The third album is often the make it or break it album, and the signs are good that Pyramaze will make it with their brilliant new album “Immortal” – or are the signs so good? Power of Metal.dk has investigated a bit…
Kenn - Michael, “Immortal” is your third and very important album, and all indications are good that this will be your breakthrough album. Everything has taken at least one step ahead if not more. The planets align for you and Pyramaze if you will. Matthew Barlow delivers in my humble opinion his most multi-faceted vocal deliverance ever. All of songs sound uncompromised, better and more mature… BUT Matthew Barlow has off course re-joined Iced Earth – so where does that leave you and the band?
Michael: Well – it leaves us without Matt…. ;-) And that was kind of hard to digest to begin with of course.
But I mean – the show goes on, and I’m sure we will find a suitable replacement before we start scheduling our live shows. We are looking for a singer who can do both the new and old material, and obviously there are some pretty big shoes to fill. But I have faith that everything will turn out just fine. I’m glad you like the album, and I’m sure you’re not the only one. And I’m also sure that people will realize that Pyramaze is not about the performance of one individual, but the common talent of the entire band.
Kenn – What do you think set “Immortal” apart from “Legend of the Bone Carver” if you look past the fact that you have one of the best metal vocalists singing on it?
Michael: Well, compared to LOTBC I would say that Immortal is more mid-tempo orientated and a bit heavier. But at the same time the songs are very melodic and catchy, maybe even more than on LOTBC. The choruses are pretty sing-along orientated, and I think that Immortal is faster to digest than its predecessor.
Kenn – Toke Skjonnemand is now fully integrated in the band, has he taken part in the song writing process?
Michael: Toke was responsible for the main parts of his own guitar solos – by that I mean the solos themselves, but not the underlying musical chords or rhythms. Other than that he’s just been a part of the final arrangements, as have all the other guys. But I don’t involve the band in the core song writing at all. They are brought in once the ideas start taking form. The exception are the tracks that Jonah was responsible for, I’ve not interfered with those.
Kenn - “Legend of the Bone Carver” was a concept album; is there another story behind the album this time around. Could you tell us a bit about the lyrically aspect of things on this album? Has Matthew contributed in any way?
Michael: Immortal is not a concepts album. These are all separate tracks and stories with no common theme.
The stories range from old folklore, history and fiction and all the way to personal texts. Matt has contributed with the lyrics for one song. It’s the one called A Beautiful Death. This song is about the legend of the Spartan warriors who stood up against an invading superpower. People who have seen the movie 300 will know what I’m talking about ;-) Other than this text Matt was also responsible for the vocal melodies.
Kenn – You have worked together with well-known producer Jacob Hansen once more and the outcome is top notch. How does the final result compare to the idea you had going into the studio?
Michael: Well, on some points it surpassed my expectations. Jacob has outdone himself on the mixing and mastering of the album, and I think the overall sound is very strong indeed. Other than that I guess the sound has come out just the way I hoped it would. Strong, clear, epic and in your face.
Kenn – You are a really at a crossroad right now, you have a brilliant new album out, and would most likely like nothing more than going out on the road supporting the album, but… Will we see Pyramaze out on the road any time soon – and will it be with hired help at the microphone or will it be with a new vocalist?
Michael: You will definitely see Pyramaze playing some concerts this year. But it will not be during the summer, it’s simply too late for that. I can not say yet if it will be with hired help or a real successor to Matt. But I can assure you that whoever will sing and whatever the term of the cooperation, you will be getting a top class vocal –and instrument performance when we hit the stages.
Kenn - The artwork is a pretty standard for metal album, who have you worked with on this one? And why a ‘simple’ artwork – at least compared to “Bone Carver”?
Michael: Well, let’s talk about the word “standard” – because almost every idea has been used for a metal album in the past, and it’s immensely hard to find something that does not remind of something else that has been done before. But for us this cover works, because there are lots of small hidden things referring to the band. If you look closely on the cover there are the following ingredients: The Pyramaze symbol in the wizards hand, symbolizing the summoning of the band / The rising Phoenix, symbolizing Matt’s return and Pyramaze rising yet again strong and proud / The runes on the side of the cliffs, symbolizing various things from the songs on this album / The hourglass, symbolizing how the time passes by and brings change / The solar eclipse, again symbolizing change and new things. There are a few more things – see if you can find them…. ;-) So if people dive into all of this symbolic, then the cover actually means more than first meets the eye. We worked with a very talented guy from Colombia on this cover. His name is Felipe M. Franco. He used to work for Lucas arts (Starwars etc.).
Kenn – You are told that you are going to take part in an experiment where you have to live secluded for a week, and are allowed to take either 5 books or 5 albums with you. What do you choose and what would you have taken along with you and why?
Michael: Well, either 5 books OR 5 albums – then I would choose 5 albums because I would not be able to read 5 books within a week anyways. I would probably bring albums from some of the following bands: Nightwish, Blind Guardian, Wuthering Heights, Iced Earth, and some orchestral stuff to relax. If I had the choice though I would rather just bring my wife and daughter ;-)
Kenn - Thank you very much for answering my questions, Michael. Do you have any last rants for our readers?
Michael: If you readers made it through to the end of the interview, then thanks for reading, and stay metal. I hope you’ll go check out our new album – cheers!-)
Interviewed by Kenn Jensen.