Personally I do not know many (Christian) metal bands from Asia, for me the most known is Kekal. A while ago I came across Progressive Death Metal band Lamentations, this metal duo hails from Singapore. Their debut album “Echoes in the Wind” has been released in February, available digitally (bandcamp) and as a digipack (bigcartel / metalhelm.com). Digipak album includes a 12 page booklet with artwork by Sci-Fi artist Ferdinand D. Ladera.
We recently spoke with Danny and Clarence, the interview can be read below.
TMR: Hey guys this is ‘The Metal Resource’ from Holland, how are things going there in Singapore ?
D: Its nice. Nice and hot as always.
C: Yeah, nice and hot as always. AND humid.
TMR: Will you Introduce yourself and the band please ! [name and instrument]
D: My name is Danny and I play the Guitar and do Vocals for Lamentations.
C: I’m Clarence and I play guitar for the band.
TMR: Tell us the brief history of ‘Lamentations’.
D: It’s a project I started with Clarence in 2013. I wanted to write music, Death Metal to be more specific.
C: Just as Danny mentioned, we started this project in 2013. If I remember correctly, I was just scrolling through Facebook one night and got a message from a random stranger asking if I wanted to start a Death Metal project together. So I told him ok why not? And that’s how it all started haha.
D: I saw a video of him playing The Human Abstract’s ‘Polaris’ on guitar and I knew I wanted this guy in my band! So yes I added him on Facebook and got talking from there.
TMR: Why the name ‘Lamentations’? Is there a story behind it ?
D: I was thinking of a name for the band. We wanted to call it ‘Aletheia’ initially but I wasn’t too satisfied with that name. One day when I was on a church trip in Bandung (Indonesia), one of the speakers from my church said ‘Let us turn to the book of Lamentations’ and it struck me immediately. I knew that was what I wanted to call my band. ‘To cry out passionately’ is what it means to me. Something that I could relate to with the lyrics of our album.
TMR: How did you get into metal?
D: It was my brother’s 13th birthday and my family had just moved to a new church. My Dad invited the whole church over to my brother’s birthday party. One of the slightly older youths from the church had brought over a CD player with a whole collection of CDs in a disc jacket and started playing Linkin Park’s ‘Hybrid Theory’. You know that first riff in ‘Papercut’? That’s what got me into that album. I listened to that CD over and over again for about a month before I finally had to return it. A couple years later I was in Primary 5 and a classmate of mine had lent me a couple of CDs, Guns N Roses’ ‘Greatest Hits’ & Dragonforce’s ‘Valley of the Damned’. Those two albums were probably the reason why I wanted to pick up the guitar then.
C: I grew up listening to bands like Simple Plan, Yellowcard, Saosin etc. I didn’t get into “heavier” music until I was 13 years old. That was the period of time a lot of bands were playing “Deathcore”. I had a friend who played a bunch of random deathcore music from Myspace (lol) from his phone in school. At first I didn’t dig it, but after listening to him play this music day in day out I got used to it and started to get attuned to this style of music. I started exploring this genre of music and discovered bands like Opeth and Trivium and that’s how I go into metal basically.
TMR: Everyone, what is your musical background ?
D: My Dad put me in a piano class when I was 6 years old and I took lessons for about 6 years. I lost interest after that, I do regret not continuing to practice at least. Something that I hope to pick up again.
When I entered secondary school I joined the military band where I had learnt how to play the flute. I was in the military band for four years.
Got my first electric guitar when I was 15 so I’ve been playing that for slightly over 6 years now.
C: I picked up guitar when I was 13 the same time I got into metal. I learned from a teacher for a brief period of time but have been mostly self taught.
TMR: Who writes the music/lyrics in ‘Lamentations’ ? … how do you get in the mood for writing music? And which bands/situations have influences you for writing music and lyrics ?
D: I wrote majority of the music and all the lyrics.
As for the music, I focused on writing riffs. I didn’t write the songs one by one, but I worked on them all at the same time, slowly adding riff by riff until I felt it was long enough to become a proper song. My biggest influence musically would be Opeth. However some of the modern Tech Death bands actually gave me inspiration for the riffs, such as The Faceless, The Zenith Passage & Fallujah. Other bands that I feel played a big part in the way I write are Cynic, Megadeth, Dream Theater and Rush.
I’m a huge fan of C.S. Lewis’ fantasy Novels ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. I don’t read a lot but I’ve read this series a few times. I wanted to write something in a similar fashion. The story is about a man who awakes in an unfamiliar world and meets with a wolf who then gives him a tasking, to travel through the land to cross a bridge to the Fortress. Along the way he encounters evil, portrayed by an owl who tries to prevent him from completing his task. If you read the lyrics, you can actually see a lot of references from the book of Psalms in the bible.
TMR: What are some key principles or philosophies that you hold onto as foundational stones as who you are as a person?
C: I believe in hard work. If you give something your all, with enough effort, you will be able to achieve whatever you set yours sights on. In this long and winding road we call life, things are not gonna be handed to you on a silver platter.
D: We are meant to suffer. Its part of life. Be it the loss of someone or the physical pain we have to endure sometimes. So enjoy the happiness when it’s there but be prepared for the suffering.
TMR: Is there a highlight you will always remember, since the beginning of ”Lamentations?
D: We had Angry Metal Guy review our album just a week before it came out. That really helped us a lot and we were really happy that they took the time to listen and to review the album.
C: Haha, same here.
TMR: And the worst thing were ? (if there is one)
C: Don’t think we ever had anything that bad happen. Everything’s been great.
TMR: So what makes you laugh?
C: Japanese comedy anime I guess haha.
TMR: What is your biggest fear ?
C: I’d have to say huge bodies of water. Like if I was stranded all alone in the middle of the ocean or something.
TMR: What are some of the things you like to do away from the band?
D: Singapore practices conscription so Clarence and I had to join the Army for 2 years. Clarence went in a year earlier so he’s finished his service about a year ago, and I just finished mine on the 6th of June, 2016. That actually took up majority of my time. So I use music as something to do away from the army instead.
C: Like I mentioned before, I watch anime. I also like taking photos.
TMR: How do you promote your band and shows ?
D: We don’t play any shows because we don’t have a drummer. The internet is our only weapon right now. So by doing this interview with TMR, will probably help us out a lot. Hopefully more music blogs will be interested in our music.
TMR: Tell us about the hardrock/metal scene in your area please?
C: We have a very small scene in Singapore. Personally, I have not been very involved in the local scene for a while. I feel like the scene has grown since then. There have been a lot more new bands, but over the past few years, a lot of licensed show venues have closed down. Right now, I can count on one hand, how many show venues are left. Because of this, a lot of organizers have had to organize shows in unlicensed venues. Venues are kept a secret and only made known to people who want to go for the show. I feel like this discourages people who are new to the scene from attending shows but this has to be done to prevent police from raiding the show. So.. you could say the local scene in Singapore is growing but at the same time we’re in dire times?
D: There are some really good prog rock bands here that I like, but progressive metal not so much unfortunately.
D: Everything was done in my room, electric guitars, bass, flute, acoustic guitar, vocals and even the erhu. The drums parts were programmed by myself. I sent the tracks over to Matthew Carl Earl – Erthe & Axen Studios. He mixed and mastered the entire album. He also improved on the drums that I had written and programmed them. The whole recording process was actually spanned over a year and a half.
TMR: About the cover artwork. Do you think it is as important as your music? Does it visualize the lyrics of your songs or what’s the actual story behind its concept?
D: Artwork to me is a very important part of the album. That’s why there’s 4 pieces of track artwork in the booklet found in the physical copy of the album. The album artwork was done by Jill Colbert – Manfish Inc. I requested for her to have all the characters from the story on the album cover. She did a really good job on the album artwork. Ferdinand D. Ladera did the track artwork. I described the story and the lyrics of the album to him and he created 4 pieces of artwork to illustrate the different scenarios in the story.
TMR: What would be the ultimate cover tune for ‘Lamentations’?
D: By cover tune I assume you mean the song that describes the album best? Then it would be ‘Heart of the Earth’. The way the song is written, with the break in the middle, there are three more songs that do exactly the same, start out heavy, have an acoustic break in the centre, and then end off heavy.
TMR: What is your favorite concert that you saw and what made it so good?
D: My favourite band is Opeth and I am so glad they came to Singapore in 2012 to play. This was during the heritage tour and in the previous year their shows didn’t have any songs with Death Metal Vocals. However when they came they played 4 heavy songs, Heir Apparent, The Drapery Falls, The Grand Conjuration & Deliverance. ALSO, I CAUGHT MIKAEL AKERFELDT’S GUITAR PICK. I still have that with me.
C: I was also at the Opeth show when they came to Singapore haha. But my favourite show had to be August Burns Red when they came to Singapore. I think I was 18 when I saw them. I had a lot of fun moshing and singing along to their songs. I guess I’m getting old now, I can never do all that anymore when I’m at a show.
D: I went to that ABR show with Clarence, I think he was 19, and I was 18. That was back in 2012.
TMR: Everyone, what is the most embarrassing music on your phone or in your collection and how do you justify it to others?
D: I have 2 albums from The Alan Parsons Project, Ammonia Avenue and Eye in the Sky. It’s not embarrassing at all though, I totally love those albums. It’s the least heavy (not even metal) of everything I have currently.
C: I guess the anime soundtracks hahahaha. But I’m not really embarrassed by it.
TMR: If you could pick a band to tour with, who would it be? And where would the tour go?
D: Monotheist. My friend Michael Moore is a guitarist in the band. That’s if we actually get around to actually playing a show. I’d go anywhere. Anywhere is the world.
TMR: Guys thanks for your time and the interview. We wish ‘ ‘Lamentations’ all the best … Is there anything you wanna say at last ? [any final statement ?]
D: We would like to thank Jeremy Thurmond & Jason Butz from Metal Helm (US) for showing us so much support from before the release of our album. Also to all the various Christian Metal stores around the world for supporting us as well [Sky Burns Black (US), Nordic Mission (NO), Vision of God (US), Soundmass (AU) & Metal Mission (BR)]. Thank you to The Metal Resource for giving us this opportunity to do the interview!
‘Heart of the Earth’ [single] (2014)
“Echoes in the Wind” (2016)
Danny Jacob – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Flute
Clarence Jeremiah – Guitars