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(Review from Greece)
Tales Of Darkness & Light - Chapter II
(Thunder Rider Productions)
I suppose you all know the feeling of a dream coming true... I bought "Tales Of Darkness & Light - Chapter I" 6 years ago and I was astonished by its variety, its diversity and its originality. A few years ago I heard some rumors saying that a new Thunder Rider album would be out. I couldn't believe my ears! I was expecting it to come out eagerly and this time has come!!!! If I were you, I wouldn't even spend the time reading this review, but as soon as I'd see that this album is out, I'd rush to the nearest record shop to obtain it. No one can say that has a worthy cd collection if he doesn't have these 2 gems! I could babble like a lunatic for hours for this album. The only thing I can say is that it has stolen my heart for good! I have the cd 2 days now and I've already listened to it 14 times, so believe me this is a very objective review. The more I listen to it the more I grow to like it and the more I discover new and interesting elements... Some words that can describe "Tales Of Darkness & Light - Chapter II" are: magnificence, astonishing, masterpiece, amazing, incredible, majestic, a real gem!!! Can it be better than it's predecessor? Yes it can and it IS better!!! I strongly believe that such albums can't be released very often, since it's light years away from their times... One every decade perhaps... Yeah it's been a decade from the release of Chapter I till the release of Chapter II, but it was worth waiting for! Now for all of you out there that never heard of Thunder Rider and you'd like to have a general clue of the band's direction the truth is that it's very difficult for me to describe their sound. Thunder Rider is one of THE MOST original bands of this world. Their music is progressive with the real use of the term, but it is also heavy, epic and doom...and then we shouldn't neglect or forget John Blackwing's vocals, which are so unique, so special. John's vocals are a trademark! The production is crystal clear, heavy and voluminous and the artwork is amazing! Every page, every song has a different drawing related to the song's lyrics. I should underline here that we are talking for a self financed release!!!! Plus, all those who will get the album, will have some extra goodies, which I won't reveal... Do yourselves a favor and buy this diamond!
CONTACT/ORDER: THUNDER RIDER PRODUCTIONS, 1221 FLEURY EAST, P.O. BOX 35041, MONTREAL, QUEBEC, H2C 3K4, CANADA
(Interview from Greece)
Thunder Rider is one of my most beloved bands, despite the fact that they have only released 2 albums in over a decade. Their music, the feeling pouring out from their songs, their compositions, John’s vocals which is a trademark for the band are simply astonishing and perfect to my ears. When I was listening to “Tales Of Darkness And Light – Chapter I”, I could never imagine they’d be able to release a greater album. I was wrong!!! Thunder Rider have no limits! Always going upwards!!! Great, Incredible, Magnificent! No one should lose the chance to meet with the band and their music, so the first step is to read this interview and the second one is to purchase their album.
1.FIRST OF ALL CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE MANAGED TO RELEASE ONE OF THE BEST ALBUMS I HAVE EVER HEARD!
Thank you very much, it means a lot to us to know that our work is being appreciated.
2.WHY DID IT TAKE YOU SO LONG TO RELEASE YOUR SECOND ALBUM? I MEAN FROM "TALES OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT - CHAPTER I" TILL "TALES OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT –CHAPTER II" IT'S BEEN A DECADE MORE OR LESS. WHY?
Thunder Rider has gone through a lot over the years. We have had a few line up changes, but I’m sure every band that’s been around for as long as we have, has gone through similar experiences. I think the simplest phrase one should use to excuse the time lapse between the first and second album would be “life gets in the way”. The fact that Thunder Rider is an auto-financed independent band also weighs on the how long it takes to complete a project. It was by no means a lack of material; we had enough songs to do two or even three albums when we recorded our first album.
3.HOW DIFFICULT IS IT FOR THUNDER RIDER, AND FOR EVERY BAND IN GENERAL, TO TAKE CARE OF EVEN THE SLIGHTEST DETAIL OF THE CD?
I can’t speak for bands in general, but when you have a great team of people to work with as we do, it’s usually only a question of time and money.
-IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO CHANGE SOMETHING NOW, WHAT WOULD THAT BE?
I think we did a pretty good job on this one. We’re very happy with the complete project, I don’t think we would change anything.
4.YOUR MUSIC IS EXTREMELY UNIQUE, BUT ABOVE ALL I THINK YOU HAVE AN INCREDIBLE VOICE, WHICH IS THE BAND'S TRADEMARK. WHAT ARE THE USUAL COMMENTS YOU GET TO LISTEN FROM THE METALLERS?
We are very happy when people can’t quite pinpoint a single band to compare us to. Usually people say we sound like a multitude of bands all rolled into one, so I guess each band we are compared to gives people some sort of reference point or guide. I’m flattered that you consider my voice to be a trademark for the band but I hope people realize that the vocals and the music feed off of each other, one could not exist without the other. Most people like my voice, some don’t, but they all agree that it’s different. It all depends what style of music they’re into.
5.WHERE WAS THE ALBUM RECORDED, HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU?
The album was recorded at Tempo Studios in Montreal, Quebec, Canada through a great musical arts training school called Musitechnic. The entire recording process took quite long because of the structured recording schedule required by the school. We would record three or four songs in three months, usually on the weekends. We went through drum microphone set up exercises, guitar amp mic set up exercises, vocal, backup vocal setups, etc…Then we did all the mixing exercises, all this to say we helped some students to learn the fine art of recording which was very cool for us. I would say it took about five months of studio work and then about two years of mixing on and off.
-DID YOU USE THE HELP OF A PRODUCER?
The production was my job; I oversaw every facet of the recordings, final mixing, mastering, artwork conception and execution.
-WHAT KIND OF PROCEDURE DO YOU FOLLOW WHILST COMPOSING THE SONGS?
We usually begin the writing process with the lyrics, to give us some direction and an idea of the mood we wish to set, then usually Bruce Corian or I will have a whole bunch of riffs or chord progressions that we’ll mix and match until we have the basic structure for the song. At the point where we’re comfortable with the tune, we will then present it to the rest of the band and work on the arrangements together.
6.TO WHAT, ARE THE LYRICS REFERRING TO AND HOW IMPORTANT ARE THEY FOR YOU?
The lyrics refer to the endless struggle, the battle within, the ongoing conflict between good and evil. They are extremely important to me because, as I mentioned in the previous reply, the lyrics give us direction, the lyrics are the foundation of the song.
-IS CHAPTER I AND CHAPTER II A CONCEPT? COULD YOU TELL US SOME THINGS ABOUT IT?
It is indeed a concept that will continue through Chapter III, and possibly beyond. I think the name says it all: “Tales of Darkness & Light”. The stories portrayed in the songs are often rooted in fact, and sometimes in fiction. They concern the state of the world – past, present and future - and the fact that recorded history is a superlative lesson and it seems like no one wants to learn from it.
7.WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ARTWORK AND LAYOUT?
The graphic artist that assembled everything for the CD is François Brisson, who also did our website. Tanya Goulding and I worked together for the LP layout.
-IT'S VERY BEAUTIFUL AND WHAT I LIKED VERY MUCH IS THE FACT THAT THERE IS A DIFFERENT DRAWING/PICTURE FOR EVERY SONG.
I was very fortunate to find ten incredibly talented artists who were willing to help us out. I gave every artist their choice of the recorded songs and the lyrics, to study. I then asked them to draw, paint or photograph how they felt or what they imagined when they listened to the music and read the lyrics. In some cases, I gave them a little direction. For the most part, they were able to amaze me with the ideas they came up with.
The front and back covers were skillfully painted by an incredible air-brush artist by the name of Sylvain Béliveau. He also painted the image for the song Devil’s Playground. This guy paints Harleys, helmets, cars, vans, guitars - you name it, and he’ll paint it.
Then we have another master amongst masters: Henry Fong. He is an animator with an extraordinary imagination. His work is very wild, as you can see in the images for Thy Kingdom Come, Child’s Prayer and Day of the Damned.
Randy Duncan is a caricaturist with an important ability to make people think when they see his art, which is evident when you study the talent expressed in his interpretations of New Born, Lucky Devil and Evil Slayer.
Sossé Menakian has what I like to call the third eye; she can use her camera and her creativity to capture fantastic images, which is obvious in the magic she displays through her interpretations of Death Angel and Holy Terror.
Linda Forcione’s creative genius is more than evident in her composition of a brilliant watercolor interpretation of Interlude in D-Minor. I would say, masterful art for a masterful piece of music.
Andrea Carroll’s impression of Final Eclipse is spiritually daunting. This depiction of Kalimar with the fate of humankind in her grasp marries perfectly to this disturbing musical interlude.
Patrick Gravelle’s watercolor painting for Dark Castle is to say the least, a masterpiece. Patrick has captured the true essence of the story of the haunted castle on the hill.
Renaldo Lucherini is the artist that allowed us to visualize the conjuring up of a rock storm and a molten metal blizzard, for the song Heavy Metal Wizzard. This artist is a true talent and all his work is breathtaking.
Steve Richard’s stained glass design depicting the power that evil has over humankind and the wars we wage, is a statement in itself. An awesome, judicious illustration to accompany the song Mid Evil.
Tanya Goulding has achieved a naïve rendering of a scene at the gates of hell, with an aptitude for displaying an innocent child’s nightmare on canvas. Her brush strokes reveal an infernal image of Satan’s Wrath.
-WHO CONCEIVED THIS IDEA AND WHY DID YOU DO IT?
I conceived the idea to capture the charm of the LP and transfer it to the CD. How cool is it to rush home with the record you just bought, blast it on your sound system and sit there and let the music take you away, while you read the lyrics, sing along with the band and trip out on the artwork.
-WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SHOW?
I wanted to give our fans their money’s worth; I think we should never forget what it’s like to be fans ourselves, and I wanted to show them the respect they deserve.
8.WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE? I KNOW THAT YOU WANT TO RELEASE SOMETIME IN THE FUTURE CHAPTER III. DO YOU HAVE ANY SONGS READY? CAN YOU TELL US SOME THINGS ABOUT IT? I JUST HOPE WE WON'T NEED TO WAIT FOR A DECADE AGAIN! :)
We have already started production on Tales of Darkness & Light - Chapter III. In fact, we have recorded four of the ten songs we have written so far for the next album, that is all I can say for now. One thing is certain; Thunder Rider will not lapse into silence for a decade again. I must admit that our future is truly in the hands of our fans. Thunder Rider only has so much control of its destiny. Our fate can only cross that of our fans, if their faith in us is true. This faith will carry us to them so that together we can experience a Thundering Ride.
9.WILL YOU PERFORM LIVE? CAN YOU DESCRIBE US THE WAY YOU FEEL EVERY TIME YOU GET ON STAGE?
We will most certainly perform live again - when and where remains to be determined. The success of Chapter II is the decisive factor to embarking on a tour of any sort. The stage is a wonderful place to be. When you feel the energy in the air, the connection between the audience and the players is exuberating and electric, the feeling is second to none.
10.WHAT DOES THIS SYMBOL YOU HAVE IN A FORBIDDING CYCLE MEAN? IS IT SOME SORT OF BLADE?
If you look carefully you will see that the blades are a series of three intertwined sixes, with a forbidden circle over the top of them. Therefore, we have entitled this symbol ‘No Evil”. It is a part of the concept of Tales of Darkness & Light.
11.HAVE YOU SENT THE CD TO ANY LABELS? DO YOU HAVE PLANS OR WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN RELEASING IT FROM A LABEL OR NOT?
Thunder Rider is an independent project and will remain so for as long as possible. The only deals we are interested in at the moment are for distribution.
12.WHICH IS, ACCORDING TO YOU, THE BEST AND WHICH IS THE WORST ELEMENT OF YOUR MUSIC? WHY SHOULD THE FANS LISTEN TO YOU? WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE TO OFFER?
I think the best element of our music is its ability to touch the souls of the people who take the time to listen to it carefully. The worst element of our music is the fact that the style renders it accessible to only a few people that appreciate its nature. Our fans should listen to our music because it says something to them, because it makes them feel something, because there’s something inside of them that believes in a better world. All we have to offer is Thunder Rider; nothing more, nothing less.
13.IF YOUR MUSIC WERE AN EMOTION, WHAT WOULD IT BE? IF IT WERE A PAINTING, WHAT WOULD IT SHOW?
This is a very heavy question. Our music can’t be described by only one emotion because it is the sum of all emotions. If our music were a painting, it would be the portrait of whoever is admiring it.
14.WHICH WORDS DO YOU THINK COULD SUM UP ALL THE BAND'S EFFORTS AND YOUR MUSICAL VISION?
Thunder Rider Tales of Darkness & Light – Chapter II
15.WHAT I'VE NOTICED IS THAT MOST OF THE CANADIAN BANDS ARE SKILLFUL AND MANAGE TO CREATE A PERSONAL SOUND. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THIS IN THUNDER RIDER'S CASE IN SPECIFIC. WHICH ARE YOUR INFLUENCES?
I think maybe our skill is a side effect of our long cold Canadian winters. I would say our biggest influence is life itself. The lessons we learn through our experiences are priceless. We have a chance to express our thoughts and aspirations through our music and song - this alone is the greatest inspiration.
16.IN WHICH MOVIE SOUNDTRACK WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE TAKEN PART OR HAVE COMPOSED?
It’s funny you should ask that because my friend Tim Rideout, who was responsible for the CD-Extra Integration, called me after seeing Lord of the Rings (The Two Towers) movie… he was going on and on about how great the film was, and then he said the only element that was missing in the film was a Thunder Rider sound track. I thought that was pretty cool. Then, when I went to see the third film, there is a scene where all the knights and warriors are preparing for battle and all the women and children are saying their sorrowful goodbyes; it is at this point that I realized that our song Thy Kingdom Come, had been immortalized in one of the greatest films ever made and only Thunder Rider and their fans would see it.
17.THANK YOU! HAVE I FORGOTTEN TO ASK YOU ANYTHING AND YOU'D LIKE TO MENTION?
It is I who must thank you for the opportunity to let people know a little more about Thunder Rider. I think we have covered quite a bit. I would like to send sincere heartfelt thanks to everyone who encourages us by purchasing Thunder Rider Tales of Darkness & Light Chapter II. We are truly grateful to have such dedicated fans. As always, we invite you all to e-mail or write us with any comments you may have with regard to Thunder Rider. We look forward to hearing from you.
Take care and keep the faith,