Interview: Nils Molin of Dynazty

Nils Molin of Dynazty in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Nils Molin of Dynazty in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

When Swedish melodic metal band Dynazty finally came to perform in Japan, Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson sat down with vocalist Nils Molin for a chat about the band’s journey so far.

Sweden has a long and proud tradition of bringing melodic metal bands to the world. Ever since the early 80s when Europe first won the Japanese fans’ hearts, Japan has been a special place for many of these melodic bands who have built up a loyal following here. Dynazty fits in very well in this tradition. With five studio albums below their belts, they recently came to Japan to perform for their fans for the first time. All of the band’s five albums have been released in Japan, licensed by local record label Marquee (who has also released albums by other Swedish bands such as H.E.A.T. and Soilwork).

Nils Molin of Dynazty in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Nils Molin of Dynazty in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

On the Dynazty’s two most recent releases, 2014’s “Renatus” and 2016’s “Titanic Mass”, they have refined their sound and become a bit heavier while still remaining melodic and catchy. It feels as if they have found their place now. “These latest two albums naturally fit together. The latest, ‘Titanic Mass’, feels like a natural follow-up. Whether or not we’ve found our sound now, one can really never know. We will for sure continue in this direction, but we’re probably going to continue to develop,” says vocalist Nils Molin as we meet backstage a few hours before the band is due to perform in Japan for the very first time.

Has it been tough to find a balance between melodic and heavy as you write new songs? “There are obviously those that have abandoned us. But they were surprisingly few and it was surprisingly many who welcomed our change. We almost expected a bigger backlash from our early fans. There are of course those that want us to go back but we won’t be doing that. It’s in the past. Development goes forward, not backward. Haha!!”

Nils Molin of Dynazty in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Nils Molin of Dynazty in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

In recent times the band has taken a bigger role in the production of its music. The latest album was produced by the band with assistance of Swedish production giant Peter Tägtgren (Amon Amarth, Marduk, Kampfar, Overkill, Children of Bodom, Dark Funeral, Pain, Enslaved, Belphegor, Amorphis and many more). What’s behind the band taking more control of production? “It’s for several different reasons. First and foremost it is the way we work when we write songs and demo them at the same time. The whole process is part of the production. When we present the demos they are in principle already produced. They barely change at all when we then record them properly. Additionally, we are protective of how we express ourselves. We feel that we stand on our own legs and that we are realising our own plan to a hundred percent” says Molin, who together with the band’s two guitarists, Love Magnusson and Mikael Lavér, write most of the music.

Nils Molin of Dynazty in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Nils Molin of Dynazty in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

With the band having released five albums, there is now a decent back catalogue to choose songs from when set lists are decided. Is the focus now on songs from the latest two albums? “Yes, it is, mainly. When we choose songs, the important thing for us is to think about what kind of dynamics you want at the gig. Thus, the odd song from the old albums may sneak into the set list because it fits nicely with the dynamics when you want to take down the tempo and the intensity. But mainly we now play songs from the last two albums as that is the sound we represent nowadays.”

Nils Molin grew up in a small, rural town. How did he end up in an internationally successful rock band touring the world? “I definitely had dreams when I was younger. Mainly I dreamt about playing music. Whether or not I would become successful or famous, that wasn’t so important. It was more about being able to get out there and play music, to be able to professionally work with what I was passionate about. That was the dream. After senior high-school I travelled, went to Australia. Just as I got home I was contacted by these guys in Dynazty who had just formed the band. They had listened to a few demo songs I had put up on Myspace as they were looking for a singer. They contacted me and asked if I was interested in coming down to try out and if I would be interested in moving down to Stockholm to work on this band one hundred percent. I tried out and it felt really good. Then I packed up my things and moved.”

Nils Molin of Dynazty in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Nils Molin of Dynazty in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Nine years, five albums and countless gigs. What are the highlights and low points so far for Dynazty? “Overall, I view all the mishaps and land mines we have walked on as good things in the end. Highlights? I don’t know I feel like everything is part of a journey. To get to go to Japan is some form of a milestone. It’s the kind of goal one sets up. I guess most rock bands do that – that one day we will get to go to Japan. It’s not something I’ve been thinking about all the time, but now that I am sitting here, sure, it’s a highlight” says Molin with a smile as he’s clearly happy to finally be able to bring the band to Japan. “It’s obviously a market we want to get into properly. Now we’re here and we’ll start to work hard on this. I think it’s important, obviously. Here there’s a kind of enthusiasm and gratefulness for music that unfortunately is missing in many other places. No countries named…”

Nils Molin of Dynazty in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Nils Molin of Dynazty in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

As often is the case in Japan, Dynazty did a signing session in record shop the day before their Tokyo show. “It’s a way to be able to meet fans and communicate with them. In the hard rock genre, it has always been a great thing that artists often has a really good relation with their fans, more so than in other genres. We have no problems with meeting and talking with fans. That these meetings with fans still happen is very important to me.”

Dynazty’s latest album was released in April 2016 and the bad has been doing a fair bit of gigging since then. What’s next? “We’ll be doing some gigs during the spring and then a few festivals during the summer. Then we’re planning to tour in the fall. During the spring and summer we will also start writing new material and work on a new record.”

Catch Dynazty on tour and expect another album to be released in 2018.

Dynazty – band members

Nils Molin – vocals
Love Magnusson – guitar
Mikael Lavér – guitars
Jonathan Olsson –  bass
Georg “Egg” Härnsten – drums

Dynazty – albums

  • Bring The Thunder (2009)
  • Knock You Down (2011)
  • Sultans of Sin (2012)
  • Renatus (2014)
  • Titanic Mass (2016)

www.dynazty.com / www.facebook.com/dynaztyband

EP review: Hellfire “Goat Revenge”

hellfireBy Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Ukraine’s Hellfire plays a fantastic form of old-school, underground black metal with thrash metal guitars and terrific melodies.

When a band names its EP “Goat Revenge”, how can one not pay attention? Fortunately, this is not just an EP with a great title, it is also a record jam-packed with great brutal music.

More than anything, Hellfire is a band has some great songs. They are far ahead of many other bands playing old-school, underground black or death metal. There are some terrific thrash metal influences on this EP that makes Hellfire’s music quite different. It’s heavy and brutal, yet with some fantastic melodies. It is perhaps best described as a less polished form of blackened death metal with more of an underground feel and plenty of heavy metal guitars. The EP has a rather basic production and a raw old-school DIY sound. The down-in-the-basement production fits the music like a glove. Just the way I like it. The music appears somewhat simple on the surface, but is actually rather complicated with many different twists and turns in a multi-layered and riff-heavy soundscape.

Hellfire was formed in Ukraine in 2014 and the band made its live debut in 2015 playing original black metal music with some influences from old-school thrash and death metal. The current line-up is Karargh on guitar and vocals, Necrobaphomet on bass and Skullcrusher on drums. The “Goat Revenge” EP is the band’s first record release and it promises a great future for this talented band. Hellfire’s “Goat Revenge” has been recorded in Ukraine, produced by the band and is out now on the Witches Brew label.

www.facebook.com/hellfireua

www.facebook.com/witchesbrewthrashes

Gig review: Testament delivers thrash metal knockout on Tokyo fans

Testament on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Mikio Ariga

Testament on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Mikio Ariga

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Thrash metal heroes Testament are on top of their game as they tour Japan once again.

30 years on from their debut album “The Legacy”, Bay Area thrash metal veterans Testament are on top of their game. They have a fab new album out and one of their best band line-ups to date. Following a lot of member changes over the years, they now have a solid band which one hopes will last. The band’s in fantastic form and in a great mood. A metal power house who are better live now than ever before during their three decades of performing.

Chuck Billy of Testament on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Mikio Ariga

Chuck Billy of Testament on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Mikio Ariga

The band has built up a loyal following in Japan over the years. Even before the band’s on stage there is a circle pit happening in the audience. As the band walks on stage the crowd goes wild. During the gig the audience does its best to outdo the band with constant crowdsurfing and circle pits.

Testament’s return to Tokyo is nothing short of a knockout. The band’s in fine form and are clearly enjoying themselves up on stage. They kick off with “Brotherhood of the Snake” followed by “Rise Up” (quite possibly the evening’s highlight) and “The Pale King”.

Testament on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Mikio Ariga

Testament on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Mikio Ariga

Alex Skolnick is one of the fastest guitarists in metal and he shows off his skills throughout the set. Eric Peterson, the only remaining original member of the band, personifies thrash metal with his guitar playing and stage presence. The rhythm section – Gene Hoglan on drums and Steve Di Giorgio on bass – is rock solid while Chuck Billy proves why he is the best lead vocalist in thrash metal. None of the Big Four bands (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax) has a singer like Chuck. His voice outclasses the vocalists of all the other major thrash metal bands. He is also a great entertainer who knows how to perform for his audience. Chuck plays more air guitar up on stage during the gig than the metalheads in the audience.

This evening Testament has put together an absolute killer set list with great songs from the last two albums (their best in a long time). But we also get songs from throughout the band’s career, including early classics such as “Disciples of the Watch”, “Over the Wall”, “Into the Pit”, “The New Order” and “Practice What You Preach”. The crowd loves it. “Alone in the Dark”, dating back to when Testament was still known as Legacy, finishes a great evening of thrash by one of the best bands in the business.

Alex Skolnick of Testament on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Mikio Ariga

Alex Skolnick of Testament on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Mikio Ariga

Testament – Tsutaya O-East, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, 20th February 2017 – set list

  • Brotherhood of the Snake
  • Rise Up
  • The Pale King
  • Disciples of the Watch
  • Practice What You Preach
  • The New Order
  • More Than Meets The Eye
  • Dark Roots of Evil
  • Stronghold
  • Into the Pit
  • Over the Wall
  • D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)
  • 3 Days in Darkness
  • The Formation of Damnation
  • Alone in the Dark

www.facebook.com/testamentlegions

www.testamentlegions.com

EP review: Primal Age “A Silent Wound”

primal-age

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Wake-up call: Primal Age’s French metallic hardcore goes well with your morning coffee.

The Slayer-loving French band Primal Age has been around for a while and released several albums and toured the world. Now they’re back with a great new EP on French independent label Deadlight Entertainment.

The four-track EP is furious and heavy but with some great grooves going on. Primal Age’s music is relentless. There are no breathing spaces, no coming up to the surface for air. It’s angry, it’s political, but more than anything it’s great, in-your-face music. Particularly the title track stands out as a fab song, but the whole EP is even with no dips. A four-track EP with no dips is so much better than a full-length studio album with a couple of filler songs. The EP finishes with “To Jeff…”, a good-fun Slayer medley as a tribute to the late Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman.

To put a label of any sort on a band’s music is often difficult and dangerous. Primal Age gives us quite an interesting mix of various forms of extreme metal and hardcore with some modern touches to it – a bit metalcore-ish. Is it metallic hardcore, or melodic metalcore or something else? I don’t know, I don’t care about the label. I like it and it goes great with my morning coffee as a wake-up call. I like this stuff.

Primal Age’s “A Silent Wound” EP will be released on 3rd March via Deadlight Entertainment.

www.facebook.com/primalage / www.facebook.com/deadlight.fr

Gig review: Dynazty finally rocked Tokyo

Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

With five albums below their belt, Swedish melodic rockers Dynazty finally came to play for the band’s Japanese fans. And what a Japanese live debut it was.

When Swedish melodic metal band Dynazty brings its live show to Japan for the first time, we get an hour and a half of pure energy. The band has the talent, the songs and the stage presence to claim a place in the Japanese fans’ crowded metal hearts.

Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

The band formed in Sweden nine years ago and the lads have released five studio albums to date. All the albums have been released in Japan which has helped in creating a loyal following for the band.

The band opens their first-ever gig in Japan with “Run Amok” and follows it with “The Northern End”. The “Titanic Mass Tour: Tokyo Showdown”, as the evening is billed, is built around songs from the band’s latest album, the eminent melodic metal album “Titanic Mass” from 2016 and its predecessor, 2014’s “Renatus”. This is no coincidence as the band’s sound has somewhat changed to become a bit heavier than the music on the first three albums. Dynazty is also a bit heavier live than on record. This evening we do, however, also get two favourite songs from the band’s 2009 debut album, “Bring the Thunder”, as well as a couple of other earlier songs. Dynazty’s music has echoes of other bands here and there, including Europe, H.E.A.T. and even, at times, HammerFall. But they have used these and other influences to make their own signature sound.

The evening’s show reminds me quite a lot of the gig that H.E.A.T. performed at the same venue in 2015. Dynazty not only shares the same Japanese record label with H.E.A.T., they also share much of the same audience here in Japan. The Japanese fans have always liked the combination of melodic and heavy music that so many Swedish acts offer.

Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

They finish a great evening of melodic metal – call it power metal, melodic hard rock or something else – by playing the fabulous “Starlight” as an encore.

Jonathan Olsson of Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

Jonathan Olsson of Dynazty on stage in Tokyo | Photo: Masayuki Noda

The band members are all skilled and tight, with bassist Jonathan Olsson sticking out as the most talented of the bunch. Vocalist Nils Molin, an obvious centre of attention, personifies a fabulous mix of a young Joey Tempest of Europe and Sebastian Bach of Skid Row at his best.

Dynazty – Tsutaya O-West, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan – 15th February 2017 – set list

  • Run Amok
  • The Northern End
  • Raise Your Hands
  • Roar of the Underdog
  • Free Man’s Anthem
  • This Is My :Life (Anna Bergendahl cover)
  • Lights Out in Candyland
  • Bring the Thunder
  • Drum solo
  • The Beast Inside
  • Incarnation
  • Salvation
  • Guitar solo
  • The Human Paradox
  • Titanic Mass
  • Starlight

www.dynazty.com / www.facebook.com/dynaztyband

EP review: Heavy Temple “Chassit” | Groovy and doomy stoner rock

heavy-templeBy Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Heavy Temple invites us on a groovy rock ride away from Philadelphia.

Heavy Temple has a doom label plastered on them, and sure, this is rather doomy. But it is also quite stoner rock-ish with psychedelic parts to it. This is more distorted stoner rock than doom metal. Call it doom rock, stoner doom or whatever you want, it’s good music. There is clearly some kind of trip going on here, but it is more about music than substances. I think that more people than me will want to get on this magical carpet ride together with Heavy Temple to some far away musical soundscape. There is a foundation of sorts in blues rock here and plenty of fantastic distortion. The four tracks on the album shoot off in different directions, largely as a result of what sounds like uncontrolled jam sessions. Bloody gorgeous.

heavy-temple-art

The band formed in 2012 by High Priestess Nighthawk on bass and vocals. Its current line-up features drummer Siren Tempestas and Archbishop Barghest on guitar. With “Chassit” this Philadelphia band has created a great soundtrack for the Roppongi Rocks headquarters and probably for your after parties too. The EP grooves along nicely throughout its less than half-hour length. The length of the EP is no coincidence. Great music should finish before the listener gets bored. It should leave you wanting more. That is very much the case here.

The band’s music seems to be created and delivered so effortlessly, as if the band members were born to play this music. That is all probably rubbish, as I am sure that these musicians practice their craft like crazy in some rehearsal studio. But the end result is fabulously fuzzy yet natural. They are jamming away like it’s nobody’s business. “Chassit” feels and sounds like someone has cross-bred Glenn Hughes’ Trapeze with Candlemass via Electric Boys and Monster Magnet. Sort of. As if Jon Lord were a guitarist. Love it. Great stuff. I want more.

Heavy Temple’s “Chassit” is out now via Van Records/Tridroid Records.

www.facebook.com/heavytemple

www.facebook.com/tridroidrecords

BREAKING NEWS: Jake E officially leaves Amaranthe

Jake E on stage in Tokyo with Amaranthe in 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E has decided to leave Amaranthe, the very successful melodic metal band he co-founded. “I am stepping off the Amaranthe tour bus and will go on to do new things”, says Jake in a comment to Roppongi Rocks.

Jake E and Elize Ryd on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Since 2011, Amaranthe has released four studio albums and relentlessly toured the world. Following Amaranthe’s Japan tour with Helloween in September last year, Jake E, one of the band’s three vocalists, has taken time out from the band. Smash Into PiecesChris Adam has been standing in for him during Amaranthe’s gigs in the past few months.

Jake E in Tokyo in 2014. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E in Tokyo in 2014. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

“I’ve had some fantastic seven years with Amaranthe. We have achieved success far beyond what I expected when we formed the band. I am very proud of what we have achieved with Amaranthe: creatively and commercially, in the studio and on stage in front of our great fans. Now I am stepping off the Amaranthe tour bus and will go on to do new things. I am involved with plenty of great things, both in the music space and in other creative areas,” comments Jake E exclusively to Roppongi Rocks.

Jake E has earlier announced that he will perform on stage in Sweden in March with his old band Dreamland. Recently he has spent time hosting a radio show, working on film projects and produced the debut album by Finnish band Ember Falls. Among other things. No doubt we will hear more from the multi-talented Jake E in the near future.

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2013. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2013. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

www.facebook.com/jakeeofficial

www.facebook.com/amarantheband

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks