[Classic_Rock_Forever] KISS, Van Halen, Megadeth, Anthrax and tons more hard rock and heavy metal news



Legendary rock icons KISS are back with their new album MONSTER. The album, the 20th studio release in their long lasting career, is set for release in the middle of October through Universal Music. The follow up for the 2009 release SONIC BOOM includes 12 straight-ahead rock 'n' roll tracks and it features collaborations of all four band members: Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer. The band landed in Europe in early July for a brief promotional tour which included live shows in Oslo and London. We met a very cheerful Stanley in London prior to the bands sold out performance at the HMV Forum and discussed about MONSTER, Kiss Kruise, future plans, as well as many other interesting topics… Read on! 


First of all, the MONSTER is finished and it's ready to roll, it's ready to go. How do you like the results at this point?
PAUL STANLEY: I think it's terrific. I mean I have said it so many time already, you know, the idea wasn't to make an album that sounded like we once sounded. It was to make an album that sound like we have never sounded. The idea of making of an album that is a retro album… I wasn't interested of that. I wanted to make an album that has vitality and passion and that's a great rock album. I don't want to make a great KISS album. I don't want to be judged by other KISS albums. It's ok to judge KISS by KISS but it's also nice to open up the gates and say not how good is this compared to KISS albums but how good is this comparing to the albums that I love.
Actually, I got an advance copy of the album a while ago and now after several listens I would say that it really is all fresh, it's all new, it rocks, it's energetic and kicks major ass.
PAUL STANLEY: I think it's all we wanted it to be. It's not a great KISS album, its great rock album. I think this is a great album. I didn't want us to make an album, some bands remember saying, "Oh, they are making an album that sounds like they did". I wanted to do an album that sounds like we never did. Something that's new.
I totally agree with you but I disagree with Gene who said that MONSTER is like "meat and potatoes" type of album because I think that this is the most versatile album you have ever done…
PAUL STANLEY: I don't know. Everybody has an opinion about it. I just know it's a very, I would say a cohesive album. It feels like an album, it feels like every song that's on there, belongs on there. It got a focus and a point of view. That's what I wanted the album… I didn't want it to be a scattered... I wanted something that felt like a work, a body of work
Gene also said (again) that the album does sound like a mix of CREATURES OF THE NIGHT and REVENGE but I do honestly think that the album does sound different to anything you've done so far.
PAUL STANLEY: Yeah, I think that's such a trap when we start going on "Oh, it's this one mixed with...  it's not…" that's crazy. How could it be this mixed with that or whatever album it is? It's MONSTER and it is its own thing. It's the next step and it's a result of everything else we have done but I'm lost when, you know, someone starts saying it's REVENGE cross with this or LOVE GUN cross… that's crazy.
I would say I 100 % agree with that and I'm really happy about how the new album sounds.
PAUL STANLEY: Good, good, good.
MONSTER is the number twenty in the KISS studio album catalog. At this point of your career, when you've already reached almost everything, what kind of goals do you have with that album?
PAUL STANLEY: I would be lying if I say I don't want it to be successful. But I don't expect success. I succeeded because of the album I wanted to make. Would I like the other people to like it? Sure. Everybody wants validation. But if you try to second guess people "What kind of album do they want" and then you fail, you kick yourself and say "I should have done it my way". I did it my way and whatever is going to happen is going to happen but I stand behind the album.
I bet that it would be a great thing for you to make it number one on Billboard since you got so close with SONIC BOOM three years ago, right?
PAUL STANLEY: That would be terrific. That would make me happy. Absolutely!
What does it need to get it done?
PAUL STANLEY: All it needs is for everybody to buy it at the same time. You know, that's how you'll get the number one album.
This is a kind of old question but since SONIC BOOM was a great success, why did you have a ten year recording break between that and PSYCHO CIRCUS?
PAUL STANLEY: Because the band wasn't healthy for a while and we had to wait for the band to heal and get in to a good shape.
But you already had Tommy and Eric in the band for years?
PAUL STANLEY: Yeah, we were great and we got stronger and stronger and when we felt that it was time we went back in to the studio.


The album is now coming in October although it's been ready for a long time. Originally it was supposed to come out earlier, like in May. What's the reason for that delay?
PAUL STANLEY: The reason it didn't come out I mean it has been done for a while we wanted to have a different type of set up in terms of a distribution. We wanted to go with a label this time. So the legalities of working out a contract take a long time. So, you know, by going back to Universal with a company that has our whole catalogue so for a lot of reasons it made a lot of sense. Plus they were very "Come home", very committed to the album. So had we wanted to do it a different way, we would had it out in May. But this made more sense and will make more sense. You know doing the Wal-Mart deal was great in one way but in another way if you didn't have a Wal-Mart near you or if you didn't have iTunes if you couldn't get it from iTunes so it was very limited how you could get the album. So, we tried that once and now we said let's do it this route. But Universal they very much wanted us back. And they have all these other albums so it's a good agreement.
I have now picked up few of my favorite tracks from the album.  Would you say a brief comment about those ones?
The first in my list is… "Take Me Down Below".
PAUL STANLEY: A good tongue in cheek kind of a tune, you know, I tough that the album could use something of a little bit of humor in it but I wouldn't wanted the whole album of that I think it's a really cool relentless kind of a fun track.
For me, it kind of reminded ma about the SONIC BOOM track "Stand" in a way?
PAUL STANLEY: Yeah, it's nice to sometimes have a track where Gene and I both sing.
Right and next my list is "Shout Mercy".
PAUL STANLEY: I like "Shout Mercy" a lot. I like a lot of what that song is, I like the passion of it, the pulse of it, the relentlessness. For me there's like a tribal quality. I like it a lot.
How about "Eat Your Heart Out"? That's really a different KISS song, I would say!
PAUL STANLEY: I think it's a really good Gene track. You know, it's got a great chorus and the groove of it, the feel of it is really good.
And then there's "Freak". Would you tell the meaning behind those lyrics on it?
PAUL STANLEY: You know, being a freak is like a state of mind, and in some ways it's no different than "Stand". It's a song about saying I am what I am. And standing up for what you are. Whether you have stripes in your hair, or your clothes are different you know this is all that I am and I'm proud of it. You know, one way or another we have always sing about that, believing yourself and being who you are. "Shout Mercy" is just a really relentless, almost tribal sounding song. There are no week tracks on the album. Somebody might like one track more than the other, but here's not any track on the album, when I listen the album, that shouldn't be on the album.
Does the songs somehow reflect your own personal life, your state of mind, mind settings or alike?
PAUL STANLEY: Well, it's certainly at the point where I'm very sure where I am and very comfortable where the band is. KISS is like an animal and at some point the animal may be sic and then you realize you must go to the doctor and doctor says this part needs to come out, this part is sic and you take this part out and it gets better.


Can you tell me something about the creating process of the album, how long did it actually take this time?
PAUL STANLEY: It really didn't take that much time at all. The funny thing is that the album has been done for a quite a while. It's just that we decided to go with a major label and it took a long time to negotiate the contract. The album has been done a long time ago and it didn't take any longer than SONIC BOOM. So we had the album done for a long time. I think that if you spend too much time on something it loses its emotion and its passion. If it comes out perfect, that's nice, but Rock n Roll album? I don't know whether it should be perfect?
So you should not necessarily "over think" it. If it sounds good, it probably is good?
PAUL STANLEY: Yeah, exactly. It probably is good then.
Like SONIC BOOM, this album is a real team effort from you guys. I learned that even Eric Singer took part for the writing process this time, if he was, then it was his first time to do writing for the album?
PAUL STANLEY: I don't know. He had some great ideas and this was very much a team album, you know, we did very much us rehearsing together, playing together taking each other's ideas. The band is better because everybody is contributing.
I learned that Tommy was co-writing something like eleven songs or something for this album?
PAUL STANLEY: I would have to look, I have no idea.
During the 80's and 90's you did most of the writing with outside people like Desmond Child, Diane Warren, Adam Mitchell etc. How it was different to work on within the band members only for this album and SONIC BOOM as well?
PAUL STANLEY: I think it's important that the band stay within the band to write. And one of my rules, when I said I would produce the album and everybody went along with the idea, no outside writers. It's very easy to in some cases to have somebody to write a song for you and you put your name on it and you have very little to do with it or maybe you're doing something else instead of writing songs. And, you know, you come up with the songs that really are not yours. I wanted to make sure that every song was worked on by the band. I have always included the band. I love Desmond, I love writing with him I love Diane, I love all those people. But the band is also different now the band has the ability to be completely self-contained. Maybe that's why it's important that we do it like that.
You don't rule it out … to work with outside people in the future?
PAUL STANLEY: I think I do rule it out.
You have produced the latest KISS albums and your solo album by yourself. Is it easier to work when you're having the full control for everything?
PAUL STANLEY: Yes. I didn't take that role on lightly. You know, I did it because I knew I could do it and because I didn't think anybody else could do it as well. I knew that the answer wasn't for the band to do it because there is no focus. Then everybody is doing it the way they think it should be. And then you have people getting songs on albums that may not belong on the album but just because they like them. So there is a responsibility but it makes it easier for the band. The band will tell you that the last two albums were just fun to make. It's not a matter of being a dictator in a studio. It's a matter being a coach, a captain, the leader, not telling everybody what to do but being the person that keeps the eye on the ball and the vision.
This current situation within the band must be very different compared to the 80's when you were producing a couple of KISS albums as well?
PAUL STANLEY: Yeah, those albums were… That wasn't fun because I was making KISS albums without KISS. That's not fun, it's not fair and I certainly would not do it again. That's why one of the rules was we will write as a band we will rehears as a band and we will record as a band.
Is all of the material on MONSTER brand new, or is there some old material used as well?
PAUL STANLEY: It's all new. I'm a big believer that left overs are left overs for a reason. If it wasn't good enough for the last album why would it be good enough for this album?
I totally agree with you. However, it seems that there are bands which do use the old stuff on their new albums, like Van Halen?
PAUL STANLEY: Well, what other bands are doing I can't say, but for me, I want to know who you are today, I want you to write something today, from your experiences today.
I would like to ask about your writing methods. When you're going to start working on new album, do you need some sort of special mental mode, mindset or something like that, or how you work it out?
PAUL STANLEY: No. It's a project. It's a task, so you do it. People who wait for an inspiration can wait a long time. The trick is to create an inspiration. You know, I have a job to do, it should inspire me.
Creativity is overrated, in certain sense?
PAUL STANLEY: Oh, I'm not going to wait to get inspired. I'm inspired every day.
So probably you are living the right kind of a life?
PAUL STANLEY: Absolutely, Yeah. I think so.



What's the idea behind the album title, MONSTER?
PAUL STANLEY: The album is powerful, it's monstrous, it's big and it's relentless. It's a Monster in terms of its power and size.
I just found out that you're going to use a band photo on the album cover. I heard that you originally had an artist painting the cover, was it Ken Kelly? Whatever happened to that project?
PAUL STANLEY: No. I didn't want the cover that looks like a cover from 30 years ago. This isn't 30 years ago. I didn't want somebody to thing that we are re-creating the past. And to make a cover like that is to make that kind of a statement. You know, we are not super heroes, we're not fantasy, we are flesh and blood. We wear war paint, we wear makeup. That is part of our identity but to have us with swords or something crazy on the cover it's not us now, it's not (us) today.
Perhaps it goes well with the new album because it's all new and fresh?
PAUL STANLEY: Yes, I believe so.


You have now started the promotion of the album. There's a "Hell or Hallelujah" single out, comic books, the MONSTER book, this promotional show, and tons of interviews to do here in U.K. Do you have plans to do some more promotional activities for the album in the near future?
PAUL STANLEY: I don't think so. We will do "The Tour" that starts in two weeks, I think, with Motley Crue on board but there is really not much more promotion that I know of?
What is the state of KISSOLOGY 4.... Is it coming out this year?
PAUL STANLEY: Yeah, yeah.
Do you have plans to shoot a promotional video for "Hell or Hallelujah"?
PAUL STANLEY: Yeah, there is. There's been a talk about it but… there will be a video although I don't know when or what the approach will be, but there will be a video.
How about making a conceptual video this time? It's been a long time since you last time did something like that?
PAUL STANLEY: I don't know but hopefully you don't see us in a fireman outfits or spacesuits, you know! "Laughs"
Don't say that, it would be a lot of fun. Well, I can't hesitate to ask about the MONSTER book. Why on Earth you decide to release a "larger than life" size book which a way too expensive for any regular people to have?
PAUL STANLEY: Because it's not for everybody. It's not for all the regular people, I know that. I know Rolls Royce's are not for everybody. It's strange if the idea is that we can only put out of things that everybody can have. That reduces our ability to explore and do things we feel like doing. This book, this book couldn't be for everybody. It's hand-bounded, it's 30 pounds, you know, you not going to go to a local book store and pick it up. It's a specialty item, it's a collector's item and those who can afford it and want it will buy it. Some people who cannot afford it won't buy it. But that's just the nature of things. At some other point of things, could there be another version of it? Sure, but it would be unfair for us to say oh no, if everybody can't afford it you shouldn't do it.
You did release the book with ten different covers with selected countries flags on it. How did you actual decide which flags to use and which were left off?
PAUL STANLEY: Actually I think that the company that we work with suggested these. So it wasn't anything from us. These are the ones that they suggested.
Right, I was actually thinking that maybe you just would choose the top 10 countries which had the greatest number of people in KISS KRUISE… "Laughs"
PAUL STANLEY: Oh my gosh… That would've been interesting way to do it.



The new single has been doing extremely well on iTunes and it was the most downloaded song in the latest Amazon. I heard that you're going to play it tonight at the Forum?
Once "The Tour" starts in two weeks, do you have plans to add some more MONSTER tracks on the set then?
PAUL STANLEY: No, because the album won't be out. We have been in enough trouble to figure out what to play, you know, from our old tunes, so if we were to add something we would have to take something out. How come we could add something people don't know? 
With Mötley Crue, are you going to do a full set or a shortened one since it's a co-headline tour?
PAUL STANLEY:  It will be the same thing we did with KISS/Aerosmith. It will be a full show like we did with Aerosmith.
So you both are doing something like 75 minute shows?
When will the actual "Monster" tour start?
PAUL STANLEY: Well, "Monster" tour will not happen for a while. First we will do our 40 plus shows in America. We'll have Motley Crue with us and we have a whole new stage, you know, we have been using the same stage for a while although it has been modified and updated for a quite a while so it's a brand new stage.
Would you tell something about the new stage?
PAUL STANLEY: It's pretty cool. It's just a pretty cool stage and doesn't look like the one we have had for a quite some time. And you know, lots of new technology, but you know its KISS, it's our point of view, it's how we do things.
Will you use that new one on "The Tour" already?
PAUL STANLEY: In some form yeah.
But there be further modifications when the actual "Monster" tour starts?
Back in the day when e.g. CREATURES OF THE NIGHT and LICK IT UP came out you played like 4-5 songs out of them. At this stage, do you already have an idea about how many MONSTER songs you are going to play?
PAUL STANLEY: I don't know. We haven't even started to think about it and the album is not going to be out for a while. Let us see? It's very difficult because people also want to hear the songs they love. You can only play for so long. It's always a challenge to figure out what to play. And also, the bigger the album is the more you play from it.
But nowadays when records do not really sell like they sold back in the good old days, how can you tell whether the album is great or not? I mean, if the numbers are the only thing that matters… it's just not fair, I think?
PAUL STANLEY: Ok, that's a good point and that's I guess where we get feedback from the fans.
When you did the "Alive 35" tour, were you sure that the majority of the fans were familiar with  the songs that you played, like "She", "Watching You" and "Rock Bottom"? Some might consider songs like these obscure?
PAUL STANLEY: But those are not obscure songs. Those are from KISS ALIVE! and KISS ALIVE! is the biggest album of ours.
So you were happy to go out with this whole theme?
Well, are we going to hear more of the 80's songs in the Monster tour? I'm asking this because last time you added "Crazy, Crazy Nights" and "God Gave Rock 'n Roll to You" to set list and people went nuts.
PAUL STANLEY: I don't know. It's hard to talk about it yet. You know, tell me about the tour after this tour, we are two tours away… But, yeah, I'm not quite sure what. But we will figure it out.
KISS was extremely popular in Europe in 80's and especially in Scandinavia, say, between 1984 and 1988. How well you were aware of your popularity in here back then?
PAUL STANLEY: Sure I was aware. And I love Scandinavia. I love Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen.. Scandinavia is terrific.
Scandinavia has always been very good for KISS.
PAUL STANLEY: Yes, that's true.


On the January of 2013, which is like six months away, the band will celebrate its 40th anniversary. What are you going to do then? 
PAUL STANLEY: Wow. We will do what we do; play. "Laughs"
Do you have any special things or shows etc planned to celebrate the anniversary?
PAUL STANLEY: I don't believe so, although... In matter of a fact there is some talk about some special shows for the 40th anniversary.
But there's nothing in the paper yet?
PAUL STANLEY: Well, it would involve Tommy, Eric, me and Gene and it will be the celebration of the band, our survival and our history. That's all. We will be celebrating for the 40th year of the band.
Well… That was the answer for the question…
PAUL STANLEY:  Absolutely, yeah. We would be celebrating 40 years of KISS, not 40 years of any particular people, the band is the celebration.
So at this stage, there's nothing more to tell about it yet?
PAUL STANLEY: I can't say more yet.


In late October, there's going to be the second KISS KRUISE. How did you like the first KRUISE and what can fans expect from this one?
PAUL STANLEY: It was great. This year it's going to be more fun. There will be more things going on. Last year was the first one so we didn't know quite what to expect but it was terrific. This time it will be so much better.
The first KISS CRUISE, which was by the way amazing, the fans loved that you shook up the set list the way you did!
PAUL STANLEY: Yeah, but you have to remember that when we play for a bigger places we play for the bigger crowds and the people on the Kruise are die-hards. You can do something special for the die-hards that would not be appreciated by the masses. You can do things in a KISS Kruise we can't do in an arena because those people wouldn't appreciate what we are doing.
So there be more surprises on the set list to come on next KRUISE?
PAUL STANLEY: I'm sure, yes, but I can't tell you what.



Paul, it has been 40 years of KISS soon. You've done 20 studio albums and you have been doing pretty much everything there is to do in music business. You have seen it all, "been there" and "done that". You have done some acting, you've done opera, you do paint, you are a father of four kids and so on… so what makes Paul Stanley going on?
PAUL STANLEY: I love life. Every day is an adventure. We don't know what life holds for us, we don't know what the future is and as much as we may like to plan, life happens. And while we are making plans life is happening. So I'm just waking up every day to my plans, but I'm also open to see what the other day holds for me.
It's been a great life so far.
PAUL STANLEY: It has been amazing.
Have you ever been considered to write a book about your life?
PAUL STANLEY: Yes, there will be an autobiography out next year.
Wow! That's big news and the fans are looking forward to it. This is a bit personal question but if someone would say that you are nowadays a very private person how would you comment?
PAUL STANLEY: I have always been a very private person and haven't change in that sense.
There are lots of good things coming from KISS camp but there's different news as well since Gene last week announced that this album and upcoming tour will definitely be the last ones by the band…
PAUL STANLEY: Who said that?
Gene did say that.
PAUL STANLEY: If Gene told you your skin is green it's up to you... I never heard that?
That was in the newspapers in Norway last week, I think?
PAUL STANLEY: Really? That's news to me. 
Maybe it was just a rumor or then something had been taken out of context?
But it's still great hear that it's not true?
It's time of the last question, here and it goes… how about the KISS version number 2? Will there ever be such a thing or have you given up for that idea?
PAUL STANLEY: There won't be KISS number 2. There will just be a continuation of KISS, and should. KISS will continue forever.
Legendary rockers KISS will rock ACC Network telecasts of Atlantic Coast Conference football, it was announced today by Raycom Sports. Through this partnership of rock royalty and premier college football, KISS' new hit single "Hell Or Hallelujah" will set the tone for the kickoff of each week's syndicated game.

"We are honored to have KISS open our ACC football telecasts," said David Barringer, producer for Raycom Sports. "KISS' music and college football go hand in hand. They are part of the fabric of America and American culture. Their pure, high energy music is going to be a great addition to our games."

KISS leads a star-studded list of performers featured in Raycom football and basketball telecasts over the years, including RASCAL FLATTS, BROOKS & DUNN, JASON ALDEAN, DAUGHTRY, SUGARLAND, ALISON KRAUSS, CHRIS BROWN, LIL' MAMA, T-PAIN, DAVID COOK and RICKY SKAGGS.

KISS will release its 20th studio album, "Monster", on October 16 through Universal Music Enterprises. Described in a press release as a "12-track, straight-ahead rock 'n' roll album," the CD features collaborations among all four members — including co-founders Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons and longtime members guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer — in an album that shows the band at the top of its game.

"Monster" is the group's first studio album since the band's 2009 smash success, "Sonic Boom", and was also produced by Paul Stanley with Greg Collins at Conway Studios in Hollywood, California, and The Nook in Studio City, California.
VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen spent three weeks in the hospital after undergoing emergency surgery for diverticulitis, and will now need four to six months at home to recover from the procedure.

According to CNN (as reported by Van Halen News Desk), the guitarist first developed the condition while on tour and had a serious flare-up once he came off the road.

The long hospital stay was required because surgery to remove the infected intestine resulted in another infection when Van Halen popped a few stitches.

Diverticulitis is a digestive disease that occurs when pouches of the inner lining of the intestine, most often in the colon, become inflamed or infected. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever and cramping.

VAN HALEN's previously announced November tour of Japan is currently being rescheduled for sometime in 2013.

Last month, after bowing to Internet rumors about VAN HALEN being the half time show for 2013's Super Bowl XLVII (47) in New Orleans, David Lee Roth took the bull by the horns and issued an open letter to the NFL explaining that VAN HALEN is ready and willing to play.
Leander Games has released the new MEGADETH-branded slot game. This online game features images and songs from the band, multiple levels, free spins, a "Head Crusher" bonus round, and much more. Game Specs: 5 reels by 4 rows, 40 line video slot game. Top Award: 50,000 credits. Game is available now in Latin America, Tuesday, September 4 in Europe, and "play-for-fun" will be available to all soon.

Check megadethslot.megadeth.com for more information.

Note: North American players, all other players located in regions where online gambling isn't allowed, or anyone who simply does not want to gamble, will also find a "play-for-fun" version available soon. For regions where online slots are allowed, make sure you keep checking in with megadethslot.megadeth.com as some casinos will be offering a chance to win a guitar and albums autographed by Dave Mustaine!
Video footage of ANTHRAX bassist Frank Bello talking about how he connected with ESP and giving details about his ESP Frank Bello and LTD FB-4 Signature Series models can be seen in two parts below.

The biopic "Greetings From Tim Buckley", which marks the feature film debut of Frank Bello, will premiere this September at the Toronto International Film Festival. Frank Wood ("Changeling", "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3") plays songwriter and Jeff Buckley collaborator Gary Lucas, while Penn Badgley ("Gossip Girl") has been cast as Tim Buckley's son Jeff. Dan Algrant ("People I Know", "Naked in New York") directed from a script he co-wrote with Emma Sheanshang and David Brendel.

Bello shot his scenes in New York in September 2011, including an early call on the set the morning after ANTHRAX's September 14, 2011 homecoming concert at Yankee Stadium with the rest of the so-called "Big Four" of 1980s thrash metal (METALLICA, MEGADETH and SLAYER).

"Greetings From Tim Buckley" is one of three rival projects centering on Buckley's life. The film will tell the true story of the days leading up to Jeff Buckley's eminent 1991 performance at his father's tribute concert in St. Ann's Church.

According to indieWIRE, Bello previously had tiny roles in a handful of television and movie projects mostly as a member of ANTHRAX, though he did also play "Johhny, Rocker" in an episode of "Law & Order".
Video footage of ANTHRAX guitarist Rob Caggiano discussing the details of his ESP and LTD Signature Series guitars can be seen in two parts below.

ANTHRAX recently spent time in the studio recording several cover versions of some of their favorite rock classics, to be included with the upcoming re-release of the band's latest album, "Worship Music".

In addition to RUSH and BOSTON covers, ANTHRAX is also recording its versions of AC/DC's "T.N.T.", JOURNEY's "Keep On Runnin'" and BLACK SABBATH's "Neon Knights". The latter song is expected to appear on the upcoming Ronnie James Dio tribute album which is being assembled by the singer's widow and longtime manager Wendy Dio.

"Obviously, there's a ton of [Dio-sung songs] you can pick," Scott said. "But when Wendy Dio asked us to be on the record, it was kind of the first one… I think it was both Charlie [Benante, drums] and I, almost at the same time, [we were like], 'Let's do 'Neon Knights'.' Just like that. We've kind of been jamming on that song forever as it is. It's just one of those ones that we probably would have recorded anyway at some point. So this just gave us the excuse to finally go do it.

"It's kind of crazy. We were in Europe in June playing festivals, and the MACHINE HEAD guys were in the dressing room, or we were on the bus or something, and we put it on, and I think it was Phil Demmel [MACHINE HEAD guitarist], he was like, 'Wow, where's that from? Ronnie sounds amazing!' And we were like, 'That's Joey [Belladonna, ANTHRAX singer].' [laughs]"
Metal Blast conducted an interview with ICED EARTH mainman/guitarist Jon Schaffer at this year's edition of the Bloodstock Open Air festival, which was held August 9-12 at Catton Park, Derbyshire in the United Kingdom. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Metal Blast: "Sons Of Liberty" [the name of Schaffer's solo project] was also the name of an organization in Colonial America that combated the abuses of the Crown. Do you see that this is the situation right now, that America needs to be protected from an enemy?

Jon: Yes, of course I do. But I think that the enemy is running the country, that's the difference. Back then it was a foreign enemy — I mean, obviously they had their minions in control of government in a lot of places… but today is a very different situation. The United States is run by the criminals on Wall Street, the criminal banks, which are the owners of the federal reserve system. It's a big banking cartel, it's not one system, it's not federal and there are no reserves, it's Goldman Sachs, it's Deutsche Bank, it's a lot of European oligarchs and royals that have interbred and own the system. They've controlled America for a long time and they still give us the illusion that we're free and that we're independent, but we're not. They have a very disturbing agenda for the future of humanity and I think that it is clear, if you really pay attention and read their writings. To the average person, when I talk about this, I come off as a raving lunatic because they just sit around, watch TV and obsess over football and other stupid shit. But dude, there are big things happening out there in the world… I mean, they've been happening for a long time, it's not new. I was a victim of propaganda for many years in my life; everybody is capable of waking up… it's just about at what point it really hits you that we're in serious trouble, and then about what your spirit tells you to do… mine told me to start SONS OF LIBERTY.

Metal Blast: I think that one of the problems that people with your convictions face is that the media presents them in an unfair way. For instance, in the case of Ron Paul (a politician that, when it comes to foreign politics and civil liberties, I really admire) he was always shown as, "Well, here's Ron Paul, but he's going to lose." Well, if you keep presenting him as a "sure loser" before the competition even begins… probably!

Jon: People always say that, and the media is controlled by the bad guys, trust me. The media whores that you see on the screen, they're teleprompter-reading asswipes, they're completely uninformed. The people in the control room are informed — that's why it's called the "control room" — and they have an agenda, and it's a system that has infected every part of our society, every part in the West.
Ron Paul is the man; he is the only guy that understands what's happening in American politics, but he can't save it, the people are the only ones that can save it. You have to save it on a community level, on a local level. The federal government is criminal, it's out of control… just fuck it, let it collapse itself. The people in America should just step away from it, make their communities strong, root out corruption in their local community. If you're a good man, you go and run for office on the town council, you take control of their power centers, you try to do it,

Metal Blast: The problem is that people tend to think in terms of "I'm just one person, so what can I possibly do?", forgetting the fact that every big change and every revolution is just a sum of individuals.

Jon: The bad thing is that television is the most dangerous weapon of all. Yes, it is a weapon, I don't care what anybody says, it controls people, it controls their thoughts; it's a mind-control system, and if you sit down and you watch it, you put yourself into a state of mind where you're not really thinking objectively, you're just agreeing with whatever is there. Human beings are easily susceptible and, believe me, the Pentagon knows this and the manipulators, they know how to fuck with the people. They know what it takes.

Metal Blast: Although people may absorb everything they see on TV, not making rational judgments or assessments between everything there, the problem is that a similar phenomenon occurs with conspiracy theories, since once you find out that the government lied about something, you're too eager to believe that everything is a lie, and you might end up among those who say the moon landing never happened. You're probably familiar with Jesse Ventura, right?

Jon: Yeah, sure.

Metal Blast: Well, he had this show called "Conspiracy Theory", where some of the things seemed rational enough, and other were nothing but completely irrational and downright crazy speculation. Do you find that, because of this phenomenon, when you try to present your views, you end being grouped with nutjobs?

Jon: I don't buy everything that Jesse Ventura, Alex Jones or anybody says. I focus on the stuff that I can prove, and that's the financial system, the finance oligarchs and the royal bloodlines of Europe and their fucking schemes, what they've been up to and how they've been interbred with each other (I think they get crazier and crazier with every generation). I mean, if you want to talk about aliens don't talk to me, because I can't prove it. Do I think it's impossible? Hell no, I think it's very possible, but I can't prove it; however, I can definitely prove that my government is completely criminal and completely out of control, and that it works for these global corporations that don't pay any taxes in the U.S., even if they name themselves as American corporations, because they're not. You can name yourself United States corporation, but if you're out there in the fucking Caribbean not paying any taxes in America, then you're not American, you're out there destroying the world for your own benefit, and this criminal government goes along with it… And so does the government in the U.K., in many parts of Germany and all over the West, it's a global system, it's the New World Order, a corporate takeover.
German power metallers GAMMA RAY have parted ways with drummer Dan Zimmerman and have replaced him with Michael Ehré (LOVE.MIGHT.KILL, FIREWIND, ULI JON ROTH, METALIUM).

Commented GAMMA RAY guitarist/vocalist Kai Hansen: "Since you've been wondering for a long time what's going on in GAMMA RAY, here's some news. You might have heard through the grapevine that Danny has left the band, which was very unfortunate for us. But I think that we found a very good new guy here. And since we've been playing with him quite a while, we can say we proudly present our new drummer, Mr. Michael Ehré. Give him a warm welcome and stay tuned for some news."

GAMMA RAY's latest release, "Skeletons & Majesties", was a collection of songs the band gathered from previous albums represented in two completely different styles. The purpose of the disc was simply to have fun, and to give fans a heads-up on what is in store for the band in the coming months, as well as involve their fans in the upcoming actions.

GAMMA RAY's last collection of new material, "To The Metal", was released in North America in March 2010 via a new deal between DisManic Distribution and Knife Fight Media.
British heavy metal singer Blaze Bayley (IRON MAIDEN, WOLFSBANE) is working on songs for a new classical EP with Belgium-based classical guitarist Thomas Zwijsen. The five-song effort will include a "full classical guitar arrangement" of the IRON MAIDEN song "Sign Of The Cross", which the duo performed on their recent U.K. acoustic tour (see video below).

Zwijsen previously recorded an acoustic IRON MAIDEN tribute album called "Nylon Maiden", which featured a guest appearance by Bayley on a cover version of "The Clansman".

Zwijsen is one of the musicians who backed Bayley on Blaze's most recent European "The King Of Metal" tour.

Bayley's new studio album, "The King Of Metal", was released in March. The CD was recorded at Fear Studio in Ravenna, Italy.

The 49-year-old Bayley, who was born in Birmingham, was the original frontman in WOLFSBANE, but left in 1994 to replace Bruce Dickinson as the lead singer of IRON MAIDEN.

A reunited WOLFSBANE released its first record in 17 years in April 2011. Entitled "Did It For The Money", it contained the brand new title track along with re-recordings of four old WOLFSBANE numbers. A full-length album, "Wolfsbane Save The World", followed in January.
Hodinkee recently conducted an interview with former ANTHRAX guitarist Dan Spitz. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Hodinkee: You suddenly lost interest in playing guitar in 1995, ripped the stereo equipment from your cars and house, and gave all your guitars to Hard Rock Café. Why the sudden lost of interest in music and how sudden was your awakening to the call of watchmaking?

Dan Spitz: It was kind of a long process. I had been living on a tour bus since I was 14 years old and played in bands with others of equal skill set, but they were much older than I was as a young musician. I excelled at what I was doing… and ANTHRAX soon hit and was playing sold-out coliseums for years. By the time '95 rolled around, I was the first one in the band to have children and I missed then while I was on the road. We would do an album and tour for years at a time, and then start the cycle over again — time at home was not there. It's a story you see everywhere: it became mundane and more like a job. I needed a break. It's easy to go on stage and play... that's the anger, the love, the connection with my fans, who are like family. The fans are actually in the band, on stage, slam-dancing. But when it was time to write new music, this came from within, and you need to have an extreme love for it. At the end of the day, I just needed a break. I have extreme OCD, I do things either full-on or full-off, and I like to do things that others have not done before. I need that drive and that ambition. That's why I decided to commit to learning the higher levels of watchmaking beyond what I did as a kid.

Hodinkee: Please share the story how you were introduced to the world of fine mechanical watches?

Dan Spitz: My Pop-Pop (what I called my grandfather Eddie Spitz) owned one of the largest antique jewelry stores in the Catskills that sold extremely high-end antique jewelry and watches. My grandfather was simply the greatest guy ever and a jeweler and a watchmaker from an early age. At 8 years old I was sitting with him and we were taking apart Patek Philippe watches. That started early on in my life, and both Patek and Vacheron Constantin (now my favorite) were always part of my life. I had the opportunity to go to my grandfather's store and rip things apart that I really shouldn't have been inside. My mechanical abilities started at a really young age.

Hodinkee: You broke a 53-year-old record in completing the watchmaker's course at the Bulova school. Can you tell us more about that?

Dan Spitz: My mechanical ability comes from my non-traditional background. My room looked like a small NASA station growing up — tons of stuff. I was always building and taking stuff apart my whole life. I am a problem solver as far as mechanical and electronic things go… a self-taught problem solver. That comes into play in a large role in watchmaking. When I arrived at Bulova school, I had a background in problem solving that ensured my success. Soon after Bulova, I got a notice from WOSTEP, back when the only place to do the program was in Neuchâtel, and I won a scholarship to go there and continue my focus on complications.

Hodinkee: ANTHRAX broke all the rules of music. Has your work in the watchmaking world broken any tradition rules?

Dan Spitz: I don't give a crap. I'm not in this industry for a job. With modern watches, anything that is mechanical is not going to be perfect and a watchmaker's responsibility is to report it back to the manufacture. I have no boss and could care less. If you ask me a question, you are going to get a direct answer. When it comes to a watch's quality, the truth is that the movement sucks ass or the movement kicks ass. With me, you are going to get the heavy metal answer from the heavy metal dude. I need to be truthful and honest, and that's the way it should be.
Vocalist Alexander Krull of long-running German metallers ATROCITY has released the following statement regarding the band's new album trilogy, "Okkult":

"With 'Okkult' we want to start a very special album trilogy.

"We began to work on the 'Okkult' trilogy a long time ago.

"Most recently with the 'Die Gottlosen Jahre (The Godless Years)' DVD, a splendid film documentary was released commemorating our longer-than-25-year career, which even now is to run at film festivals. Reason enough now to usher in a new era of ATROCITY!

"Musically, no prisoners will be taken. The 'Okkult' series is also brutal, bombastic and dark. These will not only be the heaviest and most brutal albums of ATROCITY since years, but also the darkest works of our band's history. Lovers of our harder material like 'Hallucinations', 'Todessehnsucht', 'Blut' or 'Atlantis' will surely be delighted with the 'Okkult' series at their expense, although the 'Okkult' songs have their own trademarks, of course.

"The orchestral parts will be recorded in September by the Lingua Mortis Orchestra under the direction of Victor Smolski (RAGE) in Minsk, Belarus.

"In keeping with the dark atmosphere of 'Okkult', we got the Canadian sound designer Katie Halliday on board. She worked for movies like 'Saw V', 'Saw VI', 'Saw 3D (VII)', 'The Devil's Carnival' and 'Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil', and already could reap some awards for her work.

"The lyrical concept is anything but one-dimensional. For 'Okkult', we have no desire to go only in a certain direction. So the whole thing will be broadly based: From occult magic, occult places to conspiracy theories and mysteries that are still unsolved.

"For our fans, we've come up with something very special: There will be no conventional bonus tracks on the 'Okkult' albums! In return, all fans can actively engage in a kind of treasure hunt. For the respective 'Okkult' albums, we will hide one song on an 'occult site,' which is the 'missing track' to each album. For the first 'Okkult' record, that certain place will be in Europe. For the following albums, the places will be on other continents, perhaps in America and Asia. l will be the only one that knows these locations.

"All original recording tracks and mixes of these songs will be destroyed by our own hands. That also means we as a band will also not be able to listen to these songs until they are found. They are in the truest sense of the word unique. If someone finds these songs, and wants to keep them for himself, then we will have have no way to listen to these songs ever again in their original form.

"Internally, we have already had some serious discussions on what song is supposed to be hidden for the first 'Okkult'. We will ennoble this 'treasure' to something like 'The Golden iPod.' We will spare no expense or effort. More info on how it will look exactly and how you can participate in the treasure hunt will be announced a later date.

"In times when more and more music seems to lose its value, we want to make a statement. These hidden songs will definitely have an great added value, especially when they will dig them out in 200 years. That will probably not be the case.

"On 21/12/2012, we will release something exclusive in advance. We want to provide the right soundtrack for the apocalypse, and actually that was our preferred date for the first release of the 'Okkult' series. Unfortunately, this release date is not possible, therefore the first 'Okkult' album will be released in spring 2013, in case the world downfall didn't happen."
Hutch13 of Hails & Horns recently conducted an interview with vocalist Tim Williams of New York hardcore/metal veterans VISION OF DISORDER (a.k.a. V.O.D.). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Hails & Horns: When did you start writing the [new V.O.D.] record ["The Cursed Remain Cursed"]?

Tim: 2009. It was a slow drawn-out process. We had a lot going on. We were doing a lot of shows. And each one would set us back for months. That's the way we are. We had a lot of business things to iron out. Then you take time off for the holidays, you take time off for this, you get sick of each other. Everything combined, it took three years to write the record. It was a long time. It's amazing.

Hails & Horns: When did you feel confident enough to go into the studio?

Tim: We thought, "Ah, we got to get this done." So, it was probably towards the end of last summer. We were thinking, "We got to get this out. People are waiting." Left to our devices, we might not have finished the record. We were looking around for deals. One deal would fall through for one reason. Another one just didn't seem to work out for that reason. There were a couple we were looking at and Candlelight seemed to be the best scenario for what we wanted to with V.O.D. But once we hooked up with them, we had a goal. Things moved at a good pace.

Hails & Horns: Candlelight seems to be a metal label; black metal, doom, and stoner rock. Seems a weird place for V.O.D.

Tim: Our management is based in England where the label is. A couple of people at the label and our management talked. They have done some deals. They have known each other. It came up like that. Our management told us that they did CROWBAR and CORROSION OF CONFORMITY. We said, "Oh that is interesting." So, we checked out their roster. We got on the phone with them with the guys. We liked what we heard. We will go with whatever suits V.O.D. We don't need any bells and whistles. We needed the right deal.

Hails & Horns: How did recording go? How did it go? Who produced?

Tim: We did it with Will Putney at The Machine Shop in New Jersey. It went extraordinarily well. It came out better than anyone expected, which was real exciting. We knew the songs were good. The songs started to get tracked and come alive. And a good studio session will do that for any song. We started to see these song become monsters. We were really excited. We bounced them off of some label folks, management, some close friends. People were really amped. And, most of all, we were. We really liked how they were beginning to sound. It was getting big and staying heavy, which is important to us. V.O.D. has the potential to be a radio band, in some people's eyes. And that is not where we wanted to go at all. We were very skeptical. We were very nervous about that going into the studio. That is another reason it took so long.
Boston metalcore band DIECAST has entered a Miami, Florida studio with longtime producer Paul Trust to begin recording its new album for a 2013 release.

The first in a series of video clips featuring behind-the-scenes footage from the studio can be seen below.

DIECAST parted ways with Century Media Records in 2008, two years after the release of the band's latest album, "Internal Revolution".

DIECAST greatly expanded its diehard fan base after completing two massive North American tours alongside SEVENDUST, in addition to breaking through to Active Rock radio with the "Fade Away" and "Nothing I Could Say" singles.


Paul Stoddard - Vocals
Dennis Pavia - Drums
Jon Kita - Lead Guitar
Eddie Barton - Bass
Norwegian post-hardcore outfit BLOOD COMMAND will release its second album, "Funeral Beach", on October 29 via Fysisk Format.

BLOOD COMMAND guitarist Yngve produced the CD along with longtime collaborator Dag Erik "Dagger" Nygaard of Kamikaze Media AS. The recording was a painstakingly long, yet rewarding process. Yngve comments, "'Funeral Beach' is our greatest achievement to date. Rock 'n' roll with love, hate and irony, it's all in there."

According to a press release, "with 'Funeral Beach', BLOOD COMMAND have delivered their definitive statement. The new album is instantly catchy, but still gets better with every listen."

BLOOD COMMAND was formed in the fish-and-oil-smelling suburbs of western Norway in 2008 by singer Silje, guitarist Yngve and drummer Sigurd. They had one thing in mind: combining the hedonistic club music they loved to dance and party to with the music that formed their lives: punk, hardcore and rock and roll. The band gave everything from day one and quickly etablished an underground buzz around Europe through its tours with COMEBACK KID and PROTEST THE HERO.

To date, BLOOD COMMAND has released three 10-inch singles and an album that was nominated for a Spellemann award (the Norwegian equivalent to the Grammy Award) in the rock category (won by KVELERTAK) for their debut, "Ghostclocks" (Fysisk Format, 2010).

"Funeral Beach" track listing:

01. Pissed Off And Slightly Offended
02. March Of The Swan Elite
03. Cult Of The New Beat
04. Death To All But Us!
05. Wolves At The Door
06. High Five For Life
07. Here Next To Murderous
08. True North
09. Corpse Reviver
10. Oceans Inside Neptune
11. Funeral Beach
Deepsend Records has announced the signing of Australia's ETERNAL REST. The band's debut album, "Prophetic", will be released in early 2013. The CD was recorded and mixed by Joe Haley (PSYCROPTIC).

ETERNAL REST hails from Brisbane, Australia. The band's powerful energy can be heard on "Prophetic", but must be experienced in a live stetting to be truly appreciated. This young group is surging forward with its excellently crafted heaviness from Down Under. Their brand of death metal is a mix of IMMOLATION, PSYCROPTIC and MARTYR with a heavy dose of ass-kickery.

ETERNAL REST has played with many national and international artists such as THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, ULCERATE, SYBREED and ALCHEMIST.
Anthony Morgan of Metal Forces recently conducted an interview with bassist Jarkko Aaltonen of Finnish folk metallers KORPIKLAANI. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

On the departure of violinist Jarkko Lemmetty:

Jarkko Aaltonen: "Everything was becoming more and more difficult for him. He didn't really get into rehearsals anymore, and then when we were doing live shows, he was playing less and less. He became less and less interested in doing anything, and then he started to miss shows. We felt that it would be better if he departed. When you've been together with someone for so long, it's not a marriage, but it's close. It was quite difficult to bring up this subject, to say words that no one wants to hear: 'We have to part.' I think everybody, though, including him, was quite relieved that the issue was addressed. It was nothing personal; we had to do what we do. If you cannot do what you're supposed to do or if you don't want to do that, then you should stop being a musician."

On finding Tuomas Rounakari:

Jarkko Aaltonen: "There are certain bands in the world who if you read their biographies, you realize that it's hell of a job to figure out who the hell was in the band at a certain time. If you think about BLACK SABBATH in the mid-'80s, it's hell of a job to figure out who the hell was in the band and who wasn't. I've realized that we have been having the same situation during the last year — we've had five different violin players in the last year. [laughs] The bigger audience only knows about three of those, which, of course, are Hittavainen, Teemu, who was the permanent replacement after Hittavainen left, and then Tuomas [Rounakari], who's now with us. Between these guys, though, we've done shows with other guys as well, friends of ours. It turned out that touring live was way too much for Teemu, so we finally found ourselves a permanent violin player, though, who was Tuomas. So far, it's going quite nicely."

On being viewed as a comedic act in some quarters due to recording several drinking-related tracks:

Jarkko Aaltonen: "I'm surprised that you noticed. It is annoying, but there are so many people who judge the band by the song 'Vodka' or whatever. It annoys me and it annoys us, but then again we wrote those songs. We released those songs, so who the hell are we to complain? It will be interesting to see how this album is received since, as I said, there are no drinking songs on the album. The songs are way more serious, doomier, heavier, thrashier, so it will be sort of interesting to see if this will be more of a doom album because it has no drinking songs."

On the title of latest album, "Manala":

Jarkko Aaltonen: "The album is named after Manala — also known as Tuonela — which is the Finnish world of the dead. It's a place for the dead in Finnish mythology. There wasn't the whole concept of Heaven and Hell — there was no Heaven or Hell. Everybody who died went to Manala; regardless of how they lived their life, everybody ended up in the same place. Those who did commit crimes or whatever, they were called at the time possibly had some evil spirit following them all of the time, but that's all it was. Finnish mythological stories say that it was possible to travel between the underworld and the regular world. For example, there's a song on the album about how at a certain time of the day you can actually see the Bringer Of Death on Earth and that kind of thing. It's a bit of a gloomy album in that sense, lyrically, I think. It's an interesting concept, I think."

On "Manala" compared to previous album, "Ukon Wacka":

Jarkko Aaltonen: "When I heard the rough version of 'Ukon Wacka', I listened to the songs in the correct order and everything. I got this sort of rock 'n' roll feel from that, and that it defined what the hell this thing is called rock 'n' roll. I feel that it had the same kind of… Like MOTÖRHEAD albums. It doesn't matter if the album's from 1980 or 2010, because they always have this rock 'n' roll feel to them. I had that same feeling about the previous album, and now with this new album I get this really, really thrash metal feel — totally different than the previous one. The previous one felt more relaxed, more rolling — as I said, rock 'n' roll — and this one feels a lot thrashier. I don't think it's anything much different than the previous one, but that's what I feel. It's always different though for others who haven't been playing or rehearsing those songs; they always hear them with fresh ears."

On recording an English version of "Manala" (a bonus disc entitled "Underworld"):

Jarkko Aaltonen: "The original idea came from the fact that everybody kept asking us. Not everybody, but mostly Americans. They kept bugging us about that, so we had the original idea to make a test. To release two albums the same day, the English version and the Finnish version, and see which sold more so we could tell the Americans to shut the fuck up. Then we realized that it was a shit idea, because that would basically force the people who wanted to buy our album to buy two albums. We decided to do it the way it is now. We recorded the Finnish version originally, and then we recorded the entire album in English and added those tracks as bonus tracks on the standard release. This way, everybody gets what they want. Some people get the Finnish version as well as a really, really cheap bonus album. That's what we ended up doing. If we had known how much work it would take to actually translate the lyrics and make them singable, then we probably wouldn't have done it. That was a shitload of work."
San Antonio blackened death metal miscreants HOD are putting the final touches on their new full-length album. Titled "Book Of The Worm", the follow-up to 2009's "Serpent" features nine tracks of molten metal riffs and sonic decay.

Comments HOD vocalist Vladibeer Reebs: "With 'Serpent', we were five guys with some ideas. Now we're a cohesive unit with an agenda. You can feel the energy, hate, and anger in the tracks on 'Book Of The Worm'. In the end, whether it's 'Serpent', 'Book Of The Worm', or any future album, it's all gonna be fuckin' metal! That's all we know. That's all we do. That's all we are."

HOD, which is currently seeking a proper label home, recently posted some new music in the form of "Awakening Blasphemous Abominations". Taste the evil below.

In the meantime, HOD will bring its apocalyptic hymnals to the stage for a short run of rituals beginning September 7 when it will sear souls alongside progressive thrash metallers VEKTOR (and others) in San Antonio. Later that month, HOD will play the Building Temples From Death Fest II in Houston, featuring an unholy lineup of DISGORGE, PUTRID PILE, DEHUMANIZED, EMBALMER and over a dozen more. In October, the band will open for SKELETONWITCH in San Antonio before embarking on a five-date road trip with Canadian black metal horde PANZERFAUST.

HOD is:

Vladibeer Reebs - Vocals
Carl "Lord Necron" Snyder - Guitar
Trans Am – Bass

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