Interview: Equipoise

Equipoise is one of the new forces in technical death metal. Despite being that their EP did so well and the band is already seen as one for the furture, without even having released a full-length yet! That time is soon upon us though so what better time to interview the vocalist Stevie Boiser on the bands history, how the new album has been going and, of course, what’s Stevie’s favorite game of all time?

First thing first, who does what in Equipoise? Does everyone take part in writing the music?

Oh boy, well this could take a second because we’re like the Slipknot of tech death haha. By that I mean we have a lot of moving parts.  Equipoise is composed of Seven members.  Nick Padovani (Kossuth, Virulent Depravity) Guitar / Classical Guitar Hugo Doyon-Karout (Beyond Creation, Brought By Pain) Fretless Bass Chason Westmoreland (Burning The Masses, Ex-The Faceless, Ex-Hate Eternal) Drums Sanjay Kumar (Wormhole, Perihelion) Guitar Phil Tougas (First Fragment, Chthe’ilist, Zealotry, Eternity’s End, Serocs, Cosmic Atrophy) Guitar / Classical Guitar Jimmy Pitts (Eternity’s End, Pitts/Minneminn Project, The Fractured Dimension, North Tale) Keys  and Myself, Stevie Boiser (Inferi, Tethys, Ashen Horde) Vocals.

As far as writing music goes, Nick handled the majority of writing for the album. A few things here changed here and there by various members. Every solo on the record was written by its performer. In terms of lyrics and vocals, thats 100% my department. Now that we have a footing and a clear direction for Equipoise I’m hopeful that everyone will be contributing more for the next record.

Equipoise is somewhat of a supergroup with members from acts like Inferi, Chthe’ilist, Beyond Creation and Virulent Depravity just to name a few. How do did you all get together?

The origin of the band starts back in 2015 with Nick Padovani and Zach Hohn. They started jamming that summer and things quickly evolved from just playing riffs to writing and arranging songs. Once they had a few tracks completed Nick began reaching out to musicians he admired to see if they would be interested in joining the project. Hugo and I were both tapped and joined the band. I remember that Equipoise didn’t actually have anything recorded when Nick first reached out to me. He just sent me a GuitarPro file for what became Alchemic Web of Deceit haha. It worked though, I was hooked! 

Fast forward a few moths and we were able to complete our first offering as a band, our EP Birthing Homunculi. Much to our surprise the EP did pretty well, and we had a very warm reception. Not too long after that Zach left the band so we recruited Sanjay to fill the void. Sanjay had performed a guest solo on the EP and in addition to that Mixed and Mastered it as well so it was great to have him working with us again. I reached out to my good friend Chason Westmoreland to see if he’d be interested in playing drums. The two of us had been talking about being in a band together for a while and this was the perfect opportunity. Shortly after that Jimmy and Phil joined our ranks as well. I guess you could say that Equipoise was made possible by the power of the internet haha. We’re all pretty spaced out geographically so we didn’t really have the option of approaching this band in a traditional manor. 

Stevie you’ve been a really hard worker with many projects ongoing and you’re a great talent. As such you’ve already been apart of bands such as Vale of Pnath, Tethys and recently even joined Inferi. How has the ride been? Got any secrets to become a wicked vocalist?

Thank you very much Jimmy! I really appreciate that. Its been crazy man haha. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to be in a number of really killer bands and as a result play shows for people in a number of different places. Im very grateful for that. Truth be told im just following my passion. I absolutely love it. Joining Inferi is probably one of the most surreal things thats happened to me. I’ve been a huge fan of their music since about 2007, so this is kind of a dream come true.

As far as vocal tips go I really only have a few. -Practice, practice, practice! Listen to the way your body responds to your vocal approach and then cater to it. You don’t want to burn your pipes out.  – Develop your own voice. Learning a bunch of different techniques or expanding your range is great. Id definitely encourage people to do that, but be conscious of how you can make these things your own. You are an individual and thus have your own voice. Find it, and own it.  
– Lastly, if you can. Invest in a quality way to record your own voice. While its not absolutely necessarily, its a great way to be able to experiment with your voice and listen back abjectivly. This can also save you money in the long run. Last year I recorded vocals for three separate albums (Equipoise, Ashen Horde, and Inferi) and demoed things out for Tethys. All of this was done at home and on my own time. Also, if you’re looking for a band you can use this as a means to audition for bands you’re interested in or at the very least, a way to get your voice out there.

The upcoming album Demiurgus will be Equipoise full-length debut. For how long has it been in progress?

Technically this album has been in the works since 2015. By the end of the year Nick had skeletons for the majority of the album. Although, we didn’t really spend time fully flushing out those ideas until a short while after Birthing Homunculi was released. Once we completed our line up we started the process of combing over each track and revising our work. Due to the face that we’re all so spread out we couldn’t really take the traditional approach of just jamming the songs together in a live room so we had a lot of guitar pro files and scratch tracks flying back and forth between members.

You signed with one of the best new labels The Artisan Era not too long ago. How did it happen?

After we released the EP we wanted to find a way to reach a bigger audience. Honestly, we really didn’t even consider another label. It was evident that what Mike and Malcolm were building with The Artisan Era was special. Every band the label represented released amazing music. We submitted the EP and informed them that we had a new album in the works. Luckily for us they really enjoyed what we did, and now they’re about to release our first full length record.

How do you guys find the time in your schedule between all your other bands to rehearse, write new material and especially go on tour?

As of now we are not an active touring band. However, Nick and I have been discussing the logistics of it all and if theres a large enough demand for it in the future we would love to make it happen! As for balancing writing, rehearsing, and recording equipoise material it all boils down to time management. I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but I tracked all of my vocals for the album a few weeks before the last Inferi tour. Personally, I try to approach my projects by order deadlines. I make sure to shift my focus from band to band so that I can stay fresh and up to date on each of them. I’ll typically spend my time working on whichever band has new material prepped and ready or a show / tour coming up.  

Since the release of the EP Birthing Homunculi the band has not only had a lineup change but also added another guitarist. How has that changed the sound of Equipoise?

Having both Sanjay and Phil join Equipoise was a huge deal for all of use. Both are absolute monsters with a crazy amount of skill and an uncanny ability to navigate their instrument. I think the best examples of this occur in the interplay of their solos. They both have such different styles, but they compliment each other wonderfully. I think that above all else having them on board really helped texture songs. 

There are a lot of guests on Demiurgus, especially on the last track Ouroboric. What was the decision behind having ten different session musicians on the album?

Our goal overall was to really push ourselves to create something special with Demiurgus. When it came to selecting guests for the album we set aside sections we thought would allow the to shine while simultaneously bringing a new flavor to the music. As a result we were able to work with a number of stellar musicians who would broaden our musical pallet. 

From what I see on Facebook I believe you’re a bit of a gamer. If I am right what’s your favorite game of all time and what do you play now?

Oh man… Thats a tough one! My answer is kind of cheating but I’ve got a threeway split for this one. Its a tie between Final Fantasy 9, Final Fantasy 3 (SNES), and Majora’s Mask. I can’t tell you how many hours Ive spent with these games. Each has so much depth, incredible character development, and really fun gameplay.  Right now I’ve been playing a lot of Pokemon Go. I’m trying to catch up on all the stuff thats happens since I stopped playing in 2016.  Currently Im doing some post game stuff in Pokemon Ultra Moon, playing the new Smash Bros, and Breath of the Wild/ I will be taking on Gannon almost immediately after this interview haha.

That was all I had! Thanks for taking your time Stevie, got any final words?

No problem at all Jimmy, thanks again for having me. Its been a pleasure! Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Demiurgus! It drops on March 8th via The Artisan Era. The New Ashen Horde record Fallen Cathedrals will be out on March 22nd, and New Inferi is right around the corner as well! For anyone who would like to keep up to date with what im working on for Inferi, Equipoise, Tethys, Ashen Horde, or my snakes feel free to follow my on Instagram @Mc_Screamy or on Twitter @ScreamyMc, See you next time folks! 

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Desecravity – Anathema (Technical Brutal Death Metal)

Japan’s very own answer to Origin are back with their third full-length album! After a change in the line-up since their last critically acclaimed album Orphic Signs I was interested to hear what that would do to Desecravity’s sound. I mean not only is Shogo Tokita a great guitarist, he also did vocals in the band so it’s not an easy member to replace. Now the growling duty falls solely on Yujiro Suzuki (who plays guitar as well), while they’ve added Yuya Takeda (Deadly Spawn) on guitar to the band.

After a beautiful intro on the epic side in Aeon and Ashes the technical brutality is unleashed on Impure Confrontation, the single I’d heard many times before but still haven’t got tired of. The utter chaos is created with such a technical precision it’s almost silly. Bands like Defeated Sanity, Origin and Cryptopsy will be proud to know there are bands like Desecravity out there that keeps the legacy going for years to come. If you think Impure Confrontation left you breathless then wait for Ominous Harbinger and Bloodthirsty Brutes which are two of the heaviest tracks I’ve heard in a long time and an instant favorites of mine. Anathema never lets you breath either, track after track it hits you with fast, technical and skull splitting tunes for you to devour and after the ride is over you will need to sit back, relax and take in just what the hell just happened to your now blown mind. It isn’t an easy feat to create such well crafted, well balanced, brutal techdeath that Desecravity has done. While their previous efforts were good in their own rights they weren’t finding that sweet spot between chaos and order. Now they have and we as metal fans can only be joyful that Japan gives us a band that can challenge any 2019 best of the year list in January already.

This is Desecravity’s best album yet, a band that keeps exploring and striving for improvements, and I only wish they can keep this lineup intact so that we can get even more of this insanity for years to come! A must have for any fan of the technical death metal scene.

Written by J.B.

Label: Willowtip Records
For fans of: Origin and Cryptopsy
Release date: January 25th, 2019
Favorite song: Bloodthirsty Brutes
Score: 4/5 Incredible

Serocs – The Phobos/Deimos Suite (Brutal Technical Death Metal)

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Serocs were formed in 2009 as a one-man project by guitarist Antonio Freyre who released two EPs and a full-length while going solo. With the release of The Next in 2013 Serocs turned into a full-scale band but have since had a hard time with finding the right line-up. Fast forward to 2018 and we got a new edition of Serocs, one featuring members from Chthe’ilist, First Fragment, Funebrarum and Benighted. Not bad right? With that much talent in one line-up I was hyped to see what the fourth full-length offering from Serocs had in store to me.

Want gnarly riffs, blasting drums and meaty bass play? Then Serocs got you covered big time. Hell, right from the bat with the opener “Being” you get a nice Halloween treat of everything. This is how to open a album showcasing your skills the best way possible. You know what the best part is? It doesn’t stop there! Every single song features more of those sick and twisted solos, even more relentless drumming and blazing bass. You simply can’t get enough of it and with great songwriting going hand in hand with this fantastic display of musicianship The Phobos/Deimos Suite quickly turns into a album of the year contender. So which bands would I describe Serocs draw influences from? Well think of the brutality Cryptopsy along with the technical aspects of Spawn of Possession and Gorguts and you’re getting there. In all honesty I think Serocs are the perfect candidate to take over the crown from Cryptopsy of the brutal tech-death masters once they call it quits. Really impressive stuff and Serocs have now got a perfect line-up together who I hope stays for future albums too. It’s consistent with a ton of energy, fun, that’s full of variation which separates it from most music within the genre.

It may have taken Serocs a few albums to get here but with The Phobos/Deimos Suite they’ve created an album most bands can only dream of doing. I am actually in awe of how good this is, even after having had the album on repeat for a couple days I still find something new and keep on changing what my favorite track is (which does in the end fall on “Deimos”). You’ve probably explored hell many times before through music but this is one journey there where you don’t want to miss the ride. Add the incredibly beautiful cover art which makes me think of the underrated horror game Layers of Fear and you got yourself a complete package, a true masterpiece, which is not something I say often.

The Phobos/Deimos Suite is one of the best releases you will hear all year with enough brutality and technical aspects to make you want to go back to this record many times, should be an instant buy for any fans of the extreme music. You will see The Phobos/Deimos Suite fighting for the album of the year title here on The Metal Gamer that’s for sure. Everlasting Spew Records ends this year really strong having released the latest albums by Infuriate and Serocs, both which I think are among the top tier brutal releases of 2018.

Written by J.B.

Label: Everlasting Spew Records
For fans of: Gorguts and Cryptopsy
Release date: October 26th, 2018
Favorite song: Deimos
Score: 5/5 Masterpiece

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With All My Hate – Dehumanized Depths (Brutal Death Metal)

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I’ve had way too few brutal death metal albums coming my way this year (big hint) so whenever I get the chance to I am all over a promo with that genre label slapped on it. All My Hate is Oscar Company’s solo project, which isn’t too common in the brutal death metal world. When I went through the discography I thought the debut was a rather weak one but grew a bit on the sophomore album. While the addition of Seyerot (Carnivorous Voracity and Harsh) on vocals for this album is for the better, there are still some issues on Dehumanization Depths.

There are quite a few nice ideas on Dehumanization Depths but they weren’t executed properly all the way through. The album goes by without making any lasting impressions on me in the end. Even with some killer riffs and gutturals it is all over the place with the mixing which destroys the overall experience. I do have to give the band credit on trying to go their own way of creating brutal death metal. The technical aspects along with the sick and twisted atmosphere the album lays out are really good in theory, if only the mixing and consistency were with it… It doesn’t cut it though which is a real shame because this could have been a nice entry to the scene but now I doubt I will even remember this album by the end of the year. Slight improvements on each album though and even if I do ramble on about negatives in this review I do think Oscar is on the right track, the vocals are miles better than on Deed of Voracity for example. If they get the mixing right next time around you will see With All My Hate on the right end of the score spectrum. There is something brewing here that can become greatness in the end, just not this time around.

Written by J.B.

Label: Amputated Vein Records
For fans of: Catastrophic Evolution and Carnivorous Voracity
Release date: September 7th, 2018
Favorite song: Dehumanized
Score: 2.5/5 Decent

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Beyond Creation – Algorythm (Progressive Death Metal)

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When one of your favorite bands release a new album you know the hype is real. It’s a double edge sword though because when you’re that hyped and have the bar set so high as Beyond Creation the backlash if the album doesn’t live up to the high expectations will hurt a lot. I can calm you all down already by saying it lives up to the hype.

It starts off with an epic intro that could easily be in a sci-fi movie as it moves into the Entre suffrage et mirage. A good opening that ends with a great solo, so we are off to a good start but it didn’t have those transitions I want in Beyond Creation. Surface’s Echoes I think is a bit out-of-place with its intro but around one minute in I recognize the core Beyond Creation sound and it becomes a better track than the previous. I’ve always felt that for Beyond Creation to get the most out of track they need to be 6-7 minutes long, which this one is and it makes the band being able to change the tempo and sound a lot during a song, letting it unfold as its meant to. It’s one of the bands strong-points to me, how a song can feel so complete and have all these different elements to it which some bands need a whole album to do. They show a lot of this on Surface’s Echoes, even though I can’t get the first minute of the song the rest is gold. Finally with Ethereal Kingdom you get the whole experience, an intro that sets the tone nicely leading into a beautiful solo and it feels more complete. It also transition really nicely into Algorythm which together with The Inversion are my favorite songs on the album. They showcase what Beyond Creation is all about in a good way. One may say Algorythm lacks a standout track like Earthborn Revolution or Coexistence which in some ways is true but I feel with time Algorythm will be one of their most memorable tracks. It grows on me with each listen.

Algorythm as a whole is a more progressive experience than their earlier albums, for the good and bad that brings. There are some moments that’s a bit slow to me due to this change but at the same time I don’t mind this at all as a whole. It’s definitely a bit different though but with the core Beyond Creation sound of course. They haven’t gone and switched completely but you should be ready that this is a bit of a change in style from The Aura and Earthborn Evolution. All in all Algorythm won’t be my first choice of album when I look back at Beyond Creation’s discography in the future but it’s yet another solid album from a band that set the bar insanely high on the debut. Their skill is showing throughout in both songwriting and instrumental excellence. While it’s not perfect (I think Earthborn Revolution is a perfect album mind you) it’s a well executed album that’s a must have for prog/tech-death fans all around. Beyond Creation doesn’t let you down.

Written by J.B.

Label: Season of Mist
For fans of: Obscura and Augury
Release date: October 12th, 2018
Favorite song: Algorythm
Score: 4/5 Incredible

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Soreption – Monument of the End (Technical Death Metal)

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I’m going to be honest, Monument of the End has been one of my most anticipated tech-death albums this year together with Revocation and Beyond Creation. As a Swede Soreption have always been extra close to me and even though I wouldn’t exactly call them top tier versus the likes of, well, Revocation and Beyond Creation for example they have released two really solid albums with Deterioration of Minds and Engineering the Void. Since their latest release Engineering the Void a lot has happened within the band though. The four-piece that had stayed the same since the creation in 2005 went down to two original members as Rikard Persson (bass) and Anton Svedin (guitars) are not a part of Soreption anymore. Now we enter a new era of Soreption with Mikael Almgren and Kim Lantto on guitar and bass respectively.

The line-up change has definitely shaken things up as Soreption are now closer to the mighty Swedish giant Meshuggah or Decapitated in the chuggy groovy riffing on tracks like “The Anti-Present” and “King of Undisputed Nonsense”. Whereas on “Nothingness Becoming” there are some The Zenith Passage vibes on the intro. A fitting step for the band in my opinion. Add the fact that a lot of things seems to have leveled up a notch. Fredrik Söderberg has his best vocal performance to date and Tony Westermark is as good on the drums as he has always been. The album also contains one of the best songs the band has released in the closer “The Entity”. There are a few negatives though, for one the album is a bit short. They could, and should, have had a couple more songs as 33 minutes is on the short side of a full-length. I also feel they do the same trick with the tempo changes and riffs a few times too many on Monument of the End which lowers the score somewhat. The album can become a bit dry after several playthroughs due to this.

All in all this is another solid album from Soreption, a new beginning for the band where you can hear how the band is transforming, evolving into something new with the new blood. They aren’t fully evolved yet (this isn’t even my final form!) but they are on the right path. It didn’t fully live up to my hype but I am not disappointed either. It’s a different Soreption and while I think this is their best album to date they got things to improve on in order to hit the highest of tech-death tiers. Tech-death fans who like it a bit groovy will have a good time with Monument of the End though that’s for sure.

Label: Sumerian Records
For fans of: Decapitated and The Zenith Passage
Release date: August 3rd, 2018
Favorite song: The Entity
Score: 3/5

Hadal Maw – Charlatan (Technical Death Metal)

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Hadal Maw was a new name to me, I honestly only first heard of them when I saw they were going on an Australian tour with one of my favorite bands Archspire and Psycroptic. Hadal Maw was created in 2010, hailing from Australia, released their debut album Senium in 2014 and has since been met with acclaim from fans and critics alike. Making it rather annoying for me personally that the band had gone completely under my radar for all these years. The name Hadal Maw originates from Hades actually. As Hadal Maw is the name derived from the Hadal zone, a delineation for the deepest trenches in the ocean (taken from metal archives). The latest release Olm, only a year old, was just as their debut met with only positives so with that in mind I was really hyped to review their third offering Charlatan prior its release.

After having had some great time with their past two albums to get ready for Charlatan I quickly realized how Hadal Maw does not simply stick to one sound, they have a core sound sure but they evolve with each album. Pushing their own boundaries and I admire that. Hadal Maw are a technical death metal band to the core but the influences are many. Even within the techdeath realm it can differ from Meshuggah, Beyond Creation to Gojira. Not only that though, Hadal Maw got a darkness in their music that goes beyond techdeath and more into the blackened death or black spheres. This is where Charlatan comes in. Charlatan is by far the darkest album Hadal Maw has done to date, getting closer to the mighty Behemoth than ever before. Hadal Maw does follow in the same path as Olm paved for them (which is very different from their debut) but as I said this is even darker, more atmospheric.

I see this album in many ways as Gojira and Meshuggah  have a meeting with Behemoth in the sense Hadal Maw’s technical death riffs and vocals draws some parallels to Gojira and Meshuggah while the atmospheric and dark feeling that clouds Charlatan is more of the Behemoth style of things. It’s a good match and whereas I thought Senium was more standard techdeath both Olm and Charlatan stands out with a more unique style. Charlatan is a great next chapter for Hadal Maw, a fitting successor to Olm where you can see the band elevate their sound yet again. The album has been a real grower to me. At first I thought it was a bit too slow for my taste in techdeath but after awhile I get sucked into the atmospheric side of it and the album as a whole is a pleasant experience that differs from your common Beyond Creation or Necrophagist clones (which I to be fair like a quite fair share of too haha).

This is an album you might not grasp of fully enjoy at your first visit but give it time and you will come to love it. Charlatan is also one of those albums where it is hard to pick just one track from as the album is meant to be experienced as a whole in my opinion. Whereas I’ve missed Hadal Maw in the past I now welcome them into my metal life as a sweet fresh new techdeath breeze in this hot Swedish weather. One can only wonder if Hadal Maw can go even deeper in that ocean to create more fine offerings to the metal world.

Label: EVP Recordings
For fans of: Behemoth and Gojira
Release date: August 3rd, 2018
Favorite song: Charlatan I The Grand Serpent
Score: 4/5