“Change your name,” people told Minnesota-based metal band Cwn Annwn. “Nobody’s going to have time for a band with an unpronounceable name.”
“Change your sound,” the industry said. “If you want to be successful, you need to sound more like -insert current band here-.”
“Sell your singer,” the promoters said. “These days, image is everything.”
The drone of naysayers, critics and “helpful” advisors was endless. But since its inception over a decade ago, Minnesota-based metal band Cwn Annwn has sought to please only one group – themselves.
And as their body of critically-acclaimed albums and high-profile shows have demonstrated, defiance has served the band well.
Cwn Annwn (pronounced Coon-uh-NOON, loosely translating as The Hounds Of Hell in Welsh mythos) combines a wide array of musical influences to form a sound that is familiar, yet unique. Guitarist Neil James’ riffs evoke classic Maiden and Metallica, and are expertly complemented by Mike Strohkirch’s quirky Primus-influenced basslines. Guitarist Harry Rostovtsev brings a technical aspect derived from Dream Theater prog and Gothenburg pioneers At The Gates, while the intricate, yet accessible rhythms of drummer Jake Stone recall percussive prodigies Rush and Gojira. Rounding out the band’s thunderous sound are the dynamic vocals of Julie Stelmaszewski, whose potent timbre summons a power and intensity reminiscent of metal greats Bruce Dickinson and Dio.
Over time, Cwn Annwn’s reputation has been bolstered by its intense live show, as evidenced by the band being asked to provide direct support to some of the world’s most recognized acts: Trivium, All That Remains, Iced Earth, Skeletonwitch, Gojira, Holy Grail, Exodus, 3 Inches of Blood, Chimaira, Prong, Testament, Divine Heresy, Crisis, Five Finger Death Punch, Watch Them Die and others.
Listen to tracks from Cwn Annwn’s 2011 concept album, The Alpha And The Omega