Indy Intel Report - Myotonia, The Thinking Principle and The Grief
CoC talks to some of the best independent bands around
by: Quentin Kalis
In this report, we introduce no less than three unsigned bands that have made an impression on us here at CoC.

They are Myotonia, a progressive metalcore act hailing from Orange County, California, USA; The Thinking Principle, a progressive metal band based in the UK; and The Grief, originating from the undisturbed lands of Ecuador.

Stepping into the Fukhaus
CoC chats with Myotonia

Myotonia have adopted their name from the medical term for the spasms that occur during orgasm. Such a choice of name might indicate a rather lowbrow act, and this perception is reinforced by their basis in the testosterone charged arena of metalcore. But these gladiators' weapons of choice are proggy progressions and off-kilter rhythms that place Myotonia within the 'mathcore' subgenre, allowing _Myotonia_ to stand out from much of the meathead shouting that characterises the genre.

Compared to their namesake, their origins as a unit is much less interesting.

"Jonathan (Heuer) put an ad on Craigslist ages ago and Zack (Ohren) responded and we started one band", states Myotonia. "Then a little bit later we found Trevor (Morris) and broke up that band and started over. My then-roommate, Jacob, joined on bass and we went through a couple of singers before finding Josh, also through Craigslist. Then Jacob went to get his PhD in maths and we found Nick through a friend of a friend."

It comes as no surprise that a band of such technical proficiency would seek inspiration in other similarly technical bands, although this is mysteriously considered to be a somewhat tough question. "Meshuggah, Morgan Agren, Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Holdsworth, Scott Henderson, Dragonforce, Nels Cline, Mr. Bungle, Bartok, heroin-era Miles, the fetal-zombie-hamster-abortion from that Quizno's commercial, I don't know, there are so many. Basically anything that tries to do anything interesting."

Not too many surprises there, but the lyrical inspirations are so seemingly arbitrary that I wonder whether he is taking the piss out of me. "Lyrically, the biggest [influences] are Andrew Dice Clay and Mahatma Ghandi."

Even the cover of their independent album is unusual, featuring a mounted bug against an orange and grey background littered with compasses. "The 'bug' on the cover is a waterbear, it's this strange creature that can suspend animation when conditions get rough and lay dormant for long periods of time until conditions become liveable again. We chose the orange / salmon because we really wanted it to have a different look than our old demo." That still doesn't explain the abundance of compasses. If it were orienteering compasses, I could string out a theory about it referring to finding ones direction in life -- but these are maths compasses, the ones studious kids use to draw circles in geometry, whilst the class sociopaths used the sharp end for more nefarious purposes. But it seems rather silly to link them to their genre of choice, as it is simply too obvious and too inane, so their meaning remains an enigma.

Myotonia are not short on ambition, nor are their dreams built on clouds. "Right now we're trying to make a big push since we just finished our CD. Our goal is to be able to be on the road on successful tours for a good portion of the year. We are going to play on this record, tour, write another, and do it again. We have a long way to go, but we're hopeful." Their journey may have just started, but will not entail nearly as many steps as they might think.

Sanity Rising
CoC talks to The Thinking Principle

One of the gems to find its way into my postbox this year was an unassuming three track demo by this British trio. "Unassuming" would be a misnomer, as neither their name nor their preferred genre of prog metal implies modesty. But does it mean anything?

"It basically states our way of thinking. What we believe to be true to us at this point in time; not as a command or a call for singular thought or control. The ego limits itself by an inner necessity which it cannot escape through thought alone. True freedom is the freedom which creates itself, or realizes itself. Self-realization means self-development. Open that mind and think!" He then states that can get heavy. I had to re-read that twice and he claims it hasn't started getting heavy? Ah. A sense of humour.

"Also it gets other people thinking too. It's been said that it's a bit pretentious; which is funny, but as long as people are thinking then no problem whether negative or positive really." For what its worth, it is pretentious, but pretentiousness is fine, provided they can back it up musically. No point in christening yourself Lord Wurduvorph, only to sound like a spotty teen breaking in his first guitar in their parents basement. "The way the name is arranged is purely to catch the eye. To have the capitals at the end of the sentence rather than the start makes you concentrate a little more and hopefully the name will stick in people's minds. Or people will go WTF!" Fair enough. The Internet and Myspace have given rise to easy accessibility to music from all over the world and to believe that the best will prevail is naïve, and there is a need to stand out from the crowd.

Despite the above, they maintain a refreshingly pragmatic attitude. "It's music we love and if others appreciate it then that's cool. I think people can sense when bands are just in it for the money." The usual suspects, Atheist, Rush, Queensryche, Nevermore, Meshuggah, Judas Priest, Psychotic Waltz and Watchtower are cited as influences. "Lyrically my influences are anyone who can translate real emotion onto paper. Whether rage, sadness, hate or love. I admire lyricists such as Fish."

At the time of writing, they were actively seeking a second guitarist. "We hope to evolve the sound further. More melodic and dynamic but also heavier than the previous _Slowly Forming Sanity_ CD. A couple of gigs are planned, then possible gigs in France, Germany, Holland & Norway would be cool. We are in no rush to gig, but when the opportunity arises we are there. At the moment we are happy writing. We are on the look out for a label or management who are on the same page creatively. We have a couple in mind to try out but if anyone knows a label that would suit our style and outlook then please let us know!" If the Christians are right and we do live in a morally ordered universe, than they won't be looking for too long.

Entering the Realm
CoC chats with The Grief

Latin America has given rise to a number of bands that have become household names, but virtually all -- Sepultura, Krisiun, Sarcofago -- are from Brazil. There are, of course, bands in the Hispanic communities, but these are largely in the shadow of their Lusophone neighbour, despite the occasional breakthrough, such as The Chasm. If the gods will it, the Quito, Ecuador based The Grief will soon join that pantheon. They may be newcomers, but their constituent members are no strangers to metal.

"We began our work as Kybalion-Ecuador in mid '94. Since then, several recordings have been given form, with the albums _Historia de un Iniciado_ in 1999 and _Epígrafes_ in 2001, in addition to the single _Shall Become_ in 2002. The end of this stage was set by the loss of our vocalist. The Grief is an evolution that keeps mostly the same line-up of Kybalion-Ecuador."

"We had pauses with the band's development, but they were a must in order to achieve a good work that we now introduce with the EP _The Realm of The Grief_."

The Grief avoid my question on influences, stating that "[their] themes are completely spontaneous; each one of us has different musical tendencies" and that The Grief was obtained "as a result of this conjunction".

Their English is a bit broken; perhaps this why they call their music 'dark metal', a name associated with goth dance floor pleasers with female vocalists and an abundance of keys, not the despairing nature of their music. Yet they were surprisingly lucid in explaining their lyrical inspiration: "To create the lyrics we take advantage of the moments when The Grief possesses us or any other close person. Each experience teaches you something; every person you know has an inner grief; we collect all this things and include them in our work, so we can make it bigger. The Grief feeds from us while we're alive, and if someone dies, The Grief will gnaw away all those who're left. We talk about misfortune feelings."

"The next step is to record the full album of _The Realm of The Grief_, which explains better our message. _The Realm of The Grief_ is just a small sample of our work and it was done to obtain a media reaction and to get the opinion of the fans and people in general about The Grief. This has been fundamental to smooth details of our next production. The main thing for us is to spread our message everywhere and that's what we try to do. Our plans are always focused on one thing: play live."

If any Quito based readers are reading this, do yourself a favour and go down to one of their gigs. Those outside their native land will have to wait for their next recording.

(article submitted 21/11/2007)

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