PYRAMAZE – Welcome To The “Land Of Information”
April 18, 2017, a year ago
Fans of sci-fi movies such as Oblivion and Transformers will be able to get on board with Danish power metal band Pyramaze’s fifth full-length album, Contingent.
On its 13 tracks, the band’s modern cinematic approach, combined with its symphonic and progressive influences, makes Contingent Pyramaze’s most mature album to date.
Since its 2001 formation, Pyramaze’s diverse musical style has evolved from album to album. It might have something to do with four very distinctive vocalists the band has boasted over its 16 year existence.
Consisting of vocalist Terje Harøy (ex-Teodor Tuff), keyboardist Jonah Weingarten (ex-Avian), guitarists Toke Skjønnemand and Jacob Hansen (ex-Anubis Gate) and drummer Morten Gade Sørensen (Anubis Gate), the band’s sound on Contingent is more focused compared to its earlier releases.
On its 2004 debut album, Melancholy Beast, the band possessed an edgy US power metal sound in the vein of Fates Warning and Queensrÿche, which featured powerhouse vocalist Lance King. King also sang on the band’s follow up album, 2006’s Legend Of The Bone Carver, before leaving the band that same year.
With 2008’s Immortal, the band recruited ex-Iced Earth vocalist Matt Barlow. The band’s familiar Iced Earth-isms were obvious with a grittier sound compared to its first two albums. However, Barlow rejoined Iced Earth shortly after the recording of Immortal, which led to a brief moment with Urban Breed (ex-Tad Marose) but resulted in zero recordings.
“With Immortal, we had Michael Kammeyer in the band then and he wrote the bulk of the album,” Weingarten said. “The Pyramaze lineup at the time knew that Matt Barlow would be singing on the record, so we wanted to have the music fit to his voice. We consciously made an album that was a bit heavier to fit the tone of his voice, as he has more aggressive qualities to his voice. With Disciples…, when we wrote that record, we didn’t even know who are singer was going to be. Some of those songs were written when Urban Breed was still in the band. It was just us making music and hoping that it turned out good.”
After the departure of Kammeyer in 2011, the core writing team has consisted of Weingarten, Skjønnemand and Hansen. Since the second consecutive album with Harøy on vocals, the songwriting has become more consistent.
“Often times in bands, usually there’s just one songwriter,” Weingarten began. “But I really think that having three different songwriters in this band with three different sets of influences and musical backgrounds, really helps us create diverse records.”
On Contingent, Pyramaze has definitely tapped into its signature sound. Plus, the hooky melodies make it easy to reel the listener in.
“Contingent is definitely an evolution of Disciples Of The Sun,” Weingarten said. “With Disciples … we were really getting our footing and it went really well. I think our songwriting process is more mature now since we’ve been together for so long. I love Disciples but personally I just think Contingent is taking everything good from the Disciples album, that more progression. It’s a more refined and mature version of Disciples.”
Contingent’s opening track, “Land Of Information,” is a tell-tale sign that the band’s more cinematic power metal approach is in full effect. Its grandiose intro sets the tone nicely for what’s to follow. However, Weingarten explains how he got a little carried away with some of those epic intros.
“It’s kind of funny, but I had an epic intro on every song and ended up having to cut a bunch of the keyboards intros,” Weingarten said. “Every song doesn’t need a grand intro. The lyrics for all the songs were written after the songs were done. So it wasn’t so much the lyrical content that we were inspired by while making the music, it was more of the actual songwriting process itself.”
Although Pyramaze is a Danish-based band, the core of Jacob, Morten and Toke live in Denmark, Harøy lives in Norway and Weingarten calls Minnesota home. With the logistical distances, one can only assume that there’s probably not a lot of face to face rehearsal time during the songwriting process.
“For my parts, I send them demos and they go into the studio for a week over there and write stuff together,” Weingarten said. “Also, Jacob does stuff in his own studio. Everyone brings everything to the table when the time comes and decides what we want to do. We really are a great team because everyone likes everyone else’s ideas and no one ever gets shot down. I think that makes it easier when there’s a positive environment in that way.”
The band’s first single “20 Second Century” marries aggressive riffs with soaring melodies. These signature Pyramaze type of elements continues with the rest of the tracks on Contingent.
“We decided to use that as our first single because it was so hard-hitting,” Weingarten said. “It’s aggressive but it also has that big chorus. Really, every song is different on the album. It’s funny because I was reading some of the comments under the YouTube video of what people were saying. A lot of people were judging the whole album on this one song. That’s a little unfair because every song is a little different and I think once people get to hear the whole album, they’ll see that.”