METALLICA's Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett spoke to RollingStone.com about the band's classic sophomore album, "Ride The Lightning", which celebrated its 30th anniversary this week. Asked if METALLICA was trying to do something different, musically, after 1983's "Kill 'Em All", Ulrich replied: "It was the first time that the four of us wrote together and we got a chance to broaden our horizons. I don't think it was a conscious effort to break away from anything musically. Obviously, listening to songs like 'Fight Fire' and 'Trapped Under Ice', we were obviously still into the thrash type of stuff. But we were realizing you had to be careful that it didn't become too limiting or one-dimensional."
He continued: "All four of us were so into so many different things. And 'Kill 'Em All' was primarily written with James [Hetfield, guitar/vocals] and I and [Dave] Mustaine [former METALLICA and current MEGADETH mainman]; so Kirk and Cliff [Burton, late METALLICA bassist] didn't really contribute to any of the songs on 'Kill 'Em All'. 'Ride The Lightning' was the first time that both Cliff and Kirk got a chance to add what they were doing. They just came from a different school, especially Cliff, who came from a much more melodic approach."
Kirk spoke about the fact that riffs from songs by his previous band, EXODUS, "Die By His Hand" and "Impaler", found their way into "Creeping Death" and "Trapped Under Ice", respectively. "What I think happened was when Lars and James were thinking about getting rid of Dave [Mustaine], our sound guy, Mark Whitaker — who was EXODUS' manager — gave them EXODUS' demos," Kirk said. "I think 'Die By His Hand' might have caught their ears. So when they were writing 'Creeping Death', they went, 'Great. 'Die By His Hand'. Put it right there.' It was definitely not me going, 'I have a riff here in this EXODUS song, and it needs to be here in this METALLICA song.' By the way, I wrote that 'Die By His Hand' riff when I was, like, 16 years old."
Ulrich also talked about the initial response to "Ride The Lightning" from METALLICA's hardcore fan base, a portion of which was less than pleased with the more melodic nature of some of the material on the record.
"There was an odd reaction to 'Fade To Black' and to the variety of the record," Lars said. "It did surprise us a little bit, I guess. People started calling us sellouts and all that type of stuff. Some people were a little bit bewildered by the fact that there was a song that had acoustic guitars. That was kind of funny because every great BLACK SABBATH, DEEP PURPLE, IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, MERCYFUL FATE record, that was part of their arsenal, too. The fact that we followed down that path surely couldn't have surprised anybody."
Thirty years later, "Ride The Lightning" "holds up very well," said Lars. "There's kind of a youthful energy that runs through the record. [laughs] A good portion of these songs are still staples of our live set. And between 'For Whom The Bell Tolls', 'Creeping Death', 'Fade To Black' and 'Ride The Lightning', that's not a bad batting average."
Read more at RollingStone.com.
Florida death metal veterans OBITUARY have set "Inked In Blood" as the title of their ninth studio album, tentatively due at the end of October via the band's new partnership with Relapse Records. OBITUARY drummer Donald Tardy revealed the CD title during an interview with the Italian blog Metal Skunk before the group's July 17 concert in Rome.
OBITUARY's first full-length CD in over five years was recorded by the band this past April at its own RedNeck Studio in Gibsonton, Florida.
Fan-filmed video footage of OBITUARY performing the "Inked In Blood" title track on June 13 at the Copenhell festival in Copenhagen, Denmark can be seen below.
Commented OBITUARY on the new material: "We don't know how to explain it but we really hit the 'metal nail' on the head with this album.
"We have been writing and working on the new material for nearly three years now and we could not be more excited how these songs have all turned out.
"All the stars seem to have aligned for us and this release, with the songs, production and overall feel of this record, the band is more solid than ever."
The album recording was funded by an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign in late 2013. Now the band has partnered with Relapse worldwide to maximize the release and impact of what is surely their heaviest and most cohesive record in 20 years.
The group elaborated on the decision to create the Kickstarter campaign and sign with Relapse.
"We always knew that our fans were some of the most devoted fans on the planet and they proved it by stepping up, being a part of something new and supporting us with our Kickstarter campaign," says the band. "This was an amazing display of true fan support and we could not be more proud of everyone who helped raise the money to record this album by pre-ordering it, buying all the cool stuff we offered and just being a part of something that we believe will be the way of the future. Now we have teamed up with Relapse Records to have them get this new album out there, in stores and available to the fans worldwide.
"We are very excited about our partnership with Relapse and are looking forward to working beside them with the release. They are a great label and super-cool people who have shown us that they are excited to have OBITUARY on their roster and are ready to push this album to its fullest potential."
John Tardy - Vocals
Trevor Peres - Guitar
Donald Tardy - Drums
Terry Butler - Bass
Kenny Andrews - Guitar
Identical twins Camille and Kennerly Kitt have covered the OZZY OSBOURNE classic "Crazy Train" as an electric duet harp arrangement. Check it out in the YouTube clip below.
Known as the "harp twins," Camille and Kennerly perform internationally as a dynamic acoustic and electric rock harp duo.
As the world's only known identical twin professional harpists, Camille and Kennerly have a passion and flair for arranging and performing contemporary music for harp duet.
Camille and Kennerly are known for their remarkable duet harp arrangements of songs by artists such as GUNS N' ROSES, LED ZEPPELIN, METALLICA, AEROSMITH, AC/DC, DEEP PURPLE and many more. The twins also arrange and perform a jukebox of Broadway, video game, TV and movie soundtrack hits. In addition to being prolific arrangers, Camille and Kennerly compose and perform their own original pieces for harp duet.
In December of 2013, Camille and Kennerly released their much-anticipated first cover albums, "Harp Attack", featuring 14 of their most popular rock and metal arrangements, and "Harp Fantasy", featuring 14 of their most popular TV and movie soundtrack, anime, and video game arrangements.
01. Fear Of The Dark (IRON MAIDEN)
02. Send Me An Angel (SCORPIONS)
03. Nothing Else Matters (METALLICA)
04. Paint It Black (THE ROLLING STONES)
05. Don't Fear The Reaper (BLUE ÖYSTER CULT)
06. It's My Life (BON JOVI)
07. Smoke On The Water (DEEP PURPLE)
08. Wish You Were Here (PINK FLOYD)
09. Zombie (CRANBERRIES)
10. With Or Without You (U2)
11. Sweet Child O' Mine (GUNS N' ROSES)
12. Highway To Hell (AC/DC)
13. Stairway To Heaven (LED ZEPPELIN)
14. Dream On (AEROSMITH)
Camille and Kennerly began posting harp duet music videos of their rock, metal and contemporary cover arrangements on YouTube several years ago. The twins have since acquired over 14 million total views on their 100 percent independently produced videos in addition to amassing legions of fans worldwide — including over 100,000 YouTube subscribers and over 100,000 Facebook fans. Camille and Kennerly are known for their personal interaction with their fans — responding to more fan messages and comments than any other artist of their echelon.
Guitar Center, the world's largest retailer of musical instruments and equipment, and DirecTV, one of the world's leading providers of digital television entertainment services, will spotlight ALICE IN CHAINS in the award-winning music series Guitar Center Sessions on August 3 on DirecTV's Audience Network (Channel 239). Guitar Center Sessions features exclusive performances and intimate, enlightening conversations conducted by revered musical tastemaker Nic Harcourt.
A clip of ALICE IN CHAINS performing the song "No Excuses" as part of Guitar Center Sessions can be seen below.
Guitar Center Sessions presented by JBL began airing Sunday, May 4. Now in its landmark eighth season, Guitar Center Sessions has been tuned into more than 15 million times since December, and is moving to an exciting new Sunday night time slot, airing inspiring performances each week at 8 p.m. exclusively on on DirecTV's Audience Network (Channel 239). It all kicked off with Seattle rock band SOUNDGARDEN performing songs that span their entire catalog. This episode, among others this season, was filmed live at South By Southwest (SXSW), on a rooftop perched high above the crowds with Austin's majestic skyline as a backdrop.
"We are incredibly proud to present our viewers with yet another season of Guitar Center Sessions," said Dustin Hinz, director of music and entertainment marketing for Guitar Center. "Season 8 brings to life the stories, songs and journeys of a remarkable lineup of iconic and influential artists. Filming live at one of the world's biggest music festivals was the perfect way to celebrate both Guitar Center's 50th anniversary and the success Guitar Center Sessions has seen over the past 72 episodes."
"DirecTV's Audience Network is honored to host another season of Guitar Center Sessions," said Chris Long, SVP original content and production, DirecTV. "We're excited to air an amazing showcase from this year's SXSW and to bring our customers another incredible lineup of talent in Season 8."
"Guitar Center Sessions" captures exclusive live performances and interviews from noteworthy and influential artists in stunning hi-definition and 5.1 Surround Sound in Guitar Center's iconic location on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. In addition to show-stopping performances, each episode features intimate interviews conducted by renowned journalist Nic Harcourt, offering rare insights into the celebrated careers of these icons and the inspirations behind their music. "Guitar Center Sessions" is but one example of the music retailer's efforts to support artists by creating new avenues to expose their music to large audiences in an ever-changing music industry.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of ANTHRAX's debut album, "Fistful Of Metal", the band's former lead singer, Neil Turbin, and a backing group of musicians calling themselves DEATHRIDERS (not to be confused with Neil's long-running Los Angeles-based band of the same name) performed the entire LP on their recent European tour.
Fan-filmed video footage of DEATHRIDERS playing a new song called "Ride With Death" on July 24 at the Headbangers Open Air festival in Brande-Hörnerkirchen, Germany can be seen below. The track was co-written by Jonas Hörnqvist of BLEED THE HUNGER and TREASURE LAND.
The DEATHRIDERS team features:
* Gert Nijboer (HIGHWAY CHILE) - Guitar
* Hans In't Zandt (PRAYING MANTIS) - Drums
* Conrad Hultermans (X-TINXION) - Guitar
* Kornee Kleefman (KROSSBREED) - Bass
Turbin and company played all of "Fistful Of Metal" plus songs from ANTHRAX's "Armed And Dangerous" EP which had not been played live by Neil since 1984. Neil co-wrote and sang on "Fistful Of Metal" and co-authored most songs on "Armed And Dangerous", and a couple songs on "Spreading The Disease", which he performed live with ANTHRAX on their first North American tour in 1984.
The only ANTHRAX record to feature Turbin and bassist Danny Lilker — in addition to Scott Ian (rhythm guitar), Charlie Benante (drums), and Dan Spitz (lead guitar) — the band's debut album, "Fistful of Metal", was originally released in January 1984, spawning such early classics as "Deathrider" and "Metal Thrashing Mad".
Asked in a 2009 interview about the reason for his departure from ANTHRAX, Turbin said: "I was a member of ANTHRAX from August 1982 up until August 1984. I was a member of ANTHRAX for exactly two years. The reason I left… well, there were a number of things, actually. The whole relationship started to deteriorate after a while, there was definitely backstabbing from certain people who chose to hang around with other people instead of focusing in the band. I was into metal… focused on music while Scott Ian and Charlie Benante formed an alliance and Dan Spitz just followed. In a matter of months, it was simply a case of them versus me. It was very difficult to deal with them, because it was obvious that we wouldn't get along and they were also more interested in other things than music… at least back then. We didn't establish a trusted friendship within the band… that's for sure."
The Los Angeles-based version of DEATHRIDERS is recording its debut album, "The Metal Beast", with a lineup that includes Turbin, Jonas Hörnqvist (BLEED THE HUNGER, TREASURE LAND) on guitar, Howie Simon (ALCATRAZZ, NELSON) on guitar, and Matt Thompson (KING DIAMOND, SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD) on drums.
ENCHANT, the Bay Area's long-running prog-rock institution, founded in 1989, has completed work on its much-anticipated comeback release after ten years of silence.
Titled "The Great Divide", ENCHANT's eighth studio album will be released on September 30 in North America via the band's longtime label partner InsideOut Music.
ENCHANT's main songwriter and guitarist Douglas A. Ott had the following to say about the upcoming release: "Well, it's finally here folks!
"There was a time when I was unsure of ENCHANT's future but fear not. We've made another album after 10 years and are very excited and proud of this endeavor!
"Our new album is called 'The Great Divide' and we can't wait for you to hear it! Nine brand-new ENCHANT tracks, including one instrumental. Classic ENCHANT, but with a bunch of new twists and turns. Long time in the making, but it is surely worth the wait. Coming out late September, so be sure to check it out!"
The first teaser for "The Great Divide" is available below.
In related news, InsideOutMusic has announced the first-ever vinyl release of ENCHANT's classic debut album, "A Blueprint Of The World", from 1993. On September 1, this epic record will be available on 180-gram black vinyl in the gatefold double LP format, including the original 10 songs and one bonus track, with a total playing time of 74 minutes, as well as the full album on a bonus CD.
ENCHANT 2014 is:
Ted Leonard (SPOCK'S BEARD, THOUGHT CHAMBER) - Lead vocals
Douglas A. Ott - Guitar, backing vocals
Ed Platt - Bass
Bill Jenkins (SOUND OF CONTACT, THOUGHT CHAMBER) - Keyboards
Sean Flanegan (CYNTHESIS) - Drums
"Invisible Conductor", the new video from the British progressive metal band EMPRESS AD, can be seen below. The song is taken from the group's debut album, "Still Life Moving Fast", whichi will be released in North America on September 2 via a unique partnership between The End Records/ADA and Roadrunner Records/Warner Music Group.
Having taken time to carefully hone their style of the music they love, EMPRESS AD, formed in 2011 by brothers Ollie (guitar and vocals) and Alex Loring (bass), together with Edd Unwin (drums) and Tom Meadon (guitar), have written an arsenal of songs that veer from an expansive, progressive sound to an aggressive, controlled roar. Citing their influences as PINK FLOYD, KING CRIMSON, the Berkshire four-piece locked themselves away in a U.K. studio with experienced New York-based producer Andrew Schneider (CAVE IN, PELICAN, OLD MAN GLOOM) to craft their debut. Their method of recording the music live, quickly, and as organically as possible has led to noticeable nuances within the album — details for the listener to pick up on after repeated plays — but, more importantly, it has led to the kind of natural feel to the music that cannot be replicated with a couple of extra weeks tweaking behind the scenes.
The result is a debut album for the ages. With lyrics that focus upon suggestive metaphors for the intangible minutiae of everyday life rather than relationships and lost love, this is a band of musicians as focused upon grooving together as one as they are on their songwriting and being able to relate to fans on an emotional level. Soothing and utterly crushing in turn, EMPRESS AD's music juxtaposes gentle harmonies with frantic ferocity; relaxed strumming followed by thrash beats, time signature changes and other meanderings that you'll just have to find out about for yourself.
The album's artwork was created by San Francisco artist Seth Curcio.
"Still Life Moving Fast" track listing:
01. Still Life Moving Fast
02. Invisible Conductor
03. Delve Into The Retrospect
04. Deeper In Disguise
05. From Where I Cannot Reach
06. On My Return
07. Blurred Perception
08. Haunted By Time
09. Did We See
If there's any old-school metal band worthier of resurrection than ACCEPT, let them make their stand now. ACCEPT 2.0 with Mark Tornillo fronting them has been exemplary proof there's life after death and that you can buck the naysayers by believing in what you're doing and going full force regardless of who follows or not. Now laying down their third album within the five years since their re-launch, ACCEPT shows once again on "Blind Rage" they're masters of their trade, no matter who holds the mike.
Working for the third consecutive time with producer Andy Sneap (MEGADETH, TESTAMENT and EXODUS) since their 2009 revival, the vow by Wolf Hoffmann to "never change a winning team" may sound trite to Udo Dirkschneider holdouts, but the intent is well-meant and well-kept. Sneap knows the ACCEPT sound so intricately, it's no wonder he's backing them once again. He's a considerable factor to why they still sound so loud and powerful after all these years. His understanding goes straight down to fusing the masculine whoa-oh chants and baritone gang backers on the choruses for "Dying Breed", "Wanna Be Free" and "Fall of the Empire" to complete the illusion this as much an ACCEPT album as any that's come before it.
"Stampede" is so good at taking the German power metal standard and throwing just enough melodic twists and variations into the chord patterns it all sounds fresh. There's no arguing ACCEPT was rejuvenated with "Blood the Nations" and "Stalingrad", but they sound as much in command of themselves as they did in the mid-Eighties and no proud headbanger should call this one a lame duck. "Dying Breed" right afterwards maintains the same confidence with perfectly-plotted riff structures and a chest-thumping anthem saluting metal diehards from the old school. We've heard tons of songs bearing a similar theme, even from ACCEPT themselves, but every crevice of "Dying Breed" rings with conviction and layered depth, making it an instant classic for the band. Listen for Mark Tornillo to throw a gravelly nod to Lemmy Kilmister with the mention of "ace of spades" in the middle of the song.
"Dark Side of My Heart" goes right to the "Metal Heart" playbook with a bass-driven, beat-smacking glide, but before anyone can scream regurgitation, the bleeding choruses of this number give it its own character. The slower march of "Fall of the Empire" loses not an ounce of strength as Mark Tornillo rallies his troops behind him and engineers a bulging, lingering storm. In a cool twist, the guitar solos on "Fall of the Empire" bear a little more soul than the usual blitz modes Wolf Hoffmann and Herman Frank whip up.
Whipping is what Hoffmann and the band do on the double-timed "Trail of Tears" and later, "Final Journey". They tirelessly grind out these fast power jams with terrific harmony, cracking beats from Stefan Schwarzmann and a gruff but appealing delivery from Mark Tornillo. In a period of metal where speedy cuts are almost always intercut by an abrupt signature change or two, "Trail of Tears" and "Final Journey" have the courage to stay old school and stay brisk. The barest trace of a slowdown on either song are the bridges serving only to let Hoffmann and Frank rip beauteous tag solos while the songs stay focused upon their quick continuums.
The leisurely acoustic intro to "Wanna Be Free" would imply a softie, but instead, ACCEPT stamps down and delivers a mid-tempo banger that disguises what is effectively a hammered-out ballad. The rich guitars and Peter Baltes' dropped-in bass rolls give "Wanna Be Free" added resonance, while the rocked-out bridge and solo section show as much wisdom as self-assurance in this band, from which the apocalyptic-themed "200 Years" bounds from.
Once again tricking their listeners with the cautious opening to "Bloodbath Mastermind", the smacking tones ensue as ACCEPT commandeers a customary power metal ride you'd expect in this band or over on the other side of the original contingency in U.D.O. Ditto for the hearty esteem contained within "From the Ashes We Rise", a nod to "Balls to the Wall"-era ACCEPT with a couple of minute signature change-ups between its straightforward drive.
At this point, there's no need to keep climbing on Mark Tornillo's back. ACCEPT through these past three albums have been more about the band as a whole than a head-turning change at the front. Besides, Tornillo's done more than anyone could've expected, stay let's enjoy the ride. "Blind Rage" plays all the tricks ACCEPT have, but the good news is they've reached further into their bag and come up with even more metallic razzle-dazzle their fans should be giddy about.
What's to be said about OVERKILL that hasn't been already? Perhaps we'll let Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth do some talking about the band's latest album, "White Devil Armory". States Blitz in a recent press release, "We don't have an identity crisis. We know what we are. We do this because we like it, first and foremost. We're not sitting there thinking about what's popular when we write a song; we're thinking about what kills. It's not rocket science. It's about action, rather than reaction."
Ellsworth is one of metal's true freaks of nature as he continues to lead OVERKILL with his famed chiseled pipes that will likely expire only when the rest of him does. Seldom few matching Blitz's invested years are able to peel off extended shrieks as he does with "Down to the Bone" on this album. Yet Blitz does it like he always does; with bare effort needed. Fortified by a lineup continuing to clock in valuable miles together, the modern era of OVERKILL has proven to be one of its most energetic. Leaving "The Years of Decay", "Horrorscope", "Feel the Fire" and "Taking Over" to their proper times and personnel, you can begrudge OVERKILL all you like if that suits you. They don't give a damn and objectively-speaking, there's very little in metal music today heavier than "Armorist" or "When There's Smoke" from "White Devil Armory".
"Armorist" wastes not a lick of time winding up OVERKILL's trusty engines and kicking the thrash thrusters on. Everything sounds perfectly in place, straight down to DD Verni's knocking bass and precise shredding from Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer. Ron Lipnicki has proven to be one of OVERKILL's most tireless drummers and his capacity to rotate his speed measures at will makes "Armorist" as beastly a cut as anyone's heard in this band. There's nothing to "Armorist" that hasn't been tried out in OVERKILL before, but all that's expected of the band by their fans at this point is to sound like themselves.
And sound like themselves they do. Having been on a monster roll the past few albums, "White Devil Armory" will disappoint nobody holding rank in the Wrecking Crew. Only a few modifications to the gallop 'n go method OVERKILL employs in their standard script are detected and they're mostly subtle. You can catch a brief choral chant toward the end of "Down to the Bone", a song rolling at heavy mid-tempo with a few thrash blasts. You can feel some punk chunks and later some crushing sound effects to accent the hashing flurry of "PIG". The kicked-back cruncher "Bitter Pill" is about as slow as OVERKILL's been in recent years and that's no insult. There's too much punishment dished up by the riffs and muscular tempo of the main drive before the song shifts gears to a stepped-up BLACK SABBATH jive in the middle section. Later in the album, "It's All Yours" likewise carries a few SABBATH plugs (including an understated Ozzy tweak from Blitz) aside from its extracurricular punk touches.
"When There's Smoke" is tried 'n true thrash and OVERKILL has enough confidence in what they're doing to skid the velocity down to a massive marching center movement before kicking the juice back up. The guitar solo section here is absolutely bonkers but one of the best you'll hear from any generation smacking it down in the name of metal. Afterwards, DD Verni rolls out a ghostly plugging intro to "Freedom Rings", which is picked up by the cautious strumming of Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer. You just know this is all leading up to another crusher and the OVERKILL guys do what they've done for decades now by switching thrash and mosh modes at random, only this time there's a bit of patriotism launching from their mincing modes.
"Another Day to Die" is one of the album's sleeper hits. Not as fast as some of the other songs, the punctuated force behind the song's steady kick is given a further boost by terrific riffing, swarming guitar lines and Blitz's snaggletooth baying. Perhaps there's potential controversy looming on OVERKILL's horizon with "King of the Rat Bastards", depending on how deep people dig into its title. The song is delved straight out of the band's late Eighties playbook, but an amusing woof and march section is worth hanging around for. Wrapping up the album with a trad power metal blaster instead of an obvious thrasher, "In the Name" brings things full circle to OVERKILL's foundation years and there's something nostalgic that sits agreeably in that.
"White Devil Armory" isn't quite as overwhelming and humongous as "Ironbound" and "The Electric Age" preceding it, but it hardly needs to live up to those colossal albums. OVERKILL's not slacking one iota on "White Devil Armory" and only true skeptics will dismiss it. This is still as heavy and exact as it gets in metal music, praise be to the electric gods that keeps OVERKILL's fires stoked.
Gauging the pre-release fan chatter out there, "Redeemer of Souls" rings more like Judgment Day than the release of a new JUDAS PRIEST album. This should be cause for celebration, since it's JUDAS freakin' PRIEST, damn ya. Nevertheless, "Redeemer of Souls" arrives amidst skepticism following their sprawling metal opera "Nostradamus" that sent most of their fans into a panic.
Of course, PRIEST's been here before. As commercially successful as "Turbo" may have been for them in the late Eighties, the band recognized they'd attracted the wrong crowd and set out to make things right for their long-timers. "Ram it Down" was a valiant step back to where they once belonged and the same opportunity is presented them now with their 17th album. KK Downing is unaccounted for on "Redeemer of Souls", which only fuels the pre-game hate. Richie Faulkner, tie your shoestrings extra tight, young man; you're in for a wild ride.
So let's get one thing straight, people. Inhale, exhale. Stay calm. "Redeemer of Souls" is not another "Nostradamus" or even "Angel of Retribution". Despite the appearance of a few mini-epics on the new album, which hardly wank, this is a straightforward rocking JUDAS PRIEST album. Rob Halford and the band have alluded they're out to satisfy their fans by giving them what they want. There are a couple of a new tricks revealed from their leather-clad sleeves on this album, but for the most part, "Redeemer of Souls" sits snugly in a vibe caught between "Ram it Down" and "Painkiller" with a few faint touches of "Defenders of the Faith".
"Dragonaut" drops the hammer with a trad PRIEST clouting tempo, brushing riffs and a gusty drive that yells of ignition. A couple of rough patches are detected and Halford works a bit harder than usual to get into gear, but the song still works as an effective launch pad for the album to take off and it does. The title track assumes a proper thrust straight out of "Dragonaut" as the riffs get a bit more aggressive and the melody assumes a heroic stride for JUDAS PRIEST's diamond-eyed biker lead. It would be just as cool whirling behind Ghost Rider, who probably had an inspirational hand behind the song.
"Halls of Valhalla" may intimidate listeners by its six-minute length, but the band learned a few things post-"Nostradamus" on this track. A minute-and-a-half is used to set up "Halls of Valhalla" with a theatrical intro and some gnarly greeting solos before it hops aboard a steel horse and sticks to a flailing course. Halford is magnificent in keeping the sweat pouring from this song, particularly with his morose swills on the bridge and his dramatic soars on the choruses. At one point in the song, a brief (yes, brief) signature change plunges the song into an abyss over which Halford growls demonically. His soaring vocal ascension to high alto out of that plummet is guaranteed to send chills dancing down your spine. He is the Metal God, after all.
The only thing that really seems missing from the first two and many other songs on "Redeemer of Souls" is the famed twin solo merges that made KK Downing and Glenn Tipton unbeatable lords of their stations. Tipton and Richie Faulkner work just fine together, trading off solos and keeping their riffs glued tight. Finally, they amalgamate on "Halls of Valhalla" and it feels good, not tacky. Later on the first few bars and the solo of "Down in Flames", they not only unite, they sparkle.
"March of the Damned" plows like a beast as one of the heaviest cuts on the album. "Down in Flames" has its heart in the right place by dipping its ladle into PRIEST's early Eighties grooves, but Rob Halford is hit and miss vocally here as he tries to heft the song's plodding anthem to a bigger height. Ian Hill plugs the gaps with enough bass to keep the track from fading while Glenn and Richie decorate it tastefully. On "Hell and Back", Hill dominates the slow-grinding drive as Halford begins the song with a nod back to the "Sad Wings of Destiny" years before assuming a gravelly touch to his delivery the remainder of the way.
"Metalizer" brings the speed and you just figure Scott Travis was licking his chops for the chance to run havoc. There's a nostalgic, if slightly corny approach to the final chorus here, but the song keeps to a brisk course you hardly care, even with the mid-tempo shuffles of the verses and bridges that give the illusion this thing has hardly slowed down at all. Again Hill gets a bigger presence in the mix while the riffs are ceaseless, if choppy at times. As they've always had a talent for, JUDAS PRIEST melds neoclassical sweeps into "Metalizer" and they work like champs.
In a couple of spots on the album, you can hear subliminal Jimi Hendrix fuses, i.e. portions of "Sword of Damocles", which is largely set upon a slow NWOBHM march, plus the opening licks of "Crossfire", which will conjure lower-keyed echoes of "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)".
If you buy the deluxe edition of "Redeemer of Souls", you'll get a five-song extra disc. They're simplistic, stripped down tunes and better yet, fun, quite likely cookie cuts to get Richie Faulkner acclimated with the band in-studio. "Snakebite" would've flied back in the Eighties as a "Screaming for Vengeance" outtake, "Creatures" the same for "Defenders of the Faith", "Tears of Blood" could've made a killer B-side to "Blood Red Skies" from "Ram it Down". The longer, career-reflecting ballad "Never Forget" reveals an entirely different dimension to JUDAS PRIEST, even while carrying a hint as the band's potential swan song.
It's evident Rob Halford and JUDAS PRIEST are seeking a higher art from themselves despite the mass rebuke of "Nostradamus". On "Redeemer of Souls", they linger on the easels to outline "Sword of Damocles", "Secrets of the Fire" and "Halls of Valhalla" as if declaring their lack of fear to progress. Nonetheless, they've smartly focused on delivering the goods. "Redeemer of Souls" isn't perfect and it's undercooked at times as the band breaks in their new guitarist without suffocating him. Yet most of this album crushes and sounds pretty much what the title plies for: a moment of redemption in light of the fans who have largely written off their newer material. This is a very entertaining album that potentially sets up for something majestic, if the history between "Ram it Down" and "Painkiller" repeats itself.
Latin metalcore posse ILL NIÑO are back for another round and it's to their credit they've let nothing stand in the way of doing what they want to do, whether that finds favor or not with the metal public at-large. This time, Dave Chavarri, Cristian Machado, Ahrue Luster, Diego Verduzco, Lazaro Pina and Daniel Couto go the extra mile to dress up what is at this point, an agro-melodic formula tailored for their loyal followers.
Off the bat, ILL NIÑO tries a new trick with the pop-flavored "Live Like There's No Tomorrow". Electro sweeps and occasional pianos accent the tuneful anthem. Daniel Couto whips out percussion rolls behind Dave Chavarri's slamming beat while Cristian Machado croons pleasantly along. Really, only the dirty part about this song is the litany of f-bombs dropped all over the otherwise hummable choruses.
ILL NIÑO again tinkers with EMD-kissed keys for the opening and throughout the heavier (though no less melodious) "Not Alive in My Nightmare", also featuring some of the faster grooves the band has put down in their work. Machado, who can swap tones in his sleep, screams and croons back-and-forth during the number. There's still plenty of room for the band to squeeze in harmonious choruses to offset their crunchier moments, but the track's best point comes with a heated blast of percussion from Daniel Couto.
"I'm Not the Enemy"'s biggest strength is the dancing bongos that hang through most of the number. Over the years, ILL NIÑO has progressively embraced the trad-Latin component that gives them character and the mostly straightforward plugs of "I'm Not the Enemy" invites those supplemental rhythms to spice it up considerably.
The tick-tocking and waving synths to "Blood is Thicker Than Water" will raise a few brows. Cristian Machado charms this song with a delightful serenade, straight down to his sing-along whoa-ohs as part of the choruses. Thus the chopping riffs on the cut become secondary. This drastic changeup is very much welcome since Machado's passionate crooning pushes the song's appeal beyond its chugging infrastructure.
Every metal band that throws a quantified softie onto their albums automatically follows up with something louder and heavier, as if to excuse themselves. That comes on this album with the rapid, booming verses of "Are We So Innocent". Despite the primarily fast crunch of this number, expect an interrupting breakdown followed by sugary choruses, by now the prototype to ILL NIÑO's songwriting scheme. As with "I'm Not the Enemy", a decorative flamenco section puts the song onto another level before charging like a bull to the finish line.
Machado transitions from spoken word to half-singing during the first minute of "Pray I Don't Find You" amidst a singular guitar line, before the rest of the band joins in and pogoes the track with a jump around tempo accented by knifing congas. Unlike the songs preceding it, there's no cheery chorus on "Pray I Don't Find You", but there is a killer guitar solo from Ahrue Luster that sets up another chant by Machado leading into the song's banging finale.
The remainder of "Till Death La Familia" rolls through profane, tirade-driven verses perched on the edges of metalcore-driven modes, all as set-ups to appositely pleasing choruses. "My Bullet", however, is one of the more chilling songs this band has written as ILL NIÑO lobs a hefting tempo behind their denunciation of thug life. It's what we need more from the music community: condemnation not celebration of criminality.
ILL NIÑO are set snugly within their script and they have a devoted audience they cater to. Their repetitiveness is a detriment, but the modifications they employ on "Till Death La Familia" gives them substantially more charisma. The percussion and external elements being allowed to breathe so much on this album serves the main parts instead of finding themselves alienated. They organically lift ILL NIÑO's music to the height it was meant to be since their conception. Anti-metalcore listeners will find nothing here to chew upon, but nevertheless, ILL NIÑO gives a lot more to this album than they have in the past. As a result, more than just a little of "Till Death La Familia" sizzles.
Following Tim Lambesis' recent imprisonment, the remnants of AS I LAY DYING have weathered the bad press and ill public tidings suddenly dropped into their laps. The phrase grace under pressure is applicable to Phil Sgrosso, Nick Hipa, Jordan Mancino and Josh Gilbert as they've taken the backlash from the Lambesis sentencing upon their collective chins without adding fuel to the fire. Mancino, who is a reported partial owner to the rights of AS I LAY DYING with Lambesis, remains its lone official member. While AS I LAY DYING is officially on hiatus, the foursome has hooked up with OH, SLEEPER vocalist Shane Blay to form a new group, WOVENWAR.
The popularity of AS I LAY DYING should attract the band's followers straight to WOVENWAR, which, upon their self-titled debut, sounds like a new and improved ensemble, albeit a pop-oriented one — caveat to those adverse. For all intents and purposes, this is AS I LAY DYING with a new singer amidst their ranks. Yet WOVENWAR strays mostly away from the former's metalcore modes and goes for a tighter, straightforward hard rock attack.
"All Rise" and "Death to Rights" are a couple of poppin' melodic numbers and even though each bear predictable breakdown segments, they're both catchy as hell. Shane Blay is an appealing clean vocalist who rides the electric waves generated by his new band mates. Better, he supplies an extra guitar alongside Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso to kick up the tones. Together, they homogenize with tautened lines and superb solo blasts to open the album with encouraging jumpiness. "Tempest" thereafter changes gears with its checked-down tempos switched between medium and slow as Blay croons confidently with harmonious supporting vocals and blinking bass from Josh Gilbert. "Tempest" is a straight-up rock number that will surprise AS I LAY DYING fans, but it's agreeable nonetheless.
The rolling chugs on the verses of "The Mason" is the closest (along with "Profane") WOVENWAR treads into AS I LAY DYING territory, yet the soaring choruses and Shane Blay's cadence keep the song from turning ugly. The gorgeous twin guitars on the bridges give Blay's terrific pipes extra verve, even if he turns in a scream as part of a needless breakdown sequence. Afterwards, "Moving Up" and "Sight of Shore" both ply for an AOR feel, which work well enough if that's WOVENWAR's future prospectus. Set against the preceding tracks, however, "Moving Up" and "Sight of Shore" are couple of cheats, no matter how ship-shape they're delivered.
"Father Son" likewise takes a radio-friendly approach, albeit there's a bit more soul injected into the song, particularly when the digital pulse behind the overt whisper of the song gives way to a bursting, organic instrumental climax. "Profane" toughens up with banging riffs, annealed shredding and scattered tempos before projecting loud anthems on the choruses. When Blay hollers after the second chorus, it actually serves a purpose in time to the rising crescendo of "Profane". The song plays to win and succeeds nicely.
WOVENWAR follows this energy blast with the equally weighty "Archers", even if the overly cautious "Ruined Lives" thereafter pulls the reins back in, minus some big-time choruses. While the remainder of the album follows the same blueprints of the other tunes, "Prophets" is the best number of the album's second half. It leads off with a lengthy acoustic prelude that would've been likeable on its own, but as the rest of the band picks up the base melody, the song elevates into a booming stadium rocker.
The good news to WOVENWAR is they're not out to refabricate AS I LAY DYING. Quite the opposite; it's almost as if they're out to bury the former band, no matter what stake Jordan Mancino (or any of the remainders) has in it. Minus a handful of unnecessary breakdowns, WOVENWAR is a veritable reinvention phase for Mancino, Sgrosso, Hipa and Gilbert. With Shane Blay, it's evident they all aimed to deliver a major league rock record. Blay is an ear-pleasing singer and it's hoped he will usher his new buddies back into a positive spotlight. WOVENWAR may or may not be too poppy for listeners, but when faced with the adversity these guys have suffered, it was either going to be this route or a darker path. Whether you dig it or you don't, they've headed toward the light and there's no looking back.
Having themselves a busy 2012 with their self-titled album and the "Megalodon" EP, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY returns with their ninth recording, "IX". With this boisterous and slackened album, Mike Dean, Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin move toward a dirtier, cruder and at-times faster vibe. "IX" often flirts with MELVINS territory, even if the predominant songwriting primer resembles the new CROWBAR joint. Purposefully undisciplined vocals, deafening guitar solos and a determined tearing down effect makes "IX" an ankle-twisting drop into the gutter. Never mind the pain, because C.O.C. brings the noise to distract you.
"Brand New Sleep" putters and pokes a bit with an off-the-cuff feel before assuming a groove, even if it's a dialed-back one, at-that. The song is sloppy through the first three minutes before kicking things up a notch with a SABBATH-hiked power pump and a screeching set of guitar solos from Woody Weatherman likely to send pets into a tizzy. The looser feel to "Brand New Sleep" is the untidiest C.O.C. has sounded since the "Eye for an Eye" hardcore years before the band's subsequent transitions to thrash and then sludge, doom 'n' stoner as we know them today.
"Elphyn" is tauter if still mucky. As with "Brand New Sleep", the guitar solos from Weatherman are stacked with caustic reverb. Splicing listeners' ears with a blast of squealing feedback leading into the fast whips of "Denmark Vesey", this is one of the first true nods back to the punk days we've heard from C.O.C. in some time. The reckless yet up-tempo crash of "Denmark Vesey" is just as chaotic as its predecessors, but cool enough, it's a set up for further increased velocity on "The Nectar". The latter song does peel back the speed like the new CROWBAR album does and again, Woody Weatherman goes bonkers with his solo here. "The Nectar" bobs along a few more bars before kicking up the speed briefly and bringing the track home on a muddy slog. These arrangements are repeated numerous times on "XI". From a songwriting structure perspective, C.O.C. and CROWBAR have essentially made the same record, albeit CROWBAR's "Symmetry in Black" is far tighter and gloomier.
"On Your Way" rides tall on the benefit of Reed Mullin's peppy flailing. Since rejoining the band in 2010, Mullin has brought more unrestricted beats to C.O.C. These have, in turn, produced the deliberate jerking back of finesse and ushered the raw vibe the band has of-late been seeking from one another.
"Trucker" once again gets slushy though its prolonged intro with intentionally off-key chords, signifying a debauched impression of its titular muse. Soon enough, the guys plant the pedal and plows "Trucker" along on its diesel-choked riffs. Mike Dean's lobbing bass pick-ups in the background canter amidst the faster portions of "Trucker" before C.O.C. yet again slows the rhythm, if not their momentum. Woody Weatherman pours another rowdy solo to close the track and then emits monster vibrations akin to a rolling farm tractor on "The Hanged Man".
"Tarquinius Superbus" roars from all stations like a wildebeest with its thrash bursts on the verses, smacked-up bass grooves, psychedelic guitar rails and outrageous screaming, collectively creating a tremendous racket. Again reducing the speed for the final couple minutes, the bustling, melodic tremors behind the clouting shifts in tone from Woody Weatherman changes the mood altogether, though not altering the heaviness.
"IX" is a holy rolling mess, but that's to the good in this case. C.O.C. are closer to their "Animosity" and (to some measures) "Eye for an Eye" roots than they've been in ages. Certainly "IX" is one of the loudest albums ever put down in this unit, so consider earplugs if you catch C.O.C. live. All three men are playing with a passion here and deliberately forsaking the polish of "Blind", "Deliverance" and "Wiseblood", even "In the Arms of God". Using the final 1:20 of "XI" to crawl their way out of this album with "The Nectar Reprised", the creative reappearance shows more concrete attention to song theory than all of its predecessors. With this curious parting shot, it begs the question of what to expect on album ten.
Everything that went down in the early 2000s between MUSHROOMHEAD and SLIPKNOT seems downright silly in retrospect. The notorious feud between these two acts was largely generated by Ohio metal fans, but the far-reaching spatter of "my masked metal band is better than YOURS" slung by said knuckleheads prompted unneeded drama that became more a war of image versus music. After all, any metal fan with half a brain can tell you the glaring differences between MUSHROOMHEAD and SLIPKNOT sound-wise. Since that pointless period of bitchery, both bands have suffered mortal losses and fences that never should've been chewed up have been mended. In a gesture of solidarity, members of MUSHROOMHEAD joined SLIPKNOT turntablist Sid Wilson at one of his DJ sets. In turn, former SLIPKNOT vocalist Andres Colsefini has rubbed elbows with MUSHROOMHEAD and thus the circle of enmity closes and fades. So let's move on.
The more adventurous, genre-bending MUSHROOMHEAD have dealt with a dizzying turnstile of members come-and-gone, and in the case of vocalist Jason "J Mann" Popson, come again. With the death of guitarist John "J.J. Righteous" Sekula following MUSHROOMHEAD's previous album, "Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children", the band has taken the past four years to lick their wounds and plug the holes left by the departures of bassist Jack "Pig Benis" Kilcoyne, guitarist Dave "Gravy" Felton and percussionist Daniel "Lil' Dan" Fox. They're filled by Ryan "Dr. F" Farrell, Tommy Church and Robbie "Roberto Diablo" Godsey, respectively, who get their first crack at a MUSHROOMHEAD album here.
"XIII" still representing MUSHROOMHEAD's finest moment on-record, the revamping of the band is one obstacle the band faces with "The Righteous and the Butterfly". This album, dedicated to the late Sekula and Vanessa Solowlow (departed wife of Steve "Skinny" Felton), revisits the moody explorations of "XIII", if not reclaiming that album's muscle in whole. The good news for "The Righteous and the Butterfly" is that assumes its own identity and most of it is pretty compelling. Just having J Mann back brings tremendous invigoration to the band.
The album certainly opens with a loud statement. Skinny clobbers the hell out of his double kicks on "Our Apologies", "How Many Times" and later on "Son of 7" to the point picture frames are susceptible to being rattled from the walls, depending on how loud you crank the album up. Jeffrey "Nothing" Hatrix, Waylon Reavis and J Mann get right to work in elevating the opening two numbers along with the band, which captures the banging swells (if not the full density) of "XIII".
"Qwerty" is a profanity-laden, metal-mucked hike of a Danny Elfman score. The dirtier and heavier the song gets beyond its carnival of the screwed sways, the nastier the riffs get, the quicker the double hammers are laid out and the vocals chaw about having a bad day. With the grind of life often being metaphorically compared to a circus, MUSHROOMHEAD nails that nuance to the sheets with their carny-pocked tirade on "Qwerty".
"Paradise of the Poor" is set up like a kissing cousin to "One More Day" from "XIII", but true to the band's probing spirit, the melancholic piano and moody singing provides a swan song overture to lost comrades and extended family with the cryptic final thesis being, "someone'd better show me how to live". The frail piano textures carry into the pop balladry behind "Childlike" as the guitars begin to assume control over the keys and give extra magnitude to the guttural vocals. "Childlike" stops abruptly to allow MUSHROOMHEAD to jack things back up to a fever pitch on "This Cold Reign".
"We Are the Truth" is hard to describe with its shuck 'n jive base, rapped verses and backing female vocals that nearly pulls the song into electro-pop diva turf. Add chunky riffs and a few subliminal AEROSMITH drags and "We Are the Truth" is a curious but effective number that requires a few spins to soak everything up. "For Your Pleasure" hints at replicating a few bars from "Sun Doesn't Rise", but there's a hung-back sensuousness to the song, no matter how loud it gets on the bridges and choruses. Again, the vibe from "XIII" is recaptured here, if not its full projection.
Really, the only drag to "The Righteous and the Butterfly" is MUSHROOMHEAD's nutty and needless cover of Adele's "Rumor Has It". Never ones to stray from saluting mainstream powerhouses with their own interpretive metal mashes, this one is delivered with too much obviousness, unlike their meaty haul of Seal's "Crazy" years ago. There's so much dedication in the thirteen songs preceding "Rumor Has It", the cover almost derails the whole project with its abject inanity. One might say the title "The Righteous and the Butterfly" itself is inane, but at least MUSHROOMHEAD brings the goods to back their eccentricity. The methodic build to catharsis on "Graveyard du Jour" and the explosive BLACK SABBATH rails on "Out of My Mind" are two spots on the album these guys have to be especially proud of.
This time, MUSHROOMHEAD's stage vestiges are more demonic, but it's always been more about the music than the masquerade to this band. Any metal fan with a half a brain knows that.
Spider One never accepts defeat. So professed on the opening track "Invade, Destroy, Repeat" from POWERMAN 5000's new album, "Builders of the Future". POWERMAN 5000 has come many miles since "The Blood Splat Rating System" and "Mega! Kung-Fu Radio", even if the current mark on the destination map sways full circle to 1999 and the band's breakout album "Tonight the Stars Revolt!"
Of course, the lone enduring personnel from "Tonight the Stars Revolt!" is Spider One himself and only one full-time holdout from POWERMAN 5000's previous album from 2009, "Somewhere On the Other Side of Nowhere", remains. Joining Spider and bassist Gustavo "X51" Aued this time around are guitarist Nick "Sci55ors" Quijano and drummer Adrian "Ad 7" Ost, along with supplemental guitars and drums coming from prior member Evan Rodaniche (aka Evan 9) and DJ Rattan, respectively. Rodaniche is also credited as a co-songwriter along with Spider, and former guitarist Dave "Velkro" Pino contributed to the writing on "How to Be a Human". The end result of "Builders of the Future" is a jump backwards in the attempt to move forward.
Spider One took a brief bow from his jumpy cyber rock plots on the back-to-basics punk sojourn, "Destroy What You Enjoy". That need to reconnect with the gutter well out his system, Spider and POWERMAN 5000 got back to the band's historic fixation upon groove on "Somewhere On the Side of Nowhere", which leads to this album's full-on pump.
"Builders of the Future" sounds like the Playstation model one era of mecha-minded party rock likewise endorsed by STATIC-X and, to some latitudes, Marilyn Manson. Spider One huffs with mock glee that we all like living in the digital age on "Modern World", which sounds behind-the-times at face value. There is, however, underlying sarcasm ladled into "Modern World" and on much of "Builders of the Future", where sci-fi obsession, gadget worship, information overload and cybersex undermine and gloss over the political stratum to the point we're blindly following along to the preset pulse of technology. It's not long before Clu bursts out of the "Tron" world and hijacks us all.
That being said, "Builders of the Future" is just about one dance rock jam after another before turning a couple of odd tricks to give Spider One and POWERMAN 5000 a pair of different holding cards. Much of "Builders of the Future" sounds like the aspirant soundtrack to a pop-flavored Silver Surfer movie adaptation. That, or an unapologetic retro return to the industrial dance metal and techno shakes that amped up the Mortal Kombat flicks.
"Invade, Destroy, Repeat", "We Want it All", "Evil World", "Builders of the Future", "How to Be Human", "Live it Up Before You're Dead" and "You're Gonne Love it, If You Like it Or Not" are tailored for maximum tempos and proto riffs carried by all of the electro-dance modes as can be withstood. This is the stuff Terry McGinnis and his friends grind ass and yell "Schway!" to in his downtime on "Batman Beyond". Of these, "We Want it All" has the toughest set of riffs and the best organic glue to keep this album grounded from its escapist's vie to blast off to nowhere.
The curveball to "Builders of the Future" comes with the acoustic-driven and damned unsettling "I Want to Kill You", where Spider One delivers a nearly sedate vocal performance on a song dealing with sadomasochism. There's still some suffused electronics rolled into the slow-rolling perversion of "I Want to Kill You", a song that comes off disturbingly hip and equally cinematic in nature. Not quite as effective is the calypso base Spider One calls up for "I Can't Fucking Hear You", which is front loaded with the loudest riffs on this album. It's a good idea in theory, but the intended lowbrow nature of the song doesn't quite measure up to its slinking rhythm.
Whether you're a fan or not of what POWERMAN 5000 stands for, Spider One sells it like those venom-crusted "slappers" in "Batman Beyond". "Builders of the Future" has a few in-jokes, but it's primarily about chasing an adrenaline rush. Live it up if you're so inclined.
MASTODON's continued inching toward an accessible rock sound is no doubt going to be met with enmity by some, which sucks, considering they play at a higher level than damned near anyone in metal music. Rare is the occasion when a band as complex and progressive as MASTODON is sacrifices none of their core identity while transitioning to the major markets. This band and OPETH represent the pinnacles of metal for this generation, and in MASTODON's case, the proof is in the sludge pudding yet again with their new album "Once More 'Round the Sun".
What MASTODON tinkered with on "The Hunter" and now even further on "Once More 'Round the Sun" is a natural evolution for a band that can only have so much more to say as a sludge prog giant. Unlike what SUPERTRAMP and GENESIS did ages ago, MASTODON hasn't taken the immediate pickup junction leading to the radio friendly highway. Not yet, anyway.
First and foremost, MASTODON is way too hyperactive with their parts to ever be considered a straight-up rock band. Brann Dailor alone throws out more fills per second than any vanilla pop-rock drummer could possibly handle. All that being said, what MASTODON attempts and easily achieves on "Once More 'Round the Sun" is to streamline instead of go mainstream.
"The Motherload" is this album's equivalent to "Curl of the Burl" last time around on "The Hunter", but this time, MASTODON uses their jacked-up harmonies and soaring choruses to drag their cumbersome sonic might upwards. The chorus is the best Ozzy Osbourne dig the man himself hasn't done in eons. "The Motherload" may sit uncomfortably with some listeners, but MASTODON effectively creates an addictive power jam that can readily slip onto FM. However, FM is just not that cool, and besides, MASTODON extends the song beyond conventional running time for a radio cut with their extensive progressive bridge and solo section, as if to spite. Love it or hate it, "The Motherload" is a pure rock blaster coaster with more going on for it than first meets the ear.
"High Road" subsequently minces all the effervescence staked by "Tread Lightly" and "The Motherload" with a rhythmic, punishing march straight out of "Leviathan", plus Gene Simmons-esque yelps on the verses. If MASTODON's purpose is to serve reminder why they come by their namesake honestly, "High Road"'s stamping grooves handle that resolutely. At the end of the album, MASTODON revisits "Leviathan" a second time on the seven-minute-plus "Diamond in the Witch House". The difference between these songs and "Leviathan" comes down to matters of finesse and in the case of "High Road", uplifted choruses and an otherworldly bridge at the end.
Even the title track teases with a rolling intro bred out of "Leviathan" before accelerating a few clicks. The pure rock furrows here are a charm, not detriment. From other bands, it might come off a bit pedestrian, but MASTODON has the capacity to reach the stars and that's where they take their listeners and lets them bask before pulling the plug one second before three minutes. "Once More 'Round the Sun" feels like a quick dart to the edge before "Chimes at Midnight" grinds away with some of the heaviest grooves on the album. Troy Sanders slogs his bass at times like Steve Harris on "Chimes at Midnight", but mostly he provides a knotty undercurrent for Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher to stake out massive layers that are, as always, a pleasurable chore trying to keep up with.
Later, "Feast Your Eyes" and "Halloween" dive right back into thrill zone mode with fast and colossal rock attacks that get rotated and chewed up by detailed progressions leading into their swirling choruses and in the case of "Feast Your Eyes", a beat-crazy finale from Brann Dailor. His ridiculously zippy rolls and hi hat rides on "Halloween" puts any doubt MASTODON can rock and throttle better than anyone of their kind.
"Once More 'Round the Sun" may have a few extra sugar cubes than MASTODON threw into their slurry during the Relapse years, but it's heavier than "The Hunter" and with the exception of "Diamond in the Witch House", the songs are wrapped with efficiency. The album's only fault (and it's not much of one) is some regurgitation of "Leviathan" that has more to do with MASTODON honoring their past as they continue to take Hulk-sized leaps forward.
Every major label band should make the moment count with zero fear factor as MASTODON does. Not many bands could get away with the screeching vocal filters and zany key floaters they dump into "Aunt Lisa". Chaos reigns all over that track and still it comes back to a subliminal funk rock groove that never gets lost amidst the screaming ersatz and clouting mayhem. Out of nowhere comes a cheerleader roll featuring THE COAT HANGERS chanting "Hey! Ho! Let's fucking go! Hey! Ho! Let's get up and rock 'n roll!" Mainstream? Yeah, right.
MASTODON are obviously from another planet. Let's just be happy they're occupying ours for a while.
Italian heavy rockers LACUNA COIL took part in an interview and acoustic performance in the studios of the Flint, Michigan radio station Banana 101.5 on April 16. Video footage of their appearance can be seen below.
LACUNA COIL's latest studio album, "Broken Crown Halo", sold around 13,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 27 on The Billboard 200 chart. The CD arrived in stores on April 1 via Century Media.
"Broken Crown Halo" was recorded Italy by producer Jay Baumgardner (P.O.D., SEVENDUST, EVANESCENCE, PAPA ROACH) and engineer Kyle Hoffmann (P.O.D., BUSH, ZEBRAHEAD). The effort was mastered by Howie Weinberg, whose credits include RAMMSTEIN, SOUNDGARDEN, NIRVANA, DEFTONES and SHERYL CROW.
LACUNA COIL in February hit the road as a quintet as part of "The Hottest Chicks In Hard Rock Tour" following the departures of guitarist Cris "Pizza" Migliore and drummer Cristiano "Criz" Mozzati. Marco "Maus" Biazzi handled all guitar duties on the trek while drummer Ryan Blake Folden once again sat behind the kit.
In a recent interview with Ghost Cult magazine, LACUNA COIL vocalist Cristina Scabbia stated about the most recent lineup changes: "We have known this was happening since December , really. We sat down to discuss the tour schedule this year and they let us know it was time for them to do something different. It was readily apparent that they were not into the touring lifestyle and that's fine. There was no fight or anything like that. We are continuing on our path and they are on theirs. It did not affect the [making of the new LACUNA COIL] album ['Broken Crown Halo'] and there was still a very friendly atmosphere when we were recording the album together. Marco [Coti Zelati], our bass player, is our main songwriter anyway, so nothing much will change writing-wise."
BABYMETAL — the offshoot of the Japanese pop idol group SAKURA GAKUIN that performs a distinctly Japanese mix of schoolgirl J-pop and heavy metal — played its first-ever U.S. show last night (Sunday, July 27) at the sold-out Fonda Theatre (capacity: 1,200) in Los Angeles, California.
Fan-filmed video footage of the concert is available below. Photos of the performance courtesy of Ian Irizarry can be found at this location.
Fan postings on Reddit indicate that "one of the girls [from BABYMETAL] wasn't feeling well" after the concert and was taken to a hospital in an ambulance. It should be noted, however, that these reports have not yet been corroborated by an official source.
"Our goal is to start a new genre of metal called Kawaii Metal [Cute Metal]," BABYMETAL said in an interview at the Sonisphere festival. "We are the only band making music in this genre right now and we want this genre to be accepted."
BABYMETAL kicked off its world tour with a headlining show on July 1 at La Cigale in Paris, France.
The band will support pop superstar Lady Gaga on five shows in July and August:
Jul. 30 - Phoenix, AZ @ US Airways Arena
Aug. 01 - Las Vegas, NV @ MGM Grand Garden Arena
Aug. 02 - Stateline, NV @ Harveys Lake Tahoe
Aug. 04 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Energy Solutions Arena
Aug. 06 - Denver, CO @ Pepsi Center
BABYMETAL became the youngest artists to ever appear at Tokyo Nippon Budokan when they took the stage at the famed venue on March 1 and March 2.
Sayuri Iwai, previous holder of the title, made her Budokan debut at 15 years old and one month. She was usurped by Suzuka Nakamoto (16), Moa Kikuchi (14) and Yui Mizono (14), who hold a mean age of 14.6 years.
BABYMETAL released its debut album on February 26 via Toy's Factory. The effort was made available in regular and limited editions. The CD includes five of BABYMETAL's singles that were released in 2011 - 2013, from "Doki Doki Morning" (digital single) to "Megitsune", their B-sides and three new songs.
"Babymetal" made it to No 3 on iTunes' U.S. rock chart and was in the Top 10 in six other countries, including the U.K. The band's video for the song "Gimme Chocolate" has received nearly 10 million views on YouTube, and BABYMETAL was featured on the cover of the U.K. weekly rock magazine Kerrang!
The band's first major single, "Ijime, Dame, Zettai", sold 19,000 copies in its first week and debuted at No. 6 in the Japanese Orion weekly singles chart.
BABYMETAL released its first-ever concert Blu-ray, "Live ～Legend I, D, Z Apocalypse～", on November 20, 2013 (the limited-edition DVD box was issued on October 19). The set contains footage of the band's performances at Shibuya O-East (October 2012), Akasaka Blitz (December 2012) and Zepp Tokyo (February 2013).
Su-Metal - Vocals and Dance
Moametal - Screamer and Dance
Yuimetal - Screamer and Dance
Photos by Ian Irizarry. More pictures can be found at this location.
Scion Audio Visual celebrated San Diego's enormous comic and entertainment convention with iconic METALLICA guitar player Kirk Hammett and his namesake toy company Kirk Von Hammet Toys with an exclusive, RSVP-only celebration dubbed the "Fear FestEvil After Party" that showcased a performance by legendary Bay Area thrashers EXODUS this past Friday, July 25 at F6IX located at 526 F Street in San Diego, California.
This special EXODUS performance was highlighted by Hammett joining the band on stage for a few songs.
Fan-filmed video footage of the "Scar Spangled Banner" performance from Friday night's EXODUS show can be seen below.
"Fear FestEvil After Party" marked EXODUS' third show with singer Steve "Zetro" Souza since he rejoined the band a month and a half ago; EXODUS played on July 11 at the Bang Your Head!!!festival in Balingen, Germany and on July 12 at Antwerp Metal Fest in Antwerp, Belgium.
EXODUS has set "Blood In, Blood Out" as the title of its new album, tentatively due on late October via Nuclear Blast. The CD will be the band's first since the departure of EXODUS' lead singer of the past nine years, Rob Dukes, and the return of his predecessor, Souza, who previously fronted EXODUS from 1986 to 1993 and from 2002 to 2004.
"I'm very excited to be back," Souza told Chile's Radio Futuro on July 8. "I'm really looking forward to this next adventure with my brothers in metal — these guys I spent 30 years with, on and off. So it's very exciting."
Speaking about how being in EXODUS is different today than it was when he first joined the band in the '80s and even a decade ago, Souza said: "I think everybody's matured quite some bit, and I think, as we all get older, we all realize things that we do wrong, especially myself, we realize our faults and our mistakes. And it's great that everybody can come to a meeting of the minds and be able to work forward and be mature enough to work forward."
He added: "The whole reception to me being back with the guys has been really, really great."
EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt — who has been pulling double duty with SLAYER for the past four and a half years — shot down Internet speculation that the split with Dukes was motivated by financial reasons or that it was masterminded by EXODUS' new so-manager, TESTAMENT vocalist Chuck Billy, who co-founded the management company Breaking Bands LLC. "It isn't for the money [and] Chuck did not orchestrate this," Holt said. "There were issues behind the scenes and we came to a conclusion." The guitarist, however, refused to go into the details of EXODUS' decision to part ways with Dukes, explaining: "All will remain internal. I see no need to air the laundry for anyone."
During an interview with Rock Hard magazine at the Bang Your Head!!!festival, EXODUS bassist Jack Gibson said about Dukes' departure: "You know, we [Rob and the rest of EXODUS] were just kind of both going in different directions, what we wanted in the band. We were doing the new record, so it was important, and we were just kind of having different ideas about what album we wanted to make. So we just decided that it was time to part ways with Rob."
"I love Rob, and I love his singing, and I really love everything that he did with us — [but] Rob is a little more punk rock, kind of New York hardcore, and we're West Coast thrash, long-hair, patched vest-type stuff. So we were just kind of clashing a little bit with ideas and the way the delivery should be, and just different things like that. You know what I mean!? So come album time, that was important."
Dukes joined EXODUS in January 2005 and appeared on four of the band's studio albums — "Shovel Headed Kill Machine" (2005), "The Atrocity Exhibition... Exhibit A" (2007), "Let There Be Blood" (2008, a re-recording of EXODUS' classic 1985 LP, "Bonded By Blood") and "Exhibit B: The Human Condition" (2010).
On July 26, Lzzy Hale and Joe Hottinger of HALESTORM played an acoustic show at The Basement in Nashville, Tennessee as the opening act for THE DEAD DEADS. Fan-filmed video footage of the set can be seen below.
Hale has told Loudwire in a recent interview that HALESTORM is "almost done" with recording its third album. Hale explained, "We have a lot of really great songs. I think we finally cracked the code for this next record… That's what I love about writing records, you don't really know what you want to say on a record when you begin writing it. At least we don't. It's always halfway through the process and then all of a sudden, the light bulb goes off and the floodgates open."
HALESTORM debuted two new songs — "Heartbreaker" and "Mayhem" — at shows in Tennessee and England this past spring.
The group began writing its third album in January, after completing more than 20 months of touring behind 2012's "The Strange Case Of…"
Asked if "Mayhem" is a good indicator of what HALESTORM fans can expect to hear on the band's next album, Hale said: "Definitely. Especially since that one was the one that we felt like it needed a little bit of work, and we weren't really considering it one of our best songs. So we wanted to see how we could develop it on tour, and I think that the crowd has really gotten us excited about it now. So it might actually have a shot at being on the record." Drummer Arejay Hale added: "It definitely will help the writing process for the rest of the songs. Now we have an idea of, kind of, how the crowd reacts to certain things. So it kind ofgives you a good guideline, I guess."
Hale added that fans might hear some more personal material on this record, saying, "I think that when our fans began to kind of let me into their lives a little bit, they made me feel so incredibly comfortable in my own skin that they're going to be hearing some stories on this record that they might not know about me."
Hale also said that the band wants to "bridge the gap" between its live show and its recorded sound on the next album, remarking, "I'm really proud of the last two records, but I think its time to simplify and really get back to what, in all honesty, what we do best."