[Classic_Rock_Forever] Dio, Metallica, The Cult, Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Europe and tons more hard rock and heavy metal news


Former DIO and current DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell revealed last week that he is planning to join forces with three other original DIO members to play "some gigs" that will see the musicians performing material from the early DIO records that Campbell appeared on. Campbell, Vinny Appice (drums), Jimmy Bain (bass) and Claude Schnell (keyboards) will be accompanied by singer Andy Freeman, who has previously fronted HURRICANE and LYNCH MOB.

Campbell and Ronnie James Dio worked together on the first three DIO albums 1983's "Holy Diver", 1984's "The Last in Line" and 1985's "Sacred Heart" — before Irishman Campbell left to join WHITESNAKE in 1987. Their subsequent relationship was strained, to say the least.

"In my opinion, Vivian no longer had the commitment to the band he had in the early days," Ronnie said a short time before his death in May 2010. "He was — and remains — an excellent guitarist. I never lost sight of how good he was as a musician, but as a person… Well, he was no longer on the same page as the rest of us. That annoyed me hugely. When you've got four people really stretching and straining to do their very best, and one person who's clearly holding back, it makes for an unhappy camp. A lot of negative things have been said since by both Vivian and me… Now, I regret some of those things. I'm sure he does, too."

Speaking to U.K.'s Metal Hammer for the magazine's May 2012 issue which features a six-page spotlight on DIO, Bain said about Campbell's exit from the group, "Viv did nothing that warranted his removal from the band in what is still considered to be a cowardly way. For me, firing Viv was the biggest mistake of Ronnie's career. The problem could've easily been resolved if there had a been a will to do so from Ronnie and Wendy [Dio, the band's manager and Ronnie's wife]."

Vinny also regretted Vivian's departure although he was a little more diplomatic in his comments on the situation.

"Viv wasn't happy with the business part of the band, and musically wanted to pursue something else," Vinny said. "If he had been happy with the business end of it, he probably would've stayed and made a few more records with us. We had a successful, great band with Viv, and it was unfortunate to change ingredients."

Bain also felt that DIO was in decline by the time the band released "Sacred Heart".

"DIO should have gotten better with each album, but what happened was the opposite," Jimmy told Metal Hammer. "The production was watered down with all the keyboards, [and] the songs were not as good because it became harder to satisfy Ronnie's need to complicate arrangement and structure."

Bain, Campbell, Appice, Schnell and Freeman "had a couple of rehearsals" last week "and it sounds great," the bassist said.

He added, "Listening to Vivian playing those songs again has been amazing. He's just so into it doing this, and his enthusiasm has rubbed off on the rest of us.

"Andy isn't Ronnie. How could he be? But what he does bring is his own twist on the vocals."

"Our aim is to do some shows around November, concentrating on the first two DIO albums. It's gonna be great getting back onstage with these guys for the first time in so long."

In a May 2011 interview with Brazil's Roadie Crew magazine, Wendy Dio stated about the controversy surrounding Ronnie's relationship with Campbell (in a 2003 interview Vivian called Ronnie "an awful businessman and, way more importantly, one of the vilest people in the industry."), "[Vivian] always said that he hated all the albums that he played on with Ronnie, and that was very hurtful to Ronnie. Very hurtful. Would you like someone who said something like that about your albums? He said a lot of things in the press that I don't wanna get into, because it really wasn't Ronnie's feud at all. Ronnie didn't fire him. I fired [Vivian]. He wanted as much money as Ronnie wanted. He thought he was as important as Ronnie was, and that was just wrong. But I don't wanna get into that. It's water under the bridge. It doesn't matter."
METALLICA guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich were interviewed for a cover story in the May 2012 issue of U.K.'s Metal Hammer magazine. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

On the progress of the songwriting sessions for the next METALLICA album:

Lars: We're circling the new stuff. We've started writing a little more in stages. There's so many projects that we do all the time When we wrote the 'black album,' we started writing it and we finished writing it without anything else [going on] — it was three months, boom. We don't do it like that anymore. We'll write for awhile and we'll go to Brazil and then we'll come back and go do a week's worth of shows with Lou Reed, and then we'll write for two weeks and then we'll pick our noses and we'll do something else and then we'll play the Fillmore, you know what I mean? So it's difficult to be cohesive in an interview about it. I don't really have any direction yet, and I've heard most of it. It sounds heavy and energetic and very METALLICA-like, but whether it's more like 'Death Magnetic' or more like this or that, I don't know."

On whether METALLICA is planning on working with producer Rick Rubin again on their next studio album:

Lars: "Rick is a lot about creating comfort and atmosphere and a vibe, and right now that's kinda how it's looking. We haven't sat down and gone to the next level on direction and practical elements and all that type of stuff. I saw Rick in L.A. two weeks ago and we talked about him coming up to San Francisco in March or April to start talking about the process, but as yu know, we've got another couple of balls in the air with our movie and live dates and the Orion festival. It never ends, and right now some of these balls are quite time-consuming. Rick is not a one-trick pony; he builds a particular ease around whatever your task is, so I think whatever we want to do for this next record, he will help us with that, whatever it may be."

James: "He's a different kind of producer. He's challenging. He's a very cut-and-dried, to-the-point kind of producer, but he's also very open, and open to lots of ideas. He does have lots of great ideas of his own as well. But I think that the main thing for us was getting to the core and essence of METALLICA, and that's the reason we chose to work with him. He gets the best out of artists that have been around for a while, I believe. And he helps you get back to that essence. That's what we wanted him for."

On whether they were successful in getting back to the essence of METALLICA on "Death Magnetic":

James: "I believe so. And, you know, that was just part of the goal. We don't really sit down and plan it outm like, 'What do we want this album to be?' It just happens. That's the way art's supposed to work. It is what it is. We don't try to mould it too much, because the more you try to mould it and the more you try to please, the more you have to compromise and the less of a statement it becomes. So these things that we do, they are what they are and people like 'em or don't like 'em. That's part of having an ever-changing fanbase, I guess. [Laughs] We do things because we feel the need to do them. Simple as that."

Lars: "We have an absurd thirst for going into uncharted territory, and there are obviously some hardcore people in the metal community who have a disdain for that, but that's OK It's something that we have to do, because it would kill us to keep doing the same thing and stagnate. A festival, a movie, a Lou Reed album, and spinkled in between those, all the live dates and records, is something that, for better or worse, we have to do for ourselves."
THE CULT will be the musical guest on ABC-TV's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on Friday, May 18. The band will perform on the show's outdoor stage in front of a standing-room-only crowd.

"Jimmy Kimmel Live!" airs at 12:05 a.m. ET and PT/11:05 p.m. CT

As previously reported, THE CULT will guest on the nationally syndicated radio show "Rockline" with host Bob Coburn on Wednesday, May 23 at 8:30 p.m. PT / 11:30 p.m. ET. Fans are encouraged to speak with THE CULT by calling 1-800-344-ROCK (7625). The show will be streamed on the "Rockline" web site for two weeks beginning the afternoon after the live broadcast.

For more information, visit RocklineRadio.com.

THE CULT's film clip for their new single, "For The Animals", from their forthcoming "Choice Of Weapon" album, reflects the socially and economically divided world that we find ourselves facing.

"'For The Animals' is a metaphor for people existing in a realm outside of structured society and what cultural editors deem to be relevant," explains THE CULT's lead singer Ian Astbury. "It could be the feral punk rock kids squatting in abandoned homes or the spirited individual who has little regard for social conventions. It's for people who choose not to tow the party line or try to fit in. It's for the free-thinkers who are creative and dynamic."

With the film clip, THE CULT has captured the rising tensions and frustration of a growing group of disenfranchised youth. The provocative clip, from visionary director Michelle Peerali and starring hot young actress Hanna Mosqueda as the lead character, portrays the 19-year-old protagonist transforming from a lost and abandoned youth, overwhelmed by the state of the world large and at her own poor economic status and broken family at home, into an empowered strong woman who finds her inner strength in the end.

In the film clip, we see the lead character navigate a chaotic world looking for an answer only to realize in the end that what she was looking for all along was within her the whole time. "She realizes that the only solution for change is actually within her. It's about her self-awareness, inner strength, and waking her internal life, realizing she has to take command of the situation and has the power to break through," says Astbury, who appears in a cameo role along with band mates Billy Duffy (guitar), John Tempesta (drums), and Chris Wyse (bass). "In the end, she finds others who feel the same way. The message being, 'if you feel you don't fit it, it's okay. There are others out there. The tribe is there.'"

As Astbury sings in "For The Animals", the song and film clip is "for all the fucked up children staring down the barrel of a gun," a real and metaphorical image, the social, economic, and environmental cards this generation of youth has been dealt. It's a theme that is put into sharp focus by an aware Astbury on the band's new album, "Choice Of Weapon", due May 22 on Cooking Vinyl.

"Your choice of weapon can be anything you use to deal with your world. It could be self-knowledge. I think we're at a crossroads, as individuals and as a society, to define our intentions in life. What do you choose to do with your life? What do you need to really flourish? How do I not get stuck being a slave to convention? And as the character in the film clip writes on the wall, 'How many more ways will they find to reinvent boredom?'"

These are just some of the observations THE CULT shares in "For The Animals" and on "Choice Of Weapon".
Icon Vs. Icon recently conducted an interview with Rob Zombie. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.

Icon Vs. Icon: You work in the worlds of music and film certainly inspired many people through the years. Looking back on your career, did you think you would be still going strong all these years later?

Rob: Not in the early days, no. There was a point when I realized, a couple of years ago, that, "Yeah, I guess this could go on forever if you really wanted it to." Which is pretty weird! But back in the early days, you just didn't know. I mean, you didn't know about anybody. No one knows if it's gonna last, even if you are THE BEATLES or THE ROLLING STONES, you just really don't. Now I realize that nothing really goes away, everything goes as long as possible, so it is great. But did I think I would still be going? No. Who knew?! Who knew you could make it last too long — around 20 years!

Icon Vs. Icon: You endured so many changes in the music industry since you started out and outlasted many of your peers. To what do you attribute your longevity in this ever-evolving industry?

Rob: Basically, I guess it would be that I am not trying to be a trend-jumper. That is the main thing. I mean, I pay attention to what is going on in the industry because you don't want to live in a vacuum and you have to understand the business you try and function in because you have to understand the business side of things just to survive. With that being said, I also like to stay within my own bubble of "This is what I do." I think a lot of times, the bands that have crashed and burned are the ones that have tried to change and pretend by saying, "Oh, now we are that style too!" It was like when all the hair metal bands decided, "No, no! We have flannel stuff too! We are grunge rock." Everybody starts jumping these trends and doing these bullshit moves. That always backfires. I have always been ahead of the curve, behind the curve or I just don't know where the curve is, I don't know, but that seems to have worked in my favor.

Icon Vs. Icon: Looking back on your body of work, you evolved greatly as an artist. Is there something you are doing differently now as opposed to when you started out?

Rob: I think the main thing that I don't do is worry as much. When you are starting out, every little thing seems like it is going to be the end of the world because you don't know. Maybe it is. Every little move seems like it could be the end of your career or the biggest disaster. As time goes on, you sort of calm down. You have to stay hungry, you don't want to get complacent in what you are doing but you have a calmer sense of how things will get done, ya know? You know you will figure it out eventually and you know you will finish that song, movie or that thing, even though some days it seems absolutely impossible you will find the solution. Sometimes in the early days, when everything seemed like the end of the world and there was a giant meltdown about everything. Now, and maybe it is because of the guys that are in my band, you have to take a moment to enjoy the process of what you are doing. We really enjoy touring and playing together. We enjoy being out there! I see a lot of bands and a lot of them really don't enjoy it. They sort of exist in a constant state of misery and chaos, which really is kind of sad because it really is the best job you could ever ask for. You really appreciate it because at any moment, it really could be over. You never know.

Icon Vs. Icon: You mentioned the band and I know you are headed back to the studio in June to work on a new album. What can we expect this time? What do you have up your sleeve?

Rob: There are a couple of things going on for this record that have never happened before. For the first time ever, I think we have four bandmembers that are all mentally on the same page with what we are trying to accomplish. That is usually impossible! [laughs] Usually, you get three together but one is not. Getting all four together is tough but we have that. The other thing is that we have an idea of what we want. Our goal this time was to make a dark, heavy, crazy record — as simplistic as that sounds. Sometimes you say that in the past but then other songs pop up and you veer off into other directions. This is the first time we have really tried to stay on target, like, "That is what we are saying and that is what we are going to do!" We have a goal!

Icon Vs. Icon: How are you tackling the songwriting these days? How does it seem to be getting broken up as you are preparing to enter the studio?

Rob: At this point, everybody is off coming up with ideas. We aren't going to get together in the studio until June, which is nice because we are touring through May and we will go right from the tour into the studio. That is something we don't typically do either. That is nice because you are all geared up and ready to go. Right now, everyone is off writing riffs and coming up with their own ideas. Then we will get together, see what everyone has got and start putting it together.

Icon Vs. Icon: It sounds like the band is really firing on all cylinders at this point. Is it safe to say you are all in a great place creatively?

Rob: Yeah, it's great. Everything with the band is fantastic! It has never been better, it's an ongoing process. It is something I have said before and I have meant it before because at the point that I had said it, things hadn't been better. But now, for the first time in 25 years, this is the best place a band has ever been for me, so it is terrific. Sometimes, at this stage in a career, things could be winding down and there is an ability to phone it in but to have four people who are this fired up is really important and something I think will really show.
MARILYN MANSON's long-awaited new album, "Born Villain", is likely to sell between 35,000 and 40,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release, according to industry web site Hits Daily Double. The estimate was based on one-day sales reports compiled after the record arrived in stores on May 1 via Cooking Vinyl and Manson's own label Hell, Etc.

MARILYN MANSON's previous CD, "The High End Of Low", opened with 49,000 units back in May 2009 to debut at position No. 4 on The Billboard 200 chart. This was roughly half of the first-week tally registered by 2007's "Eat Me, Drink Me", which landed at No. 8 after selling 88,000 copies.

MARILYN MANSON's 2003 album, "The Golden Age Of Grotesque", entered the chart at No. 1 with first-week sales of 118,000.

In a recent interview with Billboard.com, Manson was asked if putting out his first CD not affiliated with Interscope was a liberating experience. "Yeah," he replied. "I've always had control over what I created, and in the past once I turned it over to the record label, what happened wasn't always to my liking. A lot of it was more their stupidity, trying to fit me into a hole I didn't belong in, and that would of course make you confused about what you're supposed to be as an artist, not even just as a person. So getting off Interscope gave me the ability to think exactly how you would when you're starting out."

Regarding the direction of the new album, Manson said, "With the previous two records, I was making music to make people feel like I was feeling rather than to make them feel something — and I was feeling pretty shitty most of the time, so I don't think it was a good idea to do that, necessarily. I'm not discrediting the music, [but] my focus was in the wrong place. This record . . . emotionally it brings a different type of attitude that is more the spirit of me and feels interesting and fun for me to do."

Marilyn Manson's new video, "No Reflection", can be seen below. The clip was directed by Lukas Ettlin, who previously worked with Manson on the award-winning "Personal Jesus" video.

"No Reflection" was released as a white seven-inch vinyl in Europe on April 21. The vinyl is strictly limited to 1500 copies and features "No Reflection" (album version) and "No Reflection" (single edit). The release was in support of Record Store Day.

"Born Villain" track listing:

01. Hey Cruel World…
02. No Reflection
03. Pistol Whipped
04. Overneath The Path Of Misery
05. Slo Mo Tion
06. The Gardener
07. The Flowers Of Evil
08. Children Of Cain
09. Disengaged
10. Lay Down Your Goddamn Arms
11. Murders Are Getting Prettier Every Day
12. Born Villain
13. Breaking The Same Old Ground

Check out the front and back cover artwork below.

Manson last September unveiled a new music video for the song "Born Villain" directed by actor Shia LaBeouf.

Drummer Ginger Fish (real name: Kenneth Robert Wilson) quit MARILYN MANSON in February 2011 and has since joined ROB ZOMBIE. He has been replaced by the Los Angeles-based drummer Jason Sutter.

MARILYN MANSON in 2009 parted ways with longtime record label Interscope following the disappointing sales performance of "The High End Of Low".

"The High End Of Low" was Manson's first album with longtime bassist Twiggy Ramirez since 2000's "Holy Wood".
"Bag Of Bones", the ninth studio album from Swedish hard rockers EUROPE, has entered the official chart in the band's home country at position No. 2.

"Bag Of Bones" was released in Europe on April 27 via earMusic/Edel. The CD, which features a guest appearance by blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa (BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION), was produced by Kevin Shirley, who has previously worked with IRON MAIDEN, JOE BONAMASSA, BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION, BLACK STONE CHERRY and JOURNEY, among others.

"It's more organic," Tempest told Metal Shock Finland about the new CD. "Kevin Shirley brought in a warm '70s sound. It's a dynamic record, like vinyl almost.

"One of my [favorite songs on the CD], 'Riches To Rags' has quite a big chorus with exciting riffs.

"It's a journey with an emotional ballad at the end, called 'Bring It On Home'. Very much a classic rock album — more rock than hard rock."

On the topic of "Bag Of Bones" also being released on vinyl, Joey said, "With the new 'Bag Of Bones' cover, there is so much detail on it. It became a bit boring there for a while; everybody was thinking, 'CDs are small, so let's just make something simple.' But we have computers, so we can blow up the cover to use for posters and vinyl, so it's still worth going that extra mile to make great covers. And we're really happy we did that."

"Bag Of Bones" track listing:

01. Riches To Rags
02. Not Supposed To Sing The Blues
03. Firebox
04. Bag Of Bones
05. Requiem
06. My Woman My Friend
07. Demon Head
08. Drink And A Smile
09. Doghouse
10. Mercy You Mercy Me
11. Bring It All Home

The "Not Supposed To Sing The Blues" video can be seen below. The clip was directed by Patric Ullaeus of Revolver Film Company, who has previously worked with DIMMU BORGIR, LACUNA COIL, IN FLAMES, SONIC SYNDICATE and KAMELOT, among others.

The "Not Supposed To Sing The Blues" digital single was made available on March 9.

Regarding the new CD title, EUROPE drummer Ian Haugland said, "It's not [called 'Bag Of Bones'] because we all have lost tons of weight or found a new interest in archeology or dogs... It's just because it sounds fuckin' cool!"
Ex-KORN guitarist Brian "Head" Welch rejoined his former bandmates on stage earlier tonight (Saturday, May 5) at the Carolina Rebellion festival at the legendary Rockingham Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina to perform the band's classic song "Blind". This marked the first time in seven years that Welch and KORN played together.

A photo of Welch performing with KORN at Carolina Rebellion can be seen below.

Welch left KORN in 2005 to become a born-again Christian after years of hard drug and alcohol abuse while in the band.

Although Welch has a new band called LOVE AND DEATH, both he and KORN bassist Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu have said that a reunion could be possible one day under the right conditions.

Welch was recently asked by Loudwire what he thought of the recent drama last month at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, where GUNS N' ROSES singer Axl Rose refused to attend the ceremony and be inducted with his former bandmates. Welch — who left KORN seven years ago — replied that if KORN ever got nominated to the Hall, the situation would be very different.

Welch explained, "I've thought about that over the years and I'm friends with them now. I talk to them pretty regularly, so I don't think it would be a big deal for me to go and play a classic or two. I don't understand grown men who are close to 50 years old having issues like that. It just floors me that you can't at some degree, be civil. It's just beyond me. I don't understand that, but you know, everyone is different, I don't judge them. We all have our issues."

KORN will be eligible for induction into the Hall in 2019, 25 years after the 1994 release of the band's self-titled debut album.
Veteran metallers OMEN will release their new album, "Hammer Damage", on June 29 via Pure Steel Records. The band's eleventh CD was originally due at the end of April but had to be delayed after OMEN mastermind Kenny Powell's studio was damaged by a tornado.

Commented Kenny: "First off, I hate to be an excuse maker, but I have had a little problem with the studio. I have been putting off a new roof on my house until the record was finished. After several days of heavy rain, the studio was flooded and the roof collapsed in. It took me several days to patch things up and clean up all of the equipment. Thankfully nothing was damaged."

"Hammer Damage" track listing:

01. Hammer Damage
02. Knights Of The Cross
03. Era Of Crisis
04. Epitaph For A Warrior
05. The Canyon
06. Demons
07. Caligula
08. Hellas
09. A.F.U.

OMEN was formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1983, by lead guitarist Kenny Powell; previously with the rock group SAVAGE GRACE and signed on with Metal Blade Records in 1984, and released their debut album "Battle Cry". In 1985 the second album, "Warning Of Danger", followed, building up OMEN's reputation as one of the forefathers of power metal acts, such as METALLICA, ANTHRAX, MEGADETH, and SLAYER. In 1986, OMEN's successes lead to the release of the blockbuster album "The Curse" on Capitol Records. The hit single "Thorn In Your Flesh" from their release "Escape To Nowhere" topped the metal charts in 1985.

OMEN continued releasing an incredible collection of heavy metal masterpieces over the years, as well as building a loyal fan base via successful worldwide tours.

OMEN in 2008 released a live album, "Into the Arena: 20 Years Live", which contained previously unreleased recordings of the band's original lineup.

OMEN appeared at last year's Keep It True XII festival on April 24-25, 2009 at the Tauberfrankenhalle in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany.

OMEN 2012 is:

Kenny Powell - Guitar
Andy Haas - Bass
Matt Story - Vocals
Steve Wittig – Drums
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently conducted an interview with L.A. GUNS drummer Steve Riley. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Icon Vs. Icon: The landscape of the music industry changed so much during your career and your time with L.A. GUNS. To what do you attribute your longevity, as well as the band's, in this ever-changing industry?

Steve: I think it is because we keep writing and touring, ya know. I think a lot of bands stop doing that once they get a taste of the arenas and the big, big outdoor festivals. They seem to be really hesitant on going back to the place where it all started — the clubs, the larger clubs and the theaters. We never really hesitated when it came to that because we just like playing all of the time and I think that has helped us. We don't just tour all the time, we also make sure we record. We just finished recording another new CD. We know it is a different climate when it comes to moving CDs in the marketplace and to get them heard, but we are musicians and we really have to do it for our own soul. We have to keep writing music and keep fresh within ourselves. When we go out, we know we have to do a lot of the stuff that we did early in our careers and that's OK, because we love doing it. We love recording as well and that is why try to put out a new CD every two or three years.

Icon Vs. Icon: I was very excited to hear you were releasing a new album. What brought you all back together for this new album, "Hollywood Forever"?

Steve: Ya know, we are non-stop! We came off the road last year after a whole slew of dates which took us all over the United States, over to Australia, to Korea, over to Scandinavia and over to the U.K. We did a ton of live dates last year and when we came off the road, we went right into a pre-production mode. We were really, really hot! We were playing great from playing live so much. It was the perfect thing for a band — going right from the road into the studio. Everyone was so fluid when playing and everyone was so tight! We went right into pre-production in late December. We worked right up until Christmas, then we took the holiday off and went right into the studio here in L.A. We worked with Andy Johns again, who has produced our last four albums. He is the guy who has done all the ZEPPELIN stuff and THE STONES. He just has a great track record! He is one of those old world masters! Like I said, this is our fourth album with him. We went right from the road, into the studio to make the album and now we are going to go right back out. We are off to Europe! We are non-stop, Jason! We just keep going! This is just what we do!

Icon Vs. Icon: You guys are definitely dedicated! Has touring gotten any easier for you through the years or has it gotten more difficult? I mean, let's face it, we aren't gettin' any younger! Is that something you still look forward to?

Steve: Yeah, we really do. We look forward to going out on the road and playing live but it hasn't gotten any easier! In fact, it has gotten a little harder. You have to really get into a mode and really dig in. You can't have any maintenance cases. I mean, you can't have anyone complaining or saying, "Oh, I wish it was like this … " We have all done the big bus tours, the plane tours and everything in between but now you really have to dig it. Now, we are flying into an area and doing three or four shows within a 200- or 300-mile radius and then we fly back to L.A. We take a couple days off and then we are flying off to another area to do it again! That is how we are touring now, so it has gotten a lot more difficult but once you get into a mode and you workout to keep yourself healthy, you can do it. It's easy.

Icon Vs. Icon: What can fans expect sonically from "Hollywood Forever"?

Steve: We are with a label, Cleopatra Records, out here in L.A. They are really, really behind the record and they have done a lot of work with the '80s bands out here. This is a little different because they know they are dealing with a band that tours a lot and will support the record. They are putting a big push behind it, which is great. But we also know the limitations behind it, too. We aren't hoping for too much. We are just hoping that fans will be able to get it easily at Best Buy or on the Internet, wherever Cleopatra Records sets it up, because all of the record stores are gone! We hope they see us out there. We have it on a big backdrop behind the band when we play live. We are gonna take it right to the people and the most you can hope is that you dent it a little bit. Ya know, we can't hope for that big exposure because we are a classic rock band and you have to really go out there and work it. That is exactly what we are going to do! We did something different on this album. We did a rock song from an Argentinian rock band. We covered it — in Spanish! We are going to be sending that out to all of the Spanish language countries and we will tour over there too. It is kinda interesting and we are having some fun with it. I really think Cleopatra Records is going to get this out there and, with us out there, maybe we can make a little noise! That is all we are hoping for!

Icon Vs. Icon: What can you tell us about your writing process for this album? Are you doing anything differently from past records?

Steve: It changed a little bit on this album but typically we go into pre-production, all four of us, and write the songs together. Some guys will bring in finished songs and but that is very rare. There are only three or four of those on the album, out of 14 or 15 songs. We all write together and there is a nice little system that we have of writing our music, giving it to Phil [Lewis] and letting him put a melody over it and some phrasing or lyrics. He brings it back in and we start tooling around with it. Then we bring it to Andy Johns and he finishes it a little bit and that's it! It's a nice, quick way to do it. We are recording old style too! When we go in, we aren't spending months and months and months in the studio with a huge budget where you can sit back and take our time. We do it the old SABBATH way of doing it all in five or six weeks. It works out really well and there is a really great live feel on the album too. It's very nice.

Icon Vs. Icon: How did you come to choose "Hollywood Forever" for the title and what does it mean to you?

Steve: It is an interesting thing. Phil came up with that. He sorta comes up with all of the artistic sides of the band, where I handle more of the business side of things. He comes up with all of the ideas for the artwork, the naming of things and the titles. He came in and he said, "I really want to call the album 'Hollywood Forever'.'" It goes right across the board — L.A. GUNS is Hollywood. This is where the band started and where we all live. We went through the entire '80s thing and we are still sticking around doing it! Hollywood and L.A. GUNS go together man! If there is one Hollywood band, it has to be L.A. GUNS!

Icon Vs. Icon: Very true! It sounds like it would be safe to say you guys are in a pretty good place creatively and aren't planning on calling it a day anytime soon!

Steve: Oh yeah, man! Like I said, going over the career and having played all these amazing places around the world, it has been terrific. We played nine European countries last year and we are doing eight more in the coming days. We will have covered all of Europe. We have a UK tour this year as well as the Scandinavian tour and there will be tons of U.S. dates, so we are in a very positive frame of mind. We are feeling good and the band sounds great! If someone is coming to see us live, they know they are going to get to hear their favorite songs. There are about nine songs that we have to do, starting from "Ballad Of Jane" to "Rip And Tear" and on down the list! We have to do those songs live because the fans really want to hear them and we can pepper the rest of the set with some of our new stuff or add in a drum solo or a guitar solo or a jam. We are in a good frame of mind and it is exciting. We really hope everyone picks up "Hollywood Forever" because it is old-school L.A. GUNS and it is produced by one of the masters — it's a really, really good package!

Icon Vs. Icon: You have a lot of stuff going on for "Hollywood Forever". I know you shot some videos as well.

Steve: Yeah, we did and we also shot an episode of "That Metal Show" with Eddie Trunk, Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson for VH1 Classic. We have a whole thing on there where we talk about the band and everything that is going on with the band. It is probably going to air in late July. There aren't a lot of outlets for the videos these days, so what we did is we went into this huge soundstage and shot videos. Two of them are from the album and then there is the Spanish song. That will be a whole package, the single and the Spanish song together, "Araña Negra". That will be a package on its own but the other videos, they look and sound great. We are going to see what kind of outlets we can get them on. We didn't spend a lot of money on them but they look live and fresh, really cool! Cleopatra Records is going to use their resources to get them on anywhere they can. Maybe we can get it on "Rockfest" on VH1 Classic or on "Palladia" on DirectTV. There aren't a lot of outlets, like I said, but I know they are going to try to get them up where they can. And after a while, they will be posted up on YouTube so that everyone can see them!

Icon Vs. Icon: You've seen the music industry change so much through the years. What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in the music industry in this current climate?

Steve: Ya know, Jason. I really feel for them because those big machines out there, the labels and the record stores have changed everything. Everything is more difficult. The one good thing for all of these new bands is the Internet. They can get their music out immediately! They can put their own songs up on iTunes and put their videos up on YouTube. Those are really great tools that we didn't have back then. We had to rely on the record companies. To get signed to a major label right now is very difficult. I would say to a new band: Go to an independent record label. Don't even try the majors because they are almost untouchable right now. The major labels are really limited right now too, as they are sticking with what they know and what is proven. You should visit some of these smaller labels and start out smaller to get something out there. It's a whole changed scene today, the signing of bands, getting them on tours and what have you. It is something where you really have to dig in and really want it right now.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's KAMIKABE has inked a deal with Unique Leader Records. The band's full-length debut, "Aberration Of Man", will be released this summer.

Founded in 2003, KAMIKABE "brings many new elements to the tech, death metal scene while still keeping power and extreme intensity," according to a press release.

Commented the band: "We are extremely excited to be a part of the Unique Leader family! We have listened to, and admired the bands that have been affiliated with the label for years. We have always been into writing extreme, fast, and heavy music and hope we can attract like-minded fans. It is an honor to be added to the roster of such extreme bands and awesome talent! After years of hard work and loads of bad luck, look in the near future for tours, and the release of our debut full-length, 'Aberration Of Man'!"
Rob Doherty, the former INTO ETERNITY guitarist who most recently fronted his own band called FINAL DARKNESS, has died. No further details are currently available.

FINAL DARKNESS's "Ghost" video can be seen below. The clip, which was filmed in January in Serbia, was produced by Stanimir "Staca" Lukic and directed by Ivan Colic.

"Ghost" was the first "official" video for the latest FINAL DARKNESS album, which was released on December 21, 2011.

The project was put on hold when the label it was originally to be released under changed priorities and decided to go in a different direction, but Rob remained determined to push forward and bring FINAL DARKNESS to life.

Doherty rewrote and reworked some of the songs from the original project and began recording the new music last year at Touchwood Studios. The recording was engineered by Justin Bender (INTO ETERNITY), who also provides additional guitars on the track "Memories". The album also features guest performances from Tim Roth (INTO ETERNITY) on the songs "Kill Room", "Memories" and "Darkness Falls". A big break came when legendary producer/engineer Neil Kernon (NILE, NEVERMORE, CANNIBAL CORPSE) agreed to do the final mix for the project. Neil also helped hook Rob up with mastering engineer Alan Douches from West West Side Music in New Windsor, New York to help give the album a killer sound.
The documentary film "Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet" won an award for "Outstanding Achievement In Music" at the 13th annual Newport Beach Film Festival, which was held April 26 - May 3 in Newport Beach, California.

Celebrated as one of the leading film festivals in the United States, the Newport Beach Film Festival has evolved into a prestigious multicultural event, attracting over 52,000 attendees to Southern California. Committed to enlightening the public with a first-class international film program, a forum for cultural understanding and enriching educational opportunities, the Festival focuses on showcasing a fresh and diverse collection of studio and independent films from around the globe.

The 13th annual Newport Beach Film Festival spotlighted over 450 films from around the world.

Kathleen Stevenson of BAMMagazine.com conducted an interview with Jason Becker immediately following the world premiere of "Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet", on March 3 at the Cinequest film festival in San Jose, California at the San Jose Repertory Theatre. You can now watch the chat below.

"Not Dead Yet" won two awards at at the Cinequest: Audience Award for Best Documentary and the Special Jury Prize for Documentary.

Jason Becker, a onetime guitar prodigy first known as part of the metal duo CACOPHONY, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's Disease) at age 20, shortly after joining David Lee Roth's band for the gold-selling 1991 album "A Little Ain't Enough". Although the disease robbed him of his ability to play guitar — and eventually left him both paralyzed and unable to speak — Becker continues to compose music with the help of computers, collaborators, and a system of communication using eye movements that was devised by his father Gary.

Even after his once prodigious axe skills left him, Jason's music continued to earn the respect of his peers. Joe Satriani called 2001's "Perspectives"Jason's first recorded work after losing his motor functions (originally self-released in 1996) — "a triumphantly powerful and beautiful album." Fellow virtuosos joined the chorus of praise, including Steve Vai, who said, "Jason has discovered a brilliant source of inspiration within himself. His deep soul searching has resulted in a body of music that reveals courage and insight and is deeply moving."

Jason's original partner in CACOPHONY, Marty Friedman added, "To call Jason a genius is an understatement. He doesn't cater to trend, target audiences, marketing gimmicks or anything like that. He plays out the emotions from his heart and makes real music that is a salute to the human spirit. Jason is a prodigy and on 'Perspectives' he realizes his miraculous potential."

Jason's most recent album, 2008's "Collection", is a mix of old recordings and new compositions, with guest guitar work from Satriani, Vai, Friedman, Michael Lee Firkins, and Greg Howe.

For more on Jason Becker and his fight with ALS, go to www.jasonbeckerguitar.com.
CHROME DIVISION, the Norwegian five-piece featuring DIMMU BORGIR frontman Shagrath (a.k.a. Stian Thoresen) on guitar, has parted ways with bassist Björn "Burn" Luna and guitarist Ricky Black. Luna, who was a member of CHROME DIVISION since its inception in 2004, "will work with us from behind the curtains of doom, and contribute on the lyrical side of things in the future," according to the band.

The group adds, "For a while we have been working heavily on the new album with our new permanent members. Our new bass player Ogee has been filling out as session live guitarist/bassist for a long time and is now onboard for the ride. The perfect successor and a natural choice to welcome into the ranks.

"On lead guitar we present to you the extremely talented Damage Karlsen of former BREED fame. Shoes hard to fill, but he damn near broke the mold!

"Both guys are an inspiring addition to the song writing process and the new material smells like burnt rubber!"

CHROME DIVISION current lineup:

Shagrath - Guitar
Ogee - Bass
Shady Blue (a.k.a. Athera) - Vocals
Damage Karlsen - Guitar
Tony White - Drums

The first photos of the new CHROME DIVISION lineup can be seen below.

CHROME DIVISION's "Ghost Riders In The Sky" video was filmed with director Patric Ullaeus of Revolver Film Company (DIMMU BORGIR, LACUNA COIL, IN FLAMES, SONIC SYNDICATE, KAMELOT), who previously worked with the group on the "Bulldogs Unleashed" and "Serial Killer" videos (the latter off 2006's "Doomsday Rock 'N' Roll" album).

A cover version of the JOHNNY CASH classic, "Ghost Riders In The Sky" comes off CHROME DIVISION's third album, "3rd Round Knockout", which was released in Europe on May 6, 2011 via Nuclear Blast Records. The CD was recorded at Marius Strand Studio in Oslo.

CHROME DIVISION in August 2009 parted ways with longtime vocalist Eddie Guz "due to lack of dedication and commitment to the band." His replacement is none other than Athera of SUSPERIA, who filled in for Guz at the Winterfire Festival at Hessenhallen in Giessen, Germany on February 21, 2009 after Eddie Guz was unable to make the gig.
The Florida-based death metal band SOLSTICE was formed in 1990 by guitarist Dennis Munoz and drummer Alex Marquez with vocalist/guitarist Rob Barrett. In 1991, they recorded a demo produced by legendary producer Jim Morris and signed a deal with Germany's SPV/Steamhammer and their debut album was released in 1992. It was originally to be titled "The Sentencing", but delays in correspondence led to it becoming simply known as "Solstice". The following year, internal issues, combined with Rob Barrett departing for a position in CANNIBAL CORPSE, forced the band into hiatus, but in 1995 they regrouped (adding guitarist/vocals Christian Rudes) and returned with the magnificent sophomore album, "Pray".

Both albums are considered classics in the death/thrash crossover genre because at that time few bands were pushing the limits like SOLSTICE. The band is currently active once again and in 2011 guitarist Dennis Munoz remixed "Pray" as an exclusive addition to this collector's set.

Due on June 12 via Divebomb Records, "Pray For The Sentencing" contains a new interview with members of the band, both legendary albums in original form (remastered), plus the newly remixed version of "Pray" as well as the original Ed Repka cover illustration.

"Pray For The Sentencing" track listing:

Disc 1

"The Sentencing" (1992)

01. Transmogrified
02. Cleansed Of Impurity
03. Eternal Waking
04. Survival Reaction
05. S.M.D.
06. Netherworld
07. Plasticized
08. Cataclysmic Outburst
09. Aberration

"Pray" (1995)

10. The Unseen
11. Denial
12. Pray
13. All Life Lost
14. Freedom Denied
15. Close Minded Failure
16. Depression
17. Bleeding Unborn
18. One At A Time
19. Eyes See Red

Disc 2

"Pray" (2011 remix)

01. The Unseen
02. Denial
03. Pray
04. All Life Lost
05. Freedom Denied
06. Close Minded Failure
07. Depression

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