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Interview conducted March 22 2008
Interview published April 01 2008

What an awesome ordeal for Wendy and I to witness the prophetic Stories From The Book Of Metal, as foretold by the exuberant youth known as Zephaniah. This semi-local, promising Power Metal act from Fort Wayne, Indiana agreed to make the journey to Ohio to participate in Lunarium's album release party, and we are ever so grateful.

My metal prayers have been answered, as Zephaniah are gearing up for some well-deserved appreciation. Fans of Armory, Cellador, Eternal Legacy, & Engage, get to know these lone warriors. Their new CD has just been self-released, and it is so impressive for such young, raw talent.

After their stellar performance of overhand fretboard gymnastics and stage thriving, we gathered at a pizza parlour, took a deep breath, and began our engaging conversation with the whole band present.

MettleAngel: Well Brothers, that was an amazing display of pure energy, almost a metallic exorcism. Thank you for creating the time to gather forth under these impromptu circumstances, and agree to do this collective interview. With whom have I been corresponding via my Myspace E-mail messages?

  • Ian: Yeah, that was me...

MettleAngel: So, I take it that you are the King Diamond fan who willingly read my interview?

  • Ian: Yes, definitely, that was really well done, I enjoyed reading that.

MettleAngel: Thank you, I was honored to speak to the almighty King. I want to express my gratitude to you for sending me the CD so promptly. You paid $5 to send it priority mail, when you could have easily presented it to me this evening. To show our appreciation for your munificence, we will purchase shirts from the band at the end of the show. I'll wear my shirt when I go see Destructor, Trouble, & Icarus Witch. Greg Gruben of MSOD who are playing right now, used to play with Icarus Witch.

  • Justin: That's cool, Man, thank you for all your support, and for believing in us.

MettleAngel: Stories From The Book Of Metal is a really strong CD; especially for being an independent self-release. I've played it a number of times, frankly, I'm really impressed. Who would have thought there would be a killer Power Metal act from the Mid-west, of whom I've never heard?

  • Tyson: We just love playing; for me it is all made worthwhile when fans come to me after we play, and show their appreciation.

MettleAngel: That is the rightful and honest attitude to have. Try to not allow things to go to your head, as we are all in this together. Remember, your success is our success. This is why Wendy & I want to secure you some gigs in Cleveland, where you will definitely make some new friends.

  • Justin: That would be excellent, since we often play with a bunch of hardcore outfits, whose music often does not agree with us.

MettleAngel: Well, perhaps they are envious of your talent. Like Brian Fair of Shadows Fall claims, the reason why hardcore bands eventually convert to playing metal, is because they have become more musically proficient. I'm sure you have been compared to Dragonforce. Given their immense success in the US, this could become a benefit for you?

  • Justin: One review already dubbed us as being "Dragonforce with an extra testicle".

MettleAngel: Also, given the internal conflict with Cellador, Zephaniah has the potential to ascend the ranks along with Armory, Engage, & Eternal legacy as the premiere acts in America.

  • Justin: Well, we grew tired of the current scene, and chose to play the music we most enjoy. Manowar is one of my favorite bands.

MettleAngel: I commend you for this. I often feel serious repine for a corrupted music scene, as well; which is why I celebrate your band. Let's discuss the name choice. Zephaniah is a famous prophet form the Old Testament, and unlike Isaiah or Nehemiah, he is probably an historically accurate individual who really tried to get the Jews to return to Yahwheh. Why did you chose his name to represent your Power Metal artistry?

  • Justin: We were aware of the Biblical connotations, and since so many metal bands use the Bible for reference, we did the same.

MettleAngel: Actually Zephaniah is a very spiritual name, and it carries a very numinous quality. The term "zeph" is derived from the Greek word for "wind"; while the "aniah" holds a deeper significance. The name literally means "God is concealed". It refers to the presence (parousia) of the Shekinah or "Spirit" of God (hagios pneumata). Think of Indiana Jones and the Ark Of The Covenant.

  • Justin: Wow, we like your definition better, scratch whatever we thought or said.

MettleAngel: So, Zephianiah triumphantly announces the presence of the ark of the Metal Covenant...ha,ha!

  • Justin: For us, the music is more important than the name itself.

MettleAngel: So the name is just notable for the purpose of distinction and recognition. You want your fans to identify with the logo and make the association with the band itself. I assume the overall metal vibe supercedes an often misconstrued appellative?

  • Logan: We like the Zephaniah references in the writing of Phillip Pullman who is really popular based on his Golden Compass novels, and now movie.

MettleAngel: Yeah, he uses very strong theosophical imagery in his work. This is a good stepping stone for the band, as your fans can make this association.

  • Justin: We may even eventually change the name, if it does not fit our style.

MettleAngel: Well what is in a name really? Look at Anthrax, they liked the name Lord Anthrax from Monty Python, before realizing it was a cow disease. What about the lyrics? Zephaniah focuses on many historical realities, more than basic fantasy, sword and sorcery imagery?

  • Justin: Yeah, we are influenced by a number of ideas, but the music still comes first before the lyrics, even if the lyrics may not fit the Zephaniah name.

MettleAngel: I like the lyrics, even though the CD does not include them. I can understand Logan. Names are for recognition only. Consider Lord Tim of Dungeon fame, after his departure from them and later Ilium, he focused on his own band Lord. Try to find that as a google search. Be happy you did not include 'Storm' or 'Dragon' in your name. Every Power Metal band out there now uses the word 'Storm' or 'Dragon'! I like the lyrics and concepts. The album title Stories From The Book Of Metal is quite appropriate. Iced Earth fans will identify with the Civil War tale of Antietam, while Running Wild enthusiasts and Pirate Metal fanatics will enjoy Blackbeard's Revenge.

  • Logan: Yeah, thanks for seeing the historical significance in these songs.

MettleAngel: I mean it is cool to sing about dragons, but I appreciate more thought provoking lyrics, which Zephaniah elucidate. Actually, no offense Logan; but the only weak point on the CD is your vocal style. I was surprised you did not sing in a higher range.

  • Tyson: Yeah, like Daniel Heiman from Lost Horizon, right? (Logan:) I know what you mean, I wanted to sound better. It is difficult as I come from an operatic background. Singing metal, believe it or not, can be a real challenge.

MettleAngel: Wow, you are classically trained, I did not know that! A higher tone would mix better with the music. I'm sure most Power Metalheads would agree.

  • Justin: Actually, we wanted more vocal harmony arrangements; but, budget and time factors prevented us from ultimately accomplishing this. My main regret, looking back, is that we had to axe out a few vocal parts. (Logan:) I almost blew my voice out. I had to exercise extreme caution and only drink herbal tea.

MettleAngel: So it was because of budget and time constraints that you did not do your vocals differently? What is with the 50's style radio microphone you use on stage? Where did you ever find that?

  • Logan: That's all mine, I own the microphone.

MettleAngel: What a cool effect, just like having Dean Martin perform Power Metal Radio broadcasting. (MettleMaiden:) Or Pat Boone In A Metal Mood! (MettleAngel:) Exactly! Now Justin you are the only original member in the band, right?

  • Ian: Justin is our fearless leader. (Logan:) I was a fan of Zephaniah before I chose to join.

MettleAngel: I like the idea that you just wear T-shirts and jeans; that is a no bullshit approach.

  • Justin: Thanks! The band has undergone many evolutions. I am the only original member remaining. I began playing classic rock, then progressed to a thrashier style. Too many members were uncommitted and came and went. (Ian:) I joined next as the bass player, but once we chose to invite Tyler, I switched to playing drums. (Tyler:) Yeah, I became their bassist, but I also play guitar.

MettleAngel: Of course you do. All you young bands play every instrument.

  • Logan: Not neccessarily, I can only sing... (Tyson:) And I only play guitar, but I'm happy to do just that.

MettleAngel: I stand corrected. It is just that I'm so amazed at the proficiency of young musicians today. That was actually meant as a compliment, not sarcasm. This is why I hesitate to compare Zephaniah to Dragonforce. I want that to also be a compliment made in your favor.

  • Justin: Oh yeah, that's cool. We appreciate that. We actually expect that comparison.

MettleAngel: With the style the band plays, you are in for some serious international success, and global recognition.

  • Justin: Oh we know, the CD is selling well in Japan.

MettleAngel: I just saw a poll on Metal's appeal throughout the world. There were countries I had not thought about forever in Asia or Africa which have a major metal fanbase. This is why over 60% of your audience will not speak English, or have it as a second language. Now I know how my fans feel when they read my work at Metal Covenant. I read a Midnattsol review the other day all in German. I was only able to glean about 20% of the article. I just got the gist of the context. So, even though I love learning languages, I accept how diverse cultures are. This makes me rethink my writing style, as to not go over everyone's heads. I'm sorry... I digress...the point I want to make, is that Zephaniah are an amazingly talented group of musicians. I encourage you with all the success you can create, and even more abundance.

  • Justin: Thanks, this means a great deal to us to receive your unconditional support.

MettleAngel: Am I to understand that this is officially your first international interview?

  • Justin: Oh yes, definitely, we have not been asked to do to many. Thank you for taking the time to even consider us.

MettleAngel: Thank you, as well. This is what Wendy and I do. We are fans first and foremost; and if we believe in something we support it whole heartedly. Even though we are both ill, and our son is sick, we did not want to miss meeting you all and seeing you perform live. We made this sacrifice and we are grateful for having done so. We really enjoyed the new song "Heed The Call", which you debuted this evening. We look forward to catching you again live soon. I've already spread the word to all my contacts to go to your Myspace and hear the music, then without hesitation buy it! My one friend has already done just that. Since you gifted us with a complimentary CD, which I will favorable review very soon, we will at least give you gas money and purchase some merch. We like the T-shirts which you brought along.

  • Justin: Thank you so much we really appreciate it.

MettleAngel: Your welcome. I must compliment your professionalism, overall. I am thoroughly impressed with your level of maturity and positvie attitude.

  • Ian: We are so thankful for your support. (Tyler:) Thank you again man. (Logan:) Yeah, double what they said.

MettleAngel: Now, let's go see Lunarium tear it up!

  • Band: Definitely!

See also: review of the album Stories From The Book Of Metal

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