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ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Lost Ghosts
Red Scalp
Full Review and Video Clip
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"The Hollow Moon"
by Galactic Gulag
Instrumental stoner rock
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Sound Preview Lab
Sound Preview Lab
On The Road
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Galactic Gulag
(To The Stars By Hard Ways)
2017
Staff Rating: Crank this to 9 of 11
|    Editor's Pick
Genre:
Stoner rock, Instrumental
Sounds Like:
Monkey 3, My Sleeping Karma, 35007
Galactic Gulag, what a terrific and unusual name for a band. Combine this with stellar album art and you have the recipe for one terrific interstellar heavy spaced-out rock album. To the Stars by Hard Ways, the debut release by these Brazil natives is loaded with an infectious blend of trippy and heavy stoner blues. We can easily say that is on par with some of the best instrumental albums we have heard this year. We are stoked to have the band members take a few minutes with us and provide a deeper look into the making of this album.

Q&A with Galactic Gulag:

R11: Who are the band members?

Galactic Gulag:
César Silva on drums, Gabriel Dunke plays bass, Breno Xavier on Rythm guitar and Pablo Dias on lead guitar.

R11: Who produced the album or is it self-produced?

Galactic Gulag: The album was produced by ourselves in partnership with the friends from Black Hole Studio.

R11: We don’t have a clear-cut favorite track on To the Stars by Hard Ways. We do however gravitate towards “The Hollow Moon” because of the addition of the saxophone. We love this combination in stoner rock, can you tell us more about the use of the saxophone?

Galactic Gulag:
The saxophone wasn’t a planned thing although we have always talked about how our songs would really match with blowing instruments, synths or even a Hammond Organ. In the recording process we felt the need to add a sax solo in "The Hollow Moon" and then we met Isaque Gurgel. He went to the studio and recorded the whole thing almost in a single take.

R11: The flow of the album is just tremendous as each song feels like a continuation from one another. Is there a story to the album?

Galactic Gulag: Yes, there’s a connection between the songs, which are chapters of a story. We basically tell the journey of this inhabitant of a prison planet that manages to escape. The artwork and text from the insert complement the sound, as does each one’s own interpretation of what they’re listening/seeing/feeling.

R11: Is there any meaning behind the spoken word in “Escape From Planet Gulag”?

Galactic Gulag:
Each sample was thought and conceived to add up to the album’s storytelling, so yes, it does have a meaning. The speech is from a Russian film, which we leave for you guys to find out which!

R11: What bands have you been touring with and who would you love to play a show with?

Galactic Gulag: Although all of our members having history on the local rock scene, Galactic Gulag is relatively new. Our first rehearsals happened by the end of 2015 and since then we have dedicated ourselves more to composing than playing venues. The conditions here are a ‘bit’ different from Europe or the US, few bands can afford their own studio and that slows down creative process.

However we did play some venues in our city alongside bands such as Son of a Witch, Vênus Negra and Monster Coyote, we also played on Dosol Festival sharing the lineup with many great bands such as Kilimanjaro from Portugal. It would be awesome to do a Brazilian tour alongside our friends and fellow countrymen from Son of a Witch and Outside Brazil a tour with Elder or Earthless wouldn’t be bad either, hahaha!

R11: We hear a heavy blend of blues and stoner rock as a foundation for your music. Who are your influences?

Galactic Gulag: We have many tastes in common when it comes to music but we also have many different tastes. We hear from extreme metal to this new hype of synth wave and retro futurism, passing through Frank Zappa, Electric Wizard and Secos & Molhados… However all of the members LOVE the first four Black Sabbath albums.

The blues influence comes more from our lead guitar Pablo Dias, who’s really influenced by Stevie Ray Voughan, Johnny Winter and Jimi Hendrix. When we’re composing we don’t really think too much on how we are supposed to sound like or not, we just let it flow. The most important is that the result sounds interesting and captivating to our ears. The songs are long and the creative process takes some time and as we rehearse our songs we keep adding details and layers up to the point we decide to be final.

R11:
What is your favorite venue you guys have played in?

Galactic Gulag:
Most certainly the ones to come. We are really looking forward to releasing To The Stars By Hard Ways and playing as much as we can!!!

R11: How did you come up with the name Galactic Gulag?

Galactic Gulag:
By the same time we started rehearsing we also started a brainstorming to create the name of the band… It was a very extensive process but also really fun, lots of names were suggested, with references to literature, comics, space, world’s political history and occult… But when Galactic Gulag came up as a name we were unanimous in our votes and decided to stick to it. The name besides being iconic and good sounding also brought a good part of what would come to be the audiovisual proposal of the band.

R11: Do you have any more insights about To the Stars by Hard Ways?

Galactic Gulag:
It was a record that started completely unpretentious, as we didn’t intent to do a concept album at first. The songwriting started almost in a jam session vibe and from the name of the band ideas came up, completing each other and fitting into one another like a puzzle… until we finished the plot and realize that the songs formed the perfect soundtrack for the story we wanted to tell. We’re an independent band and with all the hardships we are very happy and satisfied with the result of the material we produced, now we’re searching for partnerships with labels to release the record in CD and LP.

Final Thoughts:
For those who want some refreshing new heavy blues rock in their collection, you will not be disappointed. Do not hesitate to grab this one today, it most certainly will enhance your collection. - 11/17/2017

Track List:
1. Home 12:24
2. Escape From Planet Gulag 11:35
3. The Hollow Moon 8:45
4. Space-Time Singularity 9:02
5. Eta Orionis 15:04

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