04 H e a r t 06 P r i m a l F e a r 07 Va n d e n P l a s 08 W. E . T. + R i n g o f F i r e 09 I n d i c a 10 S i l e n t F o r c e 11 B e r g g r e n Ke r s l a k e B a n d 12 R e v i e w s 15 S l e e p i n g R o m a n c e 16 P e r s u a d e r 17 H o u s e o f L o r d s 20 Red Dragon Cartel 21 Silent Voices Melodic Rock Fanzine The official Frontiers Records magazine Year #10 - Nr. 1 / Issue #60 Editor-in-chief: Elio Bordi Graphic & Design: Elio Bordi Writers: Bruce E.J. Atkinson, Duncan Jamieson, Barry McMinn, Vitale Nocerino, Rob “Ezy” Bone, Primo Bonali. Headquarters and general contacts: Frontiers Records - Via Gonzaga 18 80125, Napoli - Italy Tel: +39.081.2399340/7753 Fax: +39.081.2399794 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.frontiers.it Facebook: facebook.com/frontiersrecordsofficial Twitter: twitter.com/frontiersrec Editor and publisher: Frontiers Records s.r.l. Copyright©2014 Frontiers Records. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Printed in Italy.
band. heart album. fanatic live Interview with:. ann wilson interviewed by:. b. atkinson
H E A R T - Fanatic Live From Caesars Colosseum (Frontiers Records) A Live documentation that announces Heart to the Frontiers Family in a huge way! “Fanatic Live From…” sees this long running powerhouse in top form! Celebrating a critically acclaimed reception for their latest studio effort; “Fanatic”… The Wilson sisters and Company hit the road in 2013 bringing this “back to form” music to the masses! Of course, anything that Heart does, they do so well! This live package is no exception, showcasing the group’s exceptional Talent and heartfelt execution in a live concert setting. Now, not only do we hear and see Heart’s extraordinary catalogue of music, but several selections from Fanatic are front and centre, and well they should be! This is pure Heart, stellar performances, each song done with renewed energy, high emotion and conviction… An all-encompassing Concert experience. Frontiers is releasing this in several configurations, including CD / DVD, Blu-ray DVD and also regular DVD! Certainly a “must-have”, Heart’s latest will renew your love for Melodic Rock music, and done only the way that Masters can do! Bruce Atkinson (90/100)
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Question: I would like to begin with a brief recap of the last couple of years, a very busy time for you both and the band: the box-set, the induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and your critically acclaimed album, “Fanatic”! And of course the touring… It seems that you may be busier now than in years past! Answer: We have always been a hard-working band but, yes, the last ten years has seemed busier (and in many ways more rewarding)! Being inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame was an incredible honor. It addressed our history and paved the way for a bigger and better future for us as artists. Q: How could be compared Fanatic Live to other your historical live albums as Rock The House or the unplugged The Road Home? A: Rock the house is a compilation of different live tracks from different shows. The Road Home was a live acoustic show in a club. Fanatic Live is full on rock and is all one show. Q: As we continue, you spent most of 2013 on the road, promoting “Fanatic”, were you able to perform in places that you may not have had the opportunity to do so, in the past? A: In the last few years, we had the opportunity to tour in Australia for the first time. Also we have performed in some really special places, like the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C. Last year, we headlined a tour of summer sheds (partially covered amphitheaters), which was very fun. This year, we will do two concerts on the Grammy cruise boat, and an entire tour of Canada, which is always very fun for us. Q: Let’s dwell on the latest studio creation, how many songs from “Fanatic” are included in your current set list? A: We performed six song from the new “Fanatic” album at the Windsor show! New songs are always the most exciting to perform and we are grateful to our audiences for their enthusiasm when we play them. We continue to play songs from the new album in all our shows. A big favourite is “Dear Old America,” for which we also have a video. Q: As mentioned, the record
met with critical acclaim. It is almost the “back to form” album from Heart… Was this a conscious goal? A: Heart is a rock band and, when we started to write songs for the “Fanatic” album, we wanted to RAWK! And so there are heavy elements in the arrangements. The songs are wonderful to perform live! Our primary goal when we write an album is always to tell stories, often personal ones from our own lives or things that have been on our minds, in as musical a form as possible. Q: Keeping with this release, you seem to have strengthened your Canadian connection, what with Ben Mink producing “Fanatic”, and now doing the same with your brand new DVD/CD!! A: We have always been a fan of Ben Mink’s work. I was fortunate to have worked with him on my solo project ( “Hope & Glory” ), and Nancy and I were so impressed with his work that we asked him to produce our “Red Velvet Car” album. And of course, now the “Fanatic” album. Ben is not only a wonderful composer / producer, he is also an amazing musician who can bring beautiful music out of anything that has strings. He is also very generous, often appearing on stage with us when we are in Canada. You’ll see him on stage in the “Fanatic Live” show. He also arranged and led a string ensemble on the show. Q: Did you expected the big success of albums such Red Velvet Car and Fanatic? Do you look at them as a kind of revenge against who said before 2010 that Heart was a band for nostalgia festivals? A: No did not expect the success of our latest two albums. It was very wonderful! I never listen to critics or read reviews , so NO. No revenge. Q: So, let’s talk about your latest, “Fanatic Live From Caesars Coliseum”, your first for the distinctive label Frontiers… The performance was also recorded in Canada, right? A: Yes, we were asked to do a concert for AXS-TV and the arena at Caesar’s Coliseum in Windsor, Canada is a beautiful venue that worked for everyone’s schedule. Q: Are you never been afraid
to split off the band? What has been the hard time in the Heart career? A: To have a long career in music means many ups and downs. We are strong, and lucky to be able to roll with the punches. Q: The writer Jake Brown said that you were “a revolution for women in music, breaking genre barriers...” Have you any model to inspiring by when you started? A: All my inspirational figures were men in the beginning. Q: What has been the more unexpected band that point as you as source of inspiration? A: Lucinda Williams Q: Are you taking this tour into 2014, and if so, in what areas? A: We are calling our U.S. tour “Fanatic Live” and leaving for the road at the end of this week. Our first run of shows are in the South (where it’s not so cold!). Then in March/April, we will be on the East Coast. Canada is in June, and I’m sure we will be in many places around the United States during the summer. Q: Although you are very busy with your touring commitments, would it be fair to ask about some new material? Are you also writing and preparing for a follow-up to “Fanatic”? A: Writing new songs is an important part of who we are. We will never be content just performing songs from the past. Q: You both have given us so much precious music over the years, have you ever thought of slowing down? A: NO! We are artists and so we must make art! Q: Thank-you ever so much for taking this time to answer some of my questions, and a huge thank you for your insightfulness and musical talent - Heart is truly an iconic musical force, please leave our readers with some closing thoughts… A: Thank you for this opportunity to talk to you. We want to let our fans know how much we appreciate their support all these years. And that we hope to bring them good music and exciting performances for many years to come! MRF | 5
band. primal fear album. delivering the black Interview with. mat sinner interviewed by:. barry mcminn
Question: With the phenomenal success of the last album did the band feel any pressure to come up with an album that in my opinion surpasses Unbreakable? A: As soon we had written the first songs, all the pressure was gone. We were so happy with the songwriting that the entire process was just fun and creative. We could concentrate on the details and work hard on every single part, because the basic foundation of this new album was already an excellent evolution for us inside the team. That gave us a relaxed feeling instead of any pressure and it’s a very important factor, that you need to love your job! Q: Did you approach this album any differently than previous releases? A: Not really, we just wanted to improve to what we did on “Unbreakable” – better riffs, better melodies, better single performances, a better production and a more powerful sound! That was our target as we started. Everybody in the band worked Focus on:
very hard to match our vision and now as the album is ready, I can honestly say, that I’m proud of the entire team! Q: On this album you worked with Jacob Hansen for the first time, why go with Jacob rather than Achim Kohler this time round? A: Because it was time to try out something new. Maybe you not know, that Achim was still involved in recording the album. But the mix and mastering was done by Jacob Hansen and we’re very happy with his work and his attitude in working on the album! Q: When listening to the album Ralf’s vocals seem a bit more melodic while still retaining his intensity, did he approach his vocals in a different way? A: No, not at all. Ralf is getting better and better with the years and his feeling for the melodies and different atmospheres has indeed improoved a lot. In my view, he did his best album performance ever on “Delivering The Black” – just fantastic! Q: How do the band manage to keep focused on one album when
the band are all involved with so many different bands and projects, do you find it easy to juggle between bands? A: It’s very easy – love your job or leave it and do something else. Primal Fear is our main priority and everybody in the band knows and respects this. All other bands and projects are more or less important and every release aside of Primal Fear has his own identity and right exist, but Primal Fear is all our own No. 1. Q: Finally will Primal Fear be hitting the road in 2014? A: Yes of course, we’re starting in Europe on Jan 23rd for 4 weeks, then the members are involved in the Rock Meets Classic tour with Alice Cooper in March & April. Primal Fear returns to the USA & Canada in late April and May, then we will play some festivals in the summer and going back to South America in Mid August, then Japan in September. More shows in Europe will be done in October and we’re talking about touring Australia in December!
P R I M A L F E A R - Delivering the Black ( F r o n t i e r s R e c o r d s ) “Delivering the Black” is the much anticipated follow up to Primal Fear phenomenal “Unbreakable” album. The band have taken the Heavy Metal genre and really made it their own with this new album. With Ralf Scheepers leading the attack with what has to be his strongest vocals to date, the unmatched riff building of Alex Beyrodt and Magnus Karlsson and the mammoth rhythm section of Randy Black and Matt Sinner on drums and bass respectively, this is without a doubt Primal Fear at their most impressive. From the opener “King For A Day”, the guys unleash pure Heavy Metal hell or heaven, depending on your perspective. One thing for sure, the thunderous opening barrage sets the bar high for rest of the album. But fear not, this is just the bench mark as the album powers through above and beyond with metal monsters like “Alive & On Fire”, the Melodic Metal of the superb epic “When Death Comes Knocking” and the riff laden title track “Delivering The Black”. Although track of the album for me has to be the nine-minute plus “One Night In December”. To sum up, if you thought “Unbreakable” was outstanding then you ain’t heard nothing yet. I don’t know about “Delivering The Black” but the band sure do deliver the goods on this one. Barry McMinn (98/100)
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artist. vanden plas album. chronicles of the... Interview with. stphan lill interviewed by. barry mcminn
Question: The album sees you take a Rock Opera and develop the songs for an album, this is usually done the other way round, what was it about Bloodnight that you wanted to bring it to album? Answer: The theatre-production had a special spirit. The big stage, up to 40 people on the stage at the same time, the different stage set ups – there were a lot of visual things beside the music. On a cd, there is obviously only the music as there were different actors on stage singing your songs. The difficulty is to keep the special atmosphere without the visual aspect. Sometimes it works easy, sometimes it doesn´t, and that is when hard the work starts. Q: How difficult was it to adapt the stage song to tracks you could put down in the studio? A: For the cd, we decided that Andy will sing all songs himself. Therefore the story had to be re-written a bit to make it possible to transport the theatre-concept on a cd. Regarding the music: When we started to work on “Bloodnight” we had the story, the pictures, the stage etc. in our mind. It was our first goal to give the right atmosphere to songs so it will support the story and the main characters. Having said this, it´s clear that longer guitar- or keyboard-solos weren´t the most important part of the first songwriting-session. When we decided to Focus on:
release our Rock Opera on cd, we knew that we have to give some new input to the songs so they will they will contain the Vanden Plas-trademarks – some more instrumental parts, solos and so on. But we had to take that we keep the spirit of the songs and that the new parts fit perfect to the songs in a natural way, not in an artificial way. I think we did it the right way. Q: What was it like working with one of Germanys biggest selling author Wolfgang Hohlbein and what was his reaction to the album? A: Andy had the biggest part in working with Wolfgang Hohlbein as he, Wolfgang and Dieter Winkler (Manager of Wolfgang Hohlbein) had to make a story out of the book which is able to played on a theatre stage. In a book you have the possibility to describe a person, a situation or a location in several pages if necessary. On a theatre stage you only have a few moments for that. That´s a big difference between these two subjects. We know that Wolfgang Hohlbein totally likes the album. He was big fan of Vanden Plas already before our collaboration, I hope he is an even bigger fan right know. Q: I understand the second part Path 2 is due for release in 2015, have you already started work on the remainder of the songs for the
new album? A: Yes, we worked on Path 2 as the songs are also already arranged for the cd. And we already did some recordings for cd 2, but we aren´t finished with that yet. Q: Are there any lessons you’ve learned from this experience that make you want to continue and maybe do another Rock Opera? A: It´s not our first Rock Opera for the theatre. In 2006 we did “Abydos”, in 2008 we did “Christ 0” and “Ludus Danielis”. So we already knew what we have to take care about to produce this Rock Opera. But for sure every time we are doing something like this, we make new experiences which help us to think about what we can change when we will do another production. And I hope there will be chance do to another Rock Opera soon. A: Is this an album that the band can take on the road in its entirety, or will you just pick songs from the album and include it in your set? A: The band discussed both versions, but we haven´t made a decision about that yet. On one side it sounds interesting to play the entire cd as it would transport the concept of the story also live, on the other side we are not sure if every songs would be a good live-song. I think we can decide that when we have rehearsed all songs again.
VANDEN PLAS - Chronicles of the Immortals... (Frontiers Records) Germany’s Vanden Plas have once again expanded the boundaries of the concept album with “Chronicles of The Immortals - Netherworld”, as the band have taken the highly successful “Rock Opera Bloodnight” into an equally impressive album. This is ten tracks comprising of the first act of Bloodnight, with the second act due in 2015. The band, with agreement from writer Wolfgang Hohlbein, have adapted the state version to fit the album format, the result of which is a stunning musical masterpiece, as frontman Andy Kuntz takes up the roles not only of both the narrator and characters, but also the main character Andrej Delany. The musicianship is just outstanding making this album not just listenable but thought provoking as well. The mix of Kuntz’s vocals and Stephan Lill guitars intertwined with Gunter Werno’s keyboards, Torsten Riecherts bass and Andreas Lill’s drums just add to the splendour of this piece. I’m sure fans of the Rock Opera will love what the band done with the songs, equally the Vanden Plas fans will embrace this album as it is simply one of the bands finest releases to date. Barry McMinn (95/100) MRF | 7
Primo Bonali: Rise Up was a great success and I think it was also better than your first album. Is this the right time for a live dvd/cd? Erik Martensson: Absolutely not. It was the worst possible timing as we had only done one gig ever, more than a year before. Our second album “Rise Up” wasn’t even released and we had to a long show without messing up and on top of that we had to look like it we hadn't done anything but playing these songs for half a year. Well, sometimes even the most stupid idea can turn out good and in this case it turned out great and we're all really proud of it. PB: I think that the One Live – In Stockholm shows the incredible state of form of the band this particular moment. You're more mature than ever and you really kick ass. Is this the best period of your career? EM: Thanks man. I don't know if it's the best period of my career and I really hope it's not as I know I haven't written my best songs yet but it's absolutely the best period so far. I love where I am right now in the music business and I love writing and playing music every day. PB: Do you normally enjoy being in the studio or do you like most being on tour? Any funny/weird moments that you would like to describe which were associated with that particular night? EM: I really like both but I love the creative side so if I had to choose one I would definitely go for working in the studio. And working in the studio is my full time occupation and what I do office hours of the day. On that specific night, or the whole day as a matter of fact, was totally chaotic. I organised the whole thing from booking venue, getting the camera team there, hiring sound recording equipment and everything else you can think of. Not so rock star maybe but I though, how hard can it be. Directly after sound check, And it was cold as hell outside, we shoot the scenes for the video of “Love Heals” and it was so cold we were screaming. Maybe minus 18 Celsius or something. Just an hour before the show I was screaming on the phone to some poor guy who had forgotten to bring barriers in front of the stage so the camera team could have space to film. I didn't have much time to think of the actual playing and singing that night. But, it all worked out in the end. First and last time I'll arrange something like this again. Next time, I'll hire someone to do it so I can enjoy just being the musician... PB: Do you think that a genre of popular music like AOR can be a form of art or is it just entertainment? EM: From an outside perspective I'd say it of course entertainment but for all of us who love and listens to this music it's something that we live and breathe. Sure, it's a small genre but I doubt that there are many genres that have fans that gives so much back to the artist and supports us. I's day that the melodic rock and hard rock fans are the best in the world! And, it's entertainment at the same time. 8 | MRF
Bruce Atkinson: I would like to begin with a brief history on Ring Of Fire… You and the group have released three albums prior to this latest Work, let’s go through those and why a nine year silence!? Mark Boals: Ok, there was “The Oracle” which was the first album with the lineup I chose for the band, Vitalij Kuprij, George Bellas, Philip Bynoe and Virgil Donati, which set the tone for the sound of the band. We did a tour in Japan and a live DVD following that with Tony Macalpine on Guitar because George was not able to get a visa for Japan at that time. Following next was Dreamtower, with Tony Joining the lineup, a slight departure from the recognizable sound of the band, and after that was Lapse of Reality with Vitalij abstaining from the recording for that due to other projects he was busy with. This album was again stepping away farther from the original sound of the band… After that, we all became busy with other projects and bands and Ring Of Fire was put on hiatus, but now we are back with “Battle of Leningrad which marks a return to the original feel of Ring Of Fire, but in the form of a conceptual historic album. BA: In my first question, I mentioned the nine year silence… Which now has been broken, and what a fantastic way to end the silence! “Battle Of Leningrad” is your latest, and it is simply epic in proportion. What inspired you to take on such an enormous work? MB: In my conversations with Vitalij about making the album he mentioned that time in history and how great an album could be made around the true story… So I began studying and writing the album with Vitalij and Tony, and it all came together nicely, becoming a musical event, very emotional and powerful! BA: Mark, there is so much going on with this record, and the story of the siege of Leningrad, what were some of the challenges in the making of this record? MB: The challenge for me was to get into the feeling of that time in history, when the whole world was in upheaval and nobody knew from one day to the next what will happen, particularly in Leningrad during the siege, where survival was so difficult and hope seemed like a faraway dream… BA: “Battle Of Leningrad” is also a departure, of sorts, from previous ‘R.O.F.’ albums…in that it is a history lesson, set to music, and not a fantasy based Work. Has it been more difficult to record this type of document? MB: It was a great pleasure and I am very proud of the result! BA: We can consider this as the return of Ring Of Fire… So with that concept; did you have to compromise on anything in order to have this body of dramatic music be presented in a live situation? MB: We didn’t compromise anything, I think. But we did it keeping to the idea of live performance, because we definitely want to take the band out and play live this time!
band. indica album. shine Interview with. jonsu interviewed by:. d.jamieson
Question: How do you feel about the new album? Answer: I´m of course very excited about it. Writing this album was a long journey and I can´t wait that it will be finally released. It was also very refreshing for us to do something a little bit different. Q: Why did you decide to go with the title “Shine”? A: It was the title that described the album the best. After 6 blue, black or green albums, we wanted to bring happiness, joy and good energy to this planet. Q: Your sound is gentler than many rock bands, creating your own niche. A: Thank you. I remember that when we did our first album a guy from our record labels said us that I´m a risky singer, people will love my voice or they can´t stand it. Luckily we found at least some lovers ;) Q: You’ve released an all English version and a Finnish version too. Is this a deliberate move to appeal to a wider market? A: It´s a move to make more fans happy, to give them freedom to choose and to make our message to Focus on:
be understood better. After last album we realised that there were some fans who wanted to hear Indica in Finnish and some who wanted to hear us in English. And those opinions were very strong. We are humble servants of our fans and that´s how we solved the problem. Q: How do you think your music has evolved since you began in 2001? A: The lyrics have changed the most. The lyrics describe the thoughts that I think and the thinking procesess overall. And the way I think about the world changes all the time. Instead the core of the music has always stayed the same. For me the music is the soul and the lyrics are the body. The essence of the soul stays the same. Even if I listen to the songs that I´ve composed when I was 6 years old I can hear the same spirit talking. Of course as a composer I coulour things a little bit differently...I use different instruments... alter the rhythm and the music style, but there´s still something essential that never changes. Q: Why do you think that all female rock bands are still a bit of a rarity?
A: Interesting question. I can give you two possible theories. I might be totally wrong but this is my guess. The first theory, PRIZE: Maybe males are more intrested in having 100 groupies around them. Easy sex and admiration motivates them more. The second theory, SALARY: Maybe girls think more practical. They realise that it doesn´t make much sense to spend thousands of hours to get a job with a very bad salary and sometimes really tough critic. You might have to work for years without knowing if you get paid at all. Of course when your album sells a lot it´s a different story, but if you think about the avarege salary of the musician it isn´t very good. Of course many of the artists don´t even think about those things. I have always felt that I want to be a musician, it´s my biggest passion and there are no other options. I had that feeling already when I was 4 years old. Q: What plans do you have for touring? A: Let´s see. We will start the gigs from Finland next month. What will happen abroad is still a little bit open. It all depends how the album will sell in different countries.
INDICA - Shine (Nuclear Blast) The sixth album from the all-female Finnish pop rock bands sees them singing exclusively in English (there’s also an all Finnish version to be released simultaneously. It’s more pop than rock and Johanna Salomaa’s voice has a slight folky feel too. A bit like The Corrs, the songs are lightweight and drift past, although well enough played. The band cites the music of movies as an influence and there is a widescreen feel, but also a background feel to a lot of the songs. “A Definite Maybe”, “Here And Now” and “Missing” are rare up-tempo tunes as the bulk of the others float around, gently caressing your ears like a whisper. Imagery of swans, lakes and snowlflakes abounds on album closer “War Child”, images that a lot of the music here conjures up. It’s hardly rock ‘n’ roll, however it’ll strike a chord with those who like lilting female vocals and tasteful, piano led songs, that relegate guitars to a minor role behind solid bass lines and orchestral flourishes with pops hooks that aren’t instant but slowly sink in after repeated listens. Duncan Jamieson (80/100) MRF | 9
band. silent force album. Rising From Ashes Interview with. Alex Beyrodt interviewed by:. barry mcminn
Question: The new album has a little less of a progressive feel to it, was this intentional or is just the way the album developed? Answer: Nothing was really planned, but it came naturally as the songs evolved. We have new guys in the band who bring in their personalities. Also it very much depends which mood you’re in while composing. It can reflect on the material very much. I feel relief now that “Rising From Ashes” is released. Q: The likes of Michael and Alexandro have a more Hard Rock background, did this help with the sound for this album? A: It didn’t help, but didn’t hurt either I’d say. Of course with a singer like Michael, who has a big Melodic Rock background, the vocal lines (who were written by him) might tend a bit more towards hard rock. Alessandro on keys is an incredibly talented musician who also brought in his own sound to enrich Silent Force. Q: Michael was the original singer with Sygnet, was he the natural choice to take over from DC Cooper? Focus on:
Q: Yes, to me he was. I had him in mind right away when it was clear that there would be a new singer in Silent Force. He totally convinced me when I heard him sing the new tracks. And I love the vocals lines and lyrics he contributed. We couldn’t be more happy with our choice. And as you said, Michael somehow is the “original” Silent force vocalist because The Sygnet was basically Silent Force before we changed the band’s name. So somehow the circle shuts now. Q: I know things have been very busy what with Voodoo Circle, Sinner and of course Silent Force, how do you focus your energies on each and still keep them separate? A: To me that’s not too hard, because I’m a professional musician. I’m very fortunate that I can make a living from my passion. And all the bands I’m involved in are different and demand in different ways. When writing new music it’s not a problem to separate this at all, because I write in sessions and focus on this solely at that point. Q: 2014 looks like being your
busiest year to date, have you had time to work on the next Voodoo Circle album? A: It will be a busy year indeed and I’m looking forward to it. Yes, I starting composing songs for Voodoo Circle again, even though there was not that much time so far. Q: You work with a varied mix of bands and genres, do you find this helps you as a guitar player to explore other avenues and not just sit on the fence and be stuck in one genre playing the same stuff day after day? A: Probably it helps keeping the joy and delight in playing. I never really thought about it though. Life is progress and experiences make us the persons that we are. Q: Finally what fans want to know, will Silent Force be touring in the not too distant future? A: I can’t really promise that. Of course we would like to tour, but the first half of 2014 I will be busy touring with Primal Fear and the Rock meets Classic project. And after that it’s time to concentrate on preparing the next Voodoo Circle record.
SILENT FORCE - Rising From the Ashes (AFM Records) It’s been some seven years since Alex Beyrodt’s Silent Force’s last album “Walk The Earth”, at that time Beyrodt was joined by DC Cooper (vocals), André Hilgers (drums), Jurgen Steinmetz (bass) and Thorten Rohre (keyboards). Now in 2014 Silent Force return with a new line-up, taking over the vocals is Michael Bormann, the bass duties are taken over by Mat Sinner and on keyboards Alessandro Del Vecchio, with Hilger remaining on the drum stool. Sinner’s pedigree is second to none and Del Vecchio is one of the finest keyboard maestros and songwriters around the scene today. The power of Bormann at the mike is just amazing, Beyrodt’s guitars are just impeccable and the rhythm section of Sinner and Hilgers just thunders out a magnificent backbeat while the soaring keys of Del Vecchio are the icing on the cake. From the opener “Caught in the Wicked Game” right through to the closer “Kiss of Death”, the album is flawless. We have been waiting for seven years for this album and every second was worth it. This is without a doubt one of the finest Melodic Metal albums I’ve heard in a long time, definitely a phoenix RISING FROM the ASHES, so be prepared to be burned. Barry McMinn (93/100)
10 | MRF
band. berggren kerslake... album. the sun has gone... Interview with. S.berggen interviewed by:. bruce atkinson
Question: Let’s begin with how and when you met Lee… Answer: I meet Lee for the first time 2005 in Friedrichshafen southern Germany. Where they make the Big Zeppelin Luft ships. I played with M3- Classic Whitesnake Lee played with Uriah Heep. We meet in the bar after the show. Lee was talking to Bernie Marsden bout Ozzy & Whitesnake stuff I thought they looked very funny together those big fellows. (the Evil twins) so I said hi. A couple of years later we ended up in Zürich (Swiss) & did some more shows. This time together in the same Band, but not under the flag BKB. Among others we did the club Z7, supporting Nazareth & the EarthBand. We went down like a storm. The song repertoire at the time was mostly Heep, Ozzy and some Whitesnake songs .We only did 1 original Berggren Song "Back to the Blues" a song I wrote for the Company of Snakes on the "Burst the Bubble" album. We really enjoyed playing together... Q: At this time, you were with Focus on:
M3, correct? Did you and Lee have any idea that the result of your meeting would translate into a brand new band? A: No Not at all! That took a longtime. We played some more shows in souther germany (Swiss) over the years together since 2007-2010 but we never had the chance to write anything. In 2011 Lee phoned me up and asked if I could do to do a acoustic show with him in Helsinki (Finland). After the show I had a couple of hours before my flight back to Stockholm. So we decided to go to our friends Matti & Tuija Takala Summer house to hangout. I knew Lee had penned plenty of great Ozzy Osbourne & Uriah Heep songs in the past. I also thought that this could be last time I see him. So I wanted to check him out and see If he still had it (the song writing). They had some guitars in the house. I started to show some riffs & ideas, Lee started immediately to sing a long and jam with me. The material that we came up with was pure magic. We cannot thank
Matti & Tuija enough for putting us together, yhey also providing us with an unlimited amount of Chardonnay. Which gave us the incredible inspiration to come up with 7-8 really amazing song ideas, on a very short amount of time That afternoon. Q: When did the two of you solidify the concept of the Berggren Kerslake Band? A: In Helsinki (Finland) We where both looking for a band. We decided there & then to form BERGGREN KERSLAKE BAND & do an album together. Q: “The Sun Has Gone Hazy” is about to be released… What are your hopes with this record? Are you going to be touring the record and if so, where can we hope to see you? A: We hope that people gonna Like the CD as much as we do. We put our feelings, sweat, tears & laughter into this album & we hope you gonna feel it. We definitely gonna do some shows with this band In Scandinavia & all over Europe.
BERGGEN KERSLAKE BAND - The Sun Has Gone Hazy (AOR Heaven) The last time I saw Stefan Berggren was when he was in “M3”, he blew me away then and he does now! This teaming, of Stefan and Lee Kerslake-a most amazing Drummer, plus Thomas Thorberg on Bass, is a Rock solid power trio! From the opening of “Walk Tall” to the potent “Born Again”… ” The Sun Has Gone Hazy” may have, but these guys and their music certainly hasn’t!! Immerse yourself in this great slice of bluesy hard rock-an album that is elegantly performed and produced. From track to track we are caught up in a wave of blues-tinged Rockers full of emotive soul. Such songs as “Free”, “Fools Asleep” and, of course, the title cut solidify this trio’s intensions. The Berggren Kerslake Band are here to stay! “The Sun Has Gone Crazy” is a fitting debut for these multi talented veteran musicians!! Bruce Atkinson (88/100) MRF | 11
W.E.T. - One Live - Stockholm (Frontiers Records) W.E.T. is one of the best melodic rock act we have today. They have released two studio albums and they have already part of the top bands in the scene. Now they are back with this live album that shows how they are playing live. Jeff Scott Soto, Erik Martensson and Robert Sall give their best on the stage as well, playing an amazing show and showing how the band is real and energetic. The songs live are strong and the set is composed by the best songs from the first album and the second “Rise Up” plus songs of Talisman (“I’ll Be Waiting” and “Mysterious”), Work of Art (“The Great Fall”) and Eclipse (“Bleed & Scream”). The release is composed by the cd set with 2 brand new studio tracks (“Poison (Numbing The Pain)” and “Bigger Than Both Of Us” plus the DVD with the full concert and bonus material: “Love Heals” and “Learn to Leave Again” videoclip. Vitale Nocerino (90/100) RING OF FIRE - Battle Of Leningrad (Frontiers Records) Perhaps one can say that it took nine years for Mark Boals and Company to complete this opus! “Battle of Leningrad” goes that deep, and is that complicated as a musical document. Returning from a nine year hiatus, this “Ring Of Fire” effort is very welcome in the Neo-classical music world! The group’s fourth effort, this is a musical history lesson. Taken from one of the darkest periods of World War II, the little known siege of Leningrad: musically presented here in all of its pathos and drama. The musical movements portray the moods, the desperation, and finally the hope and triumph of those courageous citizens of this great Russian city! “Ring Of Fire” have returned with a masterful Work, one that re-establishes them as a top-drawer classical driven power-house of Classical Metal! Let’s hope that “Battle of Leningrad” is just the beginning of a series of Power from this group of reigning Masters!! Bruce Atkinson (88/100) PAVIC - Is War The Answer (New Venture) The third release from this dynamic five piece, “Is War The Answer” features new vocalist: Joe Calabro. The group, founded by guitarist Marko Pavic, experienced a temporary split when lead singer Chris Catena left. Now, with this refreshed line-up “Pavic” are ready and willing to re-conquer the straight-up world of Rock! Ten guitar driven performances, “Is War The Answer” is a very strong return, displaying that renowned skill in song writing, (“Song For The Rain”), and the high craftsmenship in musicianship, (every track on the album!)… This thing just ‘pops’! Every member of “Pavic” contributes to each and every song, resulting in a constant rhythmic, hard hitting slice of modern-day Hard Rock. We are met with the signature guitar of Marko’s, combined with the steady & pulsating rhythm section of Aleks Ferrara and Antonio Aronne. Again, all the musical meanderings are sweetened seamlessly with the keyboard work of Lorenzo Antonelli, further propelling a rock-solid soundscape! “Is War The Answer” delivers all of the promise from this relative young bright light! “Pavic”-the group- are about to conquer new worlds! Bruce Atkinson (80/100) CULLOODEN - Silent Scream (Dead End Exit Records) This is an ambitious debut from Sweden, which attempts to meld prog rock, melodic rock and sterling musicianship into a single identity. Lead by Fredrik Joakimsson who handles vocals and rhythm guitar, their ambition has paid off as this will find an audience from a number of camps. It would appeal to those who like Circus Maximus, Vanden Plas and Seventh Wonder as well as straight melodic rock. There are powerful prog metal tunes in “Heaven Feels So Hollow” and “Endless Tears” while “Embrace Your Destiny” shows their more melodic side. Jonas Ekestubbe is an impressive guitar player, shredding melodically and David Kastlund’s keyboard flurries are laced throughout the disc. Melodic rock is sometimes derided as a clichéd genre that repeats what’s gone before but Cullooden prove that this is not necessarily the case with an album that has plenty of great ideas and good music. Duncan Jamieson (80/100) PRETTY WILD - Pretty Wild (Dead End Exit Records) Six years after their debut, the Swedish good time, and sleaze rockers return with an album that is a frothy mix of Crazy Lixx, Reckless Heart, Bai Bang and De La Crux. It’s like the late 80s early 90s never went away. Life for Pretty Wild is one long hedonistic party with a soundtrack of pop rock riffs, wailing solos and chant-a-long choruses that urge you to get up and let your hair down. There’s also a touch of Def Leppard about the participatory, anthemic “Are You Ready” that opens the record and a Lep influence on the raucous “Pretty Wild” that closes the album. Highlights include the Crashdiet, Crazy Lixx hybrid of “Ready To Go”, the youthful exuberance of “Wildheart” and the hard rocking “Blow The Night Out”. “”. Fourteen tracks that keep the party going, with only a couple of detours into lighter-waving ballad territory. Solid, clear production puts the songs in their strongest light. It won’t create quite the stir that Reckless Heart have but it’s still pretty wild. Duncan Jamieson (86/100) THE VINTAGE CARAVAN - Voyage (Nuclear Blast) The Vintage Caravan is a trio composed by 3 guys from Reykjavik, Iceland. The band is influenced by bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Cream, Free, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, and Yes, but all of them are mixed very well and are combined by the bands own sound. The final mix is music with incredible impact and amazinf atmospheres. Tracks like the trippy “Expand Your Mind”, "Craving", "Let Me Be", and "Midnight Meditation" are just an exemple of how they sound. The near 12-minute closer "The King's Voyage" is a trip-sound meeting of Black Sabbath and early Hawkwind. All the songs are amazind and capture the listener upon the first spin and make one feel to have known these tunes for at least 40 years! This is a fantastic debut and all the music lover and 70’s fans should give at least a try, I’m sure you will buy the album in few seconds! Vitale Nocerino (89/100) 12 | MRF
GRAND MAGUS - Triumph & Power (Nuclear Blast) “Triumph & Power” marks the seventh studio album for this powerful Northern entity, a collection of Metal Kings!! Going from strength to strength, these ten tracks deliver an album that is cinematic in nature! Shut your eyes and see yourself journey with the great Vikings of yesteryear-conquering untold lands and their people! Yes all of this on one record!! “Grand Magus” are skilled story tellers, and each song is a story upon itself, but all the while, related with one another. The music, solid Rock with a heavy dose of Metal and not burdensome or dragging. Hard-hitting and at times lively, this collection of performances display fluidness seldom heard in Power Metal. Yes, each piece stands on its own; but taken collectively-not only is a story unfolding-the music in of itself grows more powerful! Seven being a number of completeness this, the seventh album of “Grand Magus” is a suitable statement of their “Triumph and Power”! Time will tell what their next collective chapter will be! Bruce Atkinson (90/100) BOYSVOICE - Boysvoice (Yesterrock) Long due re-issue for this brilliant debut-album (originally out in 1990) from the German band BOYSVOICE. Hailing from the Munich-area, the foursome has, of course, much in common with acts like Scorpions, Victory and especially Bonfire, with the voice of singer Mani Gruber sounding so close to Claus Lessmann' one. The style is that very typical yet so charming German Melodic Hard Rock, with big chorus & instant hooks mixed with some powerful guitars (what a brilliant guitar-playing here!) and a solid rhythm section. After this successful album and its follow-up ("‘Dirty Talks" out in 1993), unfortunately the band split up, with a quick return in 2005 for one more album ("Serenity"). On this Yester-rock reissue (in co-operation with Universal Music Germany and the band itself) the album has been completely remastered by singer/guitar-player Mani Gruber and it sounds better than ever. Classic stuff to have. Primo Bonali (90/100) ADRIAN GALE – Sucker Punch! (Kivel Records) Way too long between new music for the much loved Adrianagle – returning to their original name and label home after a brief excursion outside for an EP under the name Crunch. Guitarist/writer/producer Vic Rivera has teamed again with vocalist Jamie Rowe for the band's fourth studio album and first since 2004's Crunch. Thankfully the guys pick up exactly where they left off, with this album continuing the big fat production sound of Crunch, while updating just enough to keep things fresh and modern, but still classic Adriangale all the way. The album features 11 new songs, mixing glorious anthemic melodic rock with AOR choruses with some grittier harder edge numbers that rank amongst the bands heaviest tunes to date. I think a lot of effort has gone into the composition of these tracks, both in terms of songs writing and as far as production, with extra effects and layers going on throughout the album. In a word – great! Another worthy addition to the Adriangale catalogue and another example of what fine musicians Vic Rivera and Jamie Rowe are. Andrew McNeice - Melodicrock.com (94/100) CHROME DIVISION – Infernal Rock (Nuclear Blast) Formed back in 2004 by Dimmu Borgir frontman Shagrath and Lex Icon founding member of Kovenant, the bands first album “Doomsday Rock n’ Roll” hit the stores in 2006, further albums followed in “Booze, Broads and Beelzebub” (2008) and “Third Round Knockout” (2011). The band’s sound is far away from the Black Symphonic Metal of Dimmu Borgir, with their roots more leaning towards the 80’s Heavy Metal sound, think Motorhead with a touch of Doom Metal and that about covers the sound. Now the album itself is gritty Hard Rock/Metal with enough of an old school vibe to keep the die-hard fans hooked and equal portions of a modern rock vibe to bring in new fans. Highlights of the album have to be the single “Endless Nights”, a real heads down rocker. The massive “The Absinthe Voyage”, the riff spewn bluesy rocker “No Bet For Free” and definite Motorhead’s “Overkill” inspired “Mistress of Madness”. All great rock n’ roll tracks that really show that Chrome Division are a force to be reckoned with. Barry McMinn (85/100) V.A. – Monsters of Metal Vol. 9 (Nuclear Blast) Here we are with the 9th volume of the Nuclear Blast video compilation release. The DVD/Blu-ray features over 200 minutes of music videos, 45 video clips from several bands of the label rooster, including Nightwish, Children Of Bodom, In Flames, Suffocation, Devildriver, Sonata Arctica, Accept, Epica, Rage, Sabaton, Gotthard, Black Star Riders Orchid and many more. This is the classic release that make all the heavy metal fans happy. You can find watch from hard rock bands ‘till extreme and black metal bands. In few words all the Nuclear Blast world in one DVD or Blu-Ray. This release is reccomended to who is not so familiar to some bands included there, to who is interested in collecting hi res videos and who want to be updated on the acts and new releases from band that are making history in the scene! Vitale Nocerino SKINTRADE – Refueled (AOR Heavent) Swedish hard rockers Skintrade are back with their third studio album “Refueled” set to be released on February 28th, 2014. The first single “Monster” will be released in January and Oscar Ammer (Social Pretender, The Moving, Human Desolation) was chosen to coproduce and mix the album. The album was recorded in Skintrade’s studio and mixed in Oscar Ammer’s studio Echobox Audio Production. “Refueled” packs 12 stunningly powerful songs that will place Skintrade in an undisputed position as a Hard Rock/Metal band to be reckoned with. This is the band’s first full-length studio album since ”Roach Powder” released in 1995 and the best of album ”Past and Present” in 2012 which included three new songs. I strongly raccomend to buy this album since it is the perfect half way between the “old” Skintrade” and the modern music. Vitale Nocerino (90/100) MRF | 13
Vitale Nocerino: You are a relatively young band. Can you tell me something about Sleeping Romance? Lorenzo: Although we are a young band, our history has been rather long and troubled, I'll try to explain it in a few lines: the band was born a few years ago in Rome in the period in which Federico lived there, with a completely different line up from the current one (except of course for the mastermind Federico Truzzi) and under the name of Hybrid Resolution, a demo containing few pieces was recorded. When Federico returned to live in Carpi, the band was reformed with a new bassist, Lorenzo, a new drummer, Francesco, and a new singer, Monica: recorded a second demo with new pieces, unfortunate-
ly, some misunderstandings have led to the inevitable Monica's departure from the b a n d , replaced a few months later by Federica. Once we have a s t a b l e line-up, the disc was recorded, and later the band decided to call Nicholas on second guitar. VN: Finally you signed a deal with Ulterium Records. How did this happen? Nicholas: After the Recordings, we spent a lot of time searching for a good label, because we wanted a good promotion for our albumâ€Ś Ulterium was the best choice for us. Together we are working really good and they are really interesting to do the best for us. VN: There are a lot of femalefronted bands. In what way is Sleeping Romance different from the rest? Lorenzo: It isn't easy to create something different from all the other female fronted bands: our idea
was to combine symphonic metal music and a quite atypical voice, we didn't want a soprano in the true sense of the word, while many bands have a classical singer (this isn't a mistake or something negative, it's about choices), perhaps our choice can be considered a way to stand out. VN: Remarkable is the use of a cello in your compositions. Where did this idea came from? Federico: I really enjoy the sound of cellos: it has a dark sound and it is full of passion. My love for this kind of sound begins when I was living in Rome: my roommate was a cello player and his sound remained in my mind. Now If I could choose to study an instrument, I would consider cello. VN: Enlighten is â€˜a travel into the human soulâ€™. Can you explain this statement? Federica: yes, of course. Enlighten is all about human feelings, all the lyrics take part in this sort of introspective process. I think that everyone would be able to mirror himself in the story we tell. VN: Are there any more plans for the future? Francesco: We are still working on Enlighten promotion, so the next step will be making the video of our first single "The promise inside" ; and of course we have started to talk about our next album: we have a lot of ideas and we have to work on them.
band. persuader album. the fiction maze interview with:. emil interviewed by:. d.jamieson
Question: The Fiction Maze is the band fourth release and in my opinion the best to date, are you please how the album turned out? Answer: We think it turned out the best it could for sure. It´s been in the making for so many years now you know so to finally get all songs together, record them properly and get the mix it derserved was a great feeling. It´s one more step towards the ultimate Persuader album. We had a good feeling about the songs all along and seeing the reviews that has come out people seem to agree with us so far and that feels great as well. Q: How long have the band been working on the album? A: We started writing the album around 07-08 so... some songs has been around for 6-7 years. That far too long, hopefully we won´t take that long to finish the next one. It was a bit weird to work on songs for that long as well. You kind of got tired of working on the same stuff for so long and it lost its freshness for you. Focus on:
But we had to trust ourselves that we write good stuff and I think we were right. Q: Did you ever think this album wouldn’t be released? A: Well, I would lie if I said there wasn´t ever any doubt at all but we never discussed the possibility of not finishing it. It was just a matter of time. I guess we were more worried that no one would remember us after all this time. Q: How would you compare The Fiction Maze to the band’s previous three releases, do you see this album as a natural progression for the band as a whole? A: Yeah, I think we´ve always had a plan and a formula for the Persuader sound. We all have our roots in both the melodic 80s metal and the 90s death/black metal so we´ve always wanted to combine the harder stuff with more anthemic melodic stuff and I think we´ve developed that one more step this time. And that´s what we´ll continue to do with the next album as well.
Q: Although the band had have a few years between albums do you feel your music is still fitting in with what happening in the world of Metal today? A: I don´t know. Everything keeps evolving and nowadays there are a lot of new bands and the metalcore stuff seems quite popular but I think that there still is a big demand for our brand of metal. We won´t change our style or anything, we will continue to write metal that WE think is good. That's at least my ambition, to write music that I would like to listen to myself. Q: The band has had more than it fair share of record label problems, have these problems made the band more wary when you were looking for a new label? A: We´ll it´s hard to foresee these problems. We just went with our gut feeling this time around. Inner Wound felt like a solid label and we haven´t had any problems at all. They are great and we think we will have a great partnership with them.
P E R S U A D E R - The Fiction Maze (Ulterium Records) 2014 seems to be getting off to a blistering start, none more so than with the first studio album in some seven years “The Friction Maze” from Swedish Power Metallers Persuader. The band have been working on this album since 2008, but work with Savage Circus and Dark Empire and personal lives have delayed the album. However, the wait is well worth it, for this without a doubt the bands strongest album to date. Taking in ideas and vibes from their previous outings and immersing them in one powerful and at times, more aggressive album. From the all out attack of title track “The Fiction Maze” and “Sent to the Grave”, to the more power melodies of “Deep In The Dark” and “Son of Sodom” and the thunderous guitars of “Insect”, this album has it all and I’m sure the die hard fans will love what the band have achieved with this album. So be prepared to get lost in the magnificence of “The Fiction Maze!” Barry McMinn (87/100)
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band. house of lords album. precious metal interview with:. james christian interviewed by:. d. jamieson
Question: The new album sounds great. A James Christian solo record and the rest of the band’s debut as Maxx Explosion last year, and now a new House Of Lords album how do explain your work rate? Answer: The Maxx Eplosion is a project that the band decided to do so I had no involvement with that, as far as the solo CD and the new HOL, I work everyday at writing new material for HOL, my solo CD's and also for Robins stuff. I love keeping busy. Q: Between your solo record and the regular release of House Of Lords records, you must be writing songs constantly. A: Yes, there is so much on my mind these days and I want to preserve the ideas while they are still in my head. Q: Your voice still sounds great on this record. How do you look after it? A: I try to take care with lots of exercise and cardio. I have lost a lot of weight after my illness, that turned out to be a blessing, as it gave me so much more power. I noticed that on this new CD. But you know the older you get the harder it becomes to Focus on:
duplicate your 20's or 30's, but I am very happy with the voice that I have right now. Q: The record is fairly heavy in places thank to Jim Bell’s guitar but those trademark big melodies are all over the record too. What was the plan for the making of this record and did you approach it any differently from your other record with this band? A: After I sang the 1st song "Permission To Die" I realized that we were onto something special. The music had come alive in a way that at first I did not understand. But once I put my voice on it, I said, "OK here we go, this is gonna be good". I don't think any band wants to do the same record over and over, so when any band stretches the boundaries a bit, I think it makes the band and the music better. Lets face it, it would be so easy to keep writing the same song with a few changes and keep releasing them. The harder part is trying to stay relavent in the business. People get older and buy less music but there are younger listeners who will take their place. Q: What did Robin think when she
heard “Precious Metal”? Was it written for her? A: The first time she heard it, she told me that it was the best thing I had ever done. The lyrics, were intended to be universal so that it could relate to any woman who hears it. It really is a testament to all the woman who stand by their guys. I happen to be very lucky to have a girl who understands me and loves me the way she does. There is a lot of "Precious Metal" out there. Q: You’re back in Europe this year. It’s becoming quite regular thing which is great. How do you feel the rock scene in Europe and the U.S vary these days? A: The scene in Europe is not what it used to be, but it is the better than the States. Everytime we go to Europe we are greeted by the diehard Melodic Fans. I just love it and can't wait to see them again as well. I really look forward to our shows in Europ and if you have ever been to an HOL Concert, you will see, we never just go through the motions, we genuinely love being onstage and performing the songs that the fans want to hear.
H O U S E O F L O R D S - Precious Metal (Frontiers Records) For more studio albums since 2006’s comeback album “World Upside Down” shows that being prolific doesn’t necessary mean a drop in quality as this is another awesome addition to impressive House Of Lords catalogue. The whole band are involved in the song writing and it shows. Jim Bell’s riffs and the rhythm section of Chris McCarvill and BJ Zampa can make it seriously heavy on “The Battle” and “Swimming With Sharks”. However, James Christian is still the master of ceremonies here as his voice is commanding and convincing on every track and he has the ability to pen memorable melodies that define what melodic rock is all about. “Action” and “You Might Just Save My Life” are brilliantly catchy rock songs. The title track is an affecting love ballad (you assume is for Robin Beck). A lot of bands lately have returned after a long layoff to deliver albums of varying quality but if you want to do it right, take a leaf from HOL’s book and rather than get rusty keep honing your writing and playing skills as HOL have made a record that will surely be one of the favourite melodic rock albums in 2014. Duncan Jamieson (94/100) MRF | 19
band. red dragon cartel album. red dragon cartel interview with:. jake e lee interviewed by:. d. jamieson
RED DRAGON CARTEL - Red Dragon Cartel (Frontiers Records) Jake E Lee has been away too long. The former axeman of Badlands and Ozzy Osbourne’s band returns after going off the radar in the 90s. His guitar sound is still unmistakable and there are some fat, juicy riffs across this disc such as “Deceived” and “Slave” . However what works less well is the use of several vocalists rather than electing to go with just one singer. This means there’s a slightly patchwork feel to the disc as a whole. DJ Smith takes the lead on five of the ten songs. Smith’s voice has a definite Ozzy influence but it would have been nice to hear a voice along the lines of Badlands’ Ray Gillen. “Shout It Out” has a Bullet boys groove to it and Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander takes the lead vocal for the psychedelic “Feeder”. In This Moment singer Brink scathes a lover on “Big Mouth” and her performance would cause any male ego to shrivel up. Other big names are Sass Jordon and Paul Di Anno who also have a song each. Not all the material breathes fire but nevertheless it’s good to have Jake E Lee back. Duncan Jamieson (90/100)
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Question: It’s great to have you back making records! What were you doing after you went off the radar in the midnineties? What coaxed you back into making a record? Answer: Well an old friend Ronnie Mancuso (also known as Producer R. Bernard Mann) invited me to do a cameo on his Beggars & Thieves album. When the video came out he called me and said have you seen all the comments on the video it’s all Jake, Jake, Jake. So he and Executive Producer Kevin Churko approached me about doing an album. It was the first time that I felt I could work with A-level people who would make a great album in a long time. So we started and did Feeder. Ronnie came back from Florida with Robin Zander on the track and I was blown away. I immediately said lets do this. Q: The nineties weren’t kind to your brand of metal. Do you think it’s any better now? A: Well there definitely seems to be a fresh crop of great new guitarist’s out there and songs can have a guitar solo now so I’d say yes it’s gotten better. Q: Can you tell us about your present band that you’re touring with? A: Originally we were going to make a Slash/Santana style album with different vocalists on every track but once we got started we realized that we wanted to turn this into a real band and tour. Ronnie put up a “Jake E Lee needs a lead singer” Facebook page, posted it once and it went viral. We had hundreds of submissions from all over the world. There were a lot of great people but we were really looking for guys with a real distinct personality and originality. We wanted a real band not a project, a Zeppelin a Who, four guys who had chemistry so it was very difficult. We ended up picking 2 guys who just happened to both be from Canada. Drummer / Vocalist Jonas Fairley and Vocalist Darren James Smith. Q: Are the songs all recently written for this album or are some ideas that you had from the past? A: Pretty much all the songs were created from ideas that I had collected over the years. I brought in a bunch of hard drives, sometimes it was just a 2-bar riff sometimes it was an almost completed track just without melodies and lyrics. Ronnie loaded everything into ProTools and we went about catego-
rizing all the ideas then built the songs from the ones we liked best. We still have another 4 or 5 albums worth of good basic Ideas left to build on. Q: Can we define Red Dragon Cartel a side project or is it a main project with a future? A: This is a real band not a project everybody participated we went way out of our way to find the right chemistry the right group of guys that make a great band so NO side projects this is it. We want the Red dragon cartel to be a real, great live band where each guy has his own identity. A Zeppelin A Who. I didn’t get back into this to do a project it had to be a great band to bring me back out into the world. Q: As well as a core band on the record, you’ve got some high profile guests. Can you explain how you got the likes of Robin Zander, Maria Brink and Sass Jordon involved? A: Well as I said earlier it started as a Slash/Santana style Album with different vocalists on every track. We would finish a track with Ronnie writing the melodies and lyrics and then think who would sound great singing these songs? We reached out to the artists and surprisingly everyone seemed interested so Ronnie would either fly out or we would cut the vocals at a different studio with Ronnie producing the vocal over Skype. Q: Can you remember any rock ‘n’ roll stories from your days working with Ozzy? A: Well there are so many that it could fill as book. But one that stands out is that my first big gig was the US festival in front of like a hundred thousand people. We were just about to start and I totally spaced the opening chords to (I think it was “Over the Mountain”) I looked over to my guitar tech and said shit what are the first chords. Thank god he knew, he yelled out A C G or whatever it was and at the last second I was able to pull it off. Q: How has your way of writing songs changed during these years? A: On this album I had collected tons of ideas some just a short lick sometimes a Fairley developed song then Ronnie would go thru them and we would pick something and turn it in to real song Ronnie did most of the lyrics and melody’s Q: Did you get in touch with Ozzy about being on the record?
Well no but because K e v i n Churko had produced the last 2 Ozzy albums he called Sharon and got her blessings. Unfortunately a couple of things in the press were taken out of context and It made it seem as if I badmouthing them. But the truth is, I always got along great with Sharon and loved Ozzy so from my perspective there are no resentments. Q: How much did Ray Gillian’s sad passing have on your disappearance from the music scene? A: Obviously it affected me deeply but also there were just we not any opportunities that I felt were worth pursuing. Everything was some form of a super group with the same cast of characters from the 80’s scene. I wanted to move forward not be a nostalgia act. I was happy with what I had accomplished with Ozzy and Badlands so it had to be something really worthwhile for me to have a go at it again. Then when Ronnie and Kevin came into the picture I knew this was it. I could work with AList people and make a great album, not just some thrown together project that did nothing but reference the past. Q: You’ve started touring in the States. How’s it going? A: Well we were thrown into the fire before we were really prepared, but now that we have had the chance to play and rehearse properly I’m very excited. It’s a new band so It may take a dozen shows or so but I’m convinced that this is going to be a real great band in the old sense of the word where each guy has his own personality and contributes to the over all chemistry. Q: Do you have any plans to come over to the UK? A: It’s being set up now. I’m pretty sure we will be there in May. We all love Europe especially England so we are really excited to come over and play Q: Do you think we can expect more music from Red Dragon Cartel? A: Absolutely this is a real band not a project. As long as everyone keeps it together we should be around for a longtime. MRF | 21
Bruce Atkinson: So, it is most appropriate to begin with Welcome Back!! A seven year hiatus and now a fantastic release in “Reveal The Change”, care to tell us what happened? Timo Kauppinen: Thank you very much! Ok, fast forwarding to back in spring 2006 when we released our previous album Building Up The Apathy... We had quite a successful tour in Finland and there were also plans from our labels to have opening shows for French Adagio in Europe and in Japan but somehow it never happened. I think Michael wasn’t very happy with the band at the time and when these shows in Europe didn’t happen he decided to leave the band. Instead of desperately searching for a new vocalist the rest four of us just decided to take a break for a while to concentrate on our other projects. Then sometimes in 2008 we found ourselves again jamming together and we started writing new material for new album. Actually we recorded all the basic tracks, drums, bass and rhythm guitars for this album already then back in 2008. We didn’t have a deadline with this album so that’s why this was quite a slow process. We just worked whenever we had the time from our other bands and projects. BA: Staying with your current creation; “Reveal The Change”, you have assembled a fine group of guest vocalists, was this difficult in getting the essence of each song portrayed or just the opposite-in where each vocalist added that something special? TK: I think it was the opposite as during writing and recording this album we didn’t have a clue who will be singing them. We recorded all the tracks just instrumentally and much later we were figuring out all the melodies and lyrics. Then someone threw in an idea to ask some of our all time favourite vocalists if they are interested to sing some songs for our upcoming album. So we didn’t write songs to any particular guests in mind, we just wrote a new album and then later we asked all the different vocalists to sing a song which we thought would fit perfectly with their voices. Teemu Koskela sang all the demo tracks and then we just sent songs to the vocalists who recorded them and then sent back to us. All the guests on the album are absolutely amazing, they really did a great job and they absolutely added something special to each track. BA: “Reveal The Change” is such a brilliant Work. Each of your Talents come shinning through, a solid expression… The recording sessions must have been supercharged! TK: Well, thanks a lot. Regarding the sessions itself, we worked at an easy pace when everyone had the time so it was rather like a peacefully journey this time without any rush. Of course we always try to push ourselves in the studio and try to keep the high level according to songs but I’d say the whole atmosphere during the sessions was very comfortable.
This new issue includes reviews and interviews of Herat, Primal Fear, Vanden Plas, W.E.T., Ring of Fire, Indica, Silent Force, Berggren Kers...