“Oathkeeper – Part 1”
by Jorge Patacas
Astra is a new two-man project based in Oslo, Norway. As the story goes, the multi-instrumentalist Sondre Ramstad Paulsen started to work on his own songs while he was still a teenager back in 2012 after not being accepted into the music school and being told he wasn’t good enough for his friends band, which, ironically, included the other current member of Astra, his childhood friend William Strengelsund. They both reunited in 2016 and ended up working together as a duo on the majority of the songwriting with Strengelsund providing the vocals. Their debut concept album “Oathkeeper – Part 1” is an epic journey into the ancient land of Kalgard, a saga that’s being told through ten songs of which three are instrumentals. Musically, it sounds pretty solid and interesting to keep the listener hooked on. It’s a Symphonic Metal album, yet we can easily find influences from Progressive and even Power and Melodic Death Metal with vocals ranging from clean to screaming. Every instrument is placed on the right place according to the climate each song requires and the catchy choruses will make the experience even more enjoyable.
The album will be released on April 3rd and you can listen to their first single “Hammerdown” below!
Coming from Moldova, Infected Rain has been around since 2008 and recently signed a contract with Napalm Records to release their fourth album “Endorphin” that came out in 2019. Just hours before their first show in Norway, we got the chance to interview their vocalist Lena Scissorhands (whose real name is Elena Cataraga) about the new material, going in depth on some of the lyrics, their influences, social media and more!
RISE!: – Let’s talk about the latest album, “Endorphin”, that’s an interesting title, since it involves emotions, we feel good when they’re released through different activities. And I think it’s a very important topic specially these days where there are records of people suffering from anxiety and depression. Did you think of it considering this as a general issue or you just wanted to share your own personal feelings at the time you were writing the album?
Lena Scissorhands: It was kind of both, to be honest. This whole album is very unique because of how emotional and personal it is. All of the songs I’ve written so far were very personal and they were about what I’ve been through or what’s going on in my life, but this one in particular is different because I was experiencing very new feelings and situations that I was never prepared for, and it was pretty depressing for me and not very easy times for sure.
We thought about this name, first of all, because of how it protects our body. Endorphins were discovered after some experiment with electricity, after pain. Our body releases endorphins to calm us down, to make us happier and protect us from that pain. So that’s why we thought it was perfect, because of all the themes on the songs of this album.
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Eluveitie, Lacuna Coil and Infected Rain joined forces for a European tour by the end of 2019. One of their last stops was Oslo, so some hours before the show, we met their vocalist Fabienne Erni, who joined the band in 2017 and already recorded two albums with them, “Evocation II – Pantheon” (2017) and the recently released “Ategnatos” (2019). We discussed all things Eluveitie but also her other projects, her past, childhood, dreams and a lot more!
RISE!: – I guess you haven’t been in such a long tour before. How are you dealing with the life on the road?
Fabienne Erni: It’s going really, really well. I mean, now we’re actually on our fourth last show and I had my ups and downs, you know? I was a bit scared like “ok, it’s gonna be winter, so am I going to catch a cold?”, and then if I would, how do I cope with it when I have to sing everyday, and all of that. But it went really well, I was just a little bit sick, but still it was fine and now for me the tour could go on for two weeks or so, I have energy and I really enjoy it, specially being here in the north. I’m a huge Scandinavian fan and I took a walk today, the sun was out and it was just so good! (laughs)
R!: – You were lucky actually because the sun hasn’t been out in a long time before today (laughs).
FE: Really?! We were so lucky then, I think we had like two hours of sun now, and we took a walk, went to the sea, the castle thing and the Christmas market of course. This is what gives me energy too, just taking these walks, see different cities, catching some sun because otherwise when you sit in the club all day long, that doesn’t work. So we’re really having a good time and I’m gonna be a bit sad because it’s gonna be over and it will be a huge change because you’re surrounded by so many people all the time and at home you’re just alone again or with your family or friends, and that’s it.
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Moonspell has recently toured Europe together with Rotting Christ and the Swiss outfit Silver Dust. One of the stops was Oslo, Norway, and RISE! was there, so it was a great opportunity to meet the keyboardist/guitarist Pedro Paixao and discuss their latest album “1755”, the new biography book “Wolves Who Were Men”, his personal opinion on the music business as well as many other topics, even memories from their childhood!
RISE!: – You’ve just released a new biography book called “Wolves Who Were Men”. How did you come up with this idea? Can you tell us a bit of what the fans can find in the book?
Pedro Paixao: The idea came from Fernando (Ribeiro, vocalist) who thought that it would be a good time to have a biography, because we have so much history to share. And I think there was also a silent fan demand on it. Eventually he met the right person to write it, he didn’t want to do it because it would be a bit strange to write a biography of the band, of a group of people, written by one of them. That’s a different story. We really wanted somebody from outside, so when he met this person, he invited him to write the book. It was first released in Portuguese obviously, it went very well. It’s really well-written I have to say, it’s very nice.
In the first chapters you will find mostly the metal scene. It’s more like a social context realization, so you understand how Portugal was, how Lisbon was and how Heavy Metal was there, you know? And where did Moonspell emerge from. The very origin. That takes about two to three chapters. And then the characters, the persons that were involved start to show up slowly and slowly, and eventually it’s no longer a social report, it turns into kind of a romance. So I think overall it’s really well-written, we’re very happy to release it in English finally. And the curiosity is that it was my sister who translated the book (laughs). Because she’s bilingual and a translator as well, so things came together for a coincidence and now all the fans can have our biography with no filters.
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