VERSUS: Crowbar vs. Take as Needed For Pain
Welcome to another edition of VERSUS, the series where we look at two albums in heavy metal history and compare
This Day In Metal interviews Melissa Bonny (Ad Infinitum)
Melissa Bonny has to be one of the busiest women in metal.Her band Ad Infinitum announced their debut album Chapter I: Monarchy in January 2020, along with a slew of tour plans with some of the biggest names in symphonic metal. Then the global pandemic hit and derailed said plans (a chilling irony given that Ad Infinitum were wearing plague doctor masks in their early publicity material!).
Despite being in different countries to one another, Ad Infinitum thrived under pressure. As well as releasing Chapter I, they pulled off a successful livestream concert from Cologne, re-recorded and re-released Chapter I as an acoustic album, played the Rock Castle festival in Czechia this summer and created a second masterpiece – Chapter II: Legacy – which was launched last week with a huge show in Switzerland. Oh, and Bonny also formed another band duringthis time – Dark Side Of The Moon – whose album will be out on Napalm Records before you’ve ever had time to gasp“does she ever SLEEP!?”
Clearly not, as she also very kindly found time to sit with us and talk about how everything’s going.
For the benefit of anyone who’s not heard the new album yet (despite the fact that it’s currently topping This Day InMetal’s weekly top ten list!), how would you describe the sound and the concept of Ad Infinitum in 2021?
I would say that we still haven’t found the perfect name for the genre that we’re doing. I think it’s easier to tell people that we’re doing some kind of modern symphonic metal [laughs] but there’s so many influences from all genres of metal, with some very heavy riffs… some power metal vibe… some metalcore touches… It’s difficult to put us in the box, which is very enjoyable because we are full of surprises!
Do you feel like metal is more open-minded nowadays, in terms of genre, and that you don’t really need to be in the box, the way you maybe used to?
Yeah, I feel like metal has evolved but it’s sometimes a little bit difficult. When you release something, you can clearly see there’s two sides. There’s one side with the people who think it’s very, very cool that we take influences from different places and create our own sound and that we don’t do something that’s been done and done and done again. Then there’s another side, which is much smaller thankfully, which thinks that this isn’t metal any more. We just have to do what we love and make Ad Infinitum sound the way we think it should sound.
It’s not metal but I’m a big Eurovision Song Contest fan and I know that you are too. Do you think much of that style of music creeps into Ad Infinitum?
[Laughs] Noooo, I don’t think so. I enjoy Eurovision more for the show. I enjoy watching like it’s sport because it’s fun to see the different countries competing and to support your favourite. It’s more like a game, you know? I do enjoy what they do, although not all of it, musically! So no, I don’t think Eurovision is influencing my songwriting. [Laughs]
So what is the songwriting process with Ad Infinitum? Obviously, you guys are all in different places but you’re surprisingly prolific for a band that don’t get together very much. How does it work when you write a new song?
We work mostly remotely. We exchange files. We are very good clients of WeTransfer and Dropbox! We just exchange ideas. It doesn’t matter where it starts from. It can start from vocals, from guitars, from someone who has a complete idea, it doesn’t matter, we just gather them all and then everyone works on every single idea afterwards. There’s no song that belongs to one person in the band. We’re all working with the same amount of involvement in each song.
Both of the two albums you’ve made so far have been concept albums. Chapter I told the story of Louis XIV and Chapter II looks at Vlad The Impaler. Who chooses the concepts?
We discuss the characters who we think are interesting for an album, we decide all together and then I’m the one doing the historical research to make accurate lyrics.
I feel like you’ve made Vlad The Impaler quite a.. umm… sympathetic character throughout these songs, for a guy who isn’t often portrayed that way?
Well, yes and no, I think. There’s some songs where clearly you see him as a human being but there are some other songs where you see him as a monster. So I try to balance the way others portray him, but maybe you felt like he was a nice guy?
Maybe I’m a monster! I don’t know! I mean, the lyrics feel quite personal, despite being rooted in history. There’s a lot of real emotion in there. Did you choose Vlad because you felt he represented parts of you at all?
Yeah, definitely, I like to impale people! [laughs] No, it’s always good for me to use my own feelings, depending on what I’m talking about. I don’t detach completely from the lyrics, I don’t always write 100% about history. For example, when I wrote Unstoppable it was maybe 50/50 history and personal feelings. Even when I’m talking about the anger of the character, I will for sure use my own experience with anger to describe this feeling.
There’s some great angry tracks on both albums. I guess both characters were quite angry guys… So who did you think would win in a fight between them? Vlad the Impaler or Louis XIV?
Who would win?! [laughs]
They can bring in an army if you want, or it could just be one-on-one.
I think it would be Vlad because I think he’s a good fighter, an intelligent fighter. I think Louis was a good leader but maybe not for the army. His brother was a better leader of the French army than Louis was. So, with that in mind, I think Vlad would win.
What if Louis brought his brother in to help him?
Ohh, if the brother is involved then maybe… MAYBE… Louis and his brother would win. If he can pick another fighter, like a wingman, then Louis could win.
I’d like to see that. Maybe there’s an Ad Infintummultiverse waiting to happen, where all the characters from all the albums come together and fight?
Oh my gosh. Maybe for the 10th anniversary…
You did an acoustic reimagining of the whole Chapter I album (Chapter I : Revisited). Do you have plans to do the same for Chapter II?
Right now, no. We don’t want to exclude it but we don’t want to make any promises either because the fact is we don’t know what 2022 will look like, if we’re going to tour or not, if we’re going to make a third album, so it depends.
You guys have had to be spontaneous right from the start, given that you formed pretty much as soon as COVID hit. So I guess if I ask you what’s next, it’s going to be more of the same? Just playing it by ear?
Yeah, like you say, we’ve had to be spontaneous. We had plans for the entire year 2020 and we had to change EVERYTHING on a month-to-month basis. We didn’t know when/how/what would happen but I think now it’s a little clearer for us for 2022. We have some festivals coming, we have some tours planned, we’re pretty confident that tours in 2022 will happen. Although we were also saying this about tours in 2021 and about tours at the end of 2020! I do think tours in 2022 will happen though. We have two or three in the making so yeah. Let’s see.
Hopefully you’ll come to the U.K…
That’s the plan! I just hope it’ll all happen smoothly and not change at the very last minute again.
So as for Chapter III… if that’s on the cards, do you have any characters in mind for it?
Not yet actually, but I’d love to pick a woman for a change. We picked two guys for the first two albums so it’d be nice to represent the feminine gender!
Okay. So there’s a ton of great albums that came out on This Day In Metal, November 3rd, over the years, and we’ve selected a few highlights. If you were to pick just one of these, to celebrate, to take away with you from This Day In Metal, which one would it be?
U.D.O. – Animal House (1987)
Angra – Angels Cry (1993)
Slayer – World Painted Blood (2009)
Sleeping Romance – Alba (2017)
Annihilator – For The Demented (2017)
Cannibal Corpse – Red before Black (2017)
Beast in Black – Berserker (2017)
[Melissa has a long think about this, looks through the tracklists, just to make absolutely sure she’s making the right decision, then takes a deep breath…]
Okay. So I think the one that I would celebrate is… Berserker from Beast In Black!!
Nice choice! Have you heard the new Beast In Black album?
We started playing it on the way to Pratteln [for the Chapter II release show last Friday]. What I’ve heard is good!
And finally, on This Day In Metal we have a DID YOU KNOW section about albums, but the commenters always like to say it’s too obvious and they already knew. Can you give us a DID YOU KNOW fact about Ad Infinitum that very few people will be aware of?
DID YOU KNOW that Nick [Niklas Müller, drummer] can play all the instruments in the band? He can play drums, guitars, bass and he can sing. He can sing and growl. He can even play the piano. I don’t know if he can orchestrate but he could replace any member in the band. He can do everything!
Good fact. I don’t think people will know that!
Thanks, Melissa Bonny, for taking time to sit with us here on This Day In Metal.
YESTERDAY , TODAY, EVERYDAY HEAVY METAL!! 🤘🏻👍👊
Chapter II: Legacy out now on Napalm Records!
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