Pictured below: Billy Fraser, the man behind Discern.
Visit Saving Grace on myspace
MBR: Hello, its great to have the opportunity to interview you guys. If you would, please introduce all the band members and their roles.
Saving Grace: Hey whats up and thanks for the opportunity!!!
Saving Grace consists of myself (Vasely Sapunov) on Guitar, Ben Davidson on Drums, George White on Bass and Nick Tautuhi on Vocals.
MBR: I see you released an album this year, has it been well received?
Saving Grace: Surprisingly so.... it's a real blessing to have so many good reviews and a lot of press not to mention going over to tour the other side of the world and finding out we have already sold hundreds of copies of the album without having ever set foot outside of New Zealand and having done so in such a short amount of time since the album's release.
Having kids at shows singing along to the songs and going crazy and telling us that they are excited because they have been waiting a long time to see us play, is just incredible, for us it's a dream come true.
MBR: Would you like to explain your album cover? What is the meaning behind the artwork?
Saving Grace: The concept of the album is the every day warfare that we, as Christians experience in the world today.
The album has a very war-like feel to it, everything from the artwork to the layout to the samples and arrangements is used to portray that concept.
We are very happy with the way the artwork came out and Dave Quiggle is one of the most amazing illustrators in the industry.
MBR: Were you satisfied with the outcome of your album? Would you change anything if you could?
Saving Grace: We are really happy with the way it came out. We were blessed with the opportunity to work with an amazing group of people on this album and we have learned so much from the experience. The only thing I regret is the fact that we took so long with it (the original studio sessions for 'Behind Enemy Lines' began in 2006 and the album was released April 2008), but I guess in that length of time we were able to really perfect things and get the record to a standard that we were more than happy with as well as giving us time to secure record deals and good global distribution etc.
The next album will hopefully be a much more fluid process from the writing to the recording and release.
MBR: How is the Christian metal Scene in New Zealand?
Saving Grace: Practically non existent unfortunately... Saving Grace is the only current Christian metal/hardcore band in New Zealand.
MBR: I know you are a Christian band, but was there anything in particular that made you lean towards the name "Saving Grace?"
Saving Grace: The fact that it's by God's amazing Grace that we are saved from eternal death... this is everything we as a band are about.
MBR: Its always refreshing to see a Christian band that is not ashamed of the Gospel. Lyrically, Do you prefer to focus on salvation, teaching, or other life issues?
Saving Grace: We prefer to cover all of those things.
Coming from a hardcore background, we feel it is very important to cover life issues and things that we deal with in the physical struggles of every day life, not only the spiritual issues, however the majority of our lyrics are focused on God's love and the salvation we have through faith.
'Behind Enemy Lines' deals with everything from sexual addiction to suicide and everything in between... we even have one song which is pure metal worship 'Even As I Bleed...'
The next record which we have already written a handful of songs for, will once again touch on a variety of different social topics, this time including ones that deal with things from our personal convictions and experiences including vegetarianism/veganism to growing up without fathers etc.
MBR: What are some of the band's influences, and what are some of your personal favorites?
Saving Grace: We all listen to a really diverse cross section of music these days. At any one time, you can find us having a random collective playlist that looks something like this:
Atmosphere, Death Cab For Cutie, Kataklysm, Infectious Grooves, Reprisal, Wu Tang, Radiohead, Integrity....
We all grew up listening to metal and hardcore so our combined influences include: Slayer, Pantera, Cannibal Corpse, Machine Head, Biohazard, Arkangel, Promise of Bloodshed, Point of Recognition, One Must Fall, Earth Crisis and Strife etc etc.
MBR: I've really enjoyed everything I have heard so far. Without trying to put yourself into a box, how would you describe your music?
Saving Grace: Brutal spirit filled hardcore.
'Imagine if All Out War, Arkangel and Old school Throwdown had a love child... that's Saving Grace' - Justin 'The Great Commission'
MBR: What are some of the bands you have played with? And are there any bands you like to some day tour with?
Saving Grace: We have toured with and played with countless bands... I would be here all day trying to list them all. Some of the bigger names that you may recognize include Bleeding Through, Parkway Drive, Darkest Hour, Comeback Kid as well as many other awesome bands.
We would love to one day share the stage with bands like Earth Crisis, Arkangel and Biohazard, those are the bands that really influenced our sound and had a lot of impact on us as kids growing up, getting an opportunity to share the stage with bands like that (and talk to them about Jesus haha) would be a true honor.
MBR: As a band what is your most memorable or unforgettable moment you have had?
Saving Grace: There really are too many to mention... however the powerful moves of God that we recently saw in Mexico on our tour with For Today and Man of Sorrows are some of the most incredible and life changing days of our lives.
The love we were shown by the people of that country can never be repaid. The true heart of Christ that is present in the lives of everybody that we had the privilege of spending time with is indescribable, not to mention the pure biblical miracles, moves of the Holy Spirit and face melting shows that we played in one of the world's most beautiful countries... we will never forget Mexico and we can't wait to come back!
MBR: Do you do anything special at your live shows? What are your most popular songs to play live?
Saving Grace: We don't really do anything crazy or have any wanky synchronized dance moves, we just bring it tough, the only way we know how...
Our vocalist Nick is renouned for spending a lot of time curled up like a dying man on the stage or on his knees screaming with veins bursting out of his massive shiny head.
Crowd favourites always include 'In Your Own Hands' 'For So Long...' and of course 'Unbreakable'.
We're not really into playing 'The Most Beautiful Promise' live, but its also usually a crowd favourite, and everyone hassles us for it, its definitely the album's 'hit' and is by far the most melodic and accessible track on the record.
MBR: What does the future hold for Saving Grace? And is there any chance for a US tour?
Saving Grace: Well we just finished our first US tour a few weeks ago with our friends in Wrench In the Works, Man of Sorrows and Sovereign Strength.
There is already talk of us coming back around the same time next year but for a much longer leg with our bros in For Today and The Great Commission.
As far as what the future holds? Only God knows and he may either laugh at our plans or bless them and open the doors... hahaha fortunately for us 99 percent of the time its the latter.
Right now we are getting ready to head out on our first NZ tour since our return from the US. with an Australian band called Wish For Wings.
Then over the summer we are playing a few bigger shows and festivals.
We are returning to Australia in April to headline the metal showcase at the massive Easterfest in Queensland which will be huge.
We have also recently had opportunities open up in Europe and Asia for touring next year, so if things go well for us, we may be spending a lot more time abroad in the coming months.
Right after that we intend to take a few months off to write and record our next full length album which should ne ready for a release in Fall 09.
MBR: What do you want people to take with them from your album after listening?
Saving Grace: Hopefully an enjoyable experience, as well as either a revelation, encouragement or a planted seed of Faith in who the real Jesus Christ is.
All glory to Him!!
MBR: Is there anything else you would like to add for anyone reading this?
Saving Grace: Thank you for all your support and prayers. Thank you for taking the time to check us out.
Please help support our ministry by spreading the word and picking up a copy of 'Behind Enemy Lines' in stores or online at www.harvestearth.com
Thank you so much for showing interest in bands from the other side of the globe... keep it metal and keep supporting Metal Blessing Radio!
See you all soon!
The band of the month for October is Sanctum Incendia, a neo-classical metal band from Scotland.
Pictured below: Sanctum Incendia, with "Mr. Leo" (center) at the recording studio.
Sanctum Incendia is:
Rhianna Bain – Lead Vocals (no longer with the band)
Ben Smith – Guitar, Vocals
Matthew Thornton – Keyboard
Fraser Greenwood – Drums
While Sanctum Incendia plays a type of neo-classical metal, they also incorporate many of their own original touches to their music. You will hear Rhianna's singing vocals accompanied by Ben's death metal style growls and guitar. Matthew adds to the atmosphere with his keyboarding while Fraser handles the drums.
Here is a short interview with Sanctum Incendia, where they answered a few of my questions:
Metal Blessing Radio (MBR): Why did you choose the name "Sanctum Incendia"?
Sanctum Incendia (SI): "Well we went around as 'Syndicate' for a while, but that name didn't really suit our style of music (it sounds more emo I think, maybe indie?), plus I felt it had bad connotations, it had the idea of gambling and getting drunk I thought. Or maybe it doesn't. I dunno.
Anyway me (Matthew, the keyboardist) and Ben were chatting about names on MSN one evening and he suggested that I try out some cool sounding words on an online translator. I tried a few and nothing really worked, then I tried the words 'Holy Fire' in Latin, and it came with Sanctus Incendia, I think. Which is what we called ourselves for about fifteen hours until we decided to change it to Sanctum Incendia, because that sounded much cooler. XD"
MBR: When can we expect to see an album released?
SI: "An album you say? That would be nice. I think we have reached the opinion that we will continue working on material and playing in different places for a while and just see where that takes us. The stuff we have at the moment on our Myspace, Bebo, Facebook and Last. fm pages was recorded at Mr Leo's house (this cool american dude), and I know that we all enjoyed it so we'd like to talk to him about it I think. We'll probably be doing some more recording next summer holidays, possibly even a bit over christmas. I don't know. We'll just have to see how it comes. But yeah, an album would be awesome.
*Update - we'll actually be recording our album in spring/summer '09 it's just a matter of getting the cash together and doing it. We currently have about 12 songs learned and playing but we'd to increase this to 20+ before we settle down to do any seriously heavy duty recording. You can probably expect one or two more demo tracks released in december however so look out for that!
MBR: What bands have influenced your music the most and What are the band members listening to these days?
SI: "Mainly metal and classical music. When I say classical I mean anything that isn't too modern, so it would include baroque and all that. I think Nightwish influence us quite alot, at least with the female fronted metal band business. Just anything awesome really, and that isn't dance. A good judge of whether we'll like it is whether it's 'in the charts', if it is then the chances are we won't like it. XD
Fraser and Ben listen to really heavy black metal sort of stuff, like Dimmu Borgir and Children of Bodom, along with softer classical music like Handel and Vivaldi. I (Matthew) listen to metal like Metallica and Megadeth, for example, and Prog rock/metal like Dream Theater, The Mars Volta, and Ayreon. Rhianna likes more punk and indie sort of stuff, I think. Like the sort of music that would be the soundtrack on a skateboarding videogame."
MBR: I like the original mix of elements you have incorporated into your songs. Aside from the neo-classical sounds, I hear a bit of death metal influence in the occasional growl vocals (assuming this is Ben Smith), also the organ sound on "Nothing in Return" gives off a bit of a gothic vibe.
SI: "Yeah, it's an interesting mix, but it seems to work well. We just take everything that we enjoy listening to and mix it together. I mean, if we enjoy our music then the chances are that somebody else will, right?
And yeah, the growls are Ben.
Though since Rhianna joined last March we have become considerably more tuneful and less 'lets just make as much noise as we can and hope somebody likes it' sort of thing. Having a female vocalist definitely helps, there's just so much more we can do and it sounds alot nicer. I really like the mix of Ben's growls and Rhianna's singing, like the chorus of Redemption in Blood, for example. Plus Ben's singing isn't bad, it sounds nice later in the same song along with Rhianna's."
MBR: Lastly, I feel Sanctum Incendia is full of potential. Where do you see yourselves a year from now?
SI: "I really don't know. Obviously I'd love to be better known and playing in more places, but I'm not really too bothered whether we do more than we are now, or just continue with what we currently do. I enjoy practises, they're fun, and as long as we're enjoying it it doesn't really matter.
I hope that our music can at least introduce people to the bible as well, that would be nice and make it all worth it.
Personally I'd like to play at Frenzy, this christian music festival thing in Edinburgh. It's a great day out I think. The music there is the traditional worship band sort of stuff, which is ok, but every single band there does the same/very similar sort of things. So I'd like go there and 'introduce' them to our music. It would certainly be interesting."
* Unfortunately when I featured ForeverAtLast, Metal Blessing Radio was still in it's baby-stages and I had not yet implemented an interview into this feature. Below is what was originally posted regarding ForeverAtLast. Hear their song "File_Save_As" on the June 2009 Podcast!
From now on I will be featuring a band every month, the current featured band will always take the number 1 spot on the myspace friend list as well...
The featured band for September is "ForeverAtLast". A female fronted hardcore band from Indiana, Forever At Last is leaving a burning trail of holy fire behind them as they continue to rise. At first listen one may be reminded of Bloodlined Calligraphy as Brittany Ritchey's refined screams echo through your speakers.
Comparisons aside, ForeverAtLast holds their own in a genre seemingly flooded with cookie-cutter bands. With Chris Lantz and Jared Paris on guitar, Anthony Robison on bass, and Ryan Tennessen on the drums, ForeverAtLast adds some welcome variety with Ryan Ames on the keys and synth, and Chris Lantz taking on backup vocals.
Also refreshing is their genuine desire to spread the love of Jesus through their music as stated on their official myspace page:
"First and foremost, we are a Christian Ministry. Our only purpose for this is to share with the world the Amazing Love and Joy we have in Jesus Christ. We want to help everyone to see the happiness that we have in our hearts, that only Jesus can bring!"
ForeverAtLast's debut album "Lost Cause - Population 0" is scheduled for a winter 08' release, but in the meantime you can get a taste of their music on their myspace page by clicking the link below.