-- Cyanide Paradise gets shredded! --

Stijn Daneels
Interview conducted and written by Stijn “Metal Shredder” Daneels.

In summer 2018 Carol “Raven Shredder” went to her annual Slovenian sanctuary called Metaldays and at my request, she made pictures of some of the artists performing on the festival’s New Forces stage. One of those bands was the Dutch blackened symphonic death metal act Pictura Poesis. After publishing her photos I was contacted by Pictura Poesis vocalist Linn Liv. Ever since, Raven Shredder, Linn and me remained in touch with each other. Linn was also quick to introduce me to her newly formed second band, a melodic death metal act called Cyanide Paradise. And eventually I wrote a review of Cyanide Paradise’s debut EP “Reach for the Stars” (read it here: http://belgianmetalshredder.be/reviews/170).

And now, with the band having just released a new single, I decided to finally get the band Skype shredded! So on Saturday April 11, 2020 I contacted Linn, who added bassist Jeff and guitarist Martin to the shred, to talk about Cyanide Paradise’s formation, the production of both the “Reach for the Stars” EP and the “Downfall” single (check it out at the end of this article) and how a post-surgery checkup led the band to recruiting their current drummer.

BMS: Hello! Great to have the 3 of you here on Skype! So, tell me how Cyanide Paradise got established?
Martin: Hey there! Jeff and I have been longtime friends and fellow band members, having played together in bands like Veil of Delusions and Desolace Divine (wherein Linn did vocals as well). However, Jeff and I eventually wanted to head into a new direction and since we shared a similar musical vision we decided to kick off Cyanide Paradise together. Since Linn was also a longtime friend of ours and she had made major leaps in her harsh vocal abilities (partly through Pictura Poesis) it was almost a given for her to join the project soon after. Our main creative inspiration is the melodic death metal subgenre with bands like Amon Amarth and Devin Townsend.

Jeff: However, like any other self-respecting band, we try not to get caught up in genres and labels too much. We write music we think sounds cool and that just happens to frequently incorporate a lot of elements commonly associated with melodic death metal. Our goal is to make an epic, larger-than-life sound while mostly relying on the usual metal arsenal of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. No cheap gimmicks and no subgenre checklist to tick off. It’s all stuff that we love to write, record and perform.
BMS: And that’s exactly how I felt when I was listening to your debut EP “Reach for the Stars” and your freshly released single “Downfall.” The melodic, guitar-centered sound gives the music (and “Downfall” in particular) an orchestral feel without employing an actual orchestra or any symphonic instruments or keyboards whatsoever. So I’d certainly further expand on this streamlined yet very effective guitar-centric style. The addition of live drums (instead of a drum computer as was the case in “Reach for the Stars”) adds an additional punch to the song. As for the vocals, I’ve felt that both Linn and Martin voices are naturally harsh without sacrificing any clarity. I do admit that I thought it was Linn who did all the vocal work, but in “Downfall” the vocal differences between both singers are clearer.
Linn: Don’t worry, a lot of reviewers weren’t aware that Martin also does vocals, but I’m glad that you’ve realized it now.

BMS: Giving credit where it’s due, that’s my credo. Now, how does the songwriting go within Cyanide Paradise?
Martin: Our songs usually begin with either a riff or some lyrics, and then we get together to decide how we can further expand on that initial, rudimentary idea. Depending on the ongoing inspirational vibes, sometimes we quickly manage to make a decent song around it, sometimes it takes longer.

Jeff: Before Sebastiaan and Fabrizio joined us it was just the 3 of us working the songs out, but now we’ve involved them in the current songwriting process as well. The songs from our EP “Reach for the Stars” were all made back when we were a 3-piece band. The “Downfall” single was also mostly written back then, although Fabrizio made the drums a whole lot more interesting and Sebastiaan added his own little touches to his guitar parts during recording. Future songs will probably feature even more input by our newest band members, so expect things to get very interesting.
BMS: Well, you’ve already sparked my curiosity a lot! All right, going back to the “Downfall” single, you’ve recorded it in the renowned Project Zero Studio, owned by Carnation’s Yarne Heylen & Bert Vervoort.
Linn: Indeed and it was great to be there! The atmosphere was very relaxed but professional. We recorded all of our parts separately and we’re beyond pleased with the end result.
BMS: Indeed! Over the past 12 months I’ve heard a lot of great material coming from Project Zero Studio such as Exoto’s EP “Absolution in Death,” Cathubodua’s “Continuum” and of course Carnation’s “Chapel of Abhorrence.”
Linn: For us it was a big upgrade compared to the production of “Reach for the Stars,” which we did all by ourselves (with Martin handling the mixing). In addition, we did not have our second guitarist Sebastiaan and our drummer Fabrizio yet, so it was just the 3 of us using all the DIY tricks in the book, recording everything from home, programming drum tracks, mixing, mastering and releasing.
BMS: Speaking of Sebastiaan and Fabrizio. How did you get in touch with them?
Linn: Sebastiaan has been a longtime acquaintance of ours since we had shared the stage with him and his other band Pandora’s Key. So when I had put up a Facebook post to look for an additional guitarist he was quick to successfully audition for us. As for Fabrizio, that was a fun coincidence to be honest. Last year I had laser eye surgery at a hospital in Eindhoven and during one of my post-surgery checkups I saw a guy standing at the nearby train station holding a drum case and wearing an Amon Amarth shirt. I quickly went up to him and asked if he were interested in filling our vacant drummer spot. Fabrizio responded very positively and we were all blown away during his audition.

BMS: Yeah, sometimes you can find suitable people in all the unusual places. Now I’d love to know, what were your initial plans before the COVID-19 outbreak?
Linn: We’ve had a couple of gigs plans to promote our new single including a major show at Harnbarg Metalfest which was scheduled for Saturday April 18, 2020. Currently we’re doing a lot of Skype meetings so that we can stay in touch with each other as well as putting time and effort into writing new songs and promoting our current material, especially the “Downfall” single.

Martin: Fortunately the current lockdown didn’t put much of our plans on hold. Right after releasing “Reach for the Stars” we immediately began working on a second EP with “Downfall” acting as a teaser for what Cyanide Paradise is evolving towards. In addition, the upcoming EP will continue the storyline that began in “Reach for the Stars,” with mankind leaving the mostly uninhabitable and over polluted earth behind and attempting to find a new place beyond this planet to start over.
BMS: I’m glad to hear that you’re keeping up the good work! Now it’s time for one of my traditional questions. What other things do you do in life aside from Cyanide Paradise? Ladies first, so…
Linn: Jeff and I also play in another band, a blackened symphonic death metal act called Pictura Poesis (with Jeff on bass and me on vocals). Aside from that I enjoy movies and video games as well as doing sports like athletics and horseback riding.

Jeff: At the moment I’m very busy with my work for the government, which means that I’m away from home a lot, so unfortunately that takes up a lot of my time. Aside from that I play airsoft, enjoy motorcycling and some gaming here and there when I have the time.

Martin: I have a variety of interests with books, movies, video games, etc. But I’ve always had a huge interest in apocalyptic stories and that’s why Cyanide Paradise’s songs all have that end-of-the-world theme. A theme that, like I told earlier, will continue in the upcoming releases.
BMS: All right! Time for a fun remark, Linn and Jeff, I know you’ve both been to Metaldays in Slovenia (including a show as Pictura Poesis in 2018 before Jeff joined that band) and I assume that playing that festival as Cyanide Paradise stands on your bucket list, right?
Linn: Oh yeah! It’s an awesome festival in a magnificent natural location, surrounded by mountains and lakes. Plus their New Forces stage allows for debuting bands like ours to showcase our craft towards the masses.
BMS: All right! That’s all I’ve got to say! It was great talking to you and I hope to see you guys on stage very soon.
Linn, Jeff & Martin: Catch ya later, Shredder!