INTERVIEW: Drummer James Balcombe of Osmium Guillotine


INTERVIEW
JAMES BALCOMBE
OSMIUM GUILLOTINE

Coming straight from Essex -homeland of acts such as Crass, David Byron and Paul Allender- is Osmium Guillotine. A punk-infused Traditional Metal foursome that seems to be bringing some more life to fans of bands like Iron Maiden or even Dio. 

*Firstly, I’d like to say thanks for taking the time for this interview as well - it means a lot to hear from bands such as yourselves.

No worries, thanks for having us!

*What sort of struggles have you faced breaking out in the Essex scene?

Certainly when we first started out playing our style of ‘traditional’ heavy metal, back in 2009/2010 the local metal scene seemed to primarily consist of metalcore/screamo bands, as that style was pretty popular at the time, and we kept being put on those sort of line-ups. I’ve nothing against those bands or their fans, but it did mean that for us it was harder to find an appreciative crowd for the style of music we were into. Fortunately, in recent years there has been more of a resurgence of bands and metal nights which are better suited to our style, and through that we’ve been able to make a few allies with other local bands who’d experienced the same struggles, and collectively gained a supportive fan base.

*Not many bands are lucky enough to play with alongside likes of Dennis Stratton and Blaze Bayley, how did that come about and how did it help push Osmium Guillotine forward?

Obviously we’re all big Iron Maiden fans, so the opportunity to share a stage with former members of the band is a great honor. The Blaze Bayley gig was a few years back at a venue in Chelmsford, Essex, which we were offered a support slot for pretty much because the promoter knew our tastes and style of music would suit that crowd. The Dennis Stratton support slot was a lot more recent, and that one was extra special because we were actually joined on-stage during our set to perform a rendition of ‘Prowler’ from the first Iron Maiden album, with Dennis on lead vocals & guitar, so that was an awesome moment the band and myself personally will be something I’ll always remember.

*Traditional metal has sort of lost its steam these days, do you guys think Osmium Guillotine can make a difference in the genre?

True, that particular style it hasn’t been at the forefront of mainstream heavy metal for a while (excluding the ‘big names’ who headline festivals every year!) but it’s always been out there, you just have to look a little harder to find those bands. There’s definitely been a ‘British Metal Revival’ lately, with new festivals and metal events happening locally more tailored to traditional heavy metal, NWOBHM, thrash metal, etc. there will always be a place for it, even if it’s not what the mainstream music media ever considers ‘popular’.

*What albums/bands would you say inspired the formation of Osmium Guillotine and the creation of your first album - or maybe just stuff you guys jam to?


The first band that springs to mind obviously has to be Iron Maiden, for me personally their ‘Powerslave’ album was the album that really helped me discover heavy metal, so they’ll always be an early influence, likewise bands like Saxon, Judas Priest and many other bands from the NWOBHM-era. On the other side of the coin, the early Black Sabbath albums have definitely played a big part in the development of our sound. Other notable bands for me include anything from fast, raw energy of Motörhead, to more progressive stuff like Dream Theater. Our guitarist/vocalist Peter is big into the likes of Pantera and Alice in Chains so some of that creeps in as well, but overall we have a pretty varied mix of tastes, from thrash metal, punk, blues, jazz and even folk goes into the ol’ influence bag.

*Though Traditional Metal these days follows a pretty standard route with content, you guys manage to mix things up with some really unique lyrical content in songs like ‘Phobophobia’ and especially ‘Goomba.’ Would you say that it was your choice to go this unique route or simply something that happened?

We don’t really stick to any particular theme, lyrically, it really is just as the ideas come. Some of the songs are more tongue in cheek, or based on something fictional, while other songs have a more serious down-to-earth level. Phobophobia is a genuine thing I found out about, which is literally a ‘fear of fears’, people have a phobia of developing a phobia, seemed like a good topic to write about! Goomba is lyrically a bit more tongue-in-cheek as it’s actually written from the perspective of a Goomba (enemy from the Super Mario games), about what a horribly short and repetitive existence they live.

*I don’t usually ask this, but what exactly is the inspiration for the band name? Even in my experience with countless death and black metal bands - I’ve yet to even hear the word ‘Osmium’ used.


‘Osmium’ is actually on the periodic table, it’s literally a type of heavy metal! We were originally deciding between that and ‘Guillotine’ as two potential band names, and then figured, what if you had a guillotine made of osmium? Having your head taken off with the heaviest metal - Osmium Guillotine!

*Do you think Osmium Guillotine will hit North American in the future?

We’ve had quite a few CD and merch sales come from America, so someone over there must like us! Yeah naturally if we ever have the chance to play overseas we’d jump at it, but it’s a costly venture for us just to play gigs further afield in our own country, we all work full time jobs to cover our costs as playing in an underground metal band isn’t really a big money-making thing. But who knows what the future holds, if an opportunity arises for us to get out of England and come play some shows in different parts of the world, we will grab it with both hands.

*What can we expect in the future from you guys?

Our next release will be a live album, “Osmium Guillotine – Live From The Asylum” which was recorded at the Asylum venue in Chelmsford earlier this year, we plan to release this in mid-October, with a big launch gig at the Asylum venue.

We’ve recently had a change of personnel in the band, as our bassist Dan has unfortunately had to leave the band due as he’s recently moved away too far to gig/rehearse with us on a regular basis, so we’ve just welcomed Josh Birch into the band on bass and are now concentrating on rehearsing and gearing up for our first gigs with this new line-up, we do some new songs in the pipeline as well so people can definitely be expecting to hear some new material for our upcoming gigs.


*Thank you for your time and I really appreciate, again, that you took the time to do this interview! \m/

Cheers, keep the metal flag flying!

REPORT: HAKEN have a new video - and a new EP!

If you haven't gotten the chance to listen to HAKEN, a group of extremely unique UK progressive metallers, now is your chance. It was no secret that they've been working on something new, however, with 'Darkest Light' it looks as if the group is upping the technical ante even compared to 'The Mountain'. Now, I'd usually be skeptical over a band releasing a new EP only a year after their previous album but HAKEN has never failed me in the past - and with 'Darkest Light', well they've certainly went way over my expectations.

Check out the new video here:

If you like that, the EP will be released digitally on Nov. !!th and you can already pre-order the vinyl or CD here: https://www.burningshed.com/store/InsideOutMusic/product/523/6122/

IN MEMORY: Coldbringer Recordings

So, I've happened upon something that I've personally not yet experienced in my many years dealing with the 50,000 sub-genres of Rock, Punk, and Metal. You could say I'm lucky for this, or that the avenues I use for purchase rarely stock out-of-stock or print items (duh) - BUT I've managed to come across a Dead Label. Not only this but almost any band tied to this label sputtered out of existence as well (as far as I know).

So, in memory of this derelict label - I hereby erect this blog post in its honor. Direnotes remembers... and also happens to have a copy of 'Part 2 - Weeping Wailing and the Gnashing of Teeth.'

~RIP~COLDBRINGER RECORDINGS~

  • 2002-2012 (By evidence)
  • Los Angeles/San Francisco  

~BANDS~

  • End on End 
  • Life In Pictures 
  • Part II 
  • Bleeding Kansas 
  • An Arrow in Flight 
  • Life at these Speeds 
  • Comadre

SINGLE: Khaøs - After The Silence

Band:  Khaøs
Single: After The Silence
Genre: Hard Rock/Trad. Metal

It isn't too often I check out something that falls too far out of line with my (honestly) obscure tastes - nobody really wants to listen to something they are unsure of, even if they are reviewing it like I do. But, sometimes I decide to tone things down some and check out a band that doesn't exactly fall in line with what I like. So, after getting a much appreciated dose of support from a bevy of quality record labels and PR - I managed to catch wind of KHAøS.

Though the name implies extremity, KHAøS is actually more of a Hard Rock group that draws slightly from the well in which classic metal acts such as DIO and RAINBOW. And, with their single 'After The Silence' the band has starting going a route which promises anthems-a-plenty on their forthcoming album 'Risen'. Which, may possibly be something I'll be feature here on Direnotes.

Sadly, the song really speaks for itself - which makes reviewing it a bit difficult for someone such as myself. However, if it makes listening to the video below any easier - I can promise you that the verses make sense, are not filler, ARE meaty, and the chorus is incredibly catchy. Though I can't promise you'll like this group or their new single - this reviewer is enjoying what he's heard from their new singe and can't wait for 'Risen' to hit the shelves.

-KEITH J HAM-

REVIEW: Old Witch - Come Mourning Come

Band: Old Witch
Album: Come Mourning Come
Genre: Funeral Doom
USA

I'm almost completely sure that I've just had a near-death experience - or at least I've been completely bewildered for about 36 minutes. Funeral Doom has always captivated me but OLD WITCH, all I can say is that if I decide I'm listen to 'Come Mourning Come' - I'm not coming back anytime soon.

The average person will not listen to this willfully, as I hook up my stereo and experience the saddening depressive soundscapes of OLD WITCH - I'm pelted with questions as to if I'm alright or not. Though, I'm at a loss as to how to answer that. You see, the illusive group (whom i can find absolutely no solid information on) seems to have some deeper understanding of the hyper-depressive experience. Sorry to pelt on bands like DEAFHEAVEN (which I honestly do like) but their emotional aim's do not even scratch upon the surface of 'Come Mourning Come' and it's six harrowing tracks. Not only that, the deep whining and chugging riffs challenge my expectations of Doom as well - almost coming off as a horrifyingly depressive caricature of WEED EATER.  And really, that is the best comparison I can draw up. OLD WITCH gnaws and bites at you; drags you down and beats you senseless. It is a creature which properly illustrates the sub-genre in which it represents and acts upon it to the maximum. Not for the faint of heart.

Funeral Doom at its best - would be something I'd say if OLD WITCH didn't kick things up several thousand notches. No, OLD WITCH sets a new standard that I'm unsure will be met in the near future. Do not let this quiet release slip by your radar - seriously.

-KEITH J HAM-

REVIEW: Duke City Riots - OK to Burn EP

Band: Duke City Riots
Album: OK to Burn
Genre: Experimental Rock
Albuquerque, New Mexico

My wife happens to reside in the mountainous city of Albuquerque in New Mexico (a.k.a. Not Quite Real Mexico But Getting There). So, naturally when I'm somewhere completely unknown and unbelievably temperate - I gravitate towards places familiar.  It took me a while but I managed to find a rather good record store not too far from where she's at. And here I find DUKE CITY RIOTS 'OK to Burn' sitting there with 'FREE' written on its shrink wrap. To say the least, I was confused and expecting something entirely awful to be given out free. I mean, I've heard some unbelievably bad bands at least sell their CD's for a few bucks with moderate success - why was this free? Answer is: I have no idea.

You see, DUKE CITY RIOTS is not even close to bad. Granted, I'm not expert in the realm of rock or that particular scene but as someone who delves into a genre where people scream and yell for a hobby - I have to say that 'OK to Burn' provided the break I needed with a sufficient irony in its lyrics to feed my relentless cynicism. Also, these guys really know what they are going for and don't really bother to bombard you with over-the-top technicality or anything - the simplicity really shines here. There is a sort of Rockabilly sensibility to this EP as well, so expect some really decent anthem's to come out of 'OK to Burn' - especially with the song 'Monagability (Women on the Beach)' which even the band seems to know is the main highlight of this EP.

DUKE CITY RIOTS is for those who crave something new in the tired little niche they call Rock (real rock, not Pop-rock). You aren't going to get solo's and you aren't going to get anything overtly over the top but you'll get something incredibly fun with 'OK to Burn'. And, personally, this shouldn't have been free - I'm almost ashamed to have not supported these guys with a purchase! Stuff like this belongs on the shelf.

-KEITH J HAM-


REVIEW: DEVICE - Device (Self-Titled)

Band: DEVICE
Album: DEVICE
Genre: Heavy Metal
Vancouver, British Columbia

Yeah, its no surprise that with me being Canadian I'm a fan of Canadian music. Though, it should also be noted that I'm a fan of good music in general as well - so regardless of maple leafs, hockey, and slightly higher alcohol percentages - I'm still going to provide a honest opinion. So if it sucks, it does but hey -sorry- this time DEVICE does not.

Hailing, obviously, from Canada - but more specifically the ever-rainy Province of British Columbia is DEVICE (who share the name with the abysmal David Draiman band - hopefully by their second album they aren't called DEVICE B.C.). This band really borrows the energy and feeling from bands such as JUDAS PRIEST, W.A.S.P., IRON MAIDEN, and just about anything else along the lines of Traditional Heavy Metal (Hell, even the art is Traditionally drawn - to best of my knowledge, at least). However, borrowing energy doesn't mean that DEVICE is copying or anything like that. The band retains their own, very distinct individuality within the metal genre hemisphere. It isn't any surprise that I've been seeing these guys pop up all over the place. The entire album is just ripe with metal anthems, its the sort of album that totally oozes 'metal pride' over extremity - I can get behind that.

Listen-ability is key to me when it comes to albums and when I can somehow still thoroughly enjoy a band proudly and publicly even with songs with such remarkably cheesy titles like 'Miracle Metal' or 'Am I the Iceman?'- that tells you something, especially since I'm a very insecure kind of person when it comes to my music selection. Traditional fans show some praise: finally something new for you folks to sink your teeth into!

-KEITH J HAM-

REVIEW: WARFUCK - Neantification

Band: WARFUCK
Album: Neantification
Genre: Experimental Grind-core

I'm not usually the greatest fan of Grind-core, the music I can dig but the vocals most-times ruin it for me - it all feels like a vehicle to bring home a message of hate or political uprising - whatever. Though, occasionally there is a band or two I can get behind that break the tiring mold of using that aggressive short-style. WARFUCK, with its incredibly vulgar and not home-friendly name, a Uber spastic and aggressive duo from France - is actually one of those rare grind-core bands that do stand out. 

The styling of WARFUCK, as previously mentioned, are somewhat spastic in their approach. Rather then focus almost specifically on fast up-tempo in-your-face riff-age, WARFUCK likes to start fast and slow down just enough to drop a metric tonne of hard-hitting sludge-styled or sometimes thrashy bars atop your head. Between this, you also get some very punk influenced drum-lines as well as moments that almost sound like something off of a newer CRYPTOPSY album. What exactly is going on with WARFUCK, I don't think I'll ever know, but I'm enjoying every last second of it.

Sure, there is a few drawbacks to WARFUCK. Specifically dealing with the length of the songs and the constant use of narration of frame the subject of a specific track. 'Neantification' loves itself some narration, that is definitely fact. But, most of it is narrated by someone I have no idea or know of. If its one of WARFUCK's members or some overseas political activist, i don't know - but sometimes they sound to be on the verge of crying. However, the short and fast nature of the songs don't really lend well to this sort of addition. Some songs are just too obvious in content and doing this adds redundancy to something that is just too spastic and short to be redundant (sort of a self-contradiction). 

Anyhow, the album still holds up extremely well even with its solitary flaw. If you want it hard, fast, extremely aggressive, meaningful, and wholly refreshing in the realm of Grindcore - I suggest you get your hands on WARFUCK's 'Neantification'. And hey, they are on Vinyl as well - check it out!

-KEITH J HAM-