Today, we continue our tour of the world of rock and metal and tick another country off the list by introducing you to Israeli rockers Hartsbane.
The band embrace the classic hard rock sound led by the impressive vocals of Lev Kerzhner. The foundations of Hartsbane began with Lev randomly bumped into drummer Aviram, whom he’d served with many years previously and hadn’t seen since, at a studio in Tel Aviv, then brought in guitarist Amit, with whom Lev had played in the band for singer Infy.
And the band ‘formed’ when they were booked to play a surprise birthday show and rolled out an assortment of classic rock and tracks Lev had been writing. As Lev tells us: “It was a complete riot. The songs became the basis of what Hartsbane is now, a modern take on classic metal, with vocals and songwriting at the centre.
“Hartsbane resonates with the likes of Iron Maiden and Dio, but conjures a fresh, modern take on the traditional heavy metal sound. Soaring vocals and harmonies, timeless songwriting and powerful arrangements.”
The band just released their debut EP As Summer Dies, which is a live recording chocked full of powerful vocals, naughty guitar solos and good old rocking goodness.
The EP kicks off in fine style with the lively Tame, which opens with a darting guitar lick then dropping into a verse dominated by Lev’s soaring vocals. That feeds into a big singalong chorus “Don’t tell me we’re the same, Don’t tell me that you feel my pain, Don’t tell me things will change, Don’t tell me that it’s age that’s making me behave this way, No no, Don’t tame me.”
Substitute is just as fun, opening up with dual guitar licks that feed into a verse led by Lev’s engaging vocals. Big guitar chords kick in as the track intensifies and drops back into the opening guitars. A big fast-paced guitar solo gives way to big cries of “A big substitute for love” as guitar chords kick in to bring it to a close.
The band take inspiration from the classic rock and metal bands of the past, along with a slightly more surprising lyrical influence. As Lev tells us: “Vivian Campbel, Dio’s original guitarist, was one of the reasons I picked up the instrument. Lyrically, I’ve always admired Sting. He has this ability to create extremely vivid and layered imagery within the context of a song. Though for the metal context, his words may be somewhat soft-spoken, at times even silly, I find the simplicity and depth of his writing to be a huge inspiration.”
“All of this percolates into the music and the words, which often focus on a specific moment, examining it, reliving it and, sometimes, resolving it. It’s not all about these deep dramatic subjects, but when it’s a part of you it shines through no matter what you do.
“Imagine an infomercial about a new plush teddy bear, narrated by Edgar Allen Poe. I’m like that with love songs, with this deep ‘something’ looming under the surface, pardon the imagery.”
And on what inspires him to write, it’s safe to say Lev has plenty of experiences to call on. As he explains: “As a writer, I’m driven by my context, the history I’ve experienced and the perspective I gained from it. As a refugee child born under Soviet Communism, I remember what it’s like to watch the proverbial ‘end of the world.’
“As men with hammers took down the pillars that makeup everything you know to be ‘true’ in your society, breaking the heads off the statues of the man they once taught me to call ‘father’. I remember arriving into a new world, completely out of context, I remember being called ‘Russan’ for the first time – up until that point I was called ‘Jew.’ And I remember struggling to find my place within it all and what I did to deal with it – their cost and their benefits.”
We’ve only previously covered one Israeli band, our former New Band of the Week Jack The Envious who are now based in London, so we were keen to find out the state of rock and metal in Israel.
And Lev told us: “Israel is a very small yet active scene. Most of the bands here tend to be heavier than what Hartsbane does, preferring the harsher vocals and heavier genres. But there is progress. The other month Scardust, which is a kindred band, signed with M-Theory, while our friends from Walkways signed with Nuclear Blast.
“The scene is regularly represented at the Wacken metal battle, often placing bands in the top five places. I’d say that it’s not easy to do metal in Israel, but those that do are that much more dedicated and it shows in their results.”
The band have plenty coming our way through the rest of the year, with a full-length album planned for release the Autumn alongside shows in Israel.