Adamantis – Larger Than Life GrandiosityThursday, 27th December 2018
Dead Rhetoric has always been a website dedicated to various forms of heavy metal with an equal attention to the underground as much as the bigger bands who’ve been signed to significant label deals for decades. It’s important for the development of the genre to support deserving talent on a DIY basis – because many of your superstars today had to also cut their teeth on a local level, slugging it out show to show and scraping the funds together to put out product. Massaschusetts power metal band Adamantis represent another five-piece act to investigate – as they have an equal admiration for the old school, classic style as well as some of the newer bands that are coming down the pike.
Their debut EP Thundermark possesses the uplifting melodies and heroic themes along with some killer riffing and harmony lines – along with a rhythm section that will drive the tempos home in a groove meets machine gun fashion. Reaching out to learn more about this release, the challenges they face as a DIY band, balancing family/work/ music activities, and what the future holds we fired off a series of questions to the band and received answers from drummer Evgeny Gromovoy and guitarists Jeff Taft and Javier Estrada.
Dead Rhetoric: Adamantis started in late 2016 – what can you tell us about the formation of the group? Did you feel that your blend of members from America and Europe would give the band a different slant/outlook on the old school power metal still you craft?
Jeff Taft: – Ashley and I have been friends for years, and had always intended to play together, despite life getting in the way. When I moved back to Boston, we ended up linking up with Evgeny and Javier, who already had been jamming together — down the street from where I was living at the time!
As far as our disparate backgrounds – I discovered bands like Blind Guardian, Hammerfall and Gamma Ray in the late 90s, when music had first started to spread via the Internet – In a lot of ways, I feel like I have much in common with the musical genesis of Javier and Evgeny. Except of course, they could buy those albums without having to hop a two-hour train to New York or special order them!
Evgeny Gromovoy: Certainly. For me, exploring a blend of Euro and US power metal and having the freedom to draw inspiration from infrequently travelled paths such as Slavic mythology is what makes this project interesting.
Javier Estrada: The metal environments we grew up in are very diverse, and we often have interesting and fun conversations about how different the New England and Madrid scenes were in the 90’s.
Dead Rhetoric: Why do you think it took so long to secure a proper bassist with Elizabeth Cleary? Was it more a question of finding the right member with the skills and passion to perform in this sub-genre that maybe isn’t as popular as symphonic or extreme metal is stateside?
EG: It was more a matter of luck. What we struggled with was getting ahold of a person willing to commit but also who we would enjoy as a band member and comrade.
JT: The popularity of the genre definitely narrows the playing field. As Evgeny said, the priority was always someone who wanted the same things we did, and who fit in with us as people.
Dead Rhetoric: You recently released your debut four song EP Thundermark – tell us about the songwriting and recording sessions. Were there any specific obstacles, challenges, or surprises that came up – and how do you feel about the overall final product?
EG: As opposed to bands where there is one single writer, we have chosen to work as a cooperative, thus combining all our influences. For example, the fact that I am originally from Russia led to lyrics inspired by Slavic mythology, evident in “Thundermark” and “Mara”. As far as recording, we were lucky to work with Anthony Lusk-Simone. I was very happy with the sound of the drums, and we are all quite satisfied with the overall product. It did take some time — but the wait was worth it.
JT: For writing, the way it usually works for us, is that one person will come in with a mostly complete-complete idea, and then we workshop, arrange, add and delete parts as necessary. Sometimes the songs change very little (e.g “Lindisfarne”) from their original drafts, while “Mara” went through a couple different iterations – The choral bit towards the end was actually written in the studio! Scheduling delays aside, the recording went fairly painlessly – We’d been playing all the songs live for some time, so we were well acquainted with them by the time we sat down to do the EP.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve been performing throughout New England to build the profile of Adamantis – how would you describe the band in terms of what you hope audiences get out of your live performances, and what have been some of the more memorable shows to date for the group?
EG: I personally think of our past shows as a high-quality heavy metal experience. It would remind you of that feeling you have when you listen to a good Judas song while adding something new. We deliver both the “riding the dragon” Euro power up but add also some slow, epic Cirith Ungol-esque headbanging trances. As far as the most memorable show, I would say opening for Ross the Boss. I, as probably most of the readers of this magazine, grew up on Manowar, and thus performing on the same stage as the Boss was an honor and a most memorable experience.
JE: Sharing stage with Ross Friedman was a cosmic experience. The first metal record I even listened to was a copy of a copy of Manowar’s Fighting the World, so being able to play with Ross felt sort of like closing the circle. I think there’s a very good thing in the New England metal scene that is totally missing in Spain: Here, big touring bands always have a spot for a local band to open the show. That’s super encouraging for younger or more amateur musicians (not that we are young…) and helps keep the spirits high and feel that you belong to the same world as those world-touring bands.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider some of the biggest challenges the band currently faces in trying to develop more of a following at this point in your career? Do you believe that social media and its numerous platforms has been much more helpful in gaining traction, even as a DIY/self-financed band?
EG: Last January we were literally no-one. We’ve grown exponentially, and this has been thanks chiefly to the awesome local scene (Thank you all!). I think the traditional model: You play, you meet people, you play more, you meet more people, etc., will continue to work for us. But of course, we also expect to gain followers through social media. We were recently played by a Mexican radio station, our album has been included in a compilation from Greece, our CDs are being ordered by new fans in Italy, Spain… We feel that social media presence will definitely play a major role in expanding our audience.
JT: I think social media has completely changed the landscape and especially altered what constitutes a local scene – I tend to consider pretty much every power metal band in North America a part of ‘our scene’, whether they’re here in Massachusetts or all the way in California. Furthermore, for niche styles like power metal, social media has been an incredible boon in terms of reaching an interested audience. I’m overjoyed by the fact that someone thousands of miles away can discover and enjoy our music.
Dead Rhetoric: When you look at some of the bands that you admire within the metal scene – either locally or internationally – do you have certain acts that you follow and want to be able to mirror their professional and musical development upon, as role models? And what do you enjoy the most about the power metal genre as a whole?
JT: I definitely feel I’ve learned a tremendous deal from observing how other bands in this genre have gone about the business and promotional side of things. Having a peer group of bands like the ones I feel have formed particularly in the North American community has saved me from having to learn a lot of painful lessons directly, and I’m very thankful for that, and has also granted a picture of what a roadmap to success looks in the modern age. On the music side of things – power metal is a perfect storm of everything I enjoy in music – melody, speed, punchy riffing, larger than life grandiosity…That last part in particular matters a great deal. It’s a feeling of something beyond that of the mundane.
EG: I admire bands like Unleash the Archers, Judicator and Helion Prime, but I think the band is in search of our own identity, both musically and in terms of growth and development. We aim at releasing quality material that fans of the genre would enjoy across the globe, and aim at being able to transmit some feelings on stage. I personally don’t really follow a certain path. As far as power metal goes, I personally like its combination of speed, intensity and melody, and the uplifting feeling it leaves.
JE: For me, power metal is the genre that pushed me into learning to play. I started playing bass when I was 16 because I wanted to be Steve Harris and, wanting a change, switched to guitar two years ago. While I used to listen to more melodic metal in my 20’s, not liking bands with growlers, I am now enjoying bands like Gojira or Strapping Young Lad, while always listening to symphonic rock bands like Marillion, The Flower Kings or Pink Floyd. I guess all these influences help me shape the power metal found in my roots in a more original way and open-minded way.
Dead Rhetoric: How does Adamantis balance out the activities of the band with work, family, and relationships? Is the band realistic about the challenge of making music a full-time career endeavor given how the industry has shifted in the past few decades?
EG: Funny you ask, since me and Javier are parents, and all of us have our daily jobs that require attention. The parents manage to work on the band thanks to the time and sacrifice of our partners (big hugs and thanks, we adore you!). Of course, our families and jobs impose natural limits to what we can do – for example, it makes us more selective with live acts. We will continue to work on the project as long as our lives allow us since we really love doing it. I feel that we can still grow locally and turn the band into something bigger via the internet – and this is all compatible with our lifestyles.
JE: You can have a kid and a full-day job and still play in a band, compose and get people to learn about what you do and even like it! Of course, we can’t devote all our non-work time to the band, so one challenge we’ve had when putting together the band is to find people with more or less the same aspirations and time constraints. We can’t go on tour around the US for two months in the summer, so can’t have band members who aspire to do that. However, technology is wonderful and allows us to spread our music without long hours on the road.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you consider your top three albums of all-time – they can be metal or otherwise? And what have been some of the most memorable shows you’ve taken in, purely as an audience member – plus what made these shows so memorable?
EG: Haha, such a hard question! Here goes my selection –
Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
Dream Theater – Scenes from a Memory
Blind Guardian – Nightfall in Middle Earth
Most memorable show – ZZ Top with my father. I was not even 15, and it was the first hard rock show I would go. I got hooked since then. Deep inside, me being in metal is my way of honoring my father.
JE: That’s a hard question. If I have to choose a top 3 today, right now, this would be my list:
Marillion – Brave – A sad concept album with amazing atmospheres and wonderful lyrics, darker and heavier than most gothic metal albums in some many ways.
Iron Maiden – Somewhere in Time – Super original sound, great lyrics and amazing compositions.
Angra – Holy Land – Who could imagine it was possible to blend super fast power metal with samba and classical music without creating a single sharp transition? A masterpiece.
JT: Oof, hard question indeed, and personal favorites definitely shift.
Blind Guardian – Nightfall in Middle Earth
Labyrinth – Return to Heaven Denied
Siam Shade – II
Dead Rhetoric: What worries you most about the world that we live in today? If you had the power to make a significant change in the world given unlimited resources, what do you think needs to be changed and why?
EG: Extreme poverty. Millions are living on scraps from our feast. We need to redistribute wealth.
JE: People need to talk to each other, I am pretty sure 99% of the people in this world want the same things, but politicians tear us apart with their aggressive and irresponsible rhetoric. We should take over social media to start building bridges, instead of just talking to people who have our same opinions about how bad ‘the others’ are.
JT: We’ve been led to believe that greed and selfish gain are more important than community, compassion and empathy. Society should exist to benefit everyone involved, rather than a predatory few.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for Adamantis over the next twelve months? Has work already begun on the follow-up release, and if so what direction does the songwriting seem to be taking?
EG: Work has started on the full length. It is hard to predict what direction it will take at this stage – but we definitely feel that the new songs are richer, more complex and layered than those in the debut EP. Our plan it to create an extensive menu of songs and then pick the best ones. We hope to have the full list ready by spring-summer, and then enter the studio in early fall. We would like to release the full length before the end of 2019.
JT: As Evgeny said, a full-length release is the number one priority — We have about four songs done toward this right now, and plan to premiere most of this new material live in 2019. We’re still very early on in the process, but we’re very pleased with where we’re at currently and looking forward to what else is to come.