They might be a legend right now or treated as Gods if they had had a little good luck at their time in the 80s, but life is what it is and as Gary puts it: “Ultimately there has been 32 years of thought, love, and passion put into this creation. Of Gods And Men is the life achievement of two guys who just stuck to this dream. Truthfully there were dozens upon dozens of reasons to have given up on this over the course of three decades. We just didn’t. And we think especially now perhaps the world needs a story of hope that involves some people not abandoning their childhood dreams. We would love for you to join with us on the fulfillment of that journey, the experience that is Of Gods And Men.” . Enjoy this travel to the hear of Metal and the band MaeLSTROM because Gary Vosganian will tell you every detail about it.
Hello Gary, the wait is over, 32 years after the founding of Maelstrom we get your first full-length! How do you feel about it?
Thanks so much for Metal Brothers for the great review and now this interview opportunity! Yes! After 32 years, we can say MaelstroM’s debut album, Of Gods And Men, is Finally out for the metal world to hear! OGAM as we call it. It truly was a labor of love that started when we were just kids in high school, playing in a basement. Our lives have gone through so many peaks and valleys since, but through it all, we were finally able to make our dream a reality 32 Years Later, and self-produce this album. Without a Dream there’s really nothing to strive for and I think ultimately that it what MaelstroM represents … that it is Never Too Late To Follow Your Dreams. Hopefully we inspire others who later in life have that unfulfilled dream, that feeling of “What If …”, hopefully our story inspires the completion of theirs. It really feels amazing that OGAM is finally out and is getting so many great reviews throughout the scene. People are really embracing it!
But firstly, let’s go with the origin. back in the 80s Maelstrom was a promosing band in the US, however you disbanded in 1994, why?
Like so many bands from the late 80s early 90s in the thrash / metal scene, MaelstroM basically fell victim to not being able to secure a record deal… We’ve had interest from many labels overtime and we were acquiring great accolades locally, in the worldwide underground and in the metal press but that ever-elusive album deal never came our way. We were just kids back then and there was no way we could properly fund a full album project ourselves. We wouldn’t have even been able to put our second demo This Battle To Make History, Yet History Never Comes without winning a battle of the bands contest two years in a row (‘89-‘90) at one of the more popular Long Island, NY venues (February’s / Hammer Hedz) in which the grand prizes was studio time at Speed Of Sound Studios in Franklin Square, NY. So the reasons were more financial than anything as to why our debut album never was done back then and by 1993, all the members went onto other musical projects, I concentrated on my career, started a family, and soon after Joey did the same. MaelstroM was pretty much over and done with at that point. We had all gotten on with our lives but I’d say Joey and I had this gnawing feeling MaelstroM’s story was left unfinished. Then, the single most important factor to resurrect MaelstroM happened. It was a review we received (literally out of nowhere) in the mid 2000’s from Germany from an online magazine named Forgotten Steel. It was for This Battle To Make History … and that review really spoke to us … it was almost like reading something we had written ourselves because it was verbatim what Joey and I felt all along … that it really WAS unbelievable to us that MaelstroM never had the opportunity to release a full-length album. 32 YEARS after our very first jam, Of Gods And Men, is finally being released.
It seems the songs you are delivering now have their source in the material you have in the 80s, right?
Yes, everything you hear on Of Gods And Men is a direct re-imaginiation of all the tunes that appeared on our eponyymous titled debut 1989 demo and 1991’s This Battle To Make History. The only song that didn’t make it was “Child Hunt” from our first demo, but lyrically and thematically the songs subject matter still appears in the álbum. “Bloody Remains” from our first demo was re-imagined into “Army From Ash” for the album and “That Which Follows” from our second demo became “An Ancient Art”. “Thief of Light” and “SonRise” were the only two songs that were never demoed back in the original 80’s run of MaelstroM but the groundwork of those songs was there in the form of uncovered rehearsal tapes and very few live performace recordings.
When I listen back to the old demos they bring back so many memories of having a blast recording and just much more simpler times for all of us. Such great recollections, even though we had No idea how to record in 1988. Lol. I think our first demo has 6 rhythm guitar tracks going on simultaneously, all playing the same part, and we wondered why things didn’t sound tight. Ha! This Battle To Make History demo displayed a major step forward not just in terms of chops and song craft, but also in terms of production because Greg Marchak (RIP) took over as our main engineer. He was phenomenal and also recorded all the drums for our newly released album OGAM, as well. MaelstroM’s debut was the very last project he worked on. An incredible person.
I suppose most of your audience now will be young guys however you are presenting songs created more than 30 years ago. Good or bad?
I’m a big subscriber to the thought that if something is done extremely well wether it’s in music, in art, cinema or books … there’s a certain “timeless” quality to it. From some of the reviews and tons of messages we’ve been receiving about Of Gods And Men, people have been shocked about how modern and relevant these songs from the late 80’s sound today, so Yes, I believe there is a “Timeless” aspect to what MaelstroM has done here … now only time will tell if others feel the same. So this music has the abilty to appeal to young metal fans, older, and everyone in between. Joey and I are pushing 50 now … so that gives you an idea of were our original fan base is age wise, and they’re definitly digging it. The yonger crowd seems to be having a problem with the more “Epic” aspect of MaelstroM, how our songs take their time to bulid up, creshendo, and have dynamics throughout. They seem to want an instant gratification which really only appears from MaelstroM on our shorter tunes like “Army From Ash” or “Thief Of Light”. The others are this grandious, epic, sometimes 12 minute + songs. I don’t think a Dark Side Of The Moon or The White Album or Pet Sounds or The Who’s Tommy could reach the majority of the younger audience today, who really just want instant gratification, and wouldn’t take the time to really delve into an album the way prior generations have. When we were listening to an album back then was liteally experential, we would take everything in … the songs, the melodies, the lyrics, the sounds, the artwork, and the feeling all of those combined into creating. I truely feel that making an album like that in its totality has now become, with very few exeptions, an abandoned art.
These songs were oustanding for that time, something similar as if you find a Playstation in the 12th century for instance?
Thank you so much for that. Hearing that from you and so many others has made all the sacrifies that Joey and I went though to write, re-imagine, record, produce, and release Of Gods And Men well worth it. And this goes back to that “Timeless” quality I feel MaelstroM’s music has. And I know there are a lot of people who were bummed out about waiting so long for this album, but you know what… it never would’ve turned out this well if we just tried to rush this out all those years ago. Joey literally had over 30 years of classical and musical training that he was now able to hone and deliver to the epic music you hear. And not just the usual classical giants like Bach and Beethoven but also modern cinematic titans like James Horner (RIP) and John Williams.
If we had churned out this album 30 years ago, yes, it would have been MaelstroM, but definitely more “rote” metal then what you are hearing with MaelstroM today. The basic framework of the songs was there but Joey really took all the music and made it much more of a epic cinematic soundtrack than it originally was.
Couple that with the fact that vocally, I had absolutely no formal musical training until two years before laying down all the vocals for this album. For both orinial demos and most of our 2008 EP, It Was Predestined, I was relying almost exclusively on my “heavy” voice. For the album when we were revisiting all the songs Joey had all these vocal melody ideas in mind that could really enhance all the songs so I teamed up with a teacher in New York and studied actual singing for two years before going into the studio for this. I think the results were great because not only did it help me develop more varieties of my heavier voices but allowed me to interject melodic singing into sections of songs that really make them stand out. And a great side effect is I’m now able to do heavier vocals with actual pitches going on … so even though the vocals are heavy I am actually singing melodic ideas with them. That never would’ve happened 30 years ago… So both the musical and the vocal chops we’re allowed to grow and mature and are now on full display with Of Gods And Men.
There is a saying in Spanish: he died from success. Your case?
That’s a great saying. In my personal case, and I’ve said this in some interveiws, getting this album out was a huge milestone for my own life. There’s been so many times were I would start something, wether it was a business vemture, or another project and I would push it to were it would almost come to fruition, and then for whatever reason it would never be completed. Some people have a fear of success and I may have had that happening to me. Fear of success is a real thing people have difficulty overcoming it, most never do, so I’m thrilled MaelstroM’s Of Gods And Men didn’t wind up on the cutting room floor of life. Joey, ironically has the opposite … almost a fear of failure, which is why he has always pushed himself so much on the guitar, and in his profesional career as a Chiropractic Doctor, Nutritionist and Acupuncturist. Pushed himself too much at one point which lead to him needing open heart surgery 5 years ago and he’s dealing with health problems ever since. So between the two of us … it’s like Spinal Tap’s lukewarm water. Lol
Gary, if you were back in 1988 what would you change?
Well, I’d definitely invest everything into Apple or Microsoft. Lol. I think the biggest detriment to MaelstroM back in the day was that we never just jumped into a van and played up and down the east coast and across the country. We had garnished a ton of local New York notoriety in the late 80’s and we were pretty respected in the worldwide underground through our demos. MaelstroM’s original shows in 88’-89’ at February’s / Hammer-Hedz and Sundance in NY with the likes of Winter, Demolition Hammer, Malevolent Creation, To The Pain, Sorrow, Kronin, Cold Steel and Suffocation have now become the stuff of legend. As I’ve mentioned in 88’ and 89’ we were the top drawing band at Feb’s both years and the grand prize was recording time to record our This Battle To Make History demo. So locally on Long Island we were solid, doing great, but we never just “went for it” with a tour or a long-distance show to try to gain traction in another scene. That was a huge mistake back then. I think the furthest we every traveled was for a death metal fest in Buffalo with Sorrow and Suffocation. Not playing out in other areas when we REALLY did have the chance … no kids, no career, no rent or mortgage payments … us not taking advantage of really having NO responsibility back then is something I totally regret.
Apart of Gary Vosganian we still find Joey Lodes on guitar, both of you original members of the band. How is the current lineup?
I think one of the most important aspects why Of Gods And Men turned out the way it did was because we first asked original bassist Jonny Modell and Maelstrom’s 2nd drummer, the incredible Elliot Hoffman, if they wanted to record OGAM with Joey and I, but they were already full-on recording and touring with their amazing band Car Bomb. So we were obviously bummed out at the time but in the end it actually worked out for the better because when you have a group of people making music together… yeah it’s great that you have so many ideas being put forth from so many different people, but in the end so many compromises have to be made just to get songs finished … and in this case… these were re-imaginations of songs that we finished 30 years earlier. I’m not sure Jonny or Elliot would even want to bother with such old tunes because they’re so forward thinking by nature, and you can hear that in their music.
But for Joey and I, MaelstroM was an unfinished chapter of a Huge part of our lives, and Jonny and Elliot obviously gave us their blessings on the project. I will always say that Joey and I had the clearest “vision” of what MaelstroM was supposed to be, a fantasy-based thematic and cinematic metal experience.
So it was just us two left to make all the major decisions for OGAM. We recruited of one of Elliott’s top students that he recommended for the gig, drummer Daniel Kleffman (who is phenomenal in his own right) and Joey’s neighbor, the multi-instrumentalist Edward Marks to play keyboards, orchestral instruments and also engineer all the vocals on the album at his home studio. My wife Dawn Marie provided all the female vocals you hear throughout the album. Richard “Rikki” Liegey engineered all the guitars and bass at his home studio and also mixed and mastered the album.
The cover artwork is really fantastic, also from the past or completly new?
Thanks so much! The album cover was my design and concept and Jan Yrlund from Darkgrove Design in Finland illustated it. He really is a phenominal artist.
The cover depicts the battle that destroyed the Earth actually BEFORE the album begins. It is the tremendous conflict that happens prior to “Arise” and what is described in that song. The gods are named Greadon and Deamous, who are very heavily depicted in the story. The people below represent their human counterparts on earth who die in the battle and are replaced with new human avatars early on in the story. The song “Arise” is about the avatar of Greadon after this epic battle.
The album cover represents the climax of tension between good and evil. The culmination of the powder keg created by man’s and god’s hubris and corruption by power and greed. The gods need to control and manipulate mankind and man’s need for more and more power. However, it takes place prior to the album. The album is what happens after and how the deception and the manipulation of the gods is revealed.
The title Of Gods And Men is literal. It is the album being a tale or allegory about the acts of gods and men.
Is this a concept album?
Yes, Absolutely. Thematically and lyrically, it all began back in 1988. Joey wrote the music to “Predestined”, our first track ever, and I put lyrics to it. After looking at what I had penned I thought I could build a story around this, but “Predestined” was very close to the end of the tale, so I started the backstory. I created characters and built an outline and started to rough out the various “chapters” as songs. I wanted to create a fantasy story that dealt with bigger issues of modern religious dogma versus the internal God within us all. The idea that God is not completely an outside ideal but also that we are all a part of a whole that is “GOD”. The story has to do with manipulation and deceit and ultimately finding the inner bigger truths of ourselves and our place in the universe. I knew it would take ten chapters to tell this story. The next songs were “Arise” and “Bloody Remains” (which became “Army From Ash” on OGAM). Both these tracks are at the beginning of the concept, so I had a beginning and an end. One very important aspect about the themes is that it also gets conveyed in the Music, this is where Joey and I really mind meld, I will say hey this is going on in the story right now, can we get a riff that feels like this? Some great examples are in “A Futile Crusade” where there is an army marching to war and Joey used a “William Tell Overture” like theme. Another is the song “Thirteen Within a Circle”. There is an incredibly “evil” middle section he wrote as I explained this is a moment of extreme dread and fear, a dark priest is at the moment of a sacrifice that if fulfilled, will tip the world into darkness. All these themes also follow through in the Art we use as each song also has its own piece of art to help drive the story visually. I concept and design everything and coordinated with four other artists to each do one or two pieces; Jan Yrland of Darkgrove.net (who I mentioned also did our album cover), Chris Kalin, Kevin Hooker, and Taylor Lodespoto.
So ultimately the concept was always there. As was the order of the tracks, even since the demo days. With the demos, however, the songs were out of order and tracks were jumbled between the two demos, because we wanted to have the 4-song demos make sense listening wise.
So, tell us about the recording of “Of Gods and Men”, how was it, how did you make up the songs and how long did it take you?
It took 32 years. Lol!! When the Forgotten Steel Review reached us is when Joey and I decided this is something that we Had to do, that we Needed to get this album out. The first person we tracked down was our original engineer from our This Battle To Make History demo, Greg Marchak, who was now in Florida at AudioLabs Studios. It was incredible seeing him again and we recorded all of the drums played by the incredible Dan Kleffmann for all 10 songs. Greg Marchak was renowned for getting absolutely killer natural drum sounds without the use of triggers. So we record all the drums in Florida with Greg, and a few weeks later we get a phone call that Greg had died from a massive heart attack. We were devastated. Devastated, yet thankful that we were able to reunite and work with him again all those years later. Just an amazing person. Of Gods And Men is the very last project Greg worked on.
So we have drums for these 10 songs recorded, but now Joey gets accepted to a school he had been applying to for a while and we literally have only a couple of months before he has to leave. There was no way we were going to be able to properly record this entire album in such a short period of time with both of us working full time jobs and me already having children in my life. But we also didn’t want this dream to be put on hold yet again … So we decided to take what were widely considered our three most popular songs from our original demos and perforamnces … “Arise”, “A Futile Crusade”, and “Predestined” and record those 3 songs. This became our first EP, It Was Predestined, realeased in 2008.
Unfortuaely to us, it was a rushed job from start to finish because we had so little lime to record it. Things were left in after only 1 take that could have been performed much better, sounds weren’t as together as they could have been, we had a MAJOR rendering speed mishap going from studio to studio (from Florida back to NY) so all the guitars and bass on one song had to be completely re-recorded since they were sped up and out of tune with the drums recorded in Fla. If people want to listen first hand to what a rendering speed error sounds like, check out the train wreck that is “Van Halen, Jump, out of tune” on YouTube. Its disasterous and puts the instruments in a semitone between notes … so they’ll never be in tune with a modern instrument’s temperment. It was a miracle that It Was Predestined it came out half as well as did and people Really loved it getting us voted one of the top unsigned bands in the world by Terrorizer Magazine which also led us to sign our first record deal with Itchy Metal Records for a distribution deal with It Was Predestined.
When we went back into the studios to complete Of Gods And Men, I would say 75% of the rhythm guitars were once again re-recorded for those three EP songs, all of the guitar solos, all of the acoustic guitars, all of the bass guitar, and majority of vocals on “Arise”. All re-recorded, properly.
After Joey graduated and retured home, we embarked on finishing the album around 2014 but then another bump in ther road happened. Joey had to undergo open heart surgery in 2015 to repair an Aortic Aneurysm and replace the bad congenital valve that caused it, and he has been suffering from flare ups of endocarditis (inflammation/infections) of the heart ever since. Two years ago at a hospital in Valley Stream, NY during another bout of his endocarditis they gave him an I.V. of an antibiotic he had told them he was allergic to, and it left him with debilitating tinnitus, hyperacusis (loud sounds are painful to him), vertigo and hearing loss. He struggles with this everyday. Thankfully all the guitar and bass parts you hear for the album were all recorded well before any of this happened.
So through it all … everything we’ve been through, comes Art from Adversity.
Could be a script for a movie, no doubt. Is there any song from the current time or they are all based in your demos?
All of these songs are based on their original framework from our first two demos except “Thief Of Light” and “SonRise”, (both which never made it to the demos but we had rehearsal tapes of them from jams in 90’-91’). So even though all the songs were written back in the late 80’s, they’ve definiely been tweeked for maximum impact today. Riffs were rearranged into different keys and modulations, vocal melodies were added to sections, more female vocals added throughout, drum patterns were changed, orchestral arrangemnts were either modifid or added. They’re definitely re-imaginations of the original demo versions, and some closer than others … for instance “Arise” is pretty much spot on arrangement wise as the 1989 demo, but “Th13teen With In A Circle” is more of a departure from its original version, but still keeps the original intent or “vibe” of the song, only much more amplified. And that really sums up the entire intent of re-imagining these songs … whatever they were originally … make them more of what they already were.
Power, Thrash, Epic Metal, Progrssive… there is not a unique style to describe your sound, what do you think?
I think the term “genre-bending” is how most people out there describe MaelstroM. Joey and I have coined the term “cinemetal” for us, basically creating a visual soundscape in your head that plays out more like a cinematic experience than a bunch of songs.
For us the adherence to a genre, does not matter, whatever the song needs, whatever it takes to coerce an actual FEELING from our listener, that’s our goal. It goes beyond just having a good riff. It starts by having that good riff but if the song calls for beautiful orchestral work and choirs, it’s going to be there. If the song and story needs the most brutal death metal riffs and vocals we can do, then we’ll do it. If the song needs soaring melodies both vocally and musically, done. So we’re actually borrowing from several genres we grew up with like power metal, death metal, doom, European thrash, neo-classical metal, NWOBHM, classic Purple/Sabbath and even some of the great epic movie soundtracts …and mixing it all into one metal melting pot we call MaelstroM.
What is in your opinion what makes your sound more special and Maelstrom a band appart?
On the metal front, what gave MaelstroM our identity in the early days, we always felt, was while most New York “thrash” bands were influenced by the usual “Big 4” we were Much more heavily influenced by the European Thrash and metal scene… Kreator, Coroner, Sabbat, Destruction, Celtic Frost, Venom, Sodom, … just to name a few. Even to this day Joey and I have this saying, “WWKD -What Would Kreator Do”. Lol!
Many fans have also described MaelstroM as a type of “heavy metal opera” so to speak. I know Joey’s mentioned in interviews the very first music he ever remembers hearing as a child was the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar with Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan, and he’s actually performed guitar for JCS on several off-Broadway productions. It was a huge influence on him, not in the “religious” sense, but in that grand Epic musical sense. Another huge influence on Joey was James Horner’s work on Wrath Of Khan as well as John Williams’ score to Empire Strikes Back. He’s done lessons for Guitar World Magazine specifically about these two scores. So musically he’s influenced by these two gigantic space operas and he approached MaelstroM from that mindset. Having melodies and certain rhythmic motifs repeat throughout the album, making OGAM more a cohesive metal “soundtrack” if you will, as opposed to a collection of riffs.
Any favorite song on the album?
It’s tough to narrow down to one because we counciously tried to have each song be it’s own stand alone entity on this album, yet all still be connected by having song titles repeated in other songs, having recurring rhythmic or muscial motifs played in multiple songs … again this makes it play much more like a movie soundtract. For Joe, I know he’s partial to “The Mirror Calls” and “SonRise”, the two giant epics on album. Especailly “SonRise”, being the last song on the album, it has been through so many re-writes and variations, all literally because of Ozzy’s Diary Of A Madman! Joe just kept saying … “it has to be an Epic ending like Diary!” He wanted it to feel just right. I think we pulled that off, because in the end “SonRise” is pretty damn Epic!
Now that you have removed that thorn of your debut album, can we expect more albums to come from Maelstrom in the future?
Ironically Jonny Modell our original bassist JUST this past month emailed us a copy of a MaelstroM rehearsal we had done back around 1992-3 and it contains all the songs that were written after the 10 original songs that appear on Of Gods And Men. These 6 complete songs that he found were meant to be a continuation of the original OGAM story. So who knows … we’d love to get into a studio again and get these going. Hopefully it doesn’t take another 32 years, lol.
I’m crossing fingers then! Covid-19 is striking very hard in the US, how do you see the situation and how are you dealing with?
Ironically for MaelstroM, we actually have to (in a very weird way) thank COVID-19 for pushing us to get this album out when we did. This album has been pretty much ready to go for the last 3-4 years with only one tune left unfinished, “A Futile Crusade”, we were trying to get the choir intro together and the song still needed a final mix and mastering.
When COVID-19 first hit, I spoke to Joe about actually it being the perfect opportunity for us to release the MaelstroM debut album, Of Gods And Men, because since we’re not a touring act and since 1/3 of the civilized world was on complete lockdown… What better time to release new material especially considering all of the touring bands had to cancel and also so many albums were being pushed until after the summer. I can honestly say if COVID-19 didn’t hit we probably wouldn’t have been able to push to complete this project and get it out there since ALL other aspects of our lives were put on hold, our jobs …our kid’s schooling to a huge extent, all distractions like sports, movie theaters, restauraunts being closed. Thankfully we took advantage of the moment, even though it was terrible moment to be in. We found a silver lining. On a personal level, we had a scare with both my parents testing positive for COVID-19 and both ending up hospitalized, but my mom is already out and my father is now also doing well. So very relieved. Now we’re all just patiently waiting for things to reopen again and hoping things get back to normal as soon as possible.
At least some hope in the middle of all this disaster covid has genertaed. Has the covid frustrated any tour schedule with your new album? Any dates for live shows in the long-term?
Unfortunately, with Joey’s hearing condition right now doing any shows or tours doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon. Thankfully he finished all his guitar parts and bass parts for this album between 2014 and 2015. In 2018 he was admitted to a hospital for a heart issue and they gave him an I.V. of a class of drugs he already told them he was allergic to … and he ended up with severe hearing loss and intractable tinnitus and vertigo. I know he has a lot of hopes for an experimental drug that’s already in phase 2 of testing here in the United States called FX-322, it would be the first medication able to restore human hearing. So obviously if this is made available sooner than later that would be amazing and we could get out there and do some great live shows.
What is the best of being back as Maelstrom after more than 30 years?
Our hope right now is that with MaelstroM releasing Of Gods And Men, we can finally give back to the metal world something in return for the lifetime of experiences it has given us. Hopefully there will be a kid somewhere out there that will be as “wowed” by Of Gods And Men as we were as kids by a Powerslave or a Master Of Puppets. Every band hopes for something like that. To be able to leave a legacy for years to come. A huge part of the idea behind Of Gods And Men is the fact that it IS truly an album. I mean that in the classic sense of the word. As a sonic piece of art. One of music and voice put together to make a cohesive body of work. Very specifically we wanted this to be a true album experience, like when we would go to a record store and buy a record and play it front to back, taking in the lyrics and art and photos. Albums were experiential back then. Now, very often people don’t buy an album, they simply stream a few select tracks. It was important to us to make something someone would want to experience as a whole complete piece. We are hoping MaelstroM may start a trend back in the direction of albums really meaning something again and being able to retain strength from beginning to end.
Of Gods And Men truly was a labor of love that started when we were just kids in high school, but we were able to make our dream a reality, 32 Years Later, and self-produce this album. Without “The Dream” there’s really nothing to strive for and I think in end that it what MaelstroM represents … that it is Never Too Late To Follow Your Dreams. Hopefully we inspire others who later in life have that unfulfilled dream, that feeling of “What If …”, hopefully our story inspires the completion of theirs.
How has the Metal scene changed in these last decades and what would you advice to the young bands starting in this complicated world?
For me, there was nothing like the music scene Long Island had, especially for the heavier side of music, in the late 80’s. I think the camaraderie amongst the local bands was VERY tight then. Extremely close friendships developed within and between bands that have lasted to this very day. We were all kids and playing original music in 88’ and 89’ (exception of maybe a few covers). I saw the whole local scene turn away from original heavy music packing out clubs regularly and slowly transforming into a scene made up almost exclusively of tribute bands that are now VERY competitive, and heavy music venues either giving way to dance clubs or totally disappearing all together. I applaud the original acts that have stayed the course and have to give a shout out to: To The Pain (with life-long friends Steve Shaver and John Intag. Joey did a guest solo on “Rise of the Demons” from their debut album) Goden (Featuring Stephen Flam from Winter. Joey does some guest solos on Into Darkness), THEM (Featuring the incredible Troy Norr from Cold Steel), Turrigenous (Featuring Greg Turrigenous and John Vullo on guitars, amazing players), Stereo Assassin (another Joey Lodes guest solo on “A Song For Shia” a few years back), Killcode (Featuring our great friend, Eric Bonesmith)
I also have to give a special mention again to Car Bomb as well, who have made a great name for themselves not only in NY but abroad with their incredibly original take on the polyrhythmic “math metal” genre. They feature MaelstroM alums Jonny Modell and Elliot Hoffman along with Michael Dafferner and Greg Kubacki who were originally in the LI thrash outfit, Neck. Really mind bending, amazing stuff.
So, overall, this is what I’ve noticed, that camaraderie amongst the local original bands is returning, in many ways just as strong as back in the day. Now that social media and music streaming is the new norm … literally anyone in the world can just type in any of those bands I just mentioned on their phone or laptop and boom … there’s their music. That is really incredible if you think about it. Yes, I miss the days of going to Slipped Disc (a famous Long Island record store) and holding that physical album in my hands and being absorbed into the artwork, it was a visceral experience … but today if you have an instrument, a phone and a YouTube account … you can be heard. To what extent is entirely up to you. MaelstroM is its own label now, “Predestined Music”. Joey and I decide what is going to be heard and when. We set our own deadlines and our music is limited only by our own imagination … that gives us a creative and production freedom we never would have had with any record label. In the end, it really has all worked out for the best.
Thank you very much Gary for this extensive and amazing interview and for sharing your experience with Metal Brothers!!! And congratulations for the big album, at last, better than never, out in the streets. If you wish to add something else…
We really cannot thank Pescaito, Alberto and everyone at METAL BROTHERS enough! Between the great review you gave Of Gods And Men, and now this interview … we’re really appreciate all of the support you give to MaelstroM. Take care and all our best. \m/