Havok’s Michael Joseph Leon talks about touring and their new album


Let’s say we have 10 bands being spawned each minute and as per the current fad cycle,  out of these a good 3-4 will be/are throwbacks. Said bands seek to time travel and ride on the novelty value of bands of yesteryear. Some do it with much finesse and put their own spin to it, while some make a mockery of themselves by belting out insipid rehashes. Havok is a band that belongs to the former set. Adding enough doses of technicality, Havok play thrash as it was in its heyday. Today our very own Raj Sharma catches up with the newest bassist to the Havok lineup, Michael Joseph Leon. Micheal is also the bassist for the melodic death metal band The Absence.

Havok is all set to release Unnatural Selection on June 25th, via Candlelight Records.

1. Greetings from Metalspree, how are you doing Michael??

Good dude! Just recovering from the Depise the World European Tour with Suffocation, Cephalic Carnage, and Fallujah! It was an insanely fun trip to say the least!

2. Tell us about your new album, how nasty is it?? In your words, how is it different from all previous Havok releases??

It’s pretty nasty in my opinion! It’s a bit more dynamic than the previous records, in that a few songs are a bit slower than your average Havok fan would be used to! The songs are great though, and each one rocks hard! Also, it is the first record that i’ve recorded with the band, so expect a change in the bass playing, there’s alot of sweet slapping riffs im sure you’ll enjoy!

3. Havok has been often mentioned as a retro-thrash metal outfit by the critics, how much do you agree with that and why so ??

In someways, I do agree with that “title” because let’s face it, the first few releases are really…well, thrashy haha! But I do believe the music does have a certain vibe to it that transcends the “retro-thrash” ideas. When people who are unfamiliar with the band ask me what kind of music we play, I just say “heavy metal”!!

4. Tell us how did the guys get you on the bass duties after jesse’s departure ??

I have known the dudes way back in 2010 when my band The Absence was on tour with Havok, Full Blown Chaos, Beyond Terror Beyond Grace and Malevolent Creation. We grew to be great friends immediately, and since then, we have stayed in very close contact. Pete actually played drums in the Absence for one tour in 2011 with Evergrey, Sabaton, Blackguard and Powerglove! This past winter, I was doing sound and merch for Havok on the Skeletonwitch tour, and the Barge to Hell Cruise, so when I got the call a few weeks later that Jesse wasn’t going to be in the band anymore, we all knew at that point that I was the dude that would replace him. Best wishes to that dude, he’s a very important part of the bands history and i’m lucky to have the same opportunity he did for so long!

5. How’s the tour life  going on with Havok?? As the newest member, tell us your favorite Havok song to play live? Just one though. 😉

Touring with Havok is just as fun as ever! Like I said before, i’ve toured with the dudes quite a few times before, the only difference now is that i’m playing on stage and posing in the pictures haha! Honestly, its a blast to play the songs, but my personal favorite to play live is probably “Fatal Intervention”! It’s a very aggresive song with some fun stuff going on in the bass department!!

6. You guys have been constantly touring right after the release of PONR’, how fun was it supporting Suffocation? Have you heard their latest release yet?

The Suffocation tour was insane! Every person on the tour was cool as fuck, including all the dudes in Cephalic Carnage and Fallujah! We did some things on this tour that would make the dudes in Jackass proud thats for sure haha! I watched a bit of Suffo’s set everynight, all their shit is so brutal! I did enjoy the new songs they played in their set everynight!

7. You guys went out and recorded drums for the new album in a theater for the first time? How was the experience? And was it Pete’s idea of recording it in a theater?

The whole band agreed that recording in the Gothic Theater would be the best option for the new album, and it was pretty damn fun! Well, im not sure how much fun Pete had playing drums from sunrise to midnight 2 days in a row haha! It was a great learning experience, and the drum tracks turned out just as rad as we hoped they would!

Album art for the new ‘Unnatural Selection’


8.Your song “From The Cradle To The Grave” is about America’s first serial killer H.H Holmes, does the new album have any particular storyline/concept to it?

Unnatural Selection has a few different directions lyrically. There are a few songs with strong political views, a few about human civilization at its worst and finest, and a couple about the stressful process that is touring, writing, recording, and producing a new album! Overall, there are a lot of positive messages for self-realization, and education in worldly events, you’ll see what I mean when you hear the songs!!

9. On a personal note, I think your covers took more of the attention from the crowd than your original songs in the early release of PONR. This time you are just doing a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Children of the grave”? Was it a mutual decision by the band on covering this particular Sabbath song or does the cover somehow fit your new album??

The decision to cover that song in particular was made before I joined the band, but I’m still really stoked about it! It ended up sounding really awesome, and who doesn’t love the shit out of Black Sabbath!! I’d say that the lyrical theme of the song is what ties it into the record the most!

10. Any new bands that you’ve been digging lately, or might have crashed into on tour and also want to give a shout out to??

There are a few rad bands that I’ve met on tour in the past that im totally stoked on right now! Fallujah impressed the shit out of me on the Despise the World tour, and i’m very excited about their new full length release! Those dudes have a bright future ahead, love those guys! Revocation is another one of my favorite bands these days, their new record is sure to be a sick one as well! My brothers and sister in Blackguard have a new release in the works that im very stoked on! So many good bands these days!!

11. Thanks a lot for the interview; we are definitely having beers once you get Havok to India, any last words to the fans??

My pleasure dude, any time!! We would more than love to come play for you in India, let’s make it happen! Thank you for supporting and promoting the band, you are what keeps us alive and kickin’ ass! Make sure you pick up a copy of the new album “Unnatural Selection” and play that shit as loud as you can for all your friends! Let’s bring Havok to India!!!!!  \m/ Rock on! \m/

Watch their brand new video!!

Through Music….. Through Harmony….

No modern medical marvel nor one’s overriding faith in religious philosophy can heal wounds, both mental and physical, as much as music can. Music has brought communities together, developed relations and better, sown seeds of trust among a species who are more inclined to breed hostility. We metalheads ought to know better, for there is no better example of a community more tightly knit than ours. Today Raj Sharma catches up with British lecturer/journalist Ray Holroyd who runs his own record label Revolution Harmony, with the sole intend to help talented artists come up and in the same vein, help the world to be a better place, in his own little way. The profits of the label are channeled directly to charity. There is nothing but massive respect for the dude from our side. Here is the interview where he talks about the new single from Revolution Harmony featuring an all start cast. Head down and see for yourself who they are..

“Revolution Harmony’s debut All-Star charity single ‘We Are’ features vocals from Serj Tankian (System Of A Down) and Ihsahn (Emperor), as well as guitar solos by Devin Townsend. Composed, arranged, programmed and produced by Ray Holroyd in Vancouver, the complex international studio project was recorded in North America, England, Norway and New Zealand, then mixed by Rohan Onraet (Slipknot, Machine Head) in London, and mastered by Ted Jensen (Green Day, Muse) in New York. The single also features Stefan Loh (We Claimed Sentience Once – signed to Revolution Harmony) on guitars, and additional vocals from the young up-and-coming UK singer Abbie Johnson.”

Revolution Harmony - We Are (PR)

1. Greetings Ray, the main motive of Revolution Harmony is finally getting started with the Release of We are?? When and what exactly was it that motivated you to lead such a good cause??

Firstly, thank you so much for your kind words and support, I’m deeply grateful. To answer your question, I feel that my motivation to make a positive change in the world started at a very young age, though I didn’t have the resources to materialise my empathy into something like Revolution Harmony until fairly recently. Most people are only finding out about me now, but it has taken almost three decades of practicing, studying, and networking to lay the foundation on which I could build Revolution Harmony. Growing up in South Africa, I saw first-hand how unimaginably difficult life was for people in the townships, like Khayelitsha that was down the road from me. I was beyond fortunate to have had the opportunity to study and play music as a child. Music has the power to literally save lives, and all children should have access to music education, especially those in underprivileged areas.

2. The single is dedicated to Nelson Mandela and the memory of Lucky Dube , any particular reasons behind it ??

As a South African who lived through the apartheid years, I found Nelson Mandela and Lucky Dube to be unwavering in their visionary work to heal the country’s horrific wounds, and move everyone away from the violent black/white past and into the peaceful rainbow-nation future. Thankfully everyone knows about Mandela, but not many people outside of South Africa are familiar with Lucky Dube, which is why I wanted to bring awareness to him and his music. He was a truly inspirational revolutionary and a phenomenally talented musician, like our very own Bob Marley. However, the whole country wept in October 2007 when he was sadly shot dead, which was definitely one of South Africa’s greatest losses. Both Mandela and Dube have inspired me and countless others, by proving that one person truly can make the world a better place. Imagine a world where everyone felt empowered like them to make a difference!

3. Do you intend to do more of such Charity single as “We are” in future or you have anything else planned after this release??

Yes, definitely! In fact, I’m working on our second All-Star charity single right now and I’ve already confirmed two artists for it. I’m aiming to release the next single at Christmas, and my goal is to do three or four every year after that. All the proceeds from each single will go to a different smaller charity.

4.Besides Devin, Ihsahn and Serj was there anyone else that you wished to joined this all-star release? Give us and little more insight on the track

This was my ultimate dream team for our debut single! However, there are two really soft sections in the song that needed a female voice, so my friend Stefan Loh (We Claimed Sentience Once) who also played guitar on the track, recommended a friend of his called Abbie Johnson. As soon as I heard Abbie’s unique vocals I knew she was the only one for these parts, so I got her on board right away. I also love how the single features a Grammy winner but also a young unknown singer, though hopefully she won’t be unknown for much longer! This is an idea I will be repeating on every single too.

Ray Holroyd 3 by Hayley Holroyd

5. As quoted by Serj , the song structure seems to be“ intertwining genres and vibes”, what is your take on it ??

Haha, it’s a difficult song to describe, but I’ll try. It’s a dark six-and-a-half minute epic, with captivating vocal melodies/harmonies and unusual instrumentation, as there are piano and trumpet playing alongside heavy guitars and beautiful strings!

6. “We are” is Composed, arranged, programmed by you, it seem Ihsahn is only doing vocals not guitars along with Serj, this surely is a crazy collaboration on the vocals how did you came up with that ?

My musical goal with these All-Star charity singles is to create collaborations that nobody would ever expect. These rare line-ups get everyone talking, and therefore raise awareness of our causes and the charities. I wanted to match two singers from extremely contrasting musical backgrounds, which I could hear in my head singing perfectly together. I’ve been a loyal fan of both Serj and Ihsahn since the ’90s, and I know everyone is going to be amazed when they hear how well their voices work together!

7.Coming on to production, the song is going to be mixed by Rohan Onraet (Slipknot, Machine Head) in London, and mastered by Ted Jensen (Green Day, Muse) in New York. What makes you get them on these duties?

Rohan is actually an old friend of mine from Cape Town, we grew up together, and he ended up moving to London and becoming a successful recording/mixing engineer, so we started working together back in 2001 when I relocated to London. With regards to Ted, so many of my favourite albums are mastered by him, so it was a no-brainer when it came to choosing the mastering engineer.

8.Your first milestone for Revolution Harmony, and to share it with three of your musical heroes, Serj, Ihsahn and Devin?? How do you feel about it, knowing that such great musicians totally supporting your vision by getting involved in this charity release?

To be honest, I’m still in complete shock, haha! Everyone always talks about how selfish and cut-throat the music industry is, and for the most part I do agree, but, there are also a lot of wonderfully kind and compassionate artists out there who are dedicated to good causes and giving back. Having the support of these three heroes of mine has left me overflowing with gratitude and hope.

9. All three of them have worked in a different genre mostly , was it easy convincing them to work along together?

Yeah it was. I actually had a whole speech ready to go in order to convince them of why it was a great idea, but I never even had to use it, haha!

10. Thanks for your time, Any last words for the readers??

Thank you sincerely for your support, as together we are Revolution Harmony! In the words of the wise woman Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”


Revolution Harmony’s single “We are” will be officially out on July 18.



A quick chat with Tesseract’s Ashe O’Hara

Tesseract is hardly a name that is unfamiliar to the average Indian metalhead. They’ve played at the now hallowed GIR and opened themselves up to a relatively newer audience back in 2010. Since then a good portion of the metalhead populace here have jumped on this relatively new genre bandwagon. In spite of having several bands today aping them and with the genre having it’s own share of pitfalls, they will, and always stand apart from their peers. For they are simply a class unto themselves.

Now while on the threshold of releasing their second full length ‘Altered State‘ via Century Media Records, our very own Raj Sharma caught up with their new vocalist Ashe O’Hara. Now, the band’s been teasing their fans (rather tortuously) with extremely short yet brilliant clips of tracks from their new album. Although all of it seems to be alluding to some grand concept, which we are still unaware of, here is Ashe throwing a bit of light on it .


1. Greetings Ashe, with Altered State release date coming closer, how is the excitement level going at your end??
It’s been a crazy year for me, joining the band, going out on 2 small tours, one in the EU and one in the UK, and it’s been an amazing journey writing the album with the guys. It’s been complete for a few months now so we’re all very excited for this release and we are very excited to see how it is received.


2. What about growls or screams?? Are they really not happening with this release not even from the backings?
There won’t be any screams or growls on Altered State. The guys feel they are at a stage in their career, and have carved enough of a niche where they feel they no longer need to be afraid to be themselves. And right now, being ourselves is to have purely melodic vocals. With ‘One’ they felt they had to have harsh vocals in order to be accepted by the community. But, they’ve never really wanted to be that type of band. There’s nothing wrong with that style of vocals at all, but they never felt as happy with the tracks they created with screams as we did the tracks without screams. We will still perform the older tracks live with screams, as even though we’ve moved on a little they are still part of TesseracT, and the fans want to hear the older tracks. And who knows, maybe we’ll have some on future recordings. But, right now, it’s just not for us.

4. When exactly did you take up singing, what inspired you?? Was it the first interest in the music field or was it any other instrument??
I’ve always been singing as long as I can remember. I was nine when I wrote my first song and as you can imagine, it was bollocks. I wrote about stars and milky ways – I could have been referring to the chocolate [LOL]. The main key influences for me when I was younger were artists like Alanis Morissette, Queen – having my parents constantly blasting The Beatles and The Rolling Stones probably subliminally influenced me regardless of my distaste for that style of music! I’ve always been melody-heavy, and artists like Alanis, Anberlin, Thrice, Anathema, Dead Letter Circus and Karnivool are all styles I have stuck with and follow religiously.


3. Who came up with the idea of getting Chris Baretto and the use of saxophone in the album??
The idea of incorporating sax was something that has been rattling around for about 8 years with the band, around the time when Julien or Abi were fronting. Chris Baretto’s an old friend of the guys and I think it was a case of “We must have some sax – call Chris, he’ll know what to do!”, and it’s probably one of my favourite tracks on the album, mainly because of the fusion of the two very contrasting sounds feels very groundbreakingand enigmatic. I think Chris is ridiculously talented and I’m really hoping to work with him in the future – whatever that may be.


4. All the four states, Of matter, Of mind, Of reality and Of energy?? Give us a little insight on these states?? Also as a tease let the readers know which is the most grooviest state or say most fun state of the album in your opinion? For us we are sure the whole would be fun!!
The main theme of the album is change, the titles of the movements are such to inspire thoughts about the subject of change. Change on the very small, and microscopic or everyday scale of humanity – relationships and immediate concerns. As well as change on the infinite, macroscopic scale of the universe and eternity.
“Of Matter” is about a physical change that is obvious and tangible, like the change of a band member for example whereas “Of Mind” is about the internal change such as beliefs, and the struggles this can cause when pitched against other people who may not be willing or able to change. “Of Reality” is about the need to accept that things do and indeed have to change in order to survive, and “Of energy” is a muse of the inevitable destiny of everything we know; a slow burn away to nothing – Embers.
The band favourites currently would have to be “Of Mind – Exiled” and “Of Energy – Singularity”, my personal favourite would have to be the first movement “Of Matter” – it was probably the easiest to write, and it’s probably the most personal and resonates my most insular self.


5. You have released a solo track online sometime ago, very catchy stuff!! Do you plan to release more music solo later??
Absolutely! I’ve been writing for years and I have lots up on my Soundcloud account (www.soundcloud.com/asheohara). I always try to venture out to different genres and styles – I am a huge fan of techno and trance, and I love a good ballad too. I’ve done a lot in the rock and metal corner, and I am currently writing a concept album, which is very ambient, cinematic, special and tribal. Its been a very busy year with TesseracT and I am certain it will continue to be this way, but it’s helped me manage my time more effectively and has made me much more productive.


6. Your other band Voices from the fuselage, any more updates in that camp??
I founded VFTF with the boys just over three years ago, we are currently processing a line-up change (new bassist – nothing too drastic!) and we are writing our debut full length titled “Odyssey”, which is the astral story of a young boy who encounters an extraterrestrial being, who then takes him on a journey into the future and upwards to present to him the secrets of the universe and the importance of Earth and humanity’s specified road yet to come. We hope to have it released around this time next year.


7.What has influenced you the most as a vocalist/frontman??Is it any particular band/album/live DVD you want to mention about here, which has made a deep impact over you musically??
I have always been an unhealthily obsessed fan of Anberlin, mainly due to the writing. The melodies and harmonies are always beautiful, but the lyrics are so profound, and never fail to touch me on such a personal, emotional level. I would say their third studio album “Cities” is probably my favourite album ever, and their frontman Stephen Christian is an idol. I think with my current work, Karnivool really inspire me with how skilled and enigmatic they seem to be. Ian Kenny is absolutely flawless live, and I thoroughly look forward to their latest album. I am also a new, avid fan of Dead Letter Circus, and I love the grounds they seem to be treading.


8. Hows the touring life going along now?? Touring with Tesseract is hopefully getting you busy schedule, how do you make it up too being active at the same time with Voices from the fuselage??
Well! Touring is always a grey area – you either love travelling to all these wonderful places, or you hate being away from home and can’t stand being in a box on four wheels with a bunch of guys who take pride in their farts. This is what I have learned so far! [:P] I really enjoy it, and I am looking forward to the tour with Periphery – I do hope to make a good first impression, as they are incredible musicians, and I feel oddly intimidated by the idea of supporting them as much as I feel honoured!
The guys in VFTF have all been very supportive and understanding of my commitment to TesseracT, and we’re all very excited and eager to get our debut full length album out to everyone. We feel that it has been a long time since our EP “To Hope” (even if it’s only 15 months) and we want to give something new to our fans and we intend to spoil them with this album – it’s going to be long, and epic.


9. Shout out board : Tell us any bands or musician you want us to check out ??
If you haven’t heard of them yet – Dead Letter Circus will be taking over very soon! I hope to tour with them some time in the future. As always, check out Voices From The Fuselage – we’re available on www.facebook.com/voicesfromthefuselage. I am currently working with Keshav Dhar and Devesh Dayal (guitarists of SkyHarbor) on an EP with the band These Precious Days – of which there will be a preview released very soon, and you can check them out at www.facebook.com/wearethesepreciousdays.


10. Thanks a lot for Interview, Good luck with the album release. Any last words to the fans???
Thank you very much! And I hope you enjoy The Altered State, which is available on May 27th (EU) and May 28th (worldwide), and keep an eye out on www.facebook.com/tesseractband and www.tesseractband.co.uk for updates and some juicy surprises coming your way!


 Watch all their new Altered State trailers below, in the sequence up-down (U-D) and lap up the secret message held within.