.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording of the new album?
Sure. We’ve been working hard on promoting ‘Catacombs’, which will be out on March 27th. Unlike previous releases, we’re excited to be distributing it in Europe (via Hell’s Hammer Distribution) and India (via Transcending Obscurity). I’ve also been putting my mediocre video editing skills to good use, as we prepare to release our first playthrough video. We also played our first show in Beirut last October, which was a blast.
2.You have a new album coming out later this year, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
‘Catacombs’ sound is much different compared to our previous three EPs. We’ve drop-tuned our guitars for the first time, and have used more synth to fill in the gaps in the mix. There are also a few parts with clean vocals, sung by our guitarist Monish Shringi, and Egan O’Rourke from Daylight Dies who features in one our songs too. I was only a teenager when our previous EPs came out, so I think the new material is just more mature because I’ve learned so much over the years. I never have a strict idea of how I want things to sound like… if it’s heavy, melodic, and interesting enough for me to want to put it out, I’ll give it a go I guess. I also wrote most of the material on the acoustic this time.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer music?
It really depends on the song, but everything ties in together about personal experiences, what goes on around us, etc. ‘Pendulum’, for example was inspired by the story of Jonestown mass suicide, but it also has to do with how people don’t think for themselves and jump on whatever bandwagon’s marketed well-enough for them by some corporate giant or political leader. ‘Defiled’ has to do with apathy, especially by the most privileged.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Voice Of The Soul'?
The story behind the name isn’t anything mind-blowing, unfortunately. When we started out in Kuwait back in 2007, we signed up for this battle of the bands competition. We never really cared about naming the band; we just wanted to make music, you know? But when we were signing up before our audition, they said that they needed a name. So we all took out our MP3 players and checked out what we were listening to. ‘Voice of the Soul’ [by Death] was playing on mine, and we thought it’d work out for now. But then some people started referring to us as ‘VOTS’ and we thought that we might as well stick to it. That said, like Chuck Schuldiner from Death, we like to grow musically and not put out identical releases, like what he did with Death.
5.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Our Beirut show back in October is definitely one of our favorite ones. I co-organized it and had to sort out tons of things that I usually wouldn’t. It was tiring, but we had a really excited crowd. They were all moshing, cheering, jumping around- you name it. You don’t see much of that anymore. We also once played a show in Dubai in August 2013 (which is a terrible idea, because everyone’s away in August), but we had a huge turnout. It was a tight performance, and we had a good time.
6.Do you have any touring or show plans once the new album is released?
Yeah… definitely. That’s something that we’ve been working on for a while, we’ll keep everyone posted through our social media platforms.
7.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
That’s an interesting question. We have received some offers over the past couple of years. I think if VOTS were active in the 90’s or something, we’d be very active trying to shop for a label, but the way things are, it’s debatable whether you need one anymore. Given the circumstances of the band, we’re pretty happy with where we are on that front right now. We’re distributing ‘Catacombs’ in two regions so far, and we’re really pleased with that.
8.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of progressive and melodic death metal?
Mostly good, I’d say! Not everyone’s going to love your music, but we have supporters who really dig our material, which is amazing. It’s always nice to hear from people who support your music, whether they’re from your immediate circle of friends, or whether they’re people in a distant country who discovered your music and bought your album.
9.Are any of the band members also involved with any other bands or musical projects these days?
Absolutely. Our drummer Rudy also plays in an alternative rock band in Beirut called Roswell, and fills in for different projects every now and then. Our live bassist Bassem fronts a metal band in the UAE called Apeira. I’m usually in and out of projects. I used to play for a funk-rock band in Beirut called Elephant in the Room over a year ago for a short while.
10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
I’m already drafting some new ideas, and it seems to pick up from where ‘Catacombs’ left off. We want to be creative with ‘progressive’ elements in our music, but we don’t want it to lose its soul. I can’t imagine Voice of the Soul putting out albums that sound alike. We’re always inspired by new ideas and concepts. I think that’s a healthy approach anyway.
11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music what are you listening to nowadays?
I’ve always liked jazz, but I started listening to it a lot over the past couple of years or so, and that made an impact on the music I write. But we’ve always enjoyed listening to bands outside of the metal genre. I personally enjoy my dose of grunge rock, notably Alice in Chains. Post-rock bands, particularly This Will Destroy You, are cool too. I also enjoy listening to Marcel Khalife, who is an amazing Lebanese musician and composer, who really takes traditional music to a whole new level. Guess that makes him kinda proggy doesn’t it?
12.The band was originally from Kuwait but now resides in the United Arab Emirates, how would you compare the metal scenes of both countries?
It’s very different. Kuwait for a while had an active scene but it died out really quickly, but we did boast some of the coolest bands and an amazing producer. Two of those bands have moved to the UAE, Voice of the Soul included. Rudy and I live in Beirut, Lebanon, which used to have a massive scene (arguably the biggest in the region). But like most metal scenes in smaller countries, they just go through growth and decline phases.
The UAE used to have the region’s only open-air metal festival, and it had bands like Megadeth, Iron Maiden, In Flames, Arch Enemy, Motorhead, Opeth, Chimaira, Testament, etc on it. That said, it has some decent club venues, and bands are starting to stop in Dubai before they hit Asia for their tours. Obscura and Krisiun are a couple of bands that did that so far. I think that will definitely help revitalize the scene there.
13.What are some of your non-musical interests?
I’m a politics junky. It’s really bad for you, but it’s so important to follow up with local, regional, and global affairs. I also volunteer with interesting civil rights campaigns and initiatives with local groups whenever I have some spare time. I also support West Ham United, and go through mini-heart attacks when I watch their games.
14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Thanks for hitting us up and talking to us! We hope you enjoy Catacombs as much as we enjoyed writing it! You can listen to ‘Pendulum’ off the album on our YouTube.
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