[Classic_Rock_Forever] Deep Purple, KISS, Slash,Motley Crue, Rocklahoma, Slayer, Megadeth, and tons more hard rock and heavy metal news


The Buddy Rich 25th Anniversary Memorial Concert takes place for the first time in the U.K. at the world-famous London Palladium on April 2. The world-class lineup is confirmed as Dave Weckl, Gregg Bissonette, John Blackwell and Gregg Potter from the USA with Ian Paice (DEEP PURPLE), Ginger Baker, Gavin Harrison and Elliott Henshaw from the U.K. Plus singing supremo Tony Christie will also appear.
One of legendary drummer Buddy Rich's last requests to his daughter, Cathy, was to keep his band working, his music alive, and to do something for young people. No easy task, but eventually Cathy decided that an annual memorial concert seemed the way to go. The first sellout memorial concert was in 1988 at the celebrated Carnegie Hall in New York. Since then, shows have followed in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Boston with the who's who of the drumming world taking part and the shows being described as the "The Greatest Drum Show Of All Time." Artists to grace the stage in previous years have included Mel Tormé, Joe Williams, Stan Getz, Steve Gadd, Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta and Dennis Chambers.
This year, on the exact date of the 25th anniversary of Buddy's death, it is the turn of the London Palladium to host this prestigious event. The show, co-hosted by Cathy herself, features the U.S.-based BUDDY RICH BIG BAND supported by U.K. session musicians who used to play with Buddy. Cathy will also present Lifetime Achievement Awards to three rock drumming legends.
On his involvement, the highly-respected Dave Weckl said, "Anytime I get to pay tribute to one of the greatest players of our instrument, I am first in line. To be able to play with a great BIG BAND and play songs from the Buddy Rich book is one of my favorite things to do as a drummer." Joining Dave Weckl are Gregg Bissonette, known most recently for his work with the Ringo Starr band; John Blackwell, currently playing with Prince; and Gregg Potter from the BUDDY RICH BIG BAND. From the U.K., DEEP PURPLE's distinguished drummer, Ian Paice; the renowned CREAM drummer, Ginger Baker; respected session drummer Gavin Harrison; and Elliott Henshaw, veteran of over 20 West End shows and drummer for Tony Christie.
Tickets are available from the box office on 0844 412 4657 or online at www.seetickets.com and are priced from £25 to £60. VIP tickets are available on a strictly limited basis only. They include the best seats in the house, an opportunity to meet the headline artists, admission to the after-show party and signed merchandise.
According to Amazon, Los Angeles-based writer Ken Sharp — the author of KISS' official authorized biography, Kiss: Behind The Mask" (2003) and "Starting Over: The Making Of John Lennon And Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy" (2010) — has teamed up with KISS founding members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley for the new hardcover book called "Nothin' To Lose: The Making Of Kiss (1972-1975)". The 448-page book is due on August 14 via It Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
A description reads as follows: "'Nothin' To Lose' chronicles for the first time the crucial formative years of the legendary rock band KISS, culminating with the groundbreaking success of their classic 1975 album 'Alive!' and the smash single 'Rock and Roll All Nite', a song that nearly four decades later remains one of the band's most enduring anthems. Drawing on more than 200 interviews, the book offers a captivating and intimate fly-on-the-wall account of their launch, charting the struggles and ultimate victories that led them to the threshold of superstardom. Constructed as an oral history, the book includes original interviews with Paul, Gene, Ace, and Peter, as well as producers, engineers, management, roadies, costume and stage designers, fans, and musical contemporaries from the time, including: original manager Bill Aucoin, Casablanca Records founder Neil Bogart, rock photographer Bob Gruen, promoter Ron Delsner, Ted Nugent, Dick Clark, Alice Cooper, Marshall Crenshaw, and Bob Seger, as well as members of AEROSMITH, BLACK SABBATH, RUSH, STYX, NAZARETH, SLADE, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, URIAH HEEP, MOTT THE HOOPLE, NEW YORK DOLLS, RAMONES, and THE QUATTROS, among others. The end result is an indelible and irresistible portrait of a band on the rise and the music scene they changed forever."
Slash — the iconic, Grammy-winning rock guitarist and songwriter — is currently in a Los Angeles studio putting the finishing touches on his second solo album. Entitled "Apocalyptic Love", the disc is due out May 22 on Slash's own label Dik Hayd International distributed through EMI and will follow his 2010 debut album, "Slash", and his November 2011 first-ever live solo album, the two-CD/DVD set "Made In Stoke 24/7/11". Notably, the "Slash" album debuted on The Billboard 200 chart at #3 (#1 on the Rock chart, #1 on the Independent chart, and #1 on the Hard Music chart). Digitally, the album also became the #1 overall digital album and hit #1 on iTunes in 13 countries. Internationally, the disc achieved Top 5 chart positions in over a dozen major territories, hitting #1 in both Japan and New Zealand.
In the U.K., the album will be released on May 21 in exclusive Classic Rock Fan Pack form — providing a unique collectable package containing the studio album with bonus tracks alongside a specially created magazine with unseen behind-the-scenes content put together by Classic Rock. The Fan Pack format will also come with free gifts, including a pin badge and artwork poster and will be available to buy via more than 2000 retail outlets on newsstands nationally as well as the traditional high street and online music retailers. Roadrunner Records will simultaneously release the record digitally. The standard physical release of the Slash album will follow through Roadrunner Records on June 18.
For the new album, Slash — along with and his bandmates Myles Kennedy (vocals), Brent Fitz (drums) and Todd Kerns (bass) — teamed with producer Eric Valentine, who also produced the "Slash" disc. All the songs were written together by Slash and Kennedy, and cameras have been rolling throughout the entire making of the album. Check out exclusive behind-the-scenes footage airing weekly beginning today.
A question-and-answer session with Slash about the new album follows below.
Q: Looking at all your Twitter updates, you sound really pumped about the new disc. This time around, you and Myles wrote all the songs and he sings lead on all the tracks. What inspired this scenario since your debut solo album featured multiple vocalists (including Myles on two songs)?
Slash: Well, having Myles sing on the first record inspired me to take him on the road, then taking him on the road inspired me to have him sing on the whole record. So yeah, the tour last year definitely inspired the decision for him to sing on the new record. He has a really broad range. He is just very musical as far as his melodic style is concerned and he's also very lyrical and just a really powerful singer. There's a lot of positives about the way he sings.
Q: Perhaps you want to talk a bit here about your other bandmates and what they each bring to the sound?
Slash: There's Brent who is probably one of the best drummers I've ever played with — he has a great way of playing very powerful rock n roll while still being able to keep it behind the beat and sexy. And then Todd has got to be one of the most overall talented musicians I've worked with, just a really great bass player. Todd's very quick in the studio, a quick learner and creative as a writer; on top of that, he's also a great singer.
Q: Beyond you and Myles writing all the songs and Myles singing all the leads, in what other ways is the new album perhaps different from your debut solo album?
Slash: Myles and I basically collaborated on the new material. The main thing is we wrote these songs together which is a big difference from the last album where I wrote each song with all of the different collaborators. The whole creative nucleus is between Myles and me. On top of this, the whole rhythm section of Brent and Todd brings something to the table and changes the dynamic completely from the last record — it's much more cohesive.
Q: With your record company Dik Hayd Records, you remain an independent artist and work with major companies for distribution. Can you talk about how you as an artist benefit by this scenario in these interesting times for the music industry?
Slash: It puts me more in the driver's seat of how I want to market the record, but even more importantly than that, I'm not giving half of everything that comes in on the album to the record company.
Q: Eric Valentine returns as producer for the new disc. What do you feel he brings as a producer to these songs and the overall approach?
Slash: The first thing we always talk about with Eric is he's an extremely gifted musician, but he is basically as talented an engineer, so it makes for a great combination as a producer. As a person he's easy to work with — he's very patient and he lives and breathes what he does. That's a lot like how I am, we're similar; I can call him at any moment and ask him a question or share an idea I have with him. He's always in his element and it's something that I can appreciate.
Q: You toured the world seven times with the last album. What are your tour plans for the new album?
Slash: Right now we're starting off with radio shows in the states and then we'll do as much of Europe as possible. We'll also tour in Asia and Australia, and try to hit South Africa this year as well as India and a couple other spots. Trying to just broaden our horizons a bit.
Slash earlier in the week unveiled the details of a headlining U.S. tour that will kick off on May 3 in Baltimore. The road trip will also includes stops at major festivals like Rock On The Range and Rocklahoma.
This Saturday (February 18), Slash will join Stevie Wonder, Chris Cornell, Lenny Kravitz, LL Cool J, Common, Snoop Dogg, former President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Anthony Hopkins and more at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for a 70th birthday celebration to honor boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
Proceeds from the event will go toward awareness and prevention of numerous neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases, with funds also going to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
MÖTLEY CRÜE drummer Tommy Lee was interviewed for the cover story in the March 2012 issue of U.K.'s "best-selling drum magazine" Rhythm.
In addition to his touring and recording obligations with the CRÜE, Lee continues to make appearances around the world with his dance-music partner DJ Aero. He also founded the rap-metal band METHODS OF MAYHEM in the 1990s and has pursued other solo musical projects.
When asked if he still loves loves drumming, Lee said, "I do, I still love it! But it's not my only thing. It's weird because whereas early on it was my main thing, then I taught myself guitar and I love to sing. Then I started singing background vocals with MÖTLEY and then I was singing all the time and people would say, 'Hey, man, your voice sounds really good,' the I'd sing demos for MÖTLEY and bring them in and Vince [Neil, vocals] would sing on the track. I'm constantly evolving as a musician. Drums isn't my one thing anymore. I love to produce. I love to make tracks, write tracks, produce tracks and I can't just sit back as a drummer anymore, I have to have my hands on it and say, 'The guitar should sound like this, the bass should sound like this, this is how the drums should sound, the vocals would be really cool like this, this melody is not so good, let's try this.' I just have to touch all of it now. I just know too much!"
Rocklahoma has announced the 2012 lineup for the three-day camp and rock festival that features the top current active rock artists and classic bands. America's biggest Memorial Day Weekend party — May 25-27 at "Catch the Fever" Festival Grounds in Pryor, Oklahoma — is proud to be presented by Budweiser.
The initial Rocklahoma lineup includes:
Bands will perform on the Main Stage, Second Stage and the Retrospect Records Stage.
"Rocklahoma has quickly become the rock 'n' roll party of Memorial Day Weekend, and 2012 is going to take the party to a whole new level," commented Joe Litvag, co-executive producer of the festival for AEG Live. "We've got a great balance of talent this year with some amazing classic artists covering the last three decades along with plenty of today's rock. But the most unique part of this festival is definitely the campground experience…Three days and nights of craziness and chaos that only Rocklahoma can deliver!"
General-admission and VIP packages for Rocklahoma go on sale Friday, February 24 at 10 a.m. CST at all Ticketmaster outlets and Rocklahoma.com. To get access to the Rocklahoma Internet pre-sale, which will be held from Wednesday, February 22 at 10 a.m. CST through Thursday, February 23 at 10 p.m. CST, go to Rocklahoma.com and sign up to receive the Rocklahoma newsletter. Fans can save by buying early, as ticket prices will increase in the coming weeks.
Camping tickets may be purchased by calling the Rocklahoma Camping Office at (866) 310-2288 or emailing info@feverfest.com. Campgrounds open on Sunday, May 20 and will remain open though Tuesday, May 29.
The Axis Entertainment Campground Stage returns in 2012 to enhance the Rocklahoma camping experience. Anyone holding festival and camping tickets will be able to check out some of the finest new rock bands performing on this stage, located next to the General Store in the main campgrounds.
Rocklahoma's VIP packages have expanded due to popular demand. Some of this year's weekend VIP packages include:
Groupie Package (One Person)
- VIP Reserved Ticket
- Access to VIP Catering Tent
- Private Backstage Lounge Tent Access *
- Weekend Pit Access
- Package Inclusive of all taxes and fees
* This year, the Groupies will have their own Backstage Lounge, which is conveniently located between the Main and Second Stages.
Roadie Package (One Person)
- VIP Reserved Ticket
- Access to VIP Catering Tent
- Private Backstage Lounge Tent Access **
- Private Restroom Access
- Weekend Pit Access
- One Event Poster, T-Shirt and Festival Mug
- One Commemorative Laminate
- VIP Deck Access
- Package Inclusive of all taxes and fees
**Exclusive for Roadies and Rockstars is the Backstage Lounge, which is conveniently located between VIP Catering and the Main Stage.
Rockstar Package (Two Person)
- Roadie Package for Two
- Three Night stay at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa (room & tax only)
- Shuttle Service
- Best Seats in the House
- Package Inclusive of all taxes and fees
**Exclusive for Roadies and Rockstars is the Backstage Lounge, which is conveniently located between VIP Catering and the Main Stage.
For a detailed list of 2012 Rocklahoma VIP ticket options, packages and amenities, please visit Rocklahoma.com.
Rocklahoma is located just 45 minutes northeast of Tulsa, in Pryor, Oklahoma. The "Catch the Fever" Festival Grounds is a premier destination for a multi-day festival and includes on-site camping with access to restrooms and shower house, a general store for campers, VIP reserved seating, hospitality areas and much more.
Established in 2007 as a classic rock destination festival with the motto "life, liberty and the pursuit of rock," Rocklahoma was revamped in 2010 as organizers teamed with AEG Live to create an event encompassing a much broader mix of classic, current and up-and-coming rock artists. In 2011, a record-breaking crowd of over 35,000 fans turned out for the festival, which raised over $10,000 for the American Red Cross as part of their tornado relief efforts in nearby Joplin, Missouri. The festival celebrates its sixth year in 2012.
Jenn Selby of The Quietus recently conducted an interview with SLAYER bassist/vocalist Tom Araya. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
The Quietus: METALLICA decided to go a bit left-field recently and make "Lulu" with Lou Reed. What would [SLAYER's] equivalent be, if you had to go and make it, and you had to choose an artist to make it with who was completely mismatched, who would it be and why?
Tom: Erm… I can't speak for the whole band, but it would require a lot of thought, and I don't see us doing anything like that. I can't even conceive of the idea of doing something like that, you know? Lou Reed of all people, you know? He's just so avant garde, so out there, so musically different. He was his own thing. He was his own mould. And for them to try to… I don't know, when I found out about that, I thought that it was a little too much.
The Quietus: Did you listen to the album?
Tom: No, I haven't listened to the album. I don't want to. To me, it's like, I hate to say this, but it's trying too hard to be cool.
The Quietus: Lou Reed is trying too hard?
Tom: No, no, no, this is nothing against Lou Reed. Lou Reed is great, I think what he does is amazing, but it's METALLICA trying to be too cool. They're trying to be too cool. Why do you need to do that? Why do you need to be too cool? That's on METALLICA, that's not on Lou Reed. He's awesome… And they're going to hate it if they read this, they're going to hate me saying it, but it's just my personal opinion. I don't even need to listen to the album! [Laughs]
The Quietus: Dave Mustaine [MEGADETH] once told me — and several other people — that without him, thrash wouldn't have existed. What would you say to that?
Tom: Daaave… He's a little late on the draw! [Laughs] You know, because his record and his band MEGADETH didn't materialize until the mid-'80s. He was a founding member of METALLICA, but I think there are other bands that we should owe credit to and they should owe credit to. Credit is due to a band — who made the music that we developed and made it our own — and I hate to say it, but ANVIL. You listen to the first ANVIL album, and you hear echoes of METALLICA. So, you know, there are other bands you can credit to starting thrash metal or attempting to do something new. We just took it and made it our own. And for some reason, ANTHRAX, SLAYER and METALLICA all evolved… And it was all about the same year, in '81. And then we all evolved into this, 30 years later. Like I said, Mustaine was in METALLICA, but got kicked out, and five years later came up with his band. So he's a little slow on the draw.
Last Friday at the Aragon Ballroom, I had the chance to sit down with bassist and Megadeth co-founder David Ellefson in advance of Megadeth's appearance later that night with Motörhead, Volbeat and Lacuna Coil as part of the 2012 Gigantour.  Our conversation hit upon topics like the return of Gigantour, playing in Chicago, Megadeth's often politically charged lyrics and much more...
*** Photo above taken by Lyle A. Waisman. Check out more of Lyle's work HERE
From 1983 when the band started to 2002 when they briefly broke up, various members of Megadeth came and went with only two constants:  Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson. When Mustaine reformed the band in 2004, disagreements between the pair surfaced, the word lawsuit came into play and ultimately, Megadeth moved on without Ellefson in the fold.  But in February of 2010, order was restored when David Ellefson rejoined Megadeth.
Before rejoining the band immediately in the studio, the bassist joined his bandmates first on the road for a tour playing 1990's Rust in Peace album in its entirety.  It was a tour that grew organically, eventually leading to Ellefson's return to the studio with Megadeth. "I think we did it right coming back, to go out and celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Rust in Peace.  That was a fun time to come back for a whole year.  It was meant to be like a month tour and it turned into a whole year.  And then of course that just led right into the creation of a new album."
TH1RT3EN includes songs like "Millennium of the Blind" and "New World Order" that have been floating around in various forms since 1991.  So the album has kind of a vintage feel at times. But with timely lyrics and production from Chicagoan Johnny K (Johnny K has produced everyone from Disturbed to the Plain White T's) the album feels fresh and never seems forced.
"The producer in Megadeth… they come in with all of their acumen and all of their professional abilities but at the same time they have to be able to work with Dave [Mustaine] who is ultimately bringing the vision of Megadeth to that producer.  And if that relationship works, we make great records.  If and when it doesn't, we don't.  And it's really that simple because a band with a bunch of ideas who can't get them on tape… that ain't a record.  So to me, that's the dynamic that has to happen and I think it totally came together on this album." says Ellefson about the recording of TH1RT3EN.
Ellefson continues, "The creative part of bands can be trying.  It can be difficult.  You're just laying everything out on the table.  Your emotions.  In order to make great music and great art you have to make yourself vulnerable.  And that's something that a bunch of dudes in a metal band… that challenges that whole dynamic!  Yet you have to do it if you really want to make passionate music that translates out of the speakers into people's hearts, ya know?  And that's what we're here to do.  To get into your head, your heart and your soul.  So I think we did it right and it's been great."
So with the success of the Rust in Peace anniversary tour and the 2011 release of TH1RT3EN, the timing was right to jumpstart Gigantour.
What was created by Dave Mustaine in 2005 as a multi-stage, touring, heavy metal festival headlined by Megadeth continued annually through 2008 before going on hiatus.  2012 saw the festival return to America heading indoors while featuring Megadeth, Motörhead, Volbeat and Lacuna Coil.
Out of the band during the first four Gigantours, Ellefson seemed excited to be part of his first and Megadeth's fifth.  "I think it's great.  A couple things about it... One: we were able to put together a lineup that I think is really fitting for today's metal scene.  Some new bands, like with Volbeat, and an established group like Lacuna Coil (And Motörhead of course being the forefathers who started this whole thing!).  And to do a festival thing, which I think is good for fans if they can pay one price and get a lot of entertainment, a lot of bang for the buck.  And to do it this time of year when there aren't very many tours or certainly any big package tours like this going out? I think it offers something good for the fans."
Gigantour brought Ellefson back to the Aragon Ballroom last Friday, a place Megadeth has played many times.  Host to countless rock shows over the years, metal always seems the genre of rock most capable of overcoming the notoriously poor sound of  the Aragon.  As was the case when I talked to Motörhead's Phil Campbell last week, the Aragon specifically is a place that Dave Ellefson enjoys playing with Megadeth.
"We've started at the very bottom.  The Metro all the way up to the World Music Theatre and the United Center.  Everything in between. The U.I.C. Pavilion.  Everything!  And here [The Aragon], gosh we've played here for so many years.  We've come back here so much, it's like a home away from home.  And it's a good metal venue.  It sounds like a metal venue.  It's so cool looking and ornate but it's stood the test of a lot of music over the years so fans can get rowdy and have a good time and not worry about trashing the place!"
Megadeth has never been afraid to cover controversial fare with their lyrics.  Politics, war and addiction have been covered at length, often in timely fashion.  And it was with that in mind that the band performed "Foreclosure of a Dream" Friday.  "Our bass player Dave Ellefson wrote this song and it has everything to do with our economy" said Mustaine as he introduced the song.
The performance was my favorite moment of the band's seventy-five minute Gigantour set and it was easily the evening's most poignant moment.
I asked Ellefson what it's like to see the crowd's passionate reaction to Megadeth's more politically charged music and he specifically referenced the often overlooked  Countdown gem.
"Dave [Mustaine] and I wrote a song together on Countdown to Extinction called "Foreclosure of a Dream" which we've now put in the set.  We've been playing it.  And Dave last night even introduced it and he said 'This song is just as appropriate twenty years later as it was when we wrote it in 1992.'  And boy is that ever the truth.  And I think that's the element about Megadeth is that our songs lyrically and musically have a timeless feature to them.  Maybe not all of them but by and large the catalog has that feature.
And I really noticed that even when we went out with 'The Big Four' and did those shows.  Our music didn't sound like 'Oh yeah, that's a throwback to 1986.' Or 'Remember when that was all popular back in 1991?'  Megadeth doesn't sound like a period piece.  It's definitely something that transcends time and because of those lyric topics and the way the lyrics are written they seem to just be something that's kind of like an onging, reoccurring narrative."
"The Big Four" were a series of shows that Megadeth performed in 2010 and 2011 designed to showcase thrash metal's all-time greats:  Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax.
As Megadeth approaches it's once improbable thirtieth anniversary, the band continues to thrive. Having come of age at the height of the major label recording system and continuing in an era where that system has begun to implode as music distribution continues its shift in focus to the internet, the band nevertheless saw TH1RT3EN debut at #11 on the Billboard 200 album chart this past November and Friday's Gigantour stop at the Aragon was nearly sold out.
"I don't necessarily consider Megadeth to be a legacy act.  We've always been a very active touring band.  All metal bands are I think.  Iron Maiden, Metallica, Motörhead, Megadeth, Slayer… We're constant touring machines.  So it's not like we ever went out of fad and out of vogue and had to rebuild like some of the other maybe bands from the seventies who sort of were broke up and then reformed when the offers for enough money came back on the table.  This is just what we do!  Before we put records out, we were doing this!  So I think for us, it's because of those fans over there that we're here.  And it's less about the record business than it is just the passion of our fans and for that we are very fortunate."
Touring is their business... and business is good.
BLUE CHEER, considered by some to be the Godfathers of heavy metal, are back.
On October 12, 2009, BLUE CHEER bassist and lead singer Richard Allan "Dickie" Peterson after a long fight against cancer. Tony Rainier, BLUE CHEER's guitarist from 1977 to 1988, recorded and toured with Peterson and has continued his guitar arrangements and songs for the band's resurgence. Along with Tony in the group's current incarnation is Luke Ayoso of the 1980s hard rock/glam band FRENCHEE on vocals, bass and lead guitar and a drummer to be announced.
ShroomAngel Records is planning to release several vinyl LPs and compact discs in order to showcase the Tony Rainier period of BLUE CHEER. One album currently being put together by the label consists of previously unreleased studio recordings made in 1978. ShroomAngel will also be culling together a live two-LP set featuring the band during their comeback tour of 1984 and on into 1985. A brand new vinyl LP is to also be released with a tour hopefully by the summer.
Commented BLUE CHEER's longtime manager Mike Bodack: "For those who had no right to say that BLUE CHEER is done, wake up! Dickie wouldn't want that. So all you 1%er's wake up, because, as Dickie would say, 'We need ya!' Keep BLUE CHEER going. The name and music will live on. See ya on the road soon. We are BLUE CHEER and this is what we will always do."
Visit ShroomAngel Records on Facebook for more information.
BLUE CHEER's last U.S. tour (featuring Peterson, founding drummer Paul Whaley, and guitarist Andrew "Duck" MacDonald) was in support of their 2007 release, "What Doesn't Kill You…", and had the band playing shows with the fourth generation of bands to follow in their path. Plans were underway for the band to tour in support of the 2009 Rainman Records DVD release of "Blue Cheer Rocks Europe" when Dickie's cancer was found. Tour plans were put on hold, but the first full-length concert DVD in the band's more-than-forty-year history was released without delay. The DVD includes not only the concert footage with 5.1 audio, but also included a Peterson voiceover commentary and a complete interview with the late leader of the band.
Former BLACK SABBATH singer Tony Martin has announced the 2012 lineup of his HEADLESS CROSS touring project.
The group, whose live set celebrates the SABBATH album "Headless Cross", consists of the following musicians:
* Tony Martin (BLACK SABBATH, THE CAGE) - Vocals
* Danny "Danté" Needham (VENOM) - Drums
* Geoff Nicholls (ex-BLACK SABBATH) - Keyboards
* Dario Mollo (VOODOO HILL, THE CAGE) - Guitar
* Magnus Rosén (ex-HAMMERFALL) – Bass
HEADLESS CROSS is scheduled to perform on the east coast of England at the end of July, with more appearances to be announced.
A slightly different lineup of HEADLESS CROSS — with Martin, Nicholls and Needham as the only holdovers — was scheduled to tour the U.S. in 2009 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of "Headless Cross", but was forced to cancel the trek at the last minute, reportedly due to promoter issues.
BLACK SABBATH released six albums with Tony Martin on vocals: "The Eternal Idol" (1987), "Headless Cross" (1989), "Tyr" (1990), "Cross Purposes" (1994), "Cross Purposes Live" (1995) and "Forbidden" (1995).
In a 2011 interview with CriticalMass.se, Martin made it clear that he was not interested in reuniting with BLACK SABBATH again. "Not the band," he said. "But I don't have any problems with the people, though. For example, I would work with Tony Iommi, maybe. It's just that I wouldn't like to do the same thing that I did before. Just singing Ozzy songs, Dio songs and all the rest of it and my music being pushed aside. That was my issue.
Martin also revealed that made fans will, unfortunately, not see him on tour that much anymore. "It's just too hard," he explained. "Every time we go out on the road, we lose money. They expect us to play for free or for less and less each time and we can't run an operation like that. It's just not possible. That's disappointing, 'cause I want to be out on the road! It's a natural place for a musician to be. Playing gigs is part of the fun. But you can't do it for nothing, and if you have to sell your house or your car or have to get a day job as an electrician or something to pay to go and play, then that's no fun and it's also damaging to your family and your life."
Martin's last solo album, "Scream", was released in November 2005 via MTM Music. The CD featured legendary drummer Cozy Powell (BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW, WHITESNAKE) on the track "Raising Hell" as well as songwriting contributions by another SABBATH member, Geoff Nicholls.
Pilar Rubio, a top Spanish model, "Dancing With The Stars" host, and designer/owner of Metalhead Clothing, will be featured as the cover model on the next album from Canadian metal veterans ANNIHILATOR. According to a posting on ANNIHLATOR's Facebook page, "The shoot was done by famed Spanish photographer Rebeca Saray and [Pilar] looks like the perfect cross between gorgeous and evil! As always, ANNIHILATOR's longtime artist Gyula Havancsak has done his genius magic to the chosen Pilar-is-evil photo!"
Pilar, who is said to be the girlfriend of the singer of the long-running Spanish metal band HAMLET, dropped by ANNIHILATOR mainman/guitarist Jeff Waters' bus last September in Madrid, Spain to hang out and see his Epiphone/Gibson metal guitar clinic. She's is a fan of the band and, of course, a metalhead!
ANNIHLATOR is currently working on its 14th studio release as well as a "special" recording that Waters describes as "a treat for the faithful ANNIHILATOR fans and a welcoming to our new fans." The band is also in talks with labels about a record deal for Canada and the USA.
ANNIHILATOR's self-titled album was released in Europe on May 17, 2010. The CD was made available in Europe via Earache Records, in Japan through Marquee and in Australia via Riot Entertainment. It was also released in the U.S. and Canada via iTunes and most all other digital/online outlets.
I was awaiting with great anxiety the debut album by Unisonic. The presence of Kiske and Hansen in the same band surely brings forth some of the best memories in heavy metal. Despite the fact that I'd expected more from that debut effort, I could not but underline that I was once again taken by storm with the sheer excellence and the unreachable level of Michael Kiske's voice! For all things Unisonic and not only, we are talking via Skype with Mr. Kiske...
Interview: Sakis Nikas
Rockpages.gr: Michael, how do you view Unisonic...as a real band or as a project?
Michael Kiske: This is a really band; a totally different situation from the years before…I mean, I was trying to form a band with Supared but in reality it was yet another Kiske solo record with a different name. You can't make bands; they just happen…and Unisonic happened! It was Kosta (Zafeiriou) and Dennis (Ward) approaching me, then Mandy (Meyer) stepped in and we were fooling around with songs for a couple of years. Then I went for a small tour with Avantasia and reconnected with Kai (Hansen). We thought that it would be a good time to do something together again and he was really the one who suggested that he should join Unisonic. But it needed some time! Unisonic with Kai started working towards the right direction. Before Kai, some songs were just OK and when he joined they started sounding really really good! A good example is the song "Star Rider"…Dennis wrote the verses and he had a chorus but it wasn't that good…when Kai heard it, he suggested to change a few things here and there and then, in a matter of 20 seconds, the chorus sounded excellent! That's what makes a real band. We work and discuss everything together. If someone doesn't like something, he says so. In the end we are trying to make everyone happy…
Rockpages.gr: That's great…I am asking this because in the last few years you have been heavily involved with many studio efforts like Place Vendome, the album with Amanda Sommerville and others...
Michael Kiske: I know what you mean…Unisonic is a real band. You see…the other things that I've done in the past were not as intense as Unisonic.
Rockpages.gr: So, from what I understand Kai Hansen was the missing link…
Michael Kiske: Yes, absolutely!
Rockpages.gr: Who thought of the name Unisonic?
Michael Kiske: We were fooling around with various names…there were some that I thought were OK; others that I didn't like. We ended up with the word "Unison" and transformed into that musical "Unison" called Unisonic. It's a very good name and it doesn't sound overblown. I am really happy with that name. It's just happened by fooling around with names.
Rockpages.gr: Before we go on with the rest of the questions, it's great to hear you so happy and excited about this band. We have talked a couple of times before but this is really the first time that you sound so optimistic about music.
Michael Kiske: Yeah, I know! I passed through some long phases of not being so excited about music in general. I had bad experience in the past with the music industry and I wanted for a while to keep my head out of it. But now it's different; I am really excited about something again and I am thinking: "I am 43-44 years old…it's now or never"! It's just the right time and my voice is still really good, I am in a great physical condition and I am really happy that this band came together. I haven't been in a real band for so many years now and as I said before, things take time and it's always a matter of the right timing. Unisonic just happened and I didn't have to do anything. It was beautiful.
Rockpages.gr: One small correction on what you said a few seconds ago…your voice is not very good, it's excellent!
Michael Kiske: (laughs) Thank you!  
Rockpages.gr: Lots of fans were thrilled when they learned that Kai Hansen would join the band. How did it feel for you to be working once again with him?
Michael Kiske: (It is) really great…Kai is a person that you really like to have around because he is always goofing around and he has a loveable personality. He likes to enjoy everyday as much as he can and he has this gift of making everybody around him laugh and have a great time. Back in the Helloween days, when Kai was in the band, the chemistry was great. When he left the band, it was a totally different situation. For me, personally, it turned into a nightmare. There was one particular person (ed.note: I guess, our readers understand who that particular person is) who always stubbing me behind my back. When Kai was in the band there was a great atmosphere within the band. It's the same thing with Unisonic…all the guys are awesome and it's fun to be around with them. To tell you the truth I don't really enjoy working in the studio and trying to keep up with all those time schedules and deadlines. I like to sing a song when I feel like it…when I am in the right mood. But you can't do that when you have a record deal with a big record label like earMusic that's putting their money into the band. You have to work hard and try to meet their deadlines. The biggest fun is when I am onstage or rehearse with the guys.
Rockpages.gr: Let's get back for a little bit to Kai Hansen…will his schedule with Gamma Ray interfere with Unisonic because from what I gather from his comments so far, Gamma Ray remains his priority?
Michael Kiske: Well, we will try to do it that way…one year he will focus on Unisonic and the next on Gamma Ray…but that doesn't mean that in between those bands will be inactive or something. When there is the "Gamma Ray Year", the priority will be given to Gamma Ray and there will be less things regarding Unisonic. I don't mind that, I really don't! I like that schedule, to be honest. I like the fact that there will be an intense Unisonic year and then an easy-going Unisonic year.
Rockpages.gr: Judging by the sound of your album, I'd say that the songwriting is obviously suited with your taste of melodic rock music and it's hardly considered a heavy metal album that many would probably expected. Do you agree?
Michael Kiske: First of all, I agree with you…this is a melodic rock record. I know what you mean though…with Kai in the band the fans expect a…heavy metal edge to the songs. The truth is that I like rock music and I really enjoy listening to some of my early metal records by Maiden and Priest. Take for example the song "Unisonic". It's a heavy metal song without any doubt…
Rockpages.gr: Yeah, but that's really the exception to the rule…
Michael Kiske: Well…maybe "My Sanctuary" is also kind of heavy, isn't it? It all depends on the definition of the term "heavy metal". Many people would consider the song "Star Rider" as heavy metal. I mean if you look at the "Keeper…" records, I have written songs like "We Got The Right" that nowadays are considered as melodic metal. What's really "metal"? In the end, everybody has his own definition. Some people who don't listen a lot to heavy rock music would even call Bon Jovi "heavy metal"! Others who are more into that brutal kind of metal like Korn, Slipknot and all the others would probably think that Unisonic is pop! The definition of "heavy metal" depends on the person who makes use of it. To me Unisonic's album is rock music combined with some melodic metal elements.
Rockpages.gr: Which Unisonic song would you suggest to someone who wanted to have a clear picture of what the band really is? 
Michael Kiske: That's a difficult one…I don't know because they are quite different. I would probably go for the ones that I like the most…let' see…definitely "Star Rider" or "King For A Day"…I like the fact that it's a diverse record.
Rockpages.gr: How about your touring schedule...how's the demand for the band from the promoters around the world?
Michael Kiske: We have done a lot of promotion in terms of interviews but touring is pretty easy going. We are not planning to overkill…what we are doing is 8 days of promotion with me and Kai flying to some countries around Europe and even Japan. We will focus on the radio stations and maybe play a couple of acoustic songs. After that we are preparing for a South American Tour…a small one, maybe 10 days or so. A couple of Japanese dates and then mainly festivals over the summer…so, as I said, we won't overkill…
Rockpages.gr: Well, in comparison with the previous years and your activities, this could easily be called "overkill"!
Michael Kiske: (laughs) Yes! I have to get used to it…of course! But I don't take anything for granted, you know…I really enjoy the fact that something is happening now for me. I can't wait to go out and travel. I have been sitting here in Hamburg for a long time…don't get me wrong, it's not that I didn't want to sit here...it was just the right thing at the time.
Rockpages.gr: Now that you say that, from your perspective, which was the turning point, the crucial point that made you wanna change your lifestyle?
Michael Kiske: It wasn't a single moment…I'd say it was more of a slow process.
Rockpages.gr: You have one of the best voices in rock music. How do you retain this high vocal level and what advice would you give to the young singers out there?
Michael Kiske: There are few things that you must be aware of…it's important to have the right technique. I mean when you have a healthy voice, it is possible to sing in almost all keys…as long as your voice is healthy! When your vocal chords are in great shape and your head is at the right place…because, let me tell you that your emotional state deeply reflects your voice. If you are suffering from depression or something, you won't be able to sing well. In addition, you have to learn how to sing high notes…it's not that difficult but you need the technique. You mustn't burn your voice…you must learn how to do it and constantly practice. If you believe you can do it, you will! But you should never force your voice because there is a good chance to make permanent damage to it.
Rockpages.gr: We have talked a couple of times in the past under different circumstances. But, now, I guess you are more open to talk about it...if the occasion arises would you be open for a possible reunion with Helloween?
Michael Kiske: I have the best part of Helloween in my band now! It's not really necessary to do a reunion. I am not friend with Mr. Weikath. I have always had a good relationship with Kai. Yes, we had our differences but it was never like we hated each other or something. Now, with Kai in the band we have every right to play songs from the Helloween days….just for fun. Songs that Kai has written or I have written. Of course, we won't play anything that Weikath has written! But the key tracks from the past, at least the majority of them, were written by Kai. We could play those songs live but I don't see any reason for a reunion. I know the press would love that but trust me it wouldn't be that fun. Let me tell you…just for the music, I would love to sing "Eagle Fly Free" as it was always one of my favorite tunes. The things that went on between me and Weikath…I don't forget that! I've never been more betrayed by any person…so, I don't see that (reunion) happening to be honest with you.
We managed to catch up with Fredrik Åkesson for a quick interview at the Opeth Summer storm Press Conference on 4th of February, at Hard Rock Café Bangalore. Fredrik has been with Opeth for about 5 years now and he is one of the best metal guitarists I have seen live. Here's the interview:
Mikhail Madnani: Hi Fredrik. Thank you for your time with IRMP3
Fredrik Åkesson: Good to be here talking to you.
Mikhail:  After you did your toured with arch enemy (featured on their DVD) and you joined Opeth how has the transition been from that band to Opeth?
Fredrik: It was different but luckily for me I got to join the band in the writing process for watershed which was a good thing. So if I compare it to arch enemy I was basically playing Chris Amott's parts but in Opeth I got to be part of the band and more involved. Of course music is very different. Opeth demands different styles of guitar playing and I had to practice to learn Mikael's style of guitar playing. I was a fan of the band before but it is a different thing listening and playing music. Now I have been in the band almost 5 years now so I feel very comfortable with this style.
Mikhail:  Opeth's been going in an obvious old school prog direction with a few songs on Watershed and completely on Heritage. Have you had any input into this or is it all Mikael?
Fredrik: I would say it is mostly Mikael. I do like the progressive parts. So many different elements of prog music. I think it is mainly the way Mikael feels when he starts writing a new album. I remember when I heard stuff that he wasn't gonna do any growls, I was a bit worried and asked if he was sure about it. When I heard the songs, I really liked them and there wasn't any room for death metal vocals on these songs. Some people think that he cant; do it anymore but that's bullshit. We've rehearsed and we're gonna play some of the heavy stuff tomorrow. The band does not want to repeat itself to maintain sales or anything. Many bands do the same thing to keep things rolling. I'm fortunate to be in a band where we sometimes make bold steps aside from the routine. But I still think the new album sounds like Opeth and it is definitely dark and moody.
Mikhail:   When everyone heard The Devil's Orchard everyone was skeptical because there were no growls at all and the style was so different. After giving it a few listens I think everyone understood it.
Fredrik: I agree. It is an album that takes a few listens to digest. Every Opeth album is like that where you discover more and more with each listen.
Mikhail:  In the song burden (which happens to be one of my favourite songs), I want to know whose idea it was to do the detuning at the end of the song?
Fredrik: It was a spontaneous idea we had in the studio during the recording. It was Mikael's idea for me to go and detune the guitars to make them sound like shit haha. But at the end I stumble on this box and Mikael started laughing and that is the ending which goes into the next song on the album. Some people hate that and I think we like the fact that it is a very beautiful part and that it kind of transforms into something ugly.
Mikhail:  Back to Heritage. When Roadrunner released the final album artwork, there were mixed opinions because it is very different from all the other Opeth album covers including Watershed. Who came up with the concept for the artwork?
Fredrik: Our manager Andy actually came up with the concept of the tree. He said I see a tree. It was collaboration between him and Mikael. He had a dream. Travis Smith did the artwork; he has done all the artwork since Still Life I believe. I think it connects with the 70′s prog rock feel that the music on the album has. It is more like an oil painting design. It is a bit fun but it is also dark. There's symbolism in there. The burning city and the 9 stars in the sky which represent the other Opeth albums. The sun is the 10th which is heritage. You have the death metal roots with the devil and hell at the bottom.
Mikhail:  On to some guitar questions. You just told us that you have been with Marshall for 2 days now officially and PRS. What effects do you use?
Fredrik: I use lots of Dunlop and MXR pedals. A guy in Sweden at SOS got a rack system for me. I like the old stomp-box idea. The idea is I don't have to run audio cables to the back of the pedal board so I keep everything at the back to keep the shortest path. Basically what I use is an MXR micro amp which is what I use for all the distorted tones. I have a carbon copy delay which I really like. I like the warm and analog echo. Univibe phasor with a bit more spacier tone. I use  a compression pedal for some of the finger picking parts. Also I use a jim Dunlop crybaby rack wah. I also use a Dunlop volume pedal which I love because it lets me do volume swells and the crunchy old school guitar sounds.
Mikhail:  In the last DVD at the Albert hall (Evolution XX) you did Blackwater park and then one song from each album. Can you comment on the Bangalore setlist since it is the first show of the new tour?
Fredrik: It is gonna be very different from the 2011 heritage tour we did in North America and Europe. We did an acoustic set there. Tomorrow we bring in some of the older heavier songs. We're gonna focus a bit on the new album but we're bringing in some old songs as well. You can expect more growls.
Mikhail:  How does it feel playing the old Opeth songs? Do you try and replicate the parts as they are on the album or do you like adding your own solos?
Fredrik: I try to play Peter's solos exactly as they are because I believe that the fans wanna hear them like that and I think they're really good as well. He played some interesting solos and it is inspiring learning those solos. Maybe in some songs we added some solos but not necessarily change a lot. For instance Mikael wanted me to do an improvised solo on Hope Leaves at the Royal Albert Hall. Only small parts are added sometimes but I want to keep it as original as possible.
Mikhail:  What are your favourite Opeth albums that you haven't been a part of?
Fredrik: Still Life. Actually I like them all. When we did the evolution XX tour, I really enjoyed playing a couple of songs from the first few albums and I really think we brought a new energy to the old songs. With Axe and everybody, those songs sounded really cool.
Mikhail:  Have you been involved in any of the old album re-masters that are being released like Still Life 5.1 mix? What are your views about re-mastering classics?
Fredrik: I think the re-master sounds better. The guitars sound better than the original here but usually people have a certain connection with the original and it takes a lot for them to stop listening to it and move to something that sounds different for the same songs.
Mikhail:  Which newer bands are you listening to in the metal scene?
Fredrik: I got the new Mastodon album. I think they're good and I went to see them live. I like the Ghost album as well, Opus Eponymous. I really like when Devin Townsend releases something new like Ziltoid. I used to listen to Nevermore when they were around. I'm curious to hear the new Meshuggah album. Those guys are good friends
Mikhail:  Thanks a lot for your time and enjoy the rest of your weekend in India.
Fredrik: My pleasure.
Former THE RUNAWAYS vocalist Cherie Currie has posted the following message on her Facebook page:
"I've had this recurring dream. It started about 25 years ago and in this dream I was sitting with a woman I had spent my teenaged years with, been through a lot with. We would talk, just 'be' and the dreams were so full of happiness, anticipation and this need to tell her what she meant to me.., how proud I was of her and what we had done together. That I loved her.
"I had that very dream again three weeks ago only to awaken to the realization that again, it was only a dream.
"Three days ago, I spoke to someone that knew this woman as I did back then and who had recently spent time with her after so many years. I told this mutual friend how I wished I could have that opportunity and how much it would mean to me. She offered to reach out on my behalf and pass along what I had waited so long to say.
The following day what felt like a miracle happened. I received an amazing email from this long-lost friend I have dreamed of all these years and she was as happy to hear that I wanted to see her as I was that she would want to see me.
"Tonight, that dream came true. It was joyful, sometimes tearful, yet so exhilarating and full of love. Just the two of us, feeling like teenagers again but with the maturity that 30+ years can bring, what life, being mothers will bring. We talked about our kids, our lives and our dream of doing together again what we had done so well as kids.
"She is everything and more than I could have imagined and I get to see her (my friend) again tomorrow night, introduce her to my son, Jake, and cheer her on.
"I no longer have to dream. I am now living that dream.
"I want to thank the mutual friend that brought us together, Joan Jett. And the long lost sister I have waited 30+ years for? Lita Ford.
"Yeah. Dreams DO come true. (Don't let anyone tell you it can't happen.)"
In 2010, the movie "The Runaways" was released starring Kristen Stewart of "Twilight" fame as singer Joan Jett. The band formed in 1975, with Ford on lead guitar. She was 16 at the time.
When asked about a possible reunion of THE RUNAWAYS, which broke up in 1979, Ford told the Naperville Sun, "I would love it [if a THE RUNAWAYS reunion were to happen]. I can't answer that question, but I would love it," she said. "We were ahead of our time. Now, people are realizing we were ahead of our time. We inspired so many different artists, and not just girls."
"The Runaways" was directed by Floria Sigismondi, who is best known for directing music videos by such artists as DAVID BOWIE, MARILYN MANSON, and SHERYL CROW.
Jett previously explained THE RUNAWAYS breakup to an interviewer, "I think it all really came down to musical differences. A couple of the girls wanted to go in a heavier direction and I wanted to stay with mainstream rock 'n' roll and punk rock. I was like, 'OK. Let's just say goodbye.'"
Lacuna Coil singer Cristina Scabbia says the band is getting heavier—and who would know better than she? Dark Adrenaline, the Italian group's sixth record, is loaded down with massive guitar riffs and arcing vocals and is certainly as heavy as any record they've ever made. Guitarist Cristiano Migliore plays crunching rhythms beneath Marco "Maus" Biazzi's wickedly inventive solos while the keyboards fill in the gaps with cinematic and haunting colors. "Trip the Darkness," the first single, is a plodding, half-time riff that looks to be the band's highest charting song to date. The track was also tagged as a remix for the recent Underworld: Awakening film. Once again teamed with producer Don Gilmore [he did the Shallow Life record], the band have brought together the symphonic and harmonic elements that have been their mainstay, mashed them up in a blender with electric guitars and crushing drums and produced their most significant album to date.
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Cristiano Migliore wants to talk about the new record but technology won't let him. Our phone conversation is interrupted five times by the vagaries of Skype and only when this writer calls him directly are we able to get on with the business at hand.
UG: Before we talk about music, a political question: Has the lousy economy in Europe and the U.S. affected the band?
Cristiano Migliore: To be honest with you, I didn't really notice any difference. Fans have always been very passionate about our music but I mean it's probably like that with any band they like. We were afraid that maybe with this crisis and stuff around the world, people wouldn't maybe go out to shows as much. But I think it's really not the case. I mean people really wanna go out and have fun and support their favorite bands and stuff. So we haven't seen a huge difference to be totally honest.
That's great to hear. Cristina had said she thought Lacuna Coil were getting heavier but other metal bands getting, in her words, "mellower." Would you agree?
Yeah [laughs]. I do agree. I don't know if it's something intentional of if it's just the way we feel when we write the new songs and stuff. Although we like to experiment a little bit, we just like to stay true to our origins. We all grew up listening a certain type of music and we still like it. Although we like a lot of stuff, a lot of different genres, we like to play heavy stuff and I guess that's what we are gonna do for the rest of our career.
Cristina also said, "We'll record anything we like." Would you ever get as adventurous as say, Korn and Mastodon did on their two last albums [The Path to Totality and The Hunter respectively]?
I think that's something you really have to be careful with. We like to record stuff that's different from time to time. For example, on Shallow Life, I think that was our most experimental record with songs like "I Like It" or "Underdog," which actually sound a little different than what we actually did before. And some of our fans didn't super like that you know. I know that people and fans in general tend to be very conservative when it comes to their favorite bands. They like that band because it gives them certain feelings and they can expect something. If you buy an AC/DC record you know exactly what you're gonna get.
I know and I agree that you have to be very open-minded and we always try to be but at the same time you have to draw a line in my opinion. There is a point that you shouldn't really go beyond because otherwise it's a big risk. Some of your fans may not actually really understand what you're trying to do. At the same time I know that as an artist you really want to try to do stuff that makes you move on and really stimulates your imagination and stuff like that and your will to play music.
There is definitely a line between pushing limits and changing who you are musically.
I think if you want to try to experiment more, you may want to try and do it with a side project or something. Although for some bands it actually works very well. I heard the new Korn and it's actually very different and I really like it—honestly it's a great album. But I don't know that all their diehard fans will actually enjoy that kind of change. I didn't have the chance to actually listen to the new Mastodon album.
It's like heavy Pink Floyd; it's an amazing record.
The way you describe it it sounds like something I would really like. But I like those guys and I really like the stuff they have done in the past. I think if that's something you feel like you wanna do, you should definitely go for it. It's a risk and it's something you have no guarantees that it's gonna work. But at the same time we're not in it for the money or otherwise we wouldn't be here anymore [laughs].
You drive around in Ferraris.
Oh, yeah yeah yeah. Absolutely!
"We were afraid that with this crisis and stuff around the world, people wouldn't maybe go out to shows as much."
Don Gilmore produced Dark Adrenaline and Shallow Life. You said that Shallow Life was kind of a change in direction for the band—was Gilmore in any way responsible for that?
When Don came in on Shallow Life most of the songs were already written. So he actually didn't really change the band or the way we sounded. That's exactly what we wanted to do at that time. He just came in and he helped us shape those songs and polish 'em off a little bit. At that time when we wrote those songs that was the kind of stuff we wanted to play. Shallow Life was experimental not because of Don coming in and trying to have us doing something that we were not but it was really like us wanting to do that kind of stuff. He just tried to make it sound as good as it could.
With Dark Adrenaline you knew where you wanted the band to go?
That's exactly the same thing that's happened with Dark Adrenaline. We always sit down and we don't know exactly what's gonna come out. We just start playing and record a few guitar riffs and keyboard parts and blah blah blah and we just try to mix them all together and then we see what happens. If we like it we just keep going and try to follow that same kind of direction and that'll be pretty much how the album will sound like.
Part of Dark Adrenaline was recorded back in Milan at the band's studio and a portion of it was done at Can Am Studios in Los Angeles. Did any of the American and the European studio vibes get transferred to the record?
The thing is it's utterly different when you have to go somewhere and you'll be recording in L.A. for example as opposed to being in Milan. But to be totally fair since you have to spend so much time in the studio it doesn't really matter where you are because you're not gonna be like looking outside of the window and seeing, I don't know, Sunset Boulevard for example. It doesn't really make that much difference.
The recording gear at Can Am [Guns N' Roses recorded Appetite For Destruction there] didn't make a difference?
The equipment is pretty much the same now everywhere in the world. If you rent a good studio you will have the same ProTools rig or a nice analog desk or whatever. It doesn't really make that much of a difference. That's why actually we decided to record our last album in Milan because we would save money by not having the band fly out to somewhere else in the world and stay and pay for hotels or an apartment or whatever. This way we could actually spend more time at home and be more relaxed. We knew at the end of the recording session at night, we'd go home and sleep in our own bed and take a mental break from the recordings and stuff.
The advancements in recording gear have really impacted on the creative process.
I can see how this would have maybe worked a few years ago where there was probably a difference in the equipment that you would have. But nowadays you can almost record an entire album at your own house if you have the right stuff. I can get my little TonePort by Line 6 and just plug my guitar in and record stuff with ProTools and it'll sound just as good as it will if I go to the studio and record. That's not really a big problem anymore. I think you can actually do very nice stuff anywhere if you have the right people to work with and they know all the ins and outs of how to work with certain stuff.
Then it just comes down to going into the studio—whatever studio it might be—and getting the music recorded.
Your thought process and your mental disposition when you are in the studio is pretty much the same. You know you have to go in and record as best as you can and try to get the best sound possible. That can be done whether it's L.A. or Milan or Paris or wherever.
Did you record solos in Milan?
It was funny because we recorded pretty much everything back in Milan. Then Marco, our bass player, Andrea and Cristina went to L.A. to record the vocal lines and part of the arrangements with the keyboard parts and the rest of the band including myself just stayed in Milan. We actually recorded all the missing parts at home using Line 6 TonePorts and then sent the files by Internet email. We actually recorded solos and other stuff at home and sent those to Don at the studio in L.A. and they just edited all the stuff that needed to be done and put it in the song and that was it.
Your solos on the record were amazing.
To be honest those solos were played by Maus, the other guitar player. He was actually the one who recorded all the solos on this new album.
That was stupid.
[Laughs] No worries but I just wanted to give credit to the one who actually did it.
You always play the solos.
I do but on this album there was just no chance to do it. When we play stuff, it's not like a competition between us. It's like whoever can play it better or has the best part that fits the song will actually do it. And for these kinds of songs and stuff, all the stuff he came up with sounded better than what I did. So it was actually pretty easy and democratic. We didn't really go, "Oh, no I want to do it. No, I'll do it." So we went that way.
In general, can a listener tell the difference between one of your solos and one of Marco's?
I'm not sure; it really depends on the song. I really like the stuff he did and I think his style fit very well with the songs. For example on "My Spirit," the last song on the album, I could have played a solo that could have been very close to what he did and that's the cool thing about it. I usually like to play the slower songs. He's more like the technical guy that plays the fast stuff. I think you would probably be able to recognize it, if there's a slow song on the album and there's a solo in it, 99 per cent it's gonna be me. But this time he was very productive and he did most of the other stuff like arrangements and changing other parts. It actually felt pretty natural that the solos were his.
On the other side, you were the sole guitar player on the In a Reverie album. Did you enjoy that experience?
It was a lot of work [laughs]. At that time I just joined the band. I mean I knew the guys—I've known the guys for a long time even before I joined the band and we were friends and used to hang out at the same bars—and when they needed new people because half of their band left they contacted me right away. I was like, "I'll do it." Before you know it we were in the studio recording all these songs and I was the only one there pretty much recording everything. It was crazy and back at that time we had to record everything analog so it was on tape and we did a lot of takes and stuff like that. It was very hard and it was fun for me because it was the very first time I would actually record a record professionally.
You were learning on the job.
Waldemar Sorychta [producer] was very understanding and very patient with me. One of the phrases I still remember today is "One more time." He would say that like every five minutes and that's not even a joke. It took a long, long time to record all those parts and I did everything. I co-wrote most of the songs with Marco; I recorded all the guitar parts; I did the solos and everything. It was cool but it was too much and I'm really glad that Maus is part of the band. When we're in the studio, there's no ego problems with us—whoever can record and nail a part down will do it. There are some parts I can play better and some parts he can play better and whoever can get it done the quickest that's it—he's got the part.
"There is a point that you shouldn't really go beyond because otherwise it's a big risk."
When Maus came into the band and recorded on Unleashed Memories, that was a completely different experience for you?
Absolutely. We always try to learn all the parts; the both of us learn all the parts and we try to see, "OK, who can play what better?" as I said before. It really makes a lot of difference because you don't have all that pressure on you. You're like, "OK, I'll try and if it doesn't work then he can try it." And I'm sure that one of us can actually get it right.
Could you sense a change in the music from In a Reverie to Unleashed Memories?
Yeah, for sure. I think there's been a growth in every album we released. It all comes down to touring and the bands you like; what you listen to; the movies you watch. There's a lot of stuff that changes you as a person and also as an artist. When you sit down and write new music that gets all reflected in it so there was definitely a difference. When we did In a Reverie, we wrote all those songs in a little over three months. I still used to have a job at that time so I'd work all day then go to the rehearsal room. I'd meet with the other guys and Marco and I would sit down and try to work on some of the stuff that he maybe tried to do and so.
By the time you did Unleashed Memories, the process must have changed.
It was little more relaxed. I would still work here and there to pay my bills and everything but I had a little more time to actually write songs. And the fact that Maus was also in the band was a good thing because we could actually exchange all those ideas and try to make things better. I mean three people working on music is better than one if you can agree on what direction you wanna go to. Yeah, it was good and it was different because Maus brought his own ideas to the table and I think that's always a good thing.
Certainly as you kept recording albums more and more people contributed to the writing process.
When we did Shallow Life, we all contributed like heavily on every song. I think I wrote like one-third of the album basically so it was really good. It was the way it's supposed to be and that's probably why it's the most diverse album we have. But then again it doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes you don't have the same creativity—you just sit there and nothing comes out. It's good that we have so many people involved and it doesn't really matter who does what.
Where did the cover of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" come from? Are you a R.E.M. fan?
We are but I'm not personally a huge R.E.M. fan. I like most of their stuff but it's not like I own all their albums or anything like that. But when we were recording Karmacode back in 2005, we had several songs we wanted to try and cover. We ended up doing "Enjoy the Silence" and actually "Losing My Religion" was on the list at that time. We then really never had the chance and never really sat down to try and do it anymore after that. We were like, "Oh, let's see what happens." When we started recording stuff for Shallow Life and writing new songs, we actually didn't even think it was necessary to do it. And then finally for some reason Marco sat down and started working on it and he actually was very creative and started coming up with really nice stuff.
Covering iconic songs can be risky for a band.
When you cover a famous song you need to do it right—you need to feel like you're doing something special and if not you might as well drop it. We also thought like that back when we were doing Karmacode to try and cover "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden. It didn't work—it sounded too similar to what they already did.
A song like that doesn't lend itself to interpretation.
How do you change it? It's very difficult. We also tried to do "A Question of Time" by Depeche Mode as well and it turned out like almost like a thrash metal song [laughs]. It really didn't fit at all. We liked it and it sounded pretty good but it didn't sound like us so we had to drop it. This time when Marco came to the rehearsal room and let us listen to what he did, we actually got very excited. It sounded really good and it sounded like one of our songs although you could tell it was still "Losing My Religion."
Do you listen to alternative bands like My Morning Jacket or the Black Keys?
I try to stay up to date and listen to as much stuff as possible and I like to listen to really any kind of music. I don't actually know the bands that you mentioned but I really like bands like Volbeat and newer bands like that. I also like other stuff that has nothing to do with rock or metal. It's a good thing to try and really find out if there's new stuff. Sometimes you actually lose your perspective on where the music is going towards and it's true.
Where do you find new bands to listen to?
I think the way you discover most bands at least for me is to go on tour. When you go on tour and you play with other bands sometimes you actually listen to bands you never heard before and that's how I discovered most of the bands I like. There are other times where you go to the store and listen to the radio or Internet or whatever. But sometimes you play with bands that maybe you never heard before and you're like, "Wow, these guys are great." That happened at Ozzfest and we played with a lot of metalcore bands like Atreyu and Unearthed and I never heard those guys before and that was right when the metalcore scene started booming. Most of those guys are great and I really like what they're doing. I think that's a really good way to actually find out—people should go out and see shows even if they don't really know those bands.
In 2012 you're doing the Gigantour with Megadeth, Motorhead and Volbeat. You feel a kinship with those kinds of bands?
I think so. At first when we started touring the U.S. and I'm gonna mention Ozzfest again when we did it in 2004, the second stage where we actually played pretty much only had metalcore bands playing. Slipknot and Lamb of God were headlining and we felt like we were gonna be out of place. We're like, "Oh, man, we're gonna be the softest band on the bill and people are gonna throw stuff at us and they're gonna hate it." And we ended up being the second best-selling band at FYE that year after Slipknot who just came out with their Subliminal Verses album. It totally blew us out and we were like, "Wow, we didn't expect this to happen."
"Fans in general tend to be very conservative when it comes to their favorite bands."
You think it's good to have concerts with different kinds of bands performing?
So yeah, I think no matter what the bill is, no matter who the bands you are gonna be playing with are, there's always place for you. Especially in the U.S., people are a little bit open-minded when it comes to listening to different bands. It doesn't have to be a bill where all the bands sound the same. I think it's also a little boring if you will. If you have different bands and they play different kinds of music, it's gonna make it all the more interesting.
"Trip the Darkness" was remixed by Ben Weinman and appeared in the Underworld: Awakening soundtrack. You talked about liking what Korn did with remixes so you were up for a project like this?
Yeah. A couple years ago we had a competition online where people could actually remix "To the Edge" that was on Karmacode. It was just fans who could actually get the tracks and do whatever they wanted and the stuff we got back was just unbelievable.
It was really good?
Some of that stuff was amazing. I remember at that time we sat down and we started listening to like hundreds of remixes. Some were OK and some were very different and maybe too different; some were cool and some were band. But it's incredible what people can do with your stuff—something you wouldn't even think of. They would totally change the song around and make it sound like something else. We were huge fans of the Underworld movies and when they told us they wanted to try and remix "Trip the Darkness" we were like, "Wow, yeah, let's do it."
What do you think of the remixed track?
I'm really happy with the result. I mean it sounds very different and it fits the movie atmosphere and everything and I like when that stuff happens.
Did you know Ben Weinman?
Yeah, we knew him because we once toured with Stolen Babies, this band from L.A. and their drummer Gil played in the Dillinger Escape Plan for a while. So we met those guys a few times and I actually didn't know before he did the remix that he was gonna do it. It was like, "Wow, that's cool" when I actually heard it was gonna be him. I was like, "Oh, that's interesting and that's awesome."
It's still the ESP and Line 6 gear for you?
Yeah absolutely. That's a winning team for us and it's been for a few years and there's no reason to change it.
Can you hear a difference in your guitar sounds back in the days of analog and now recording digitally?
You can. I can but that may also be because we developed a certain sound over the years. I think that if you used different equipment, if that's the sound you liked, you'd probably find it anyway. But we just get very comfortable with what we have. ESP and Line 6 have been amazing with us and they gave us tons of stuff. We actually like using them live and in the studio because live it's so easy with Line 6 stuff you just save all your sounds. You just have your floorboard down on stage and you get your sound wherever you want. You save them on your laptop and if you fly somewhere else you get a rental one and boom you put it on and there you go you have your same exact sounds. That's pretty handy and I must say we're really, really happy with the way they treated us.
Everything else is good with you?
Yeah, the album's gonna be released in a couple days and we can't wait because it's been ready for a long time. We can't wait until it's released so we can play some of the new stuff.
Polish female-fronted traditional heavy metal act CRYSTAL VIPER will release its new album, "Crimen Excepa", in Europe on April 27 and in the U.S. on April 24 via AFM Records. The concept effort about holy inquisition, black magic and witches, where fiction is mixed with historical facts, was produced by Bart Gabriel (SACRED STEEL, JACK STARR'S BURNING STARR) and recorded with sound engineer Mariusz Pietka (MORTICIAN, LONEWOLF).
"Crimen Excepta" will feature two special guests: David Bower, vocalist of HELL will appear in the title track, while VADER mainman Piotr "Peter" Wiwczarek will be heard in the cover version of the classic VADER song "Tyrani Piekiel", which will be available as the bonus track on the first, limited edition of the album.
"Crimen Excepta" track listing: (Note: Even-numbered songs are "hidden" bonus tracks.)
01. Witch's Mark
03. Child Of The Flame
05. It's Your Omen
07. Crimen Excepta (feat. David Bower)
09. Medicus Animarum
11. The Spell Of Death
13. Hope Is Gone, Here's New Law
15. Fire Be My Gates
CD Bonus tracks:
17. Tyrani Piekiel (VADER cover, feat. Piotr "Peter" Wiwczarek)
18. Ghosts Of Sherwood (from the "Robin Hood: Ghosts Of Sherwood" motion picture soundtrack)
"We already announced that fans should expect the unexpected," says CRYSTAL VIPER frontwoman Marta Gabriel. "The new album is different than everything CRYSTAL VIPER did in the past. Of course it's still traditonal metal, and it's still CRYSTAL VIPER — but this time, everything was different, starting from the compositions, through our attitude and inspirations, up to equipment we used and the recording session itself."
She adds, "It was amazing to have Peter in the studio. We all are huge fans of VADER, and I think he was also amazed when he heard how our voices sound together in this heavy metal version of 'Tyrani Piekiel'. And when you will hear the lines of William The Judge recorded by David of HELL, you will have your jaw on the floor. We had."
CRYSTAL VIPER's last album, "Legends", was released in October 2010 via AFM Records. The CD's lyrics were based on the original Polish legends from the middle ages. The effort's cover artwork was painted by the French artist Chris Moyen, who has previously worked with SLAYER, TRIVIUM, BEHERIT and BLASPHEMY.
Florida rockers NONPOINT have entered Groovemaster Studios in Chicago, Illinois with Grammy-nominated producer Johnny K (DISTURBED, STAIND, MEGADETH) to begin recording their seventh album, due later in the year via the band's new label home, Razor & Tie.
Founding NONPOINT members Elias Soriano (vocals) and Robb Rivera (drums) last year welcomed three new members to the family: Dave Lizzio (guitar), Adam Wolosyzn (bass), and Rasheed Thomas (guitar). All three musicians come from the Chicago-based rock act INN CINEMA.
Commented Soriano: "We're proud to officially announce the new members of NONPOINT. Dave Lizzio, Rasheed Thomas and Adam Woloszyn have been chased by bands in the Chicago area for years and somehow by a stroke of luck and timing, we now have three of the freshest, most talented players on our team. These guys are great players and even better people.
"From day one, the new writing process has been full of great ideas and open minds, and now adding Johnny K into the formula has Robb and I very excited. After listening to the demos, Johnny K said, 'It's easy to find someone to play guitar for a band. It's hard to accomplish what you have by finding Dave, Rasheed and Adam, and that's finding people who can write amazing riffs.' From that point on I knew: This new lineup and record will be epic in the chronicle of NONPOINT."
NONPOINT last year parted ways with guitarist Zach Broderick and founding bassist Ken MacMillan.
The band's latest album, "Miracle", sold around 8,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 60 on The Billboard 200 chart.
"Miracle" was released in Europe on June 14, 2010 via Powerage Records. The CD was made available in the U.S. on May 4, 2010 via the band's own 954 Records in partnership with Rocket Science Ventures / RED / Sony.
NONPOINT's current lineup:
Elias Soriano - Vocals
Robb Rivera - Drums
Rasheed Thomas - Guitar
Dave Lizzio - Guitar
Adam Woloszyn – Bass
DENIED, the Swedish metal band featuring vocalist Johan Fahlberg (JADED HEART) and bassist Fredrik Isaksson (formerly of THERION and GRAVE), is recording its third album with producer Fredrik Folkare (UNLEASHED) for a spring release via an as-yet-undetermined record label. Two newly recorded songs — "In Hell" and "Garden Of Stone" — can be streamed at the band's official web site.
DENIED was formed in Upplands Väsby, Stockholm, Sweden in 2003 by Andreas Carlsson. Devoted to heavy-yet-melodic metal, he wanted to expand his vision beyond a simple dream. The band recorded its first album, "Seven Times Your Sin", in 2005 and supported it with local gigs.
In September 2005, DENIED underwent its first lineup change when bassist Robert Stellmar and drummer Pete Dolls were recruited. The group's second album, "New Army For The Old Revolution", saw the light of day in late 2008.
In 2009, DENIED enlisted longtime friend Fahlberg as their new vocalist and in November of that same year, guitarist Chris Vowden joined the group. In May 2011 the band parted ways with Stellmar and recruited Isaksson.
DENIED has "earned a reputation as a great live act from their performances in various rock clubs in the Stockholm area," according to a press release." Through the years, DENIED has supported such acts as DREAM EVIL, SISTER SIN and ENTOMBED. Their ability to work the crowd and drive them into a frenzy has become a trademark for DENIED."
Finnish metallers KALMAH have announced the addition of keyboardist Veli-Matti Kananen (ONE MORNING LEFT) to the group's ranks. The band states, "Velski has already played session gigs with us in Russia and Switzerland so we knew his skills and most of all his state of mindlessness."
In other news, KALMAH has commenced the songwriting sessions for its seventh full-length album album, which the band hopes to begin recording at the end of the year. The group states, "So far we have four songs on the way — fast and warped. [A] new video will be shot next summer with mosquitos and Finnish swamp soil. [The] song for the video has already been chosen."
Keyboardist Marco Sneck left KALMAH last summer after seven years and three albums with the band.
KALMAH's sixth album, "12 Gauge", entered the official chart in the Finland at position No. 15. The CD was recorded between June and August 2009 at Tico Tico studio in Kemi, Finland and was mastered at the Cutting Room in Sweden.
Former DIMMU BORGIR and current BORKNAGAR member ICS Vortex (real name: Simen Hestnæs) will perform live for the first time with his solo band at this weekend's prestigious Finnish Metal Expo in Helsinki.
The ICS Vortex band lineup for the event will be as follows:
ICS Vortex - Guitar/Vocals
Jens Ryland - Guitar
Steinar Gundersen - Bass
Baard Kolstad - Drums
Commented ICS Vortex: "My buddy Asgeir Mickelson recently (and undramatically) handed over the drums to Baard Kolstad.
"I was not planning on guitar work live, but since Terje Andersen's [a.k.a. Cyrus; SUSPERIA, SATYRICON, DIMMU BORGIR] duties elsewhere for the second time collided with ICS Vortex, we decided together that it is was best to let go and part as friends."
ICS Vortex will also takie part of a special signing session at FME (at the Century Media booth) on Friday, February 17 at 6:15 p.m. The stage time for their show is 9:15 p.m. - 10 p.m, just before PARADISE LOST and EDGUY.
ICS Vortex's solo album, "Storm Seeker", was released last August via Century Media Records.
The track listing for the CD is as follows:
01. The Blackmobile
02. Odin's Tree
03. Skoal!
04. Dogsmacked
05. Aces
06. Windward
07. When Shuffled Off
08. Oil In Water
09. Storm Seeker
10. Flaskeskipper
11. The Sub Mariner
ICS Vortex describes "Storm Seeker" as "a tribute to the fall and rise of my kind. A generation of misfits, born of hippies and raised by Satan."
Regarding the influences that went into the making of the album, ICS Vortex said, "Inspiration is usually drawn from the things that are close to me. I always write in code, it's often doom related, but never ever whiny. The power of the elements, obscure beauty, religion, death and junk are a few favorites. Knowing I am drawn to the power of the dark side, I decided to include lighter topics into the mix this time to separate 'Storm Seeker' from 'Sideshow Symphonies': 'The Blackmobile' about Mopar and 'Aces' about gambling are the result. Love songs, really."
"Storm Seeker" was released in Europe as initial limited-edition digipak, 180-gram LP and as a digital download. According to a press release, the CD "takes the musical elements from [ICS Vortex's] 10-plus years of experience with DIMMU BORGIR as well as the legacy of the classic bands with whom he is still active (BORKNAGAR, ARCTURUS and LAMENTED SOULS), topping things off with his signature clean vocals in order to make 'Storm Seeker' become a perfectly balanced axe, whether a song is cutting fast, or dicing slow."
"Storm Seeker" features appearances by ICS Vortex's BORKNAGAR bandmate Asgeir Mickelson on drums and Terje "Cyrus" Andersen (SUSPERIA, DIMMU BORGIR) on lead guitar. The CD was recorded at Toproom Studio (MAYHEM, TRISTANIA, BORKNAGAR) with engineer Børge Finstad and mastered by Peter in de Betou at Tailor Maid Studio (ARCH ENEMY, DARK TANQUILLITY, DIMMU BORGIR) in Sweden.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/icsvortexofficial.
THE INIQUITY DESCENT, the extreme-metal project featuring vocalist Mathias "Vreth" Lillmåns of Finnish folk metallers FINNTROLL, will release its debut album, "The Human Apheresis", on May 25 via Massacre Records.
The track listing for the CD is as follows:
01. In Prostration
02. An Empty Temple
03. The Human Apheresis
04. Obedience Torn
05. Collector Vs Protector
06. Believers In The Apotheosis; Imaginary Ectoplasmic Hands
07. Decimate, Disintegrate
08. Trust The Serpent
09. The Invisible
10. Infected
THE INIQUITY DESCENT released its debut EP, "Trust The Serpent", in November 2010. The CD was mastered at Nordic Audio Labs by Sami "Hannu" Koivisto and contains four songs (out of 11 that were tracked).
Mathias Lillmåns - Vocals
Mikael Mannström - Guitars
Philip Kerbs - Guitars
Jonas Frilund - Bass
Kenna Nygård - Drums
"Nocebo", the fifth album from Lemi, Finland-based metallers STAM1NA, has entered the official chart in the band's home country at position No. 1. The CD has already been certified gold in Finland for sales in excess of 10,000 copies.
STAM1NA will be presented with gold plaques for "Nocebo" on February 18 during their appearance at the Finnish Metal Expo where they will also perform the album in its entirety.
"Nocebo" was released on February 8 via Sakara Records. The CD was recorded at Petrax studios with producer Joe Barresi (TOOL, BAD RELIGION, APOCALYPTICA, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, WOLFMOTHER).
"Nocebo" track listing:
01. Pirunpaska
02. Valtiaan uudet vaateet
03. Tavastia palamaan!
04. Puolikas ihminen
05. Aivohalvaus
06. Rabies
07. Lepositeet
08. Nomad
09. Ei encorea
10. Arveton on arvoton
The digipack version of "Nocebo" comes with an extended booklet and a DVD containing a half-hour "making-of" documentary, filmed at Petrax studios and produced by STAM1NA's bassist, Kai-Pekka Kangasmäki.
STAM1NA will promote the release of "Nocebo" by embarking on a spring 2012 tour of Finland, dubbed "Irti arjesta".
For an updated list of tour dates, go to this location.
According to a press release, the collaboration between Barresi and STAM1NA came about as a result of a meeting the producer had with the band in February 2010 when Joe was in Helsinki working on the latest APOCALYPTICA album.
STAM1NA was honored in the "Metal Album Of The Year" and "Band Of The Year" categories at last year's Emma Gaala (Finnish Grammy equivalent), which was held on February 26, 2011 at Barona Areena in Espoo, Finland.
GRAVEYARD was honored with the "Best Hard Rock/Metal" award at the Swedish "Grammis" gala, which was held last night (Tuesday, February 14) at Kungliga Operan in Stockholm.
The nominees in the "Best Hard Rock/Metal" category were as follows:
* GRAVEYARD - "Hisingen Blues"
* HAMMERFALL - "Infected"
* IN FLAMES - "Sounds Of A Playground Fading"
* OPETH - "Heritage"
* THE HAUNTED - "Unseen"
The bands were all nominated for their most recent releases, all of which came out during 2011.
Last year's Grammis award in the "Best Hard Rock" category went to WATAIN for the band's "Lawless Darkness" album.
GRAVEYARD's second full-length album, "Hisingen Blues", sold 1,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release. The CD landed at position No. 48 on the Top New Artist Albums (Heatseekers) chart, which lists the best-selling albums by new and developing artists, defined as those who have never appeared in the Top 100 of The Billboard 200.
"Hisingen Blues" entered the official chart in Sweden at position No. 1. The CD, which was released in North America on April 19, 2011 via Nuclear Blast Records, was produced, recorded, and mixed in 100 percent analog by Don Alsterberg (JOSÉ GONZALES, JUNIP, SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES, THE INTERNATIONAL NOISE CONSPIRACY) at Don Pierre Studios in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The first look at the packaging for "Out To Die", the fifth full-length studio album from Norway's blackened thrashers AURA NOIR, is available below. The CD is scheduled for release on March 23 in Europe and March 27 in North America via Indie Recordings.
Speaking to Terrorizer magazine shortly after a recent listening session in Oslo, AURA NOIR guitarist/vocalist Aggressor stated about the band's new CD, "It feels right. That's all I can say really. I'm not sitting here digging it; it's more like I'm content with having the finished product there, and now we can go play live. Because I think our music comes into its element when we're playing live. For me, a new album is like, 'Okay, we have more songs to play live now.'"
"Out To Die" marks the return of guitarist Rune Eriksen (a.k.a. ex-MAYHEM guitarist/songwriter Blasphemer), who now resides in Portugal and leads his own band AVA INFERI. Eriksen made several trips back to Norway to work on the new AURA NOIR songs with Aggressor and Apollyon (guitar, bass, vocals, drums; also bassist in IMMORTAL).
"I wish we were all living in the same apartment and rehearsing every day, all three of us together, but obviously that's not possible because we have our private lives and everything," Aggressor told Terrorizer. "But it brought about some new ways of working, and it actually worked out okay in the end."
"Out To Die" track listing:
01. Trenches
02. Fed To The Flames
03. Abbadon
04. The Grin From The Gallows
05. Withheld
06. Priest's Hellish Fiend
07. Deathwish
08. Out To Die
Legendary Swedish grinders NASUM will play several North American shows in May as part of their "farewell" tour. So far the following dates have been leaked (not yet confirmed by the band):
May 19 - Cleveland, OH @ Now That's Class (w/ BRUTAL TRUTH, DROPDEAD)
May 21 - Montreal, QC @ Sala Rossa (w/ BRUTAL TRUTH, DROPDEAD)
May 24 - New York, NY @ Europa (w/ BRUTAL TRUTH, DROPDEAD) *
May 25 - Baltimore, MD @ Maryland Deathfest *
May 28 - Oakland, CA @ Oakland Metro (w/ EXHUMED)
May 29 - Ventura, CA @ Billy O's (w/ EXHUMED)
May 31 - Austin, TX @ Chaos In Tejas *
* Officially confirmed by NASUM on the band's official web site
NASUM was hit hard by the passing of guitarist and co-founder Mieszko Talarczyk in the 2004 Asian tsunami, but has announced the farewell performances to mark the group's 20th anniversary and close the book on the wildly influential band.
In a joint statement, the members of NASUM (Anders Jakobson: drums, Jesper Liveröd: bass/vocals, Urab Skytt: guitars, Jon Lindquist: guitars/vocals) had the following to say:
"You thought NASUM was dead? We are. This is not resurrection. It's farewell, for good.
"If things were different, if Mieszko hadn't died, NASUM would have celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012, believe it or not. Therefore, and after long deliberation and scrutiny, we have decided that it's now or never: NASUM will do a handful of shows and festival gigs around the world in 2012 — to celebrate our anniversary, say a final goodbye to the fans and Mieszko.
"No cheesy reunion, no new albums, no epitaph for Mieszko. We will play only a few cities and festivals in a limited number of disruptive, unruly concerts.
"It will be a total blast, and we aim to go out hard. Just you wait.
"When lead singer Mieszko Talarczyk disappeared and died in the devastating and tragic tsunami of 2004, NASUM instantly ceased to exist. As the band's voice, producer and one of the main songwriters, Mieszko was a vital part of NASUM's bloodline. When he passed, all plans for tours and recordings were abruptly stopped. NASUM died when Mieszko died, and the rest of the band members went their separate ways.
"But in the years that passed, the feeling that everything had been left unfinished lingered with the rest of us. Suddenly seven years had passed, and we realized it was time for closure; for us, the band and for the fans. With our anniversary coming up it felt like a perfect time to end NASUM the way it was supposed to — exploding in a ferocious, blasting frenzy, not wither away at the mercy of tragedy. And finally we are ready, able and totally fucking charged, so expect something over the top. The shows will be a varied, intense mix of the best songs from this colossus of grind.
"To handle vocal duties on the upcoming shows we have asked Keijo Niinimaa, vocalist in Finnish grind faves ROTTEN SOUND, to join us. They were always close friends of NASUM, and while Keijo's plagued screams won't replace Mieszko, they will add a crippling viciousness to the shows. On a few occasions, we might ask a few other close friends of NASUM to do some vocal sessions. Who? Wait and see!
"Note this: if you ever wanted to see NASUM blast shit to bits, this is your last and only chance."
NASUM 2012 is:
Anders Jakobson - Drums
Jesper Liveröd - Bass And Low Vocals
Jon Lindqvist - Guitars And Low Vocals
Urban Skytt - Guitars
Keijo Niinimaa – Vocals
Brooklyn's "filthy black metal" band MUTILATION RITES has completed recording its debut album in Baltimore, Maryland with Kevin Bernsten (TRIAC) for a spring release via Prosthetic Records. The band has also announced a string of dates in March which will see them playing several shows at Austin's annual South By Southwest (SXSW) music conference.
MUTILATION RITES was conceived by Michael Dimmitt and Justin Ennis in January 2009 and after various incarnations, solidified with the addition of George Paul and Iain Deaderick. Members have done time in acts such as TOMBS, HEURISTIC and CURENDERA. They draw influences from such acts as DARKTHRONE, DISCHARGE, DISSECTION and WEAKLING.

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