Roman ist komplett eigenständig und erzählt die mysteriöse Rachegeschichte eines unbekannten Mannes, die ihn kreuz und quer durch die ferne Volksrepublik Chinas führt.
Ich hoffe, dass Sie mir als Leserinnen und Leser auch weiterhin gewogen bleiben und wünsche Ihnen gute Unterhaltung mit meinen Romanen!
Ihr Sebastian Kluth
Happy New Year to all my readers and friends from China!
If you want, you can enjoy some of my favourite Chinese bands over the upcoming two weeks. I will introduce you to some more next year. Please support these unknown but highly talented artists. Take good care!
Suivre le flux RSS des articles de cette rubrique