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Saturday, September 20, 2014

INTERVIEW: DAVE LOMBARDO On PHILM's New Album - "Its A Perfect Combo Of Rock, Jazz & Blues, Burnt With The Aggression Of Thrash"

Legendary Dave Lombardo needs no introduction. He is widely acclaimed as a highly aggressive and an exceptionally adept Heavy Metal skins-master. His use of the drums has been described as "astonishingly innovative" and the Drummer World dubbed him the "the godfather of double bass". Throughout his outstanding career, he has had a mammoth influence on the metal scene and has inspired an array modern metal drummers, particularly within both Thrash Metal and Death Metal.

In parallel with the release of Philm's sensational new album "Fire From The Evening Sun", Metal Wani Editor In Chief Owais 'Vitek' Nabi & Vimukthi Karunaratne had an in-depth conversation with Dave Lombardo where he discuses the newly released Philm Album, songwriting, why Philm new album is ground-breaking, Slayer new album, drum clinics and much more.

Stream The Entire Interview below:





INTERVIEW: OBITUARY's John & Donald Tardy On 'Inked In Blood' - "It's Heavy As A Sack Of Donkey Balls"

When one attempts to list the top-tier acts that have shaped the landscape of traditional death metal the most, Obituary is a band that undoubtedly pops up in every self-respecting aficionado's list. Having originally started out as Executioner and then soon changed that moniker to Xecutioner, the band initially played in a vein reminiscent of Hellhammer/Celtic Frost and Venom, before coming across the forefathers of death metal as we know it - the legendary Possessed. Coming across Possessed was the turning point for these Florida maniacs, who decided that they could make music as "sick" as their influences, and as history attests, they certainly went onto do so. Their first three albums will forever be etched as seminal hallmarks of the death metal genre, and as a whole, the band has epitomized integrity par excellence across the span of their career. Fresh out of a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the various costs of their forthcoming studio endeavor "Inked In Blood", the band is gearing up for the release of this much awaited follow up to 2009's 'Darkest Day'.

Metal Wani Editor In Chief Owais 'Vitek' Nabi recently had the opportunity to interview the band's legendary frontman and guttural monster John Tardy & drummer Donald Tardy. They discuss new album "Inked In Blood", 5 year long Songwriting Cycle, band's historic journey, why Relapse is releasing the album, their first illegal download, upcoming tours & why Tardy brother's kick ass.

Stream The Entire Interview Below:




Listen To Our Previous Interview With John Tardy

INTERVIEW: IRON REAGAN's Tony Foresta On Debut Album - "It Has A Spirit Of Crushing & Giving A Good Time"

Bashing on the thunder, roaring after every tracks, I thought Tony Foresta was just playing around with Muncipal Waste but oh no! He has to surprise me with his band Iron Reagan. Trust me! Fellas! This frontman can just control you in the gig by giving a stupendous time through art of headbanging, moshing and his performance can teach you the art of circle pit too. And that’s Tony Foresta to you right there. Recently, Tony Foresta and his band Iron Reagan released a new album “Tyranny of the will”. They somehow managed to keep 24 crushing tracks in it. Iron Reagan has a spirit of crushing and giving a good time. Tony Foresta is known as party freak but his album can give you a big time of freakiness unleashed in thin air. Like slaying zombies through a katana, Iron Reagan can kill you with the same spirit.

Metal Wani writer Shwetha Kamath & William Richards recently had a chat with Iron Reagan frontman Tony Foresta. He discussed new album "Tyranny Of The Will", songwriting, why they came up with 24 tracks, Municipal Waste new album and upcoming tours.

Stream The Entire Interview Here:




Special Thanks to Jon Freeman for the support \m/

NEWS: JUDAS PRIEST's RICHIE FAULKNER Says Filling K.K. DOWNING's Shoes Was 'Almost Second Nature'

In a brand new interview with Metal Talk, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner spoke about the task of replacing original PRIEST axeman Kenneth "K.K." Downing and getting involved in the songwriting process for the band's new album, "Redeemer Of Souls".

"I grew up with JUDAS PRIEST, and guitar music in general, and I think being aware of everything that comes with that — the whole mindset of standing up for what you believe in, doing what you do, and being proud of it," Faulkner said. "That's been a part of PRIEST's music since day one for me, that's how I interpreted it.

"They have always flown the flag for what they do, and for metal. It was kind of inherent — you have to respect what came before you.

"Ken was a huge hero of mine, and then with Glenn [Tipton], and the rest of the guys in the band.

"You've got to respect what came before, but you've also got to be respectful to yourself. As I said, get all of the mentality that comes with that music, and kind of set up what it is you're doing. You want to put your own stamp on things, you want to make your own way, and carve your own niche, but at the same time be respectful and aware of what came before.

"It's almost second nature, if that makes any sense. It's not like it's an easy thing to do, but at the same time it's kind of organic. It's something that's ingrained in you as a musician, really. It's really natural and organic, and it's worked really well. I'm very pleased."


Faulkner also talked about living up to JUDAS PRIEST fans' expectations in the concert setting, especially after one half of the band's signature twin-guitar attack has been replaced.

"We just wanted the band to continue — we knew it was working, and we just wanted to get out and unleash it on the world," Richie explained.

"I think the skepticism that some people might have, or have had was just a testament to how passionate they are about the band, you know? It's almost the same as when Ritchie Blackmore left DEEP PURPLE, or when Michael Schenker left UFO. There was a healthy amount of skepticism that comes from that passion, and I think that's a healthy thing. That's a testament to the fans. And thanks to the fans for trusting in the band, buying tickets, coming down to the show.

"Within 30 seconds, man — they had their hands up in the air, and they're screaming along. It was just instant, really, so a big 'hats off' to them for doing that."

NEWS: JUDAS PRIEST's GLENN TIPTON Thought Band Was Finished After K.K. DOWNING Left

Rustyn Rose of Metalholic.com recently conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Glenn Tipton. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Metalholic.com: You spent over 35 years playing side by side with the same guitar partner [Kenneth "K.K." Downing]. What was it like for you to suddenly have a new face, a new style of player standing across from you in Richie Faulkner?

Tipton: It was a surprise, really. It came as a surprise to us all. At that time, I really, truly thought the band were finished. We were poised to do a farewell tour and, of course, Ken decided he'd had enough of that. I respect his decision. It must have been a big decision to make. I think we've all been through that phase. We've been around for 35, 40 years. But we found Richie, and Richie is a small miracle, because the guy is such a great guitar player and he blended in so well first on stage. And then, of course, he's worked so hard and contributed so much to the [new JUDAS PRIEST] album ["Redeemer Of Souls"] that it's just a miracle.

Metalholic.com: You guys declared the "Epitaph" tour to signal the retirement of JUDAS PRIEST and, as [you have] since said, "we lied." Clearly the injection of new blood into the lineup re-energized the band. How did that translate into the writing for "Redeemer Of Souls"?

Tipton: Tremendously, you know, because when we got, obviously, new blood in the band, it was needed at the time. It would be the same thing; you get some new blood in there and there's energy and enthusiasm — motivation. You see things in a different way. He just gave everybody a keep up the backside, really. And that's what happened. We went from literally meaning it was our last tour to there's such great songs on this album, it's a shame we can't get out and play them. So, by any means this isn't another world tour. I'm glad we're doing it. I feel that it would be great to get on stage and play these new numbers as well as the old classics.

Metalholic.com: When I reviewed "Redeemer Of Souls", I stated it was the band's most fully realized album since "Painkiller", but more accurately, it seems to me it would have been a natural follow-up to that record. Tell us about the album from your perspective.

Tipton: I think it's probably in line with "Painkiller", as you say. It's what everybody wants from JUDAS PRIEST. I mean, we've always been a band not afraid to expand and try new things, try new paths and directions. Like "Nostradamus". There were many fans that got what we were trying to do with "Nostradamus", but there were a number of fans that wanted a "JUDAS PRIEST" album, and in "Redeemer Of Souls" we give them a "JUDAS PRIEST" album. We listened, and we learned, and we've gone back, if you like, to what people want from PRIEST. I'm proud of "Nostradamus". It was a monumental task to record and put together. But I think "Redeemer Of Souls" is what people expect from JUDAS PRIEST.

Friday, September 19, 2014

NEWS: BRET MICHAELS: 'It Looks Like' POISON Will Tour In 2015

POISON singer Bret Michaels has confirmed to the Cleveland Scene that the band is in talks to hit the road in 2015. "It looks like it will happen," he said. "It's been a few years. We just want to put together the right package and show to celebrate with everyone."

Asked about the status of a new POISON studio album, Michaels said: "When the time's right, I'm sure it will happen," he said. "We are all just in different places right now — but we are never done making music."

POISON drummer Rikki Rockett recently told the "Iron City Rocks" podcast that the band has been doing "corporate gigs for different companies, which are fun, and they pay very well. It gives us a chance to all get together and play. And, in fact, we have one in October and we have one in January [2015]. But they are the only shows that POISON is doing this year; we are not doing a tour this year. There is a few things that are being thrown around right now by our management for next spring, and we'll just have to see."

NEWS: SLASH Is 'So Proud' He Was Involved In Making Of GUNS N' ROSES' 'Appetite For Destruction'

Journalist and musician Barbara Caserta of Italy's Linearock recently conducted an interview with legendary guitarist Slash. You can now watch the chat below.

Speaking about the tremendous commercial success of GUNS N' ROSES' classic first album, "Appetite For Destruction", which is said to be the biggest-selling debut LP of the Eighties and the biggest hard-rock game-changer since "Led Zeppelin IV", Slash said: "I'm so proud of the fact that I was involved in a record that had that kind of impact. But if you were to tell me back then that that's what it was gonna be, I would never have believed you. It was just a record made by these five characters, and looking back on it, there was something in all that that spoke to people in a certain way. It was a very street-wise band but with a very naïve worldview. It was a social commentary, but it wasn't about the world at large, it was internal angst that teenagers, I guess, really related to and it was delivered with the kind of impact that really had a big effect on people. And it's the combination of emotions and energy and all this stuff that couldn't even really be replicated. It was just something that happened in the moment that's… I mean, I remember when the record was finished, I thought we'd be a really cool cult band. [Laughs]"

In a 2012 interview with Australia's Triple M radio, Slash stated about "Appetite For Destruction": "'Appetite' is not what you'd call a favorite record [of mine]. I never even thought of it that way. It's a good record, but, to me, it's still that record that we made at the time when all that shit was happening. I mean, when we recorded [those songs], it was just what we were doing [at the time], and so I still look at it that way. I don't see it as being the big record that other people see it as; I'm too close to it."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

REVIEW: SLASH - "World On Fire"

Gene Simmons recently said – “Rock is finally dead”, thereby, pronouncing his verdict on rock music. Someone should grab him by the scruff of his neck and rub his face all over Slash’s latest album – “World On Fire”.

Featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators; Slash gives us a heady mix of melodic rock peppered with blissful solos and crunchy licks. It’s everything that we expect out of a Slash album and stronger than his previous release – “Apocalyptic Love”. It stands at a lengthy 1 hour and 17 minutes with 17 songs! However, it would keep you engaged for the entire length. In fact, by the end of it, you would be craving for more of those delicious guitar melodies and Myles’s passionate vocals.

The album starts off with the title track – ‘World On Fire’; a peppy, fun song which sets up the overall high energy tone of the album. It provides a solid start with an immensely catchy riff and a chunky bed of melody over which Myles delivers his trademark high octane vocals. It pumps you up instantly and demands you to sit up and listen. The momentum is continued by ‘Shadow Life’ which starts off like a ballad but suddenly twists to a punchy guitar line followed by some stop-start rhythmic awesomeness. Myles injects some cockiness into the verse and puts his stamp on this mean creation.

“World On Fire” continues Slash’s trademark and established formula of great hooks combined with tasty solos and catchy choruses. Having said that, it’s not easy to pull it off consecutively for 17 tracks and not be termed as repetitive or boring. Engaging the attention span of the listener for the full length is indeed a daunting task. I was sceptical when I started listening to this album and was waiting for the moment when I would start to lose interest. However, “World On Fire” just keeps on going, belting one kickass song after another.



The production is top class with each song successfully transmitting the band’s energy to the audience. You can hear Slash’s distinct guitar sound yet not be overpowered with it. The drums are like controlled gunshots providing a crisp and precise accompaniment to Slash’s bouncy guitar lines. Listen to ‘Automatic Overdrive’ or ‘30 Years To Life’ and you realize how tight the band’s chemistry is. It’s pure, undiluted head banging material and is sure to make you raise those devil’s horns up. Myles Kennedy delivers a strong vocal performance, not losing steam even for a moment. His vocal style compliments Slash’s rustic yet beautiful guitar tone. Myles’s tenor’s vocal range is at its audacious display at different junctures of the album. He switches his style effortlessly from the soothing, melodic tone in ‘Bent To Fly’ to the spunky, full of attitude vocals in ‘Stone Blind’. Slash’s playing style too has a lot of variety on this album, right from the bluesy nostalgic rock sound in ‘Withered Delilah’ and ‘Dirty Girl’ to the folksy and the highly energetic – ‘Avalon’.

The album also features an instrumental in the form of ‘Safari Inn’ which is classic Slash brilliance at full display. He delivers a groovy rock ’n roll gem with a dirty guitar tone that sounds like a dying beast. The album ends with the evil personified – ‘The Unholy’, which alternates between a quiet, eerie verse and a massive explosion in the chorus. Myles is at his versatile best with low whispering grunts in the verse and powerful, soaring vocals during the chorus. Coupled with a church choir and a pipe organ midway into the track, ‘The Unholy’ manages to create a sinister atmosphere while talking about the dark side of Clergymen whose sickening pedophilic crimes never come to light. I found myself nodding my head in agreement when I listened to Myles screaming - “It’s you that should be crucified”.

Slash, Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators have given us a solid head banging hard rock album in the form of “World On Fire”. They have created a memorable sound that would demand you to revisit the songs until they are cemented in your brain. The riffs, lyrics and the chorus stay with you long after you have listened to them. I have absolutely no doubts in claiming that “World On Fire” is definitely one of the strongest releases this year.

Recommended Tracks: Automatic Overdrive, 30 Years To Life, Stone Blind, Bent To Fly, Withered Delilah, Avalon, The Unholy.


Rating: 9/10


--
Reviewed By,
Rakesh Pothengil

REVIEW: MACHINAE SUPREMACY - "Phantom Shadow"

Swedes Machinae Supremacy have been called by many as innovators; be it for their unique style of power metal or be it for promoting their music by putting it up for free download on their website (32 songs so far). Formed in 2000, Machinae Supremacy only went on to release their first full length album “Deus Ex Machinae” in 2004. The band’s music is a hybrid of power metal and chiptune with traces of alternative metal: something the band likes to refer as SID Metal. Following their ‘1 album every 2 years’ formula, 2014 sees the quintet release its sixth full length ‘Phantom Shadow’ via Finnish label giants Spinefarm Records.

Line Up:

Robert “Gaz” Stjärnström - vocals
Jonas “Gibli” Rörling - lead guitar, vocals
Tomi Luoma - rhythm guitar
Andreas “Gordon” Gerdin - bass
Niklas “Nicky” Karvonen - drums


Clocking in at 1 hour and 6 minutes, ‘Phantom Shadow’ is one of the longest records I’ve heard this year. The album consists of 5 interludes and 11 tracks. Songs like “Perfect Dark”, “The Second One” and “The Villain of This Story” are in the vein of traditional, catchy hard rock tunes; paying homage to Scorpions, Van Halen and Rainbow. Whereas “Throne of Games”, “Phantom Battle”, “Versus” and “Renegades” make for energetic power metal anthems. The duo performance of Jonas and Tomi on guitars is amazing and outstanding. “Europa” on the other hand is probably the most experimental track on the record. The song is a 7 minute operatic ballad with vibrant and symphonic acoustic guitar and epic violin sections. Robert’s vocal delivery on “Europa” is truly admirable. His clean vocals are melodic, yet soaring and gritty.

Sadly, the chiptune element of the band’s signature sound seems somewhat missing on this album. Only “Perfect Dark” and “Beyond Good and Evil” use the chiptune sound to its fullest extent. While most of the songs are catchy, they are also a little repetitive. The production is also brick-walled, causing a loss in the dynamics of the instruments.

‘Phantom Shadow’ is a sensational record featuring spectacular musicianship with impressive songwriting aptitude and great innovation. The vocals are fantastic, the guitar work is epic and marvellous; and despite having its flaws, the album makes for a pretty good listen.

Rating: 8/10


--
Reviewed By,
Naman Lakhani

REVIEW: KIX - "Rock Your Face Off"

"I said, freeze! Freeze! Go outside and do that!...."Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" - Kix - 1981

Kix is a band local to Maryland, USA that enjoyed mainstream success during the height of 80's glam metal. With members from various places on the Eastern Seaboard, Kix is most familiar to Baltimore, MD and, in many circles, are considered "Baltimore's Boys". Being a resident of this fine crime-ridden city, I've practically grown up listening to this band and they were one of my first rock concerts. Their line-up has changed slightly over the years with it currently consisting of Steve Whiteman on vocals, Ronnie Younkins on guitar, Brian Forsythe on guitar, Jimmy Chalfant on drums and Mark Schenker on bass. Schenker joined the band in 2003 when they reformed after an 8-year hiatus, resuming touring and writing material.

It's taken another 11 years, but Kix has finally completed their 7th studio album, 'Rock Your Face Off'. The album as a whole has a rich sound without being masterfully overproduced like previous releases 'Blow My Fuse' and 'Hot Wire'. Kix is fully a hard rock stalwart , cranking out feel-good rock and roll on every record. This may be their first release in 19 years, but they clearly have not skipped a beat. They still have that fun party vibe not only in their music, but on stage as well. Their songs seem to be written specifically to perform live and every last one translates to the stage seamlessly. It absolutely doesn't hurt that they add an element of humor to their lyrics which is something you don't hear very often.

This album definitely warrants listening more than once. You'll pick up more and more with every perusal. "You're Gone" has that element of humour in the lyrics and a unique chorus that repeats throughout the song. Sometimes seemingly ad nauseum. "Can't Stop the Show" has a really cool funky drum line intro leading to a formulaic drum and guitar onslaught with lots of overlaid voice tracks.

"Inside Outside Inn" is this album's ballad, a nice little love song. It's not a ballad on the grand scale of "Don't Close Your Eyes" but it's effective with a nice flow. Whiteman coaxes his voice into a less harsh falsetto that gives the song a softer quality. "Rock and Roll Showdown" is another that arguably was written specifically for a live performance. It sounds very similar to previous Kix work, having that Bar Band sound that they are known for. They even add some canned applause at the end for good measure.

Having listened to this album several times now, I can safely say that the time was right for Kix to finally get back into the studio. All the tracks have that rock and roll uniqueness that Kix has always exhibited. Steve Whiteman can still hit those high notes without the help of a Baltimore rat biting his pinkie toe. I believe this album absolutely stands on its own and one need not be a previous fan of Kix to appreciate their specific brand of humor/music/live performance. Give it a listen!

Rating: 8.5/10

 
--
Reviewed By,
Dawn " Mama Love" Brown

PREMIERE: ARKAN Releases New Music Video 'Hayati' From Album "Sofia"

The sudden loss of a life far too young is always a cataclysmic event for those left behind. A void is left in place of what might have been. Pain and tears erase all smiles. "Sofia" is the artistic legacy of such a tragedy that befell a member of ARKAN – a Parisian Metal band founded by former THE OLD DEAD TREE drummer Foued Moukid in the year 2005. That deep personal crisis easily explains the change of musical spirit, which occurred between 2011’s sophomore album "Salam" ("Peace") and "Sofia". The band's trademark whirlwind of Arabic percussion and crushing guitar riffing has audibly matured into a much more melancholic and subtle sound. There are still those magical moments of ancient oriental string instruments, but they blend in more organically than before. The dark warmth of Sarah Layssac's vocals has deservedly gained more room, while Florent Jannier's deep growls now rarely make an appearance in favour of more clean singing. Heartbreaking suffering has been turned into music. Yet instead of wailing in self-pity, beauty and hope are offered without forgetting the scars. Foued founded ARKAN with a clear goal to amalgamate melodic Death Metal with Oriental traditions, whose roots reach deep down into the ethnic sounds of Algeria and Morocco. The result was the debut "Hilal" (2008), which made the band brothers in spirit of Oriental Metal bands such as ORPHANED LAND. Now ARKAN have redefined their style without losing touch of their base. Continuity also dwells in working again with Studio Fredman. "Sofia" is a deeply heartfelt tribute that reveals more secrets of its detailed textures and meaningful melodies with each new spin. There are treasures to be found by those who listen well and with care...



Tracklisting:

1. Hayati
2. My Reverence
3. March of Sorrow
4. Leaving Us
5. Soiled Dreams
6. Deafening Silence
7. Endless Way
8. Wingless Angels
9. Beauty Asleep
10. Scar of Sadness
11. Cold Night's Dream
12. Dark Epilogue
(9. – 12. Sofia)

Line-up:

Foued Moukid: drums & percussion
Sarah Layssac: female vocals
Florent Jannier: male vocals
Samir Ramila: bass guitar
Mus El Kamal: guitars, acoustic guitars, oûd, mandola

More Details:

www.arkan.fr
www.facebook.com/ArkanBandOfficial
http://bit.ly/arkanshop

REVIEW: ANUP SASTRY - "Titan" [EP]

When listening to Anup Sastry, it’s Opposite Day - the drums are real and the guitars programmed. The groove monster says he isn’t fluent at guitar so he records small DI guitar parts and phrases, edits them into full riffs, routes them through the Axe-Fx II and voila – you have your brand of instrumental progressive metal that is Anup Sastry. His latest work, ‘Titan’ which was released on 2nd September, fortifies his unique style while taking his game further.

My first experience of ‘Titan’ was the ethereal album cover done by Jordan Salmon, it really sets the mood for what is to follow. Sure, it is reminiscent of the current trippy/spacy album art trend but it actually is good art. After appreciating the art it was time to appreciate the music.

I love the fact that ‘Titan’ is a four-song EP unlike the debut full length ‘Ghost’ which, in my opinion, had gotten a tad bit drawn-out. Having a run time of just 23 minutes, things are kept fresh and intense on this EP. Being progressive metal, you’d expect it to start off all technical but on the contrary, the first song “Titan” begins fun and hardcore and only after a while does it go into technical sections. Needless to say, Anup’s primary instrument, the drums, are incredible. But his expertise on the guitar is no less. Being a guitar player myself I’m in awe of Anup’s songwriting prowess; the man can whip up some amazing guitar parts with his samples. And he takes full advantage of this by creating parts that are all over the place but which still make sense. There are more electronic sounds this time, like in the intro to “Perspective” which then goes into one of the grooviest moments on the EP. Man, that riff is tasty as hell. The rest of the song is solid too, transitioning from complex riffs to choruses in a very natural way, a clear example of Anup Sastry’s songwriting skills. This is what I love most about his style of playing, how he oscillates between tech and hardcore.

The next song “Dreamer” wins in terms of catchiness and feels. The synth theme running throughout binds the song together well and makes it a complete song. I especially loved the drums in the outro; that whole section is melodic and epic and makes you wish it would go on forever. Sastry has got a masterful sense of melody. The final and my favourite song off the EP, “Pariah”, is one powerful song with interesting melodies, chord progressions and grooves that slap you across your awestruck face, figuratively. The drums are off-the-hook on this one. And what a tasteful guest solo by Nicholas Llerandi (guitarist of Ever Forthright) and what a great ending to the EP! It might be just me but I heard a common theme in the intros of “Titan” and “Pariah”. Play just the intros of both songs one after another and see if you can hear it too.

It is really hard to point out any negative aspects of the EP, it really is. Everything is top notch, from the drums to the guitars and melodies. In moments where I felt the transitions of the guitar parts weren’t as smooth the drums compensated them with great fills. So there you go, a truly titanic record by Anup Sastry. Can’t wait for another intense burst of creative genius from the man.

Rating: 9/10

--
Reviewed By,
Shoumitro Roy

Inside PROGPOWER USA: "Diary Of A Power Metal Queen"

While waking up at 4am any other day would be difficult for me, Thursday, September 11th wasn't just any other day. I was waking up to get to the airport on time for my flight to Atlanta, GA for the United State's biggest melodic power metal and progressive metal festival, ProgPower USA. I bought my tickets nearly a year ago at this point and it feels like I just bought them yesterday. Even sitting here at the airport now, enjoying my first of MANY coffees for the day, as I type this I feel as if I am still dreaming. The long months of waiting for this festival have come and gone, though I am not sure how. As Metal Wani's Power Metal Queen (or so they call me), ProgPower is something I have wanted to go to since I first heard about it while I was still in high school.

Being a power metal fan in the United States has it's challenges, and the lack of good tours and festivals is definitely one of them. Especially when we're constantly hearing about This Open Air Festival and This Open Air Festival, occurring every weekend in Europe, and every time it appears to be the lineup of our dreams. One thing I can say about the music scene here in the US though, is that a lot of the times it feels like one huge family. Perhaps this is due to the fact that heavy metal is still this misunderstood concept of hatred and anger here, and we all understand the frustrations that come with it. That being said, I couldn't even get out of the Denver airport without running into a couple people I knew going to the festival, one even catching the same flight as me. While standing around waiting to board I had made another friend when he made a comment on my t-shirt (Hammerfall, for those that get curious) and chatted briefly with another female power metal fan from the area.

So for those that don't know about ProgPower, it's a four day festival showcasing, what else, but progressive and power metal bands from all around the world. Starting with two mid-week shows, and ending on two larger weekend events, the festival absolutely makes it worth the trip from anywhere. Sure, for you Europeans out there, this seems like nothing too special, but here in the US, this is really the only place you can catch these bands that never make it to these parts. This festival is perfect for those middle ground bands that are successful but haven't caught on yet like the classics (Blind Guardian, Sonata Arctica, to name a couple) that can financially support a US tour. As far as I know, the only band that is even touring the US from this lineup is Overkill, as ProgPower seemed to be a side-date for them.

This year, the festival boasts some amazing world-wide firsts such as Jon Oliva's Pain playing Streets: A Rock Opera in it's entirety, Stratovarius is playing their classic Visions in it's entirety, and many others that will be covered later on. These two announcements alone were enough for me to purchase my tickets, although the addition of Orden Ogan's first US appearance really sealed the deal, as I never would have guessed this band would make it over to the states. Unfortunately because of financial reasons, and not enough time off at my actual job, I could only make the festivals' last three shows, Thursday through Saturday, missing the mid-week kick-off.

However, thankfully, due to our wonderful relationship with AFM Records (A Big Thank You To Dustin Hardman. Seriously I can't get enough of their releases) I was given the opportunity to sit down and talk with both Tom and Jonas of Evergrey (though they are not performing), and discussed the new Hymns for the Broken album releasing later this month. If you haven't taken the time to check out my review, you can do so here, as that release is my current album of the year. Orden Ogan had also agreed to chat with me since they are currently putting the final touches on their upcoming album, and are preparing for a world-wide tour with Hammerfall at the start of 2015. Unfortunately, due to certain bureaucratic issues with the security team on Saturday night, I missed my chance to get backstage with them. By the time I ran into the guys outside after the show, my phone was dead as well as my back-up battery. However, Seeb and I will definitely be getting a future interview arranged soon!

So lets get down to the details here. To put it simply, this was an experience I will never be able to forget. I plan on going every year from here on out!


Day 1 – Thursday September 11th:

From the second I arrived in Atlanta, I felt like this massive group of people from all over the world was just one huge family. Looking around the city, it was pretty obvious there was a metal festival in town because we couldn't walk a single block without a friendly nod or smile from a metal head walking by (If Atlanta is ALWAYS like this, someone let me know so I can move there). Walking into the beautiful Center Stage Theater was rather impressive as well. Most importantly it had three bars, a massive merchandise room, and a huge open theatre with stadium seating from wall to wall with a pit in the middle. The event was general admission, so it was easy to go from hanging out in the pit to a comfy chair to rest up. When you're on your feet for ten hours, this is extremely important!

Opening night featured the Evergrey listening party for Hymns for the Broken, but this was reserved to VIP and what the festival calls “Gold Badge” holders, so unfortunately I was not able to attend. The opening band, Draekon, completely blew me away. They were a symphonic power metal band, but still maintained a very heavy and dark vibe to them. When I heard these guys were American, I lost it! We just don't have many bands like this here, especially ones that were so well prepared and tight. Italian progressive metal band DGM was up next, which is one of the bands I was most excited to see. 2013's release Momentum is still an album I regularly play, and if you'd like to get technical, is the album I have listened to the most out of everything I own on iTunes. Their set was beyond perfect, and I heard every song I could have asked to hear, including my personal favorites “Reason” and “Repay”. After their set, I immediately knew that ProgPower is definitely going to become my second home.

Pagan's Mind hit the stage after, and played about an hour and a half. I sat down for a bit of their show, but had to run out to this awesome pizza place that was just up the street from the venue for my dinner. After their set we hung around outside and talked with so many people I can't even remember them all. Most people went down a couple blocks to this beautiful hotel, The Artmore, which features the unofficial after parties where musicians and fans alike mingle around until the following morning. As I said earlier, I was up at 4am that morning, so I didn't quite make it there!


Highlight of the Night: 

Hands down, seeing DGM play some of my all time favorite prog tunes!


Day 2 – Friday September 12th:

Surprisingly not hungover, the following day was much easier for me to make it through. Another strong lineup was ahead of us, although I missed the openers, Need, I hit the floor as soon as I could to wait for Orden Ogan. I stood next to a guy that had a t-shirt made to say “We Are Pirates” and warned him that I would likely be screaming along (horribly) but everyone around seemed to be on the same page as me – beyond excited to see this German heavy metal giant. When the guys came out on stage in their bad ass outfits, complete with Seeb's REAL tire on his shoulders, the crowd exploded. Rightfully so, as I personally feel that their set was one of the strongest of the night. Their set was a great blend of previous albums, and my personal favorite, 2012's To The End.

I had to miss Leprous for my dinner break, and also missed the majority of the Overkill set while I interviewed the guys of Evergrey. I caught a few songs and I couldn't believe how much energy the band had and it definitely transferred over to the crowd. After they finished, everyone seemed to be even more excited than they had been before. During Seventh Wonder I was out and about, sort of socializing and networking, but mostly running to and from the bar and merchandise room.

Stratovarius was up next though so I found my way back to the pit to wait for yet another one of my all time favorite bands to hit the stage. I knew the band was preparing to play Visions in it's entirety but the lineup was quite different than it was originally. In fact, only two members, Kotipelto on vocals, and Jens Johansson on keys were the only original members playing live that were on the record. A lot of people complained and whined about this, especially with the new band members playing the much loved classics, but I don't think I would have wanted it any other way. As a huge fan of the modern Stratovarius sound (and the classics) I feel as if this new lineup was the best thing to happen to Visions. Each song was strong and hard-hitting, and the band was as tight as ever. Of course the band nailed the other hits like “Dragons” and “Unbreakable” from Nemesis and their encore, “Hunting High and Low”.


Highlights of the Night:

Watching one of my all time favorite bands, Orden Ogan play every single song I wanted them to play. Seeing Stratovarius beef up Visions so much that even people that didn't want to like the set LOVED IT. Getting my Hall of the Mountain King back patch signed by Jon Oliva, after he gave me two kisses on the cheek! Sitting down with Jonas and Tom of Evergrey backstage to get all of my questions on the new album and lineup additions answered! What awesome guys! And finally, hanging out at the Artmore and experiencing this legendary after party where literally everyone seems to know everyone and booze is shared around like crazy.


Day 3 – Saturday September 13th:

So the final day of the festival was upon us, and they definitely saved some of the best for last. I was able to get to the venue in time for one hell of a band, after a great lunch with some amazing guys. Norway's Withem was one of the few bands I hadn't heard anything from, but I look forward to pleasant surprises when I see unknown bands live, and these guys absolutely blew me away. The vocalist gave one of the strongest performances of the festival, so I had to buy a t-shirt! The guys of Divided Multitude hit the stage next and I found a nice spot in the pit for their set. The night before I had met the keyboard player and ended up chatting with him and a friend of mind for over half an hour about all things music. Their set was impressive, of course, but it always makes the experience better knowing the guys are so friendly and down to earth.

Voodoo Circle was an amazing blend of blues/jazz fusion keys and guitar, and straight up rock n roll. I had to take a seat for their set as I was just so damn tired as the festival was coming to it's close. I knew Masterplan was up next so I worked my way back down into the pit with a fresh rum and Coke. Masterplan and I have a somewhat infamous relationship with my circle of friends, as when I posted my review of their last record, they told me to “shove your review up your ass” because I rated it not-so-great. I will admit, I am a huge Jorn Lande fan and anything Masterplan without Jorn just isn't the same. That being said, watching Rick Altzi perform a lot of Jorn-era tunes, made me seriously question “Jorn who?!”. They blew me away. In fact, I would have to say that this set was in the top three of the whole festival.

For Pain of Salvation, I was out eating dinner with some great friends as this style of music isn't really my thing. We returned right before the legendary Jon Oliva was preparing to hit the stage with JO's Pain, performing the Savatage classic Streets: A Rock Opera in it's entirety which has never been done before. I am a huge Savatage fan so to even be able to experience seeing Jon performing these songs live was quite the honor. They hit the stage strong, but Jon announced he wasn't feeling too hot since he had literally just seriously hurt his ribs before his performance. Between jokes and songs he would curse the sky, but ended up being no less entertaining than I expected. Bill Hudson nailed every single lead guitar solo and feature, and completely blew the crowd away with a truly perfect performance. The band was tight throughout the full-album, but there were plenty of emotional moments, especially in “Believe” and the closer, “When the Crowds are Gone”. If there were any dry eyes in the audience they could not have been watching the stage.

Highlights of the Night: 

Masterplan's perfect set! Seeing Streets performed in it's entirety and crying like a little baby during all of the ballads. Running into Seeb of Orden Ogan outside after the festival closed, apologizing for our interview falling through, but he let me snag a picture kissing his cheek! Passing the hell out at the hotel for the last night before my flight home.

All in all, this festival was an amazing experience that I will never forget. You know, you will never see a perfect roster of bands, and you will never have a perfect set list. When it comes to metal festivals, there will always be bands you don't care for, as well songs you wanted to hear being left out of a set list, but this event is more than just the roster. This event is truly about a massive family from around the world coming together to celebrate the most talented musicians in the industry, and the most passionate fans around. I am honored to have been a part of this experience and absolutely can't wait to return next year. When I heard Dragonland, Helker, and Falconer on the bill, I knew instantly that it would be worth another 1200 mile trip to Atlanta. I will see you all there next year!



Check out www.progpowerusa.com and the ProgPower Facebook Page for updates on 2015!


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Written By,
Mattie Jensen

NEWS: SLASH: Why PAUL STANLEY Told Me To Go F**k Myself

Slash has commented on a story in Paul Stanley's autobiography in which the KISS frontman claimed that he had to teach the former GUNS N' ROSES guitarist a basic lesson in rock and roll diplomacy more than 25 years ago.

In "Face The Music: A Life Exposed", Stanley recalled the time he was asked to meet with the members of GUNS N' ROSES, who were about to start work on their now-classic debut album, "Appetite For Destruction" album. Although Stanley claims he wasn't all that impressed at first, describing guitarist Izzy Stradlin as "unconscious, with drool coming out of the side of his mouth," and Slash as "half-comatose," the KISS guitarist-vocalist was nice enough to show Slash how to tune his guitar in the five-string open-G method preferred by Keith Richards, and offered to put the GN'R axeman in touch with people who could get him free guitars. Paul then went to go see GUNS N' ROSES play two small Los Angeles-area club shows, which he described as "stupendous." According to Ultimate Classic Rock, it was an incident at the second of those concerts that created the initial rift between Slash and Stanley. "They weren't happy with the guy mixing their sound," Stanley wrote in his book. "And Slash asked me out of the blue to help out. Decades later, Slash's recollections of the night would be faulty at best. He liked to pretend I had dared to meddle with their sound."

Stanley continued: "Immediately after my interactions with the band, I started to hear lots of stories Slash was saying behind my back — he called me gay, made fun of my clothes, all sorts of things designed to give him some sort of rock credibility at my expense. This was years before his top hat, sunglasses and dangling cigarette became a cartoon costume that he would continue to milk with the best of us for decades."

According to Stanley, he next spoke to Slash a few months later when the GN'R guitarist called up to see if Stanley could still set him up with those free guitars. "You want me to help you get guitars after you went around saying all that shit about me behind my back?" Stanley said he told Slash. "You know, one thing you’re going to have to learn is not to air your dirty laundry in public. Nice knowing you. Go fuck yourself."

In a recent interview with Germany's Rock Hard magazine, Slash revealed that he hadn't yet read Stanley's book, but more or less confirmed the KISS frontman's version of events. He said: "What happened was… I don't wanna bring it all up again… But he had come around to produce GUNS N' ROSES way back in the day, before we actually made the first record [1987's 'Appetite For Destruction']. And at some point, we decided we didn't… We never, actually, were interested in working with him. But we sort of had him around because he was Steve Adler's [original GUNS N' ROSES drummer] hero. Anyway, and so, at that time, I'd done an interview for the 'Calendar' [section] in the [Los Angeles] Times, and I'd said something derogatory about him. And then, months later, [I] realized that he had an arrangement with B.C. Rich, and I was looking to try and get a guitar to record the 'Appetite' record, and asked him if he would hook me up with some B.C. Riches. And he said something along the lines of, 'You shouldn't air your dirty laundry in public,' having to do with him. 'So, no, I won't help you.' And I was, like, 'OK.' And we didn't speak for years after that. It was only until roughly 2006 that we got reacquainted when I was doing the KISS 'Rock Honors' for VH1 and we sort of let bygones be bygones. And so we're more or less cool now."

NEWS: GEOFF TATE Says OPERATION: MINDCRIME's Trilogy Will Be 'Very Complex' With 'Very Melodic Content'

Former QUEENSRŸCHE singer Geoff Tate says that the upcoming progressive rock trilogy from his new band OPERATION: MINDCRIME will be "very complex" with "a very melodic content" and urges his fans to experience it "one on one" when it is released early next year.

Named after QUEENSRŸCHE's epic concept album from 1988, "Operation: Mindcrime", Tate's new band includes Rudy Sarzo (OZZY OSBOURNE, WHITESNAKE), Simon Wright (AC/DC, DIO), Randy Gane (MYTH), Kelly Gray (QUEENSRYCHE 1998 - 2001, 2012 - 2014) and Robert Sarzo (QUEENSRYCHE 2012 - 2014).

OPERATION: MINDCRIME is scheduled to enter the studio this month to begin recording the trilogy project, which Geoff has been working on for the past two years.

"It's a grim story that takes place in different locations around the world," Tate tells Albuquerque Journal. "The music reflects these places in the world, including Asia, South America and Europe. There are elements of those places in the music.

Regarding the musical direction of the OPERATION: MINDCRIME debut, Tate says: "It's very complex. My focus is telling the story and inventing melodies. … It has a very melodic content."

He adds: "I'm always kind of reluctant to describe music. One person's heavy is another person's light. It's always a puzzle to put into words. It's best experienced one on one."

NEWS: ROBERT PLANT Says Bonus Tracks On LED ZEPPELIN Reissues Are 'Nothing Relevant'

Legendary LED ZEPPELIN singer Robert Plant says that he doesn't find much of value in the band's ongoing reissue campaign, calling the previously unreleased bonus tracks "mostly work-in-progress stuff" that offer "nothing relevant" to him personally.

The ZEPPELIN reissues are being made available in a range of digital, CD, vinyl, and deluxe box sets through Atlantic/Swan Song, accompanied by previously unreleased bonus tracks including rough mixes, backing tracks, alternative versions, and new songs.

Asked if these versions shed any new light on the music for him personally, Plant tells Billboard.com: "No, not really. Because it's so long ago. What you're hearing there is mostly work-in-progress stuff. Things on their way to completion, and maybe there's some little quirk or something that led to an either/or moment. But it's nothing relevant, really. Not to me, at least."

Plant remains respectful of his accomplishments with guitarist Jimmy Page and LED ZEPPELIN, telling The Telegraph in a recent interview: "I had no history to speak of, really, before I met Jimmy. I hadn't stepped into my physical personality. In ZEPPELIN, I learned how to apply myself, how to express myself as a writer, how to shut up and listen. So I grew, I got some of my chops."

NEWS: Would OVERKILL, TESTAMENT Or EXODUS Be Included In Expanded 'Big Four'? BOBBY 'BLITZ' ELLSWORTH Weighs In

In a brand new interview with the Houston Press, vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth of New Jersey thrash metal veterans OVERKILL was asked if the so-called "Big Four" of 1980s thrash metal — METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER and ANTHRAX — were ever expanded to a "Big Five," who would get the extra slot: TESTAMENT, EXODUS or OVERKILL?

"Aw man, that's gonna put me in a corner!" Ellsworth laughed. "We measure our success in days, not dollars! But maybe you can find the answer in what I'm going to say.

"When [playing thrash metal] became harder in the '90s with grunge music, we never had a question about if we would stop doing it and go work for our moms and dads or something," Ellsworth offered. "We just needed to make it happen. We weren't going to let grunge stop us. And if it did, we'd just go back to the underground. I liked it there anyway!"


MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine last year spoke to Radio.com about which band should have been included if the "Big Four" were expanded and considered the "Big Five". Mustaine said: "You know, people will say there's a whole another generation, like the 'Medium Four' [laughs], and I think there's a lot of great bands that fit that bill, too. But I think probably EXODUS, because there was nobody else at the time that had that kind of pull or that kind of importance in the metal community. Granted, it was with [late EXODUS singer Paul] Baloff, and Baloff had a voice that you had to have an acquired taste for, but you know, I liked him."

In a 2010 interview with Metal Asylum, EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt was asked if he feels the "Big Four" should have been expanded and considered the "Big Seven", including EXODUS, TESTAMENT and OVERKILL.

"Well, I think it should be the 'Big Five' with EXODUS, because we were there at the start of thrash metal with METALLICA in the real early '80s," he said. "Same thing with MEGADETH because [Dave] Mustaine was a part of METALLICA's birth and he also created MEGADETH. And SLAYER are SLAYER. ANTHRAX are also great and old friends, but if you listen to those first few records, they have definitely changed. TESTAMENT has every right to be part of the thrash metal legends, but it just came down to timing because they came later. And OVERKILL have been their since the beginning also. But I don't get hung up on that shit, because I know how it all started and I know where I was when the shit got created. We [EXODUS] certainly deserve to be part of the founding fathers, but you know who often gets excluded are the Germans — KREATOR, DESTRUCTION and SODOM. Everybody looks to America and forgets those guys. KREATOR, DESTRUCTION and SODOM all released records in the early '80s."

He continued: "Really, the "Big Four" is solely based on sales and the ones who sold the most. But if you compare records, I will put EXODUS' last few albums up against anybody's shit. SLAYER is always awesome; the last TESTAMENT album [at the time of the interview], 'The Formation of Damnation', was great; the new MEGADETH [2009's 'Endgame'] is one of their best; METALLICA are still finding their feet again, and their last album, 'Death Magnetic', was a step in the right direction. The new OVERKILL, 'Ironbound', is one of their best records ever; it's so good. And KREATOR, DESTRUCTION, and SODOM still make great new music. What I think it boils down to is the bands who've been doing this the longest still can do it the best. METALLICA are still a mighty force live, but they lost their way for quite a while. But then again I've never had to deal with the horrible problem of having millions of dollars. [Laughs] Maybe if I had that kind of money, it would distract my hunger for doing this kind of shit, too. But, unfortunately for me, I have to keep kickin' people in the teeth, I don't have the funds to go art-shopping. My version of fine art is a new edition of Hustler magazine. [Laughs]"

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

PREMIERE: MENACE Releases New Music Video "Malicious Code” From 'Impact Velocity'

MENACE are the brainchild of Mitch Harris (NAPALM DEATH, MEATHOOK SEED). "The band is called MENACE, but to me, it is more than just a band or a solo project", comments the musician. "It is the result of my life's work." Not surprisingly regarding such an adventurous and prolific musician, the result is stunningly eclectic and absolutely unique. Within their driving, creative heavy rock or audio-installationism (A.I.) in the artist's own words, Harris and MENACE explore dissonance, melody, relating the width and breadth of human emotion and experience. This delicious musical cocktail contains many tasty ingredients ranging from the mystery and emotionality of TOOL to eccentric VOIVOD and even delivering thrashy riffs. Yet none of these comparisons and labels fully fit as MENACE always add their own twist finding a new way of expression. Tracks such as "I Live With Your Ghost" and "Painted Rust" are infectious anthems both personal and obscure; distilling and amplifying the sum of Harris' experiences from good to tragic and all in between. "MENACE bring unrealised dreams closer to fruition", he adds. "It is about overcoming loss and hardship, and a combination of my many interests." ‘Impact Velocity’ is not just an outstanding collection of modern heavy rock, but comes equally as a challenge and with a surprisingly broad appeal. Expect the unexpected!



Tracklisting:

1. I Live with Your Ghost
2. Painted Rust
3. Multiple Clarity
4. To the Marrow
5. I Won’t See the Sun
6. Drowning in Density
7. Positron
8. Everything and Nothing
9. Within Context
10. Malicious Code
11. Impact Velocity
12. Seamless Integration
13. Insult to Injury [bonus track]

Line-up:

Cygnus: vocals (Mitch Harris)
Synergus: guitar & synth (Mitch Harris)
Samorost: drums & percussion (Derek Roddy)
Serpens: bass (Fred Leclercq)
Radix: strings, electro sub (Nicola Manzan)
Erebus: bass (Shane Embury)

More Details: