Cities of Mars are a new 3 piece band from Gothenburg, Sweden playing some of the heaviest Stoner/Doom/(Insert genre here) I have heard in a long time, Whilst that opening line may have some of you rolling your eyes, as even though I'm a HUGE fan of the genre even I have to admit there's a lot of stale 100th hand Sabbath rip offs out there these days and it's getting a lot harder to find the real gems, however in this case, these guys are definitely one of them.
I recently joined a group for stoner/doom music on facebook and with 26,000 members there's always tons of stuff to check out, I don't know why in the avalanche of recommendations from members I decided to check these guys out but I'm glad I did it's not often I hear something that impacts me immediately but this had that effect, within seconds of the first riff kicking in I knew these guys were gonna be something really important. In fact it made such an impression I decided that the first interview in nearly 3 years of this blog would have to be These guys
Cities Of Mars : L-R Christoffer, Danne, Johan
Based round a concept of the many legends and tales surrounding the planet Mars the lyrical themes are as interesting as the music is amazing! they have recently released a 2 song digital EP and both of the songs are phenomenal, First I have to say the sound is immense for a debut offering produced by Esben of Monolord who is someone who knows a fucking heavy riff or 2 with his own band he's really done these guys music proud! Opener "Cyclopean Ritual" begins with some eerie guitar strumming whilst this introduction is short it certainly sets the mood and is a stark contrast to the utterly crushing main riff which is enough to make anyone with the remotest interest in heavy music just snap their neck to it if you are not at the very least nodding your head with a look of sheer happiness on your face when that kicks in there is something WRONG with you!!!! What i find great about this band is they have a real sense of how to use their titanic riffage to best effect there's enough twists and turns within the song to stop it from just being one solid riff fest and shows a real maturity in songwriting though when you read the interview below the reasons why will become apparent! Second track "The Third Eye" is another stormer with it's stop start verse riffing and a vocal melody that reminds me a little of The Sword, that's another thing that i love about this band the vocals are just great, managing to sound on the one hand full of anguish and desperation and yet still hold a memorable melody to them! I've found myself humming both of these tunes which for music this heavy is no small thing! I would usually be gushing a hellavu lot more about a band this good but I think it's best that instead of my usual spiel you should read the interview below. Danne Palm (Bass & Vocals) was kind enough to find me some time out of his busy work schedule to have a chat on facebook and here we have Cities Of Mars in the words of one of it's members......
Dave : Ok So Firstly the obvious stuff Who’s in the band and who plays what?
Danne : Me - Danne Palm, bass & lead vox, Christoffer Norén, guitar & vox, Johan Küchler, drums & vox super stoked to have three vocalists!
Dave : Yeah it works well when i listened to the ep on headphones it sounds amazing on “Cyclopean Ritual”
Danne : Seems no musicians sing any more? Back in the day, every band had several singers
Dave : yeah i notice a lot of instrumental music in the "heavy" scene these days or most bands seem to take a vocalist rather than handle it themselves
Danne : Indeed, the whole instrumental doom scene ain't for us...
Dave : no me either I'm always waiting for the vocals to kick in!!!
Dave : I know you have some previous experience in the “heavy” scene as a member of the earliest incarnation of Monolord the sound of COM is not too dissimilar from Monolord so how did you come to leave Monolord and form COM? Especially as you co - wrote the title track (and my personal favorite) from their first album. Do any of your other band members have previous experience in other bands?
Danne : Well, I've played for 20 years, so there have been lots of bands during the years... My previous band Marulk was a boogie rock trio with Esben and Thomas of Monolord and we played together for five years. We developed a very hard working band ethos there, but when the steam sort of run out of Marulk a few years back we decided to form a heavier band as a side project, and that became Monolord. The other guys got super excited about this new band, but I had gone weary of the whole thing and felt that I needed to get out of the toils of a band for a while. The others pressed on to great success and I'm super happy to see their hard work finally paying off. We're still close friends and Esben acts as producer and recording engineer for CoM, so some old habits and ideas get spilled across I suppose. I love their sound, but it's not for me - I want to do other things musically and CoM is just beginning to realize its own potential, Johan is 20 years my junior and has played in different bands, but not yet with such a grumpy old geezer constantly on his back I suppose! Christoffer began in the 90's in the nu-metal scene in a band called Absent that I really liked back in the day. We've known each other all that time but never played together before. He's been in a band called Benevolent too, that has released an album and an EP, a bit progressive but lots of good guitar techniques that comes in handy in in CoM!
Dave : Wow had no idea you had all been playing so long and it's good you (Danne) are not bitter about Monolord's popularity and with the length of time you had been playing it's understandable why you would need a break. I think CoM whilst still being real heavy have some subtle touches that are revealed on repeated listens
Dave: tell me a little about the concept behind CoM I know Mars has always held fascination for the human race but where music is concerned it’s generally electronic/ambient bands that seem to look to Mars as influence? Also I notice that you have started at the 3rd and 5th points of your timeline (See Cities Of Mars Page HERE ) Is this because these 2 songs are the first written, or is it intentional?
Danne : The concept came first, along with the name of the band. What if those stories and legends were true, that Mars actually had an ancient civilization and someone stumbled across it? After that initial idea, the story has basically unfolded itself. The planet itself, legends and mythology just feeds the imagination - all we need to do is open up our heads and the story keeps bringing ideas to the songs.The timeline is still in it's infancy, each released song will be placed into the timeline so the listener can relate it to the broader story. "The Third Eye" was the first song I wrote for the band, kinda surprised that it actually survived and came out so good.The first verse really sets the mood and scenery for the whole band and the concept:
"Thunder rolling on the plains of red sand/storm is howling across this dead land/mountain of the gods rise into the dark sky/spires of Bahb-Elon loom in eternal night."
Dave : I'm glad you said that because my next question was going to be that with there only being 6 points on the timeline at present i wondered where COM would go with the concept once all 6 points had been filled?
Danne : The timeline is not full or set in stone - we have only placed the two first songs on it along with a few points of reference. It will soon be filled with lots of new songs and events. Our band universe has 8000 years of history, there will not be a shortage of stories any time soon!
Dave : ha ha yeah for sure, You recently played your first gig at the Wizard Of Fuzz festival how did that go?
Danne : It was wicked! Since I had been super busy in organizing the festival too, I was so tired that I propably made it through on pure adrenaline? The guys delivered beyond every expectation, and I seem to have performed decent enough too. A good crowd and an awesome response, it couldn't have gone any better! I had worked 14 hours straight, changed clothes and played the gig. Then worked 6 more hours.First minutes on stage, I forgot how to tune my bass. My head just turned blank. (Dave: That's understandable) But the spacetime transmission is strong - I made it through and now we can't wait to get back on stage!
Dave : Do you have any more gigs lined up?
Danne : Not right now. We are looking around and are certainly open to suggestions. But we are writing more songs and will be releasing live footage from the festival with some new stuff real soon!
Dave : I noted that you mentioned that on facebook I'm looking forward to it which brings me to my next question, I watched a teaser of a song “The Gaze of leviathan” is this the eye of the mountain you mention on your timeline?
Danne : No, the eye in the mountain is certainly a main feature in the mythology. But Gaze of Leviathan is a 1971 song where the cosmonaut Najda finds a hidden subterranean temple where robotic corpse-droids are performing a ritual to an unknown Leviathan that resides somewhere far beyond a black hole. The ritual has been performed for millenia, without humans to sacrifice. So when Nadja suddenly appears, these corpse-droids see the opportunity... A bit of doom in it, and a bit of up-tempo stuff too. It will be out on Youtube in a while. Most of our songwriting is very cinematic - we ask what "scene" we are doing, what mood, scenery and actions that are being performed? A new and interesting angle of songwriting for us.
Dave : Yeah because during "Cyclopean Ritual" everything drops out to the sound of what I assume to be a beating heart?
Danne : You got it
Dave : I was quite surprised by that because your sound is so heavy then everything drops to that beating before rising again it's a fantastic dynamic!
Danne : Thanks, We think of the sound like a movie too - a movie with action and mayhem for two hours might not be too interesting? We want to build suspense and atmospherics it is very crucial to our music.
Dave : Yeah i found that with your music even tho there are only 2 songs and you are working within a "heavy" framework for your sound what i feel separates you from similar bands,apart from your concept, is the real sense of drama in your songs it is, as you say not 2hrs of mayhem!
Dave : It's obvious that whilst you are a heavy band, loosely speaking in the stoner/doom mold, that there's far more to it than that what bands or music do you take influence from as it's obviously not the usual Black Sabbath plagiarism with you guys
Danne : I would say Mastodon and The Sword perhaps? There are sooo many good bands out there that create good music, but I would say that Mastodon's masterpiece "Crack the Skye" would be the single most influential piece - not necessarily the music itself, but how it combines heavy and eclectic music with a theme and that sense of drama that you mentioned.
Dave : it certainly does make it more interesting, So I know you are short on time so I should wrap this up so lastly.... I for one cannot get enough of your EP I have played it to death!! Can we expect any more music soon? Have you had any interest from anyone wanting to release something?
Danne : We cannot reveal all the details right now - but yes there is music coming. We have a label that is interested and we will release a 3 or 4 song EP, hopefully in early late February or late March. And real soon we will publish a new song, a live video, from the Wizard Of Fuzz Festival too. We will make the details public within a week or so!
Dave : That's great news I will be looking forward to hearing it! Ok Danne thanks for your time and looking forward to more Cities of Mars soon!!!
Danne : Cheers!
So there you go a supremely nice guy and a great band! Below you will find links to their 2 song EP which you can download free or stream from Bandcamp (where you can also buy a T-shirt or a patch as well) you can also stream it on soundcloud and also links to their facebook page and homepage all of which are more than worth a few minutes of your time.
I seriously think that these guys are going to be huge if they can produce a debut EP of such high quality with an interesting concept behind them just think how good they will be a year from now! You are seriously gonna be kicking yourself if you don't get onto these guys right NOW because once these guys get a proper release out I can assure they will be the name on the lips of every fan of good heavy music! So.... what you waiting for....GO!!!!!
EP download & Merch : Bandcamp
Soundcloud : HERE
Facebook : HERE
Homepage (and Concept Timeline) : HERE