Album of the Month... February 2015

Eternal Misery by No Zodiac

28 Nov 2011

Anchor Interview

On the 6th October I went to see Trial, Anchor and Run With the Hunted at The Borderline in London. I got speaking to Anchor during the show and they happily agreed to participate in an interview for this blog. Anchor are a Straight Edge Hardcore band from Sweden and have recently released their full length Recovery which has had some great responses so far. I hope you all enjoy the following interview.

Hello, would you please introduce yourselves and what your roles in the band are.

Hi, I'm Ulf and I play guitar in Anchor. Mattias also plays guitar, Fredrik plays the bass, we got Calle on drums and Claes on vocals.

How did you guys meet and how did Anchor form through your friendship?

We've all met each other through shows/touring with other bands. Claes and Mattias were two of the founding members of Anchor and Claes played together with Fredrik in a previous band, so that's where they found him. My old band Balance did our first tour with Anchor in 2008 and since then those guys have been good friend of mine, and before joining the band I filled in a couple of times when someone couldn't make it, so me becoming a member of Anchor came pretty naturally, I think. I wasn't in the band when Calle joined, but I think he just knew they were looking for a drummer and said he'd be down to do it. All of us come from different backgrounds and it's quite amazing how we all ended up in this band together. I'm thankful and happy we did, though.

I know you live a Vegan and Straight Edge lifestyle, so why did you make this choice in life and how does this affect the music that you love to write?

I became vegetarian about 10 years ago, and going vegan was just an extension of that for me. There are plenty of reasons for being vegan or vegetarian, but for me it just comes down to that I think that the meat and dairy industry, and the abuse of animals that comes with it, is a selfish, evil and unsustainable tradition that I just can't support. I found out about Straight Edge at age 13, and I've never been drunk, never did any drugs or anything. It just never appealed to me, and it still doesn't. Our outlook on Straight Edge and veganism finds it's way into our songwriting one way or another. From obvious things like songs about sobriety and the meat industry, to indirect things, such as spending the weekend in a rehearsal room playing music 14 hours a day, still thinking there's nothing you'd rather do, even when all your friends spend their weekends at parties or in bars and clubs. Straight Edge and veganism are strong personal values for us, so it probably influences everything we do, more than it doesn't.

There are strong messages through your songs that reflect on animal rights, do any of you participate in any activities regarding this issue outside your band?

For me personally, Anchor is the most I do when it comes to activism, aside from occasional protests and such. I think that goes for most of us, but I'm not completely sure. Some activism is probably best kept a secret.

What is the hardcore scene like in the areas that you come from and how has it differed from the places you have visited?

I think the hardcore scene in Sweden is very similar to most places in western Europe. I think the quality of bands is really, really good right now. Kids don't realize how lucky they are to be able to see great bands any given weekend, even if it's “just a local band”. On the tour we did with Trial and Run with the Hunted, we played in some eastern european countries that not a lot of bands go to, like Macedonia and Romania, and those places were amazing. Kids were so appreciative, and there were actually quite a lot of people that weren't actually involved in the hardcore scene, but just fans of hard music, that came to the shows as well, so it was a nice mix of crowds in all ages.

Are there any bands that have been a great influence for you as people and also on your music?

There are a bunch of bands that has meant a lot to us personally. For me, a local band called Outlast, as well as Gorilla Biscuits shaped me a lot when I was just getting into hardcore. For the others in the band, I'm sure that some other bands were important. For Anchor, bands like Judge, Quicksand, Unbroken, Strife has been important when shaping our sound.

Are any of you involved with any other bands currently?

Mattias has a band called Painted Wolves. Claes is jamming occasinally with some elderly men in Stockholm. I think Fredrik started something in Oslo with Oscar who played drums in Anchor before. Other than that, we have some projects every now and then, but nothing serious.

You have accomplished a huge amount over the years; do you have any more achievements to gain in the future?

We want to see new places. South America and Australia are two continents we hope to visit within a pretty near future, if all goes well. Of course we want to push ourselves further as songwriters and musicians as well. I'm quite curious to see what's going to come next musically for Anchor.

I am a huge fan of your new album Recovery, what feedback have you received from people so far?

We've had nothing but good reviews, actually. Some have been amazing, even. The record seems to be going well, and I'm happy it is, cause we worked hard on it and I'm very proud of how it turned out. Robert at Refuse Records allowed us to really go all in when it came to the layout and packaging, so the vinyl looks absolutely amazing.

The hardcore scene is always changing; it has always has its ups and downs, what are your own views on hardcore and what does it mean to you personally?

This is a question that I think becomes both harder and easier to answer with time. Over the years, I've come to realize in how many ways hardcore has influenced me, and how much it still plays a huge role in my life. So my “relationship” with hardcore becomes more complex over time, but at the same time it becomes clear how much it means to me. Simply put, everything I do in my life right now, that has made me into the person I am, has some kind of connection to hardcore. I play in a touring band, I do a fanzine, almost all my friends are people I've met through hardcore, I study graphic design – which I got into because I started doing fanzine, the list goes on. I have no idea who I'd be or what I'd do if it wasn't for hardcore.

Thank you so much for taking the time outside your busy schedules for doing this interview, is there anything else you would like to mention or any shout outs you would like to make?

Thank your for the interview! Look out for the Unveil LP coming in 2012. Be good to yourself.

12 Nov 2011

I Stared into the Forest: 'Society Discontinued'

Recently I was contacted by a DIY record label in Romania called Fading Halo Records. They asked me to promote and review a couple of their first releases. The first is a band called I Stared into the Forest, who play a pummelling style of metal, hardcore and experimental music that I thought was most definitely worth writing about. Society Discontinued contains around 15 minutes of thrashy guitar riffs, high pitched raw screaming vocals and drilling drum beats. This is definitely an EP that you need to crank the volume up on.

The lengths of the songs seem perfect for their musical style and the song structures work really well throughout. The song that stood out for me was the first track Watching the World Collapse, which contains some heavy instrumental parts that blast away through the whole track. There is a decent mix of different pitched vocals, the majority of which are raw screaming giving an instant impression as to what the band are all about. The track Sloth Machine starts with a blast of heavy guitar riffs complemented with steady smashing drum beats. There are some calmer lead parts in this song and towards the end there are some light group vocals, which I thought was a nice touch. This record goes from harsh and shrill tunes in Clean up the Snow, aggressive throaty screams in Sore Monday, to peaceful, calmer melodies in Locked In (Part 1 and 2).

I have to admit, this record did really grow on me after a couple of listens and is for an acquired taste. You either like this style of musicianship or don’t, there is no middle ground. There is a lot of passion in the music and this comes out through the constant push of vocals throughout each song. You can feel the emotion portrayed through the lyrics that come straight from the heart. Alongside this, the music has been carefully written and I Stared into the Forest hold this style down well. Overall, a really good listen and I am hoping other people will say the same. I am sure they will do well in the future and progress from these early days. Check them out here.