SiXforNine have released the standout heavy metal album of the year so far with their second album Parallel Universe. The band perfectly blend elements of classic and progressive metal with alternative and hard rock to come up with a sound that is all their own.
You can read more about that in my review of the album, in which I gave them a fair amount of grief for their seemingly juvenile moniker. However, as with everything to do with SiXforNine, there’s more going on below the surface. As the band’s frontman (and ex-Septic Flesh drummer) Fotis Benardo explains:
“‘SiXforNinE’ has a lot to do with duality, kind of like looking at both sides of a coin. Everything has it’s opposite. SiXforNinE is about getting the whole picture of our music, as contrary forces are also actually complementary. It’s also a union like the yin and the yang, and maybe sometimes it’s also the wrong number in an old hotel room… instead of room #6, you accidentally visit room #9.”
Very Lynchian (although it still makes me think of Bill and Ted meeting themselves outside the Circle K). If you’re not already familiar with SiXforNinE, then get antiquated below and read on to discover some of the albums that inspired their members to begin playing music, as well as some of the albums that helped get them through tougher times.
Fotis Benardo (vocals)
What a great thing, memories and moments of our life can somehow be connected with a song, or an album… I have many of these moments connected with albums that I really loved and grew up with. I remember when we did sports with my brother and had to walk a 30-minute distance so we had a cassette and headphones with a walkman listening to albums while walking. Every day we were listening to a whole album and paying attention to every detail. We were so excited that every day one of us would bring a new album and a new band. Thrash metal and heavy stuff was what we loved the most, so Anthrax (State of Euphoria (1988)), Sodom (Agent Orange (1989)), Exhorder (Slaughter in the Vatican(1990)) and many more were the albums that we listened to every day.
But…then, one day we got in our hands the new album by Pantera. We knew these guys from their previous albums, but their new sound came to Rock this World. A guitarist with a phenomenal sound, a drummer with attitude and different approach than most of the drummers, a bass player with a heavy sound that glued so perfect with the drums and made the rhythm section so unique, and on top of that, a vocalist, who could scream, growl and use his clean singing too. Vulgar Display Of Power (1992) is an album that I listened to every day. I read all of their lyrics and all the credits, I tried to learn their songs on the guitar, and fell in love with this new sound that these guys brought to the music that I love. This band made me want to be a better musician. It was a band made by friends who enjoy being on stage, and sharing their music with the world.
Herc Booze (bass)
As a child I have memories of tons of music varying from The Beatles, The Animals, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath… all the huge bands from the ’60s and ’70s that defined the foundation of what I am today as a person and musician. Also bands that have nothing to do with metal or hard rock: Funkadelic, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley… (I can go on forever!). My first hard rock album was Scorpions’ Blackout (1982). The artwork was so intriguing and I would say annoying in a way… I couldn’t stop the disc playing for a long time! There was also Eloy’s Ocean (1977). Different sound-mood, a progressive journey that in the ears of a 15 years old teenager was absolutely “trippy!” (Still is!)
And then came the heavy stuff… I can’t decide after all those years: [Metallica‘s] Ride The Lightning (1984) or Master Of Puppets (1986)? I guess they both were a slap in the face! As a young bass player I was in absolute awe! The sound, the chosen notes, the song writing, the distortion on the bass, the attitude… Yes! Cliff [Burton] and his “father” Geezer [Butler, of Black Sabbath] were blowing my mind, leading me to new levels of passion for the instrument! I haven’t and I shall not decide! BOTH!
The album that help[ed] me overcome a really bad period in my life? I was full of aggression, frustration, anger and grief. Having to face a huge loss, the “soundtrack” that came in my way was the one and only Far Beyond Driven (1994). Through Pantera’s [seventh] album I could express all the things I had inside me. I still thank them for that! Actually the only album I can compare with that is Gojira’s Magma (2016). All of the above are merged in the sound of SiXforNinE in their own way, as well as newer stuff. … music is a never-ending road.
Pete Outfox (drums)
My first hard rock album was Cradle of Filth‘s Dusk and Her Embrace (1996). My big brother was a metalhead. So when I was fifteen years old I was already a fan of huge bands like Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Sepultura, Megadeth and Manowar. I had made a turn to European power metal but also to Dream Treater, Rush, Yes etc. But at that the same time a tremendous album came to my hands in the form of a cassette tape. It was Dusk and Her Embrace from Cradle of Filth. I must have read about it. I either asked for it or someone (I remember the guy) just passed it to me so that I would give it a listen. Well, I remember listening to it twice, before giving it back! Truth is I didn’t have a clue about what I had just heard.
Honestly I don’t think I understood much about what was going on, but I definitely didn’t like it so I returned the tape. But after a while (a couple of months or something like that) the tape was again in my hands and here I have to say that I really don’t remember why this happened. I probably tried to give it a second chance because I trusted the opinion of the journalist at the Greek Metal Hammer. The result was that for many years Cradle of Filth turned in one of my favorite bands. Dani’s screams and voice, the atmosphere, the astonishing drumming of Nicholas Barker (I was already studying drums) along with tons of fantastic riffs made me love this album. I still consider it a masterpiece. And it was how i started to listen to Black Metal and later Death Metal too. The gates for the extreme metal had opened once more. (Slayer and Sepultura were already a good introduction). This is one of the albums that I got so related with, that I feel and know that by listening to it on repeat can make me travel back to time at this specific period of time.
The album that helped me overcome a really bad period in my life was Ozric Tentacles‘ Swirly Termination (2000). I had no idea who Ozric Tentacles were. I visited a friend and he played the first song of the album Swirly Termination. It’s called “Steep” and then “Space Out” follows. “WTF is this shit??,” I thought. I was familiar with Liquid Tension Experiment and the sound of fretless bass and that was prog too, but it was so different. For sure it was less heavy than LTE but hare a new universe was opening again for me. Different styles of music , electronic elements, reggae, dub, funk, space rock and dude… those melodies, the flute and those guitar solos (I didn’t know Steve Vai yet) were something else. I was delighted! I still can’t believe how far out from space their music comes. I was loving the fact that this band didn’t have a singer! It probably took me a couple of years but i finally managed to listen to all of their albums (at the time there were ten of them) and I had the chance to watch them live when Christopher “Seaweed” Lenox-Smith was still in the band. I believe this was the main influence that lead me to more electronic music; trance, techno, acid and also to more psy ambient tunes.
SiXforNinE’s Parallel Universe is out now via Eclipse Records and may be streamed or purchased via SiXforNinE.com.