NOIZZ EATER ▪ YOUR FAVOURITE METAL MAGAZINE ▪ ISSUE NO 6 ▪ APR-JUN 2010 INTERVIEWS
12 JENNIFER BATTEN
Hello Metalheads! First of all, I know there have been many tributes of various kinds over the last couple of weeks, but we at Noizz Eater obviously want to dedicate this issue to the memory of our beloved Ronnie James Dio. We won’t see him throw the horns on stage ever again, but his voice will resonate in our hearts until the end of our days. In regards to this mag - if you read the previous issue (our first downloadable one) you won’t notice any big changes. We still only focus on interviews, live reviews and album reviews and if you compare Noizz Eater to any other magazine on the market, I bet you won’t find 25 interesting interviews in one issue anywhere else. Our international team is getting stronger and stronger and the result is that you’ll find 9 pages of CD reviews in this issue, most of them by the crazy hard working Miguel. We're still looking for a London based writer/photographer or a team writer, plus photographer who would like to write concert reviews and interview bands playing one-off UK shows. Get in touch - no money, but good fun guaranteed. Remember that Noizz Eater is available for free download as a digital magazine so, spread the word! Although it’s getting harder and harder, we will obviously continue printing hard copy issues for as long as possible, but the free digital edition is a great way to further promote the best music genre in the world and to help strengthen the scene. Noizz Eater is your magazine, hopefully your favourite by now, so we’re waiting for suggestions on how we can improve what we already have. Check the website regularly as the next issue will be out sooner than you think. Anvil, Blind Guardian, Gwar, HammerFall, Heathen, Onslaught and Rhapsody will be some of the interviews you’ll find in NE 7. Talk to you soon. In metal we trust! Wojtek Gabriel
EDITOR, DESIGN, ADVERTISING: Wojtek Gabriel CONTRIBUTORS: Miguel Blardony, Patrycja Gabriel, Carlos Llanas, Simon Lukic, Juan Hann Ng, Kim Thore, Robert Williams WEB: www.noizzeater.com
ANGELS OF BABYLON
VOLBEAT GIG REVIEWS
NAZARETH + DEBORAH BONHAM
EUROPE + DIAMOND HEAD
EDGUY + WHITE WIZZARD
SLAYER + THE HAUNTED
HAMMERFALL + DREAM EVIL
FM + AIRRACE
INTERVIEW sound like that as well. There’s actually one Edguy song that has a theme from “Dream Healer” in it and so on. I think this is something that might happen because we all play in the same genre and we use the same kind of standards. We don’t really care so much because we think we’re Gamma Ray and we’re doing our thing. If you go to youtube there’s a thing called “metal sounding like other metal” and there are a lot of bands that sound like other bands and if you start digging, you can come up with a lot of comparisons. NE: You've got Michael Kiske singing on "All You Need To Know". Was it a promotional trick or are you actually close friends?
Photos: edel/EarMusic & SPV
t’s always hard to be objective when talking to one of your favourite musicians, so I tried a different approach with this Gamma Ray interview. I read a lot of reviews and dug through a lot of forums to find out what people don't like about the new album and on this basis I compiled a set of inconvenient questions. Kai Hansen’s job was to convince people that "To The Metal" is worth buying and when I made him aware of the situation, he actually seemed to be quite happy about the opportunity to defend the album. So, here you go, power metal’s founding father versus the “To The Metal” haters. NE: The opener of the album is a mid paced composition which may be a surprise for a Gamma Ray fan. Why did you decide to kick the album off with "Empathy"? We could have of course opened the album with a fast song, but that’s too obvious. It would be just like cooking with a recipe and you have to try different things. Our thought was, if people go to the shop and listen to the album for the first time, of course for a Gamma Ray fan this might be a surprise, but a Gamma Ray fan will make an effort to listen closely to the other songs as well. But for somebody who doesn’t know the band, delivering a speed song at the beginning it will just categorise us, “Oh, it’s German speed metal.” So to avoid this and to do things differently we said, “Empathy” is a very strong song, a very emotional and intense song and it can be liked by people who enjoy speed metal and by people who like different kind of stuff. NE: You started promoting the album early with the title song. You've probably heard it said a thousand times over that it's very similar to Priest's "Metal Gods". Was it a conscious decision? That was definitely a conscious decision but, we didn’t want to make a cover of “Metal Gods” because if you listen to that song there is no part that is actually like “Metal Gods”. It’s in the drum rhythm for sure, the drum rhythm is exactly the same, but there are a hundred million songs that have the speed metal double bass drumming and nobody would say it’s similar to something. It’s like people always say that if a band plays a
melodious double bass song, they always say it sounds like Helloween. So, we don’t mind this comparison. The whole atmosphere of the song is very much like “Metal Gods” and of course what leads people to think that is that we used the words “we came to hail the metal gods”. People hear that and say, “Oh yeah, this is like “Metal Gods”. Plus of course the guitar riff is in the same key as “Metal Gods”. But on the other hand if you really compare the parts, the vocals are completely different and the chorus has nothing to do with “Metal Gods”. It has that atmosphere and everything, but it’s far from being a rip-off. This song was born in the rehearsal room when I started jamming around on the guitar and Daniel was setting up his drums and suddenly I played this riff. Daniel immediately stopped working and said, “That’s a great riff, you should make a song out of that, like a real metal anthem.” He joined me with the drum rhythm and everything was clear. NE: Many songs on the album bear some similarities to other songs. People talk about Hammerfall's "Dragon Lies Bleeding" in the intro to "Chasing Shadows" and Stratovarius’ "Black Diamond" in the "Rise" chorus. Many hear some Maiden and Edguy here and there, and I always sing "I Want Out" when I hear "Time To Live". There are really too many similarities to say that it's simply a coincidence. Can you please explain this? We were there way before Hammerfall, Edguy and anybody else, so we’ve done a lot of stuff where you can actually say there’s a lot of Hammerfall songs that sound like Gamma Ray or Helloween. There are a lot of Edguy songs that
How it actually happened is that on “Land Of The Free II” I had the idea of calling Michael because he sang on “Land Of The Free” as well and I had a song that his voice would have suited very well. But then again we said, that would be like painting by numbers, doing the same thing again - he sang on part 1 so he must sing on part 2, bla, bla, bla… We thought it was too obvious in a way so I let it go. On this album, what you need to know is that I changed the vocal lines after the demo was finished. I was not satisfied with it so I changed it and when I came up with the chorus line I immediately had Michael’s voice in mind and I said, “OK, last time I didn’t call him, but this time I will call him and ask him if he’d like to do it.” I was very happy that he has because I didn’t really expect him to say yes. The song is a pretty fast double bass song and it’s not really his taste nowadays. But I sent it over to him and told him, “If you don’t feel like doing it, it’s fine by me.” But he liked it and he said he would do it. So it wasn’t a promotional trick and I don’t think we really need that. Michael has been a guest on so many metal albums, that it’s not so special anymore, but because there’s a connection between me and him from the past, it is special. We also have a really good friendship.
NE: You guys produced the album on your own - Dirk actually did most of it as far as I know. There are as many opinions as people, so tell me have you read any reviews that made you think that you could have done something better or just different? That’s always the matter of taste. I know there are people that might not like the sound of the album, but I always say, if somebody thinks they know how to do it better, they’re welcome to come up and show us how. Give us a shout and you’re welcome to give it a try. We’ll send you the files and wait and see. NE: You've been using less of your high pitched vocals. Why is it so? I’ve done it so much that it’s time for me to explore different horizons. I get bored always using the high stuff and it gets on my own nerves, haha! I think I’ve proven that I can do it and if it fits the song I can do it, but if I can do it differently, it’s more fun for me. At the moment I want to try out different things and maybe sing in a deeper and lower voice. NE: On the album the keyboards got some more space. You're one of the leading bands in the European power metal field. Do you need to update your sound to be current with what’s fashionable in power metal? No, not really and we’ve always used keyboards. There are keyboards on “Heading For Tomorrow” and sometimes they get a little louder in the mix, sometimes a little lower. I don’t think there are more keyboards than before. NE: Your current company frightened me a bit when I read in the press release that there are some gothic and industrial influences on the album. There are none obviously, but one could think that the label doesn't know much about metal? No, it wasn’t done by the label. We have a little bit of that in the music, if you take “Empathy” there’s a little bit of gothic in there. Even in the vocals of “All You Need To Know” there’s a kind of Sisters Of Mercy-like singing. But I think they may have overdone it a bit for the press release. Sorry if we confused people, haha… If you listen to the album you can hear that it’s really not true. NE: You had some connections in Edel, through a guy who previously worked for Sanctuary. Is that why you signed with them? That’s true actually. When it was clear that we might look for somebody else instead of waiting for SPV, a friend of mine said, “You know this guy you once worked with?”, well he moved from Italy to
INTERVIEW Hamburg to work for Edel. My friend told me about that and said, “Here’s his number, give him a call.” So I called him and we met and from that point on the things move that way. NE: Do you regret leaving SPV? They had problems, but they're up and running again and releasing new albums. I don’t really regret it because we did it for our own safety and we’re absolutely better off now. Of course there were some good people in the company that I miss working with but in the end we just had enough of the insolvency thing and all the bullshit that came along with it. At the time we had to make a decision and there was no way of really solving the problem in sight. NE: Gamma Ray has hordes of die-hard fans especially in Germany who will buy album and not download it. Now, don't you think that releasing a few different versions with different covers is kind of forcing the Gamma Ray maniacs to buying more than one copy of the album? No one is forced. Everybody can make their own decision and we think it’s nice to have all those different versions because it’s kind of interesting in a way. When the record company came and said, “We want to do different versions”, we didn’t say no. NE: You're the main songwriter in the band but actually all four of you write songs. Do you just bring an idea to the table and then vote to work on it further or not? Yeah, that’s the way we do it. Everybody is allowed to write as many songs and as much as he likes to. We then take the songs into the rehearsal room and together we decide what’s going to be on the album. Normally, I’m always the first to start songwriting and I have the most ideas, so I end up with more songs than the others on the album. But there’s no rule to that. Dirk wrote two songs actually and Daniel wrote two songs, Henjo had four ideas but two were still very rough so we said, “OK, we’ll keep them for the next time.” NE: Here comes the hardest question about the new album and please don't try to walk around it. What is the worst song on the album in you opinion and why? I don’t think there are any bad songs on the album, haha… That’s a tough question. I really can’t say because if there’s a worst song, there must be a best song and I don’t judge the songs that way. I really don’t. That’s not walking around the question, I just cannot say because I like all the songs. NE: Now I'd like to ask you a couple of random questions I’ve always wanted to ask. When you left Helloween, you were one of the founding members, so why didn't you try to keep the name?
I guess because it’s not my style. All the others were still there and it wasn’t like I should take the name and walk away. That would have meant I threw everybody else out and I couldn’t continue. If I don’t like it in the band then I have to go and that was my point of view. I always saw it like that. Of course there were times when I wished that I had taken the name with me because the name is still big. It still draws a lot of attraction and in a commercial sense it would have been very good. But I think I’m very happy with what we’ve achieved with Gamma Ray because it’s been 20 years now and we’re still here. We have a really good following and there are not too many people who leave a well known band, form something new and continue for such a long time with the same kind of success. NE: You started to sing again when Ralph left Gamma Ray. Was it the only option from the beginning or did you look for another singer? We didn’t really look for another singer, but we of course put the question on table, “All right, shall we look for another singer or shall I take the risk?” I wasn’t really 100% sure. I was singing on the demos and I was singing in the rehearsal room when Ralf was not there so, all the others in the band got used to it. I got used to it in a way. So I asked them, “What do you think, shall I put it on me or shall we look for another singer?” And everybody thought I should do it, so I just did it. NE: You've played a couple of early-Helloween material shows with the guys from Stormwarrior. How did it come about? Did they ask you to do it? Yes, they asked me to do it. It was that simple. We have a good connection and stuff and it’s a real fun thing to do, playing the old Helloween stuff with me just singing. NE: These are probably the only shows where you just sing without a guitar in your hands. Doesn't it feel weird? Oh, the first show felt really weird and after the third show, I got kind of used to it but it’s still kind of weird to not have a guitar. NE: What is this Donald Duck costume comment in the title of your live album/DVD all about? Can you explain the joke? That happened on the American tour. We were walking around the city and the keyboard guy, Eero was walking in front and Henjo noticed that he walked in a similar way to Donald Duck. So we said, “All right, at next show he’s going to wear Donald Duck costume.” Of course from that point we were like, “Hey Eero, where’s your Donald Duck costume?” So it became a running gag and we had to put it in the title.
NE: The forefathers of German metal Accept are back with a new singer. What's your opinion about Accept without Udo? I haven’t heard it yet. I’m not so close minded that I would say it has to suck because Udo is not there. Give them a chance and listen to the album. If the album is good, then the album is good. If the singer is good then the singer is good. It’s the same when Bruce Dickinson joined Iron Maiden. There were people saying Iron Maiden without Paul DiAnno was not Iron Maiden, and all that kind of stuff. NE: Dan Zimmerman has recently left Freedom Call. Does it mean that he wants to solely focus on Gamma Ray? I mean are you going to be very busy in the coming months? That’s true, absolutely. We have three weeks in Europe and another three weeks and after a short break we have a world trip coming up which will take us to Russia, Japan, Korea, China, Indonesia, South America and later on in the year there will be the US tour coming up as well. So there will be a lot of busy times ahead and I guess doing two bands with such a tight schedule is getting more and more impossible and Daniel made a choice. NE: The UK isn't the best market for European power metal so I don't expect a Gamma Ray tour here. But will you visit the islands with the new album at all? Absolutely. I recently saw that we’ve gone into the rock charts in the UK and that sounds pretty good so I think we have to definitely do at least one or two shows. NE: Thank you for the interview Kai and apologies for the negativity in some of the questions… No problem. You know, we’re curious about what people think and on the Internet you read many comments. Some of them always stick out because there are always the notorious guys that want to find something to complain about. You can see the same guys comment on many bands and they always have something to complain about. Sometimes I really wonder, what the hell? If you don’t like it, just don’t listen. Sometimes you get the feeling that these people don’t have anything better to do than criticise others. If they’re so fucking clever then they should form a band and do it better. WOJTEK GABRIEL w w w . g a m m a r a y. o r g
veryone who owns a radio or TV set knows “The Final Countdown”, one of the biggest rock hits ever recorded. True rock fans however know, that Europe isn’t just about this one song and they have recorded a couple of high quality LPs in the ‘80s as well as three albums that came out after the hiatus the band was put on in the early ‘90s. Out of those three works, the latest release entitled “Last Look At Eden” is probably the highest rated one and on top of that the band is in great shape which you can tell, if you recently caught them live. It was a pleasure for me to talk to Joey Tempest about their latest studio effort and I hope it will be a pleasure for you to read this interview.
NE: You’re closing your 9-date UK tour tonight. How has the reception been in general?
to somehow go back to the hard rock roots?
Very good. We’re very happy with the press and the reactions of the audience. They seem to know the new songs and we play 5 new songs. We play “Last Look At Eden”, “Gonna Get Ready”, “New Love in Town”, “No Stone Unturned” and “The Beast”. Those songs are going down very well. We’re sort of building things up in the UK slowly, I think. We’re getting a great reception and great reactions for this new CD. Also we toured the UK on the “Start From The Dark” album and for the “Secret Society” album I think we’ve only done one gig, in London at Shepherd’s Bush. So this is probably the best and biggest tour we’ve done in the UK in a long time. NE: You played a show in Oxford a few days ago, where a lot of equipment broke during the show. Did you find it weird? Yeah, it was spooky. It was like the Oxford ghosts came to haunt us. It was a great show though and a fantastic audience. We just had a lot of technical problems. Leeds was great and Newcastle is a great rock area. NE: On the new album we can hear a lot of ‘70s influences and modern production. The two previous were quite modern also when it comes to the songwriting. Why did you decide
wouldn’t work nowadays, when a lot of kids re-discover the ‘80s hard rock and glam rock scene?
It was automatic, it was spontaneous, we didn’t even think about it. On the other two albums we were more concentrated to do something more modern and cutting edge. But on “The Last Look At Eden” we let everything go and were just trying to have a good time. I think our influences were coming through, from when we were kids. We’re not afraid to show anything. The last album is very honest in that sense. A lot of it was written on the road during the “Secret Society” tour, we wrote a lot of riffs and songs. NE: A lot of young bands draw their influences from the ‘70s, like Black Stone Cherry, The Answer and Airbourne. Were you inspired by this young generation a bit? Yeah, especially Black Stone Cherry. They’re very inspirational I think. They have great sound as well, good guitar sound and drum sound on the second album. The first one is very raw. I like the first album, but the second sounds really good. They’re very good. I hope they do well in the future. NE: Did you really need that change of style? I mean your ‘80s sound was really established. Do you think it
I think what’s happening is that there are parts of the ‘80s that work, not the whole thing, so you have to be careful what you do. You cannot do a production with keyboards too high in the mix, digital delays and things. What’s happening now is that you take things from the ‘70s, the ‘80s and the ‘90s and it’s a combination for the new millennium I think. You have to be very careful to do an old-fashioned album. You will disappear very quickly if you do that. NE: Since the re-union you also sing in a different way, not like the ‘80s Joey Tempest and it’s not only about your voice being more mature now. Your style seems to be different. Why is it so? I don’t know. It’s just a natural progression for me. I suppose a little bit of all these years living in the UK and spending a lot of time in America, I suppose we’ve come to terms that we have a little bit of blues in the band. I think we are brave enough now to let it come out because we’re coming from Scandinavia and we really don’t have it in our blood. There are great blues players from Scandinavia of course, but it takes a lot of experience to come out and sing like
” You have to be very careful to do an old-fashioned album. You will disappear very quickly if you do that.”
Photos: Tina Korhonen
INTERVIEW this. I just feel more relaxed about singing. You don’t have to scream all the time, you can find expression and attitude in other ways.
that’s kind of more light, more fun, like “Catch That Plane” or “Gonna Get Ready” or “The Beast”. I love that side. I had a lot of fun with the lyrics on this one, you know? I was studying NE: In “The Beast” there are these old a lot of hip-hop and rap artists as well, because vinyl sounds. What’s the idea behind they have so much fun with their words. I putting them in the song? remember writing “The Beast”, it was the last song that I sang on the album and it was the last lyric I wrote. I wrote it the night before I Yeah, that was Tobias’, the producer’s idea. He just was going to sing it. It was crazy. I was up all did it himself and we listened and thought, “Yeah, night, I was listening to all kinds of stuff on that’s a cool idea.” There’s no hidden meaning or myspace to get inspiration and it turned out to anything in that. It just sounded cool at the ending be one of my favourites. It was just playing of the song. with words and having fun. I’ve done that NE: You’ve got these symphonic more on this album. I think we’re getting backgrounds in a few songs and they seem experienced enough to do that. Being to work well with the music. Did you write Swedish, English is not our first language, but these songs with the symphonic stuff in we’ve lived abroad for so many years now, I moved out of Sweden in ’87, so I’ve lived for mind? 23 years in various places, Caribbean, America, Ireland for 5-6 years, and then No, not at all actually. Tobias Lindell had an idea to England and I finally began to understand go to Prague to record it. He’s been there before the English language in a way that I can now with Mustache, another band he produced. He heard write a lyric that can sound like one thing, the demos and suggested that we should use a but mean another thing. That’s the trick. symphony orchestra. “Last Look At Eden” was more The big lyricists write the lyrics with the basic before and it was a guitar driven song. I think I meaning behind it. You listen to the lyric did some keyboards on the demo, but not that much. and you think it’s about this, but it’s about So, Tobias came up with the idea to go to Prague and something completely different. On “The record strings and then to go there, it was sort of a Last Look At Eden” there are a few songs wasted journey if we didn’t do more songs. So we did NE: I witnessed your comeback show at we thought, “OK, this is good enough, we four songs, that one, “No Stone Unturned”, “New Love like that too. Sweden Rock in 2004, but I liked the last can release it.” It wasn’t meant to be a DVD In Town” and “Only Young Twice”. It works really well year’s performance a lot more. It’s like NE: The cover art is very memorable and or CD but we were happy with it. It was a on “Last Look At Eden” and on “No Stone Unturned”. you have re-gained all the stage I’m sure you’ve been told many times lot of fun to do and it was different. Those songs really became more dramatic and experience and confidence you once had that it doesn’t only look like an apple. majestic. NE: You’re planning the release of by playing again? Whose idea was it? the new album in 2011. All three NE: A few songs like “Catch That Plane” and albums you recorded after the reIt’s a really good example actually. There is a big “In My Time” have these strong blues It’s our design guy. He does our website as well. union were a bit different. Do you difference between that Sweden Rock Festival influences and “In My Time” reminds me pretty We had the title “Last Look At Eden” and then we already know how the new one will show in 2004 and 2009. I loved the 2004 show, much of Gary Moore’s “Still Got The Blues”. were just discussing what to do and then we sound like? but that was only our second gig since the break. started thinking about an apple. The first idea Was it all John Norum’s input? We were very nervous in 2004 I remember. But was an old apple core, but then it turned into it was a good gig and we did some older No, not yet. It’s too early. Bu we’re something else. Our designing guy came across John has always been a strong influence, ever since we material. We did “King Will Return” and some touring now and we’re collecting some this fluid, it’s a black fluid and if you add magnet started the band when we were 15, 16. He has a little other stuff. But 2009 was really cool and we ideas. That’s what happened last time. On to it becomes spiky. So he sent me this image bit of blues in him. I had the song idea since a while were really confident. We began to get back in “Secret Society” tour we started putting and it was almost like two black balls, you know? back for “In My Time”, but he was the one that made it the saddle and it was a great show. some ideas together. There are a few I thought it was fantastic, I sent it to the other more bluesy because he wanted to place the solo all the ideas, but it’s too early to know the guys, but it was too dark. So he came up with an way through the song. When I put the vocal down he had NE: You headlined Bloodstock, a heavy sound and the direction really. I want to idea of slicing it in a half and putting an apple the whole track and he just played all the way through metal festival. Weren’t you afraid that start working more with John as well, to into it. Some people think it’s some sort of a the song in the blues style and that’s what turned it into a the orthodox metal crowd may give you a get some more riffs from John, to get sexual art and some think it’s just a straight more bluesy song I think. It just came out that way. It was cold reception? some more ideas from Mic as well. I forward apple. For us it’s just a memorable a straight forward type of ballad, but when John started wrote “The Beast” with John Leven, the image and it sticks out. People react when they playing, it turned more into like a blues track. bass player and he’s got more ideas. see it and that’s kind of cool. We didn’t know, because there was a lot of talk We’re going to start going through before the show, like, “Why the hell are they NE: A lot of today’s rock bands write lyrics about NE: I don’t know what the situation is everything probably this summer. coming here?” but it turned out really nice. A lot very dark subjects, and you do the opposite, like in other countries, but in the UK the We’re going to start looking at things of people came to check us out and we got a lot you’ve got very positive and optimistic lyrics. Is new album seems to be getting more more seriously and record it next year. of press out of it. We wondered how it was going it easier for you to write such stuff or does it just interest than the two previous releases. to go, but we did Hellfest a month before that, in work better with Europe’s music? NE: To round this interview off Any idea why? France, which was similar. It was also an extreme tell me, since you released “The metal festival, but Black Stone Cherry was there I think we do both. Some of the song lyrics are melancholic, Final Countdown” have you ever and there was more rock bands there. So when No, but we had a good feeling when we finished there are songs on the new album that are more heavier played a show where the title we came to Bloodstock we were like, “We can do this album. All our experiences went into this, and they have other meanings. But I don’t really talk about song was not on the setlist? you know? We were relaxed. I think it is better in this.” We’ve got so much experience now, that that, you know? There are some songs that are more we’re not scared to do anything really, haha… many ways. It’s experienced, it’s modern and it’s darker under the surface, but it’s a positive album I think. I Not a real big show, but acoustic radio playful. The sound is in your face and it’s got wrote “Last Look At Eden” before the American election NE: The “Almost Unplugged” DVD came performances maybe. Definitely not a some softer moments like “New Love In Town” because I was worried about what was going on, what was out last year which apart from your rock show. We’ve always done it. We and “In My Time”. It’s also got more dimensions. going to happen after the election in America. After the material consists of a couple of covers. love playing it live, it’s a great In the UK they seem to like it. In most countries election it was a positive result for me so it turned into a Why did you choose to cover these songs explosion, great connection with the we’ve got really good reviews. positive rock song. But there is a side to “Last Look At Eden” in particular and whose idea was it to do audience. We don’t listen to it at our Europe's Balls 'N' Banners Tour kicks off in the UK on February 17th 2011 a different show, with the string homes or in a car or anything, but quartet? we love playing it live. It’s great. Ticket Hotline for all concerts excluding Manchester: 0844 477 2000, Manchester Tickets: 0161 832 1111 Some of the songs like “Rock The www.ticketweb.co.uk, www.ticketline.co.uk. Night” or “The Final Countdown” It’s a discussion we’ve had many many years UK tour dates include: Glasgow 02 ABC (Feb 17), Birmingham O2 Academy (Feb 18), are made for the show and for the back with our manager actually. We talked about London 02 Shepherd's Bush Empire (Feb 19), Oxford O2 Academy (Feb 21), fans. doing something for the fans, doing a webcast, a Bournemouth O2 Academy (Feb 22), Bristol O2 Academy (Feb 23), WOJTEK GABRIEL special show for our fans. We chose covers of Manchester Academy 2 (Feb 25), Leeds O2 Academy (Feb 26), Newcastle O2 Academy (Feb 27) bands that influenced us. It was filmed and we Further info: www.europetheband.com. www.europetheband.com recorded it and when we listened to it afterwards
ama Bomb has proven their worth in the metal scene with each album release. Their latest album “Tales From The Grave In Space” has received great reviews since its debut, and still manages to catch the attention of new fans. They have also helped bring in a new era of thrash alongside bands like Toxic Holocaust, Municipal Waste, and Warbringer. With the help and support of Earache Records, Gama Bomb is ready to take on any challenge. The Irish thrashers took the time to speak with Noizz Eater about their influences and their latest album “Tales From The Grave In Space”.
NE: Gama Bomb, along with the support of Earache Records, decided to release the new album as a free download. How did you come to the conclusion that you wanted to release the album for free?
out as being personal favourites to perform live? It’s funny: songs you presume are gonna be awesome live when you record them can turn out to be real damp squibs, while other songs we’re totally not keen on are in very high demand. We hear people shouting the names of songs we can’t stand! “Slam Anthem” is always a blast, so is “New Eliminators”. NE: Has Earache Records been supportive in planning some tours overseas for "Tales From The Grave In Space"? They’re helping us get a foot in the door of the US, yeah. Late this year is what we’re looking at.
the European tour last year, just to let our brains relax.
NE: Can you describe how the transition from the independent label Witches Brew to major metal label Earache has been?
NE: With each full length album Gama Bomb seems to have more energy each time. What are some major influences that played part in the writing of "Tales From The Grave In Space"? Well, I can’t speak for the other guys musically, but I was keen to try new stuff vocally, and I took that from a lot of places. I wanted more of that clean power metal style singing, that real tenor, and I wanted to vary things more. Everything from the rapper Rahzel to Rainbow really. The concept of the album was inspired by the horror comics of the 1950s, which have been a big love of ours for years. Morality tales, gore, twist endings, high-style art and design, all that stuff fed into it.
It was easy as pie. On WB it was just a matter of a few emails and that, no real ‘label’ to speak of, just a few nice people and the means to reproduce our album. With Earache it’s been much bigger: traveling, meetings, touring, promotion – just a whole different deal. Earache have allowed us to do things on a bigger scale and in our own way. We really appreciate that.
It was a natural progression really. Joe and I were chatting about a new album and that’s what came up, giving it away for free. NE: The latest album also has some unique song titles. With We suspected Earache, with their history of risk-taking business songs like "Mussolini Mosh" and "Escape From Scarecrow calls, might be up for it. Luckily they were, and I think it’s the Mountain", what influenced you to write such charismatic song best thing we’ve ever done as a band. names? NE: The fans enjoyed your album so much that they requested it to be released on CD and vinyl. What Song titles should be just as important as the song. Classics are classics because of the whole package, not just a riff. This album has the best titles ever, some of was your first reaction to these requests? them that popped into our heads like “Blood Castle” and “Skeletron”, and others we culled from different places - “Scarecrow Mountain” was a joke name The physical release was always part of the plan with the for a movie referenced on a horror podcast Joe subscribes to. My favourite title album. We still like physical albums ourselves, as much as we on it is “Apocalypse 1997”, it’s just so futuristic. I think of new song titles all the download music, so we didn’t want to leave fans of that out time, some of which make it and some of which don’t. in the cold.
NE: In your opinion what was the most challenging aspect of making "Tales From The Grave In Space?" It was a hard push to get the album written, but that’s how we work best. We had a certain number of songs and then pushed really hard to a deadline and got them battered into shape. Many of them were still being finessed in the recording studio on the night. That was tough, alright. We had to take a good bit of time off after that and
NE: Was the writing process different on this album than on previous releases?
NE: Are there plans to film any music videos for the new album? Do you have any over the top ideas in regards to that? There’s no official music video in the works, as the label don’t place a lot of emphasis on them. We’ve talked extensively about it and have lots of plans should it come to fruition, but I don’t see it happening any time soon. NE: The vinyl version of the album was printed in two editions. The black edition was limited to 700 copies and the green ultra-limited edition was limited to only 300 copies. Can we expect more vinyl releases from Gama Bomb for future albums? We try to release everything in vinyl because as thrash fans we know the importance and the attraction of owning a nice heavy piece of vinyl. I’m very proud of our 12inchers, if you know what I mean.
NE: Gama Bomb also included a version of the "Half Cut" EP as a second disc for the CD release Joe wrote most of the riffs on this one, but it was a very long and intensive, of "Tales From The Grave In Space". With the collaborative experience for all of us. I spent much longer on lyrics this time around. bonus "Half Cut" EP, and the free album download, Gama Bomb is clearly all about the NE: I know it's hard as a musician fans. Is safe to assume that Gama Bomb will to pick one song over another continue to add bonus material to future but are there any tracks releases? on the new record that stand Yeah, as much as we possibly can. This business is such that you need to give people your all - the days of bands stiffing their fans on content and entertainment for big bucks are long gone. Today you need to provide more insight, more quality and more fun for every penny someone throws your way. That’s the way we like it, because we’re detail men we’re all about the fine details and the gaudy wrapping. NE: What is next for Gama Bomb? We’re touring a good bit this year and have already discussed our next project, but it’s not an album. We haven’t even spoken to the label about it and don’t know how it might work, but if we pull it off it’ll be an outrageous move and a total first for a thrash band, or maybe any kind of band actually... CARLOS LLANAS www.gamabomb.com
INTERVIEW think you could do that better”. It’s good to have a challenge to rise to. NE: You have been fortunate to have worked with exceptionally talented producers like Bill Metoyer (Slayer, Dark Angel, D.R.I.) After working with Bill on the major label debut, what made you decide to ask Gary to produce the new record?
entury Media recording artists Warbringer have amassed quite a following in underground thrash metal circles throughout the last several years, due in no small part to the young group’s endless onslaught of touring both in their home country of North America but also abroad. Having shared stages with a host of accomplished and established thrash kings like Megadeth, Overkill, Kreator and the list goes on, expect Warbringer to become the next household name in American thrash. Taking time from his busy schedule, vocalist John Kevill recently took the time to talk metal with Noizz Eater and filled us in on Warbringer's current activities... NE: Warbringer has only been in existence for about six years, yet already accomplished a great deal to say the least. How did you all meet and form the band? Initially how "driven" was everyone in the group? I had been wanting to start a metal band for about five or six months with no real success until I met John Laux, who lives two towns over and was getting into a lot of the same metal that I was at the time. The two of us started writing songs right away and we soon got John’s brother Andy on bass and Adam Carroll, who was originally on drums. We would rehearse as much as we possibly could and as soon as we had a full lineup we would play whatever local places would let us play as much as we could manage. NE: It has now been almost a year since your latest record "Waking Into Nightmares" was released through Century Media records. After an endless amount of touring and rave reviews, do you feel like you have accomplished all that you set out to accomplish with "Waking Into Nightmares"? Almost! We are in it to win it right now, touring as hard as possible. At this point I figure I have a shot at making music what I do for a living, it’s within reach, and that would be a dream come true right there. We still got a little ways to go though!
The idea came up, all the pieces just fell into place really easily for the setup we had on the second record, so we went for it! Also knowing Gary from the first tour he did make us enthusiastic about working with him.
NE: John Gensmer filled in behind the drum throne for Nic Ritter on the "Hordes Of Chaos" tour. Why wasn't Nic able to play live during this tour and were you happy with John's skin-bashing? It must have been crazy having three "John's" in the band for that tour...
This tour came right after our tour with Soilwork, we didn’t go home or anything between them, and right after that tour at some tiny headline show in Iowa, Nic busted his arm. So he was out for the whole Kreator tour, which was our biggest US tour to date. Real bummer. John Gensmer saved our asses on that one, we still made it to all of the shows. The first couple shows were a little rocky, but after that we were fine, we were able to do the tour and so we were really fortunate to have him. NE: You guys are currently out on the Killfest 2010 tour with well known, heavyweight acts like Overkill, God Dethroned and Vader. How does it feel to be representing a new generation of thrash alongside Evile and Woe Of Tyrants on this tour? I dunno, I feel like people make a big deal out of that for no reason. We are a metal band playing metal, no real reason to make it more complicated than that. There is quite a sense of camaraderie amongst all of the bands on this tour. NE: On the "Infecting Nations" tour your bass player Andy Laux took a week off to have a biopsy as he was suffering from some health problems. Do you feel like Andy is back at full capacity now? Yeah, he has been doing fine for a while. Apparently it’s some kind of growth, but not malignant. I think he will have to have something done about it at some point, but for now he is fine and is on the road with us. NE: Let's talk about Warbringer's history with Megadeth. You recently toured with Megadeth this past winter after being handpicked by the band to play as their supporting act. How did that come about and what was that experience like? Not quite sure how it came about, that’s the agents and managers deal, but I’m glad it did! The drives were long and the winter was damn cold, and the shows were totally amazing. It was a great
opportunity for us and we’d gladly do it again. NE: Usually when you read an article in a magazine or on the web regarding Warbringer, there will be something in there about "non-stop touring". After traveling all around the globe performing metal, what would you say were some of your favourite cities and countries to conquer? Too many. We are something like North America’s local band at this point. Chicago and New York are usually awesome, as is Montreal. One of our best headlining shows was in Slovenia. There’s a whole lot really. NE: Have you been filming the endless conquest? Any chance of a live DVD release featuring tour footage from some of these treks? Nah, we are always either busy driving or playing, or largely just relaxing and keeping sane. We’ve got some, but it’s mostly Adam filming when I have to do a late night drive shift and we get all stoned and ridiculous. NE: Is it too early to start thinking about the next record? Do you have any ideas in terms of lyrical and musical direction for the next album? Yep! Gonna try to make a record that’s intense and head banging, but different from our last couple, try some new things, revisit some old things, and make the best record we can. We are gonna take our time on this one though. Work should begin after touring ends... NE: Now that you have toured with some of the biggest names in thrash metal and you're on one of the most well known metal labels in the world, what are your current goals as a band? Keep on truckin’ and make as much of ourselves as we can! NE: What comes next for Warbringer? Southeast Asian tour, US tour with Pestilence, a month off to write some material, another US and European tour in the fall, then in the late winter we plan to go into the studio. ROBERT WILLIAMS myspace.com/warbringer
Photo: Century Media
NE: The legendary Gary Holt of Exodus fame acted as your producer on "Waking Into Nightmares". What was it like to work with a master of thrash like Gary in a studio environment? Would you consider that experience a learning process? Yeah, we learned a lot while making the second record. The sessions were much more focused in a much shorter time than the first, and we had both Gary and studio engineer Adam Myatt working with us. Working with Gary was great, progress was swift and steady, but the atmosphere was still pretty laid back. From my end, some of the vocal lines we worked together on, which was cool to have someone going “I
f you’ve been following the German melodic metallers’ career from the very beginning you probably weren’t too surprised with the musical contents of “Radical Peace”. Starting with straight forward Helloween-inspired power metal, Mob Rules evolved into more symphonic and slightly progressive material. I’d say that their latest studio work is their most mature and most professional sounding effort yet. The 18+ minute epic “The Oswald File”, which occupies the middle part of the album, may alone give you a hint that Mob Rules aren’t just one of a hundred similar sounding power metal bands. They’re definitely one of the most important acts on the today’s German melodic metal scene and we obviously had to give them some space in Noizz Eater. The band’s founder and guitarist Matthias Mineur answered my questions about “Radical Peace” and more. NE: You usually put out albums every two years, but this time it took a bit longer. As far as I know you had no deadline because you had no record deal? Did it work out better for you when you could write with no pressure at all? It was the same hard struggle as we’ve had every time actually. We had the ideas for the long track “The Oswald File” and that took hours and hours to realise. Some songs were easy and typical Mob Rules classics like “Astral Hand” or “Trial By Fire”, but that one was a really difficult child. In general, a bit of pressure helps all of us to work more economically, if you know what I mean?
Photos: AFM Records
NE: You self produced the album. Do you think you can really be objective
about the album when you've been involved with every stage of its creation? Absolutely! In fact, I’d say, we don’t want to be objective. We want to be just the opposite. This is a very personal and, in a way, very intimate record. That’s the reason why we had to produce it ourselves! NE: Inspiration can come from many different sources but it's not a very common case that someone writes a song inspired by a painting, like you did with "Astral Hand". What is exceptional about Michaelangelo's "Creation Of Adam"? Don’t you think it’s inspirational? We do! Mob Rules always has used exceptional topics for
ideas, so for us it’s no big deal to write about historical or cultural highlights such as this. These are the things that move people, so as an open-minded band, you have to talk more about what’s going on in the world, I feel! NE: The 18-minute epic "Oswald File" is an absolute highlight on the album. You mentioned how hard it was to bring it to fruition. Did you study the JFK murder case before writing the song? I think, like a lot of people, we were always interested in the JFK phenomena and always dreamt about making a long song about this topic. The idea originally stemmed from a TV documentary about Lee Harvey Oswald and we just decided to tell the story from an unusual perspective. It was a lot of work rewarding in the end! NE: Why did you actually decide to write such a complex piece about JFK's assassination specifically? Well, for me, the election of Barack Obama to the White House brought back the memories of JFK. In America, there seems to be a similar hope connected with Obama, as there was in the sixties with JFK? NE: Now, your lyrics deal a lot with heavy subjects like politics and social matters, but Mob Rules doesn't sell millions of albums so you can only reach a very limited audience with your messages. So, it seems writing such lyrics is simply more satisfying for you than writing about some happy stuff, so common in power metal
music? Yes, it is and you’re right! We always write about things that thrill us and give us purpose. I’m not particularly interested in dragons and spiders and elves. I’m more interested in politics, history and culture. Our songs should reflect that! NE: "Children Of The Flames" talks about Dr. Joseph Mengele, one of the biggest war criminals ever. Why does a German band decide to write about holocaust? Simple! It’s part of our history and something that should never be forgotten or buried under the carpet. We, as the younger generation, are responsible for ensuring that all the crimes and injustices of the Nazi regime should never happen again and never be forgotten! NE: There are still neo-nazi organisations that exist in your country. Do you have any idea why this philosophy attracts young people? It’s a philosophy for the weak and insecure, as well as those who seek to exploit those who feel that they are treated badly by fate. Unfortunately, it’s not just a German phenomenon. You have neo-nazis all around the world. So fight them! Fight for a world where respect and justice exists, not fear and insecurity! NE: The album is a bit heavier than "Ethnolution A.D.", both when it comes to the production and also the
INTERVIEW Yes, we are really successful in our hometown, and I think that’s because we never forgot our roots and our loyal fans. I am really proud of our home-grown success and I hope those people are proud of what we have achieved as well? NE: Is your freelance journalist experience helpful with handling the interviews that you do for Mob Rules? Yeah, a bit, I guess? But I always try to answer the questions as a musician, and not as a journalist.
” I’m proud of what Mob Rules was, is and will continue to be, as long as we remain true to ourselves!”
guitar work. Did you produce it this way because a heavier sound works better with the lyrics you wrote? It’s really only a natural evolution of Mob Rules. It’s more guitar-driven and heavier I think, because we wanted to be a bit more edgy this time. We never think too much about a new direction. We write our songs and follow our natural inspiration after that! NE: The “Astral Hand” video clip is a typical live-show video. Are you planning on shooting another clip for the new album? More of a storylineone? Well, we did the “Oswald File” one which you should check out. That’s a really good story-based video, almost like a mini-movie, but as to any others, right know, we don’t know. It comes down to time and money, as always! NE: What kind of music did you perform with your pre-Mob Rules band Van Blanc? Is Mob Rules a straight continuation of that band? Yes, basically Van Blanc became Mob Rules. Van Blanc was a bit less metal. I think it was a bit more rock, but with a similar sense of melody. It was a good live act too! NE: The band's name was inspired by George Lynches' Lynch Mob. To be honest I don't hear any echoes of Dokken or Lynch Mob in Mob Rules' music. Are you just a fan of George’s guitar work, as a guitarist? I’m a big fan of George Lynch sure, but I like the name Mob Rules mainly and more because of the political attitude: All power to the people! NE: Mob Rules' early sound was closer to the traditional power metal like Helloween or early Blind Guardian. At which point did you decide that you wanted to turn more into progressive and symphonic direction?
There was no special reason, really! As I said before, it’s a natural progression and a matter of changing tastes. Maybe, our next album might be a bit more prog? Or doomy, even? Who knows? NE: Taking into account the current state of the music business, do you think that in 10-15 years Mob Rules may become as big as the biggest German bands? I don’t know. In my opinion, Mob Rules, with our lyrical and musical direction, is already one of the biggest and strongest German bands. Will we have the same commercial success as Helloween and Blind Guardian? That’s unlikely. I think we’re very different. Do our fans love us as they love Helloween or Blind Guardian? Yes they do. So, that’s reward enough for us! It’s about what we produce as a band! NE: Mob Rules have been getting bigger and bigger since the very beginning. Do the album sales grow along with the bands growth, or do they decrease because of the thieves? Actually, the sales are still very good, but in the same way as many other bands, we do suffer from free downloads and in general, it is a difficult market. But again, it’s the same for everyone, so it’s okay and we don’t complain. NE: Do you wish the Internet had never been invented and that the music business worked in the traditional way, like it did 15-20 years ago? You can’t turn back the wheels of history! You have to accept the current situation and make the best of it. I’m proud of what Mob Rules was, is and will continue to be, as long as we remain true to ourselves! NE: You've had a couple of line-up changes throughout your 15-year career. Would you say that these changes have had any significant impact on the band's sound or songwriting style?
Of course, especially with Sven, our lead guitar player! The level of professionalism in the band increased and made us a much better band. Even with our new drummer, Nikolas, there is a freshness and vitality the likes of which we never had before, so it’s always about that – striving for more! NE: You recorded your live album/DVD in your home town of Wilhelmshaven. It's a common case that the bands aren't recognised in their homelands. It seems it is completely different for you?
NE: How would you rate "Radical Peace" if you were asked to review it? Haha! I never rate my own music. I love the record, but the rating must be done by others. Sorry! NE: Thanks for the interview Matthias. Just to round this talk up, tell me, do you think that humanity will ever have grown up to the point where the state of radical peace – the title of your new album - will spread all over the world? I think that this might be the only chance for mankind right now and the title says something about that, I think. Without a ‘radical peace’, there will be no life on earth in 200 years. WOJTEK GABRIEL www.mobrules.de
ennifer Batten is most known for her unique image and her work with Michael Jackson on his three big world tours. Many however do not know that this American axewoman has been around for 30 years, released three solo albums and has worked with many established artists as a songwriter, producer and session musician. Known for her finger-breaking
double-hand tapping technique, she’s one of the very few real female shredders, who broke through in this maledominated field. Recently Jennifer decided to conquer the world with her oneperson guitar show, supporting herself with backing tracks and selfedited movies. I had the pleasure to talk to this unique artist before one of her concerts.
Photos: Wojtek Gabriel
Ford or Joan Jett?
NE: You’ve almost finished your 1-month UK tour. How did it go in general? It went really good, really well. I’m just getting my solo career off the ground and I’ve only been doing it for two years. Last year I had two weeks that were that were so-so turn-outs and this time it’s been almost full rooms every time, so it’s fantastic. NE: You’re touring on the latest album just by yourself, with the movies and backing tracks to support you. Why did you decide to do it this way, not with a backing band and a singer? Ahm, there’s a lot of reasons. One is that bands are a pain in the ass, haha! Back in the old times I played with bands and being a leader and having to deal with people whining and not showing up on time and cancelling and not knowing the material correctly, it just didn’t seem fun to me. I’ve been playing alone for a long time doing clinics, playing to the tracks and I didn’t think that was enough entertainment for a club show, so I decided to get the film thing happening. I put the word out to filmmakers and after a year and a half I still only had four films. So one of the guys that did the film for the title track of the record showed me how to do it and I got really obsessed with the art form. I love it. I’ve got a 90-minute show and I keep doing more and more films. NE: And have you ever though about putting a regular band together like Lita
I’m not thinking in those terms right now, you know? If I start bringing in 3-4 hundred people a night then I’ll have the money to start adding players. And I don’t think I’ll add a whole band at once, I think I might add the drummer, a percussionist, just so there’s some interaction between two people plus the film, and then who knows? I mean I would like it to be really different from the average show. I get a lot of comments after the show. People often say that they didn’t know what to expect and they really like it. So it might be the way for the future for people. NE: Do you ever do any vocals yourself? Not really. I do a little spoken word in the show and I have a lot of vocal samples in my music. I bought a vocoder to have robotic kind of vocals, but I haven’t used it yet. I will add that next time out. NE: Who or what inspired the little Jennifer to pick up the guitar? My sister, because she had a guitar and I didn’t, so it pissed me off. My dad gave me a guitar for the next birthday and I started taking lessons right away. I just liked it and kept it going. NE: What inspired you to developing your famous two-handed tapping technique? It was a fellow-classmate at the guitar institute that I went to in Hollywood, Steve Lynch. He was in a band after that, called Autograph that had a big radio hit in the ‘80s. Every month somebody gave a seminar at our school and one month is was Emmett Chapman, who invented the Chapman stick that is all touch-controlled with no picking. Steve started experimenting with tapping on the guitar at that point. It was before Van Halen got big, so it was a completely separate approach. After school was over, I kept in touch with him so I could learn how to do it. And then I just started experimenting and expanding. NE: As far as I know Michael Jackson hand picked you for his team. Did he or anyone else ever tell you why he picked you out from about 100 other guitarists? No, nobody ever told me why. But I played the “Beat It” solo ‘cause I knew that from playing it in cover bands for a couple of years. And that’s what he needed for my spotlight. 90% of the show was just funk rhythm so they asked me to do something like that and I improvised. Then I started soloing, I played the “Giant Steps” two hand tapping solo that ended up on my first record and I finished with the “Beat It” solo. I’m sure that’s why. NE: You had a very strong image when playing with Michael Jackson. Was it based on your ideas or as a hired gun you were just told what you should look like? It was Michael’s idea. He wanted me to stand out, so having white hair and having it really big was his idea. I liked it, but I can’t do it myself so I gave it up. NE: Do you remember what your first show with Michael Jackson in front of a huge audience was like? Definitely yeah, it was in Japan in Tokyo, playing for 60,000 people. The thing I remember about it is
that I was worried about being nervous and I wasn’t. I was very relaxed. NE: The Jackson team were just professionals obviously. Was there any space for some personalities to shine through, or was everything directed 100%? I mean was there any space for some improvisation or anything? I was the lucky one that got to improvise. Everybody else pretty much did parts. Michael let me stretch out on a couple of songs, I was with him for 10 years so it was different songs over different tours. You can see in the Bucharest show on “Working Day And Night” he let me go as long as I wanted. I was very lucky. NE: Playing with Michael Jackson gave you the biggest possible exposure. But was it satisfying for you as a musician to go up front just once in a while and play a solo basically for people who didn’t know much about guitar music? Yeah. At the age I did it, I was just happy to be in the band. There’s a lot to know when playing as a part of a band and that’s pretty much what I did with Jeff Beck also. I was there to support, play keyboard as well as guitar parts and do some soloing. I think it’s important for people to know both sides of it. NE: You toured a lot with Jeff Beck and your techniques are totally different. Did you easily complement one another or was it just like two different personalities expressing different qualities? Oh, we definitely have different approaches to guitar. I really focused on doing guitar synthesiser for that show, to support him. We did some soloing together so it was really fun, but definitely different instrumental voices came out of that. NE: Jeff was a big source of inspiration for you. What did you learn about guitar playing when you got to perform alongside him? Number one is creativity. It was very inspiring to play with him because he would play differently
INTERVIEW every night and he wanted us to give him some surprises every night, as opposed to Michael Jackson. He wanted it the same every night and very consistent. Jeff’s show is all about improvisation. His sense of creativity and always stretching for new things was the most impressive thing about him. NE: On your first solo album you have an aggressive song called “Headbangers Spray”. What are the origins of the tune? I was really kind of into fusion before and after the Jackson tour. Some of the demos I was writing were really hard rock. Steve Vai and Satriani were really big at that time and that’s just where my head was at. I actually wrote that inspired from a Satriani show that I went to and it wasn’t inspired by the guitar, it was inspired by Jonathan Mover, the drummer. On the last song that they did, he played double kick through the whole song. That’s what inspired “Headbanger’s Hairspray”. NE: You had Michele Rohl singing in the song “Respect”. She’s got a great rock voice. Why did you do just that one song with her? Well, it’s a guitar record really. Plus she’s fuckin’ nuts, haha! Singers are crazy. That’s why now I’m just using the samples. You know, come and sing and then go away, I’ll just use the samples by myself. NE: On “Tribal Rage” you’ve got all these strange ethnic instruments. Did you play any of the instruments on your own? On “Tribal Rage” all those sounds were samples or triggered by the guitar synthesiser. The drums are real and the drummer Glen Sobel, he’s like an octopus so there was no overdubs with him. Everything you hear is coming from one drummer. The bass player was really creative and he got a lot of different sounds out of the bass. But all the synth sounds and everything else you hear is triggered by me. NE: What actually inspired you to do a world music album? I’ve been attracted to world music ever since I began watching “Tarzan The Ape Man” as a child. I just dug the African drums. One of my favourite bands is Weather Report which is real African, East European influenced kind of stuff. It’s just different and it’s fresh. I was kind of bored with pop radio. NE: I read somewhere that you partially recorded “Tribal Rage” in your own bathroom? Yeah, haha! I had a garage that was separate from the house and I didn’t have a separate amp room so I ran a line across the yard into my bathroom so that was the isolation booth. I remember coming home one time and the bass player had been recording and everything fell off the shelves because there was such a rumble in the bathroom. That’s how we did it in the beginning.
NE: Some of the songs from the latest release like “Whatever” don’t really have a lot of guitar playing on them. Why? I wanted to have a different focus. I really got into electronica when I joined Jeff Beck’s band and that really inspired me to think about sounds. I just kind of wanted to take people on a different sonic journey. One of the criticisms I got from the “Momentum” record was that the solos were too long. So I thought, “I’m gonna make it more concise, make the songs shorter for people with attention deficit disorder.” I think when you don’t have really long solos it’s easier for people that are not guitar players to dig the music. And then I added the films to it and I found out that even little kids can hang out and watch the music even though they don’t understand it. I wanted to reach a wider audience. I mean I did pretty much everything on the album, so it’s my creativity. It’s just that the guitar isn’t everything. Adding the vocal samples sometimes is the focus of the song and that’s just fine. I’m satisfied with how much guitar is on it. NE: You’ve got the signature Washburn guitar. How did the collaboration with Washburn start? Did they approach you? They did. They schmoosed me. They told me things that I wanted to hear. Most of it was bullshit, haha! I was with Ibanez for 7 years and I had trouble with every single neck, 7 different guitars. So I wanted to go to another company that had a more manageable neck. And now I’m looking at the Parker guitars. US Music Corp. owns Wasburn as well as Parker guitars now. I’m looking into Parker guitars because they’re lighter. NE: The most well known guitarists in all genres from blues to heavy metal are male. Why do girls, in your opinion, so seldom take the lead guitar spot? I really don’t know the answer to that. When I first joined Jackson in ’87 I thought in another 10 years it was going to be really different. That there was going to be a lot more women because Prince had Wendy & Lisa, there was a woman in Billy Idol’s band and I was really shocked that it didn’t happen. I think it’s been really delayed, but I find woman guitar players all the time now. It’s really changing and I think for young girls, Miley Cyrus is having a huge impact, at least where the guitar is concerned. There’s a girl named Teresa Russell who’s a fantastic player. I did a show with her. She won the Guitar Centre magazine contest one year and just kicked all the guys’ asses. She kicks my ass. Vicki Genfan, an acoustic tapper guitar player is fantastic. Orianthi is making a huge impact and she was going to be with Michael Jackson on the O2 shows. I think it’s really happening now, not in the numbers of male guitar players, but I think Orianthi with her success will help things along. Plus she can sing, she looks great, is young and she plays great. She is definitely going to have a big impact on young girls picking up the guitar. NE: Do you listen to other guitarists who put solo releases out like Satriani or Malmsteen? No. I got burnt out on listening to electric guitar. I don’t listen to it very often. I’m listening to a lot of acoustic guitar players right now like Preston Reed. He’s a fantastic tapper and a great progressive guitar player. I also listen to electronica and instruments like Irish pipes which just really takes my ear in a different direction. When it’s too close to what I do already it bores me. NE: One of the big pop stars, I think it was Elton John said once that heavy metal brought absolutely nothing new to the rock genre. What do you think? Oh, I don’t agree at all. It’s the whole other voice - another sense of power. For the most part it appeals to young men, like 10-30 years old. I think there’s a certain energy that’s very aggressive, that men especially can relate to.
NE: Are you familiar with the extreme guitar based genres like black metal or death metal? With the cookie monster vocals? It sounds like pitbulls fighting, haha! NE: You said in interviews about being inspired by Van Halen and Steve Morse. Did you ever get inspired by anything from an actual heavy metal band like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest? No, I wouldn’t say they inspired me. I was in a cover band for a while that played some of that stuff and its fun to do and I understand the appeal. I think that AC/DC is a great band. There’s a simplicity about it that is easy to understand for people and I like that stuff. But I haven’t really dived into these genres very deeply. NE: You also performed alongside Slash. Is Guns ‘N Roses material something you like to listen to at home? I like the first album. Yeah, “Appetite For Destruction” had some really cool stuff on it. But to tell you the truth, it’s not on my Ipod, haha! I listened to that stuff because I was covering it with a band many years ago, but it’s not in my listening set at the moment. NE: You’re now playing the small clubs just by yourself. What’s the main difference between performing for the huge audiences you had with Michael Jackson and playing for your own small crowds? It’s much more satisfying to be playing my own music. Small crowds are fine. I need to grow with the crowd. I’m on my own for the first time and learning how to deal with different crowds and different environments is really interesting. Some nights I have a really killer show and I think, ”Oh man, I’ve made it, it’s really happening, I’m really connected with the people”. Then there will be another venue where all the jokes just fall flat. It’s a learning experience and I’m perfectly happy with where I am right now. I just hope that it grows with time and once people see the show and tell their friends, they decide to come back. NE: So what are your nearest plans? I’m actually starting to write a lot of acoustic stuff now. I would like to add that to the set and work with the looper pedal more. I just want to add more textures so that when people come to the show they’ll walk away wanting more. If you give them too much of the same kind of stuff, people tend to fall asleep. So I just want to hit people right and left with the different styles and different films. I’m starting to work with odd tunings. I just want to experiment and be creative. That’s all that is in my future. PATRYCJA GABRIEL www.batten.com
INTERVIEW church. Wasn’t it possible to get the sound you wanted in just one studio? Maybe, but for us the making of an album is like a journey. Every place has its own atmosphere and inspiration. It would be boring to record in just one place. We never do it the easy way. We celebrate our recordings and that’s why we like to record different parts in different places.
his German heavy metal band, which is fronted by Romanian singer Atila Dorn, have never released an album which sounded similar to any of their previous releases, yet their three CDs all sound unmistakably like Powerwolf. Amazing, isn’t it? You can find some new elements in their music on their most recent work called “Bible Of The Beast” as well, NE: The response to your second album “Lupus Dei” was very good. Every band wants their new album to be their best, so was it difficult for you to top your previous release? Did you feel any pressure when writing the songs for “Bible Of The Beast”? To be honest yes. In the beginning it felt like a burden on our shoulders to write a follow up to an album so many people appreciated. But as soon as we really locked ourselves in our rehearsal room and started writing the pressure was gone and it felt like a rush of energy. I think the first song we finished was “Raise Your Fist, Evangelist” and from then on we all felt like we were creating a special album that was still typical for Powerwolf. NE: We can hear a few changes in Powerwolf’s music like Attila adding some raw and harsh vocals to his traditional sound. Was it his idea?
but if you know what this band is about and like their brand of metal you will dig the album because it's another strong Powerwolf release. It took the guys eight months to complete the answers and I lost hope for another Powerwolf feature in Noizz Eater, but they eventually finished them, so you can at last learn more about this interesting band and their latest work.
It was not a particular idea. It just happened. Attila got a lot of new impressions while we toured with “Lupus Dei” and I remember him being totally stunned when watching Gorgoroth at Wacken Open Air, haha. All these impressions may have encouraged him towards a more rough vocal approach. We wanted to capture the energy of our live show on this album and when we listened to some live recordings we realised that we played our songs in a much more rough and heavy way on stage. That’s what we had in mind when we wrote “Bible Of The Beast” and it felt natural when Attila’s vocals became more aggressive. NE: The organs have been an important part of your sound since the beginning, but on “Bible Of The Beast” you use them even more than on your previous releases. What is the reason? The reason is that the songs demanded more organ parts than ever before. We would never use any instrument just because it’s possible. We
try to give every song what it needs and this time the songs needed a lot of epic organ parts. And besides, our organ player Falk Maria Schlegel is one of our main songwriters. NE: You used classically trained singers for the choruses again. When I interviewed you after “Lupus Dei” you said that some of the singers quit when they found out what your lyrics were about. What was the situation like this time round? It was different, because this time the singers knew about Powerwolf so they knew what to expect. At least a little, haha.... It was a very relaxed way of working. I remember one situation, when a 60-year-old tenor came up and said, “I used to go to church every Sunday when I was a little boy. Am I allowed to sing on “Bible Of The Beast?” NE: On the new album, you worked at 5 different locations – 4 studios and in a
NE: Your lyrics on the new album deal with religion, but one lyric is quite weird I must say. Is “Resurrection By Erection” a kind of statement, that sex has always been a form of religion for the human race? Exactly. It’s a man’s true religion. NE: The label added a bonus live DVD to the limited edition release of the new album. Why is it just a bonus disc, not a proper DVD release? Is the quality of the recording not good enough? Well, the quality is very good. The only reason why it is a bonus DVD is that we wanted to give our fans a special extra as a thank you. The show at Wacken Open Air which is featured on the DVD was one of those special moments and it showed that we have gathered a fair amount of fanatical believers. The DVD is meant for these people and that’s why it’s a limited bonus DVD. NE: Your songs are catchy and each and every composition is a bombastic heavy metal anthem. Is it hard to write an album full of songs that you can sing along to immediately? No. We could not write an un-catchy song I’m afraid. Writing catchy chorus lines is the way we start writing a song and I could not imagine writing a Powerwolf song any other way. Catchiness is our curse, haha... NE: You write basic riffs and you don’t have a lot of soloing in your songs, apart from the melody and harmony parts. It seems that you don’t like complex guitar work? Well we do, but we don’t want young guitar players to lose faith after listening to our technical brilliance, haha... No, to be honest, I like good guitar solos, but in my opinion 95% of all guitar solos in metal songs are unnecessary and do not contribute to improve the song – only the guitar players ego. A Powerwolf song is about the song itself, not about the guitar. With that said, we do have some guitar solos on “Bible Of The Beast.” NE: I’ve read some reviews where people said that Powerwolf is unoriginal. Well, that’s bullshit because I’ve heard a few dozens power metal releases this year and I remember maybe 2 or 3 of them. In my opinion Powerwolf’s style couldn’t be easier to recognise. Why do you think people say your music lacks originality?
Photo: Metal Blade
Because they don’t listen to it. A metal album is certainly not original, but it’s like complaining that a sausage is not vegetarian. What the hell? If people want to listen to something original they should go for avant-garde jazz - even though avant-garde jazz is probably as closed minded as it could be, but that’s another story... But what I want to say is, we don’t care about
INTERVIEW these people and it’s good that we don’t care. It would be a shame to destroy a hymn like “Werewolves Of Armenia” just to fit in a 7/8 part with a saxophone solo for the sake of being original. Despite of that all I would state that Powerwolf is indeed original because we do have our very own sound. I don’t really know of any band that sounds like Powerwolf, but in the end, who cares? NE: You’ve released 3 albums so far and the line-up has been stable from the very beginning. It seems that you are all bound by the same vision? Absolutely. We are a tribe. This does not mean we always have the same opinions, but it means that each of us knows his part in the whole. NE: You guys have mostly toured with power metal bands such as HammerFall, Gamma Ray and Grave Digger, but you also did a tour with Candlemass. On the first album, you had a lot of doom metal elements in you music, but doom metal is the last genre we can label you with. What were the responses like on the tour with the doom gods? Well it was hard, but we knew this before we started. It was a challenge for us to play on a nonpower metal tour, but it was worth it. We had to fight for every single person in the audience and at most of the shows we got a good response. These are the situations where we learn to fight and become a really good live band. Of course it would have been easier to play another tour as a part of a power metal package, but it would have been so easy. From time to time it’s good to face challenges and we remember this tour as a great time. Candlemass are also a bigger influence on Powerwolf than 10 power metal bands put together and it was an honour to tour with them. NE: I remember your show at Bang Your Head. Were you surprised that despite the hellish downpour, a lot of people were still standing there and enjoying your show?
he Swedish heavy/power metal scene is getting stronger with bands like Enforcer, Bullet and Portrait waving the flag for traditional heavy metal. You can now add the young warriors from Cryonic to the list. Although singer Bigswede talks about different influences, I'd say the band are following in the footsteps of their older colleagues from HammerFall and early Steel Attack, rather than any NWoBHM acts. Cryonic have signed a deal with EMI Yes, I’m really sure about for their second album called “Kings Of Avalon” and that. My skills as a with the backing of a big label, they may become one songwriter have improved of the leading acts in the genre. and it’s only just started. NE: Would you say that you have improved your songwriting skills since the release of your 2007 debut “Evil Mind”?
NE: When I listened to the album for the first time I had a feeling that it was recorded in two different sessions. Is this the case or am I wrong? You are right. We recorded this album over a long period of time because of personal reasons. I had heart problems and many things happened to the band this year, but now we are charged to the teeth. NE: When you went into the studio did you know exactly what the album would sound like or what we hear on “Kings Of Avalon” is solely the producer’s work? The sound was created when my views and the producer’s came together. NE: The first thing I noticed when listening to the album was the variety in the vocal department. You sing clean, raw, low and high. Do you enjoy using these different styles? Yes it’s really fun. I love the raw and high tones and I always think why I didn’t use it more afterwards.
Yes and it made us proud. We don’t take things like these for granted. It shows that we have dedicated and fanatic fans. That’s something special and it means a lot to us.
NE: Who are you inspired by as a singer? You sound like Udo Dirkschneider in some songs and like the guy from the Crash Test Dummies in others?
NE: I must say Attila’s German is pretty good now. When he introduced the songs he sounded like a German guy to my ears. Have you guys learnt a bit of Romanian as well?
I really don’t know if I am inspired by any singers. I’m trying to do my own stuff but when I become explosive on stage my voice sounds a
bit like Udo. I get so loaded on stage and it’s really fun to deliver the emotions in the songs. NE: Speaking of inspirations, it’s evident that you strive for the musical patterns created by HammerFall, early Steel Attack and Nocturnal Rites. Did the Swedish metal scene have the most impact on you? No, I don’t think so. My favourites are Accept, Manowar, Edguy and WASP.
mean, metal fans are quite orthodox if you know what I mean? No, it’s not wise. It’s really stupid and I will never bring it up again.
NE: You’ve got your 5th drummer in the line-up now. What do you guys do to the drummers to make them come and go so often? We live in a small town, really high up in Northern Sweden and it’s deep in the black forest. It’s not easy to find a great drummer who lives and loves metal to the bone. NE: Do you realise that you now need to put a lot of work into the band to make it through? There are a ton of established bands on the market already?
NE: You re-recorded “Kings Of The Hill” which appeared on your debut album. Why did you decide to re-record this song in particular and not any other ones?
I know it's terribly hard to succeed but we want to do what we are passionate about.
Because Attack/EMI requested “Kings Of The Hill” to be on the album before they released it.
NE: So what’s the Cryonic’s formula for success?
NE: You say in your biography, that the band was founded when your old pop/rock band called it quits and you made your dream come true by becoming a lead singer. If you wanted to sing in a metal band why did you join a pop/rock act in the first place?
I don’t know. We just do what we are born to do - play metal from our heart and keep the flame burning for all metal fans.
I have played guitar in hard rock and metal bands my whole life. You know, I really live and shit metal but I made an exception for my friend this time. He needed my skills and I did it as a favour to him. NE: Do you think it is wise to state that you used to play in a pop/rock band? I
NE: I suppose you’ve played a good deal of concerts in your homeland. Are you now thinking about promoting your music abroad as well? Yes, we would love to tour abroad and it would be a dream to show the world what we stand for. Metal is forever. WOJTEK GABRIEL www.cryonicmetal.com
Not at all. Romanian is a strange language that sounds completely weird to my ears and I guess I will never learn more than “Buna sera” which means “good evening”. It’s the only thing I remember because it’s not that far from speaking Italian. NE: Are you playing any festivals this year? Photo: Attack/EMI
We’re currently planning the festival schedule and so far it will lead us to some countries we’ve never been before like Hungary, Czech Republic or Ukraine. It may also finally lead us to the UK which is not confirmed yet. WOJTEK GABRIEL www.powerwolf.net
suppose every power metal maniac has heard “We Are Pirates”, the song from Orden Ogan's latest studio release, as well as seen the videoclip featuring ex-Running Wild axeman Majk Moti. This tune became a big hit especially in their homeland Germany, but it also brought Orden Ogan to the attention of traditional metal fans worldwide. “Easton Hope”, the latest concept effort from these Teutonic metallers is not a one-hit album, but a release full of great melodic power metal compositions that sounds different to the dozens of bands playing this genre of music. As Lars and Seeb said, the plan for the next release is world domination, but before that happens let's see what the guys said about “Easton Hope”.
NE: "Easton Hope" is another concept album with a storyline based on a character named Alister Vale. Was this character created solely in your imagination or did you get inspired by some known person?
Photos: AFM Records
Seeb: Alister Vale is a completely fictional character, though there are some parallels to various traditional stories.
NE: You're always compared to Helloween, Running Wild and especially to Blind Guardian, although you don't sound like any of these bands. You got Thomen Stauch and Majk Moti to guest on the new album. Did you consider that this move would encourage some people to think that you're Blind Guardian/Running Wild followers?
your songwriting style is pretty unique. How did you discover the formula for your "own sound"? Lars: We went out in the woods on a rainy winter's night with two black cats, two maidens, some candles (maybe it was 666 but it could also have been one or two more) and an ancient book full of spells. Seeb: We're all pretty open to different styles of music. The Orden Ogan sound is basically what I think a melodic metal band should sound like. There's no formula or purpose behind why we sound like we do. It just comes naturally. I think authenticity might be a good catchword here. The most important factors are to have the courage to try something new and to have a good ear for things that don't work, haha...
Lars: Since we're compared to Blind Guardian not only on this record but also with the records before, we were totally aware that having Thomen play drums on "Nothing Remains" would cause further comparisons to Blind Guardian. But that is the one track on the album that we felt had an old-school Blind Guardian vibe to it – especially the drums. So we figured out it would be fun to have Thomen play it. So we asked him – and it was fun! With Majk and Running Wild it is a different story. We've never been compared to them before and that only started with "We Are Pirates!" And that's totally ok because the song was intended as homage to Running Wild and our farewell to them. To have some ex-member play on the song was totally natural. And since Majk is almost something like a childhood hero of Tobi and Seeb’s, it had to be him. Once again, it was very uncomplicated - we asked him and he agreed. We had lots of fun with him. He's actually become pretty good friends with the band and I can't say enough about him. He's such a great guy.
NE: The atmosphere of the album reminds me of '80s Teutonic metal, but when you deconstruct your music every instrument sounds very modern on its own - especially the guitars. How did you achieve a sound that is contemporary, yet has an old-school vibe?
NE: Like I said, you don't sound like any of the bands you're compared to and
Lars: Because we simply have both these
” The most important factors are to have the courage to try something new and to have a good ear for things that don't work.”
INTERVIEW elements in our music. On one hand we're really into '80s metal, thrash metal, power metal and so on, but we're also into contemporary rock and metal bands – especially when it comes to the production side of things. So, if you say we achieved this "best of both worlds" approach, I thank you very much for the compliment! Seeb: Nothing to add. Haha... NE: Speaking of a modern sound, your production is so clear and sterile that I sometimes wonder if you're robots or something, haha... Do you like the production to be this way, I mean absolutely flawless, with no space for human mistakes? Lars: You said - we’re robots. To be more precise, cyborgs from the future like in the Terminator movies. But we weren't naked when we travelled back in time. We were actually thinking about changing our name to Robot Ogan or Terminogan. I still think it sounds like a good idea... Seeb: First of all thanks a lot. But... ha-ha ..yes, that's my fault. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I can't stand to have any mistakes on a record that you will have to listen to for the rest of your life. Live performances are different. We like to improvise a lot there and I think it's more important to bring energy on stage than to play perfectly. NE: You produced and mixed the album in your own studio. Does having such facilities make a musician's life easier? Seeb: Uhm, well, you know, I think it's a bit of both. On one hand it's great if you can work when you want to work and that you can give yourself as much time as you need, without taking a look at the money that you have to spend in another studio. On the other hand you can lose focus sometimes and it can be a very tough job especially for me, as I am the singer, guitarist, engineer, producer and mixer. But I guess somebody has got to do it, haha.... NE: One of Orden Ogan's recognisable ingredients is the big choirs. How did you manage to hire a 14-person choir and a cathedral to record in? It must have been expensive? Seeb: Well, I'm studying music and a fellow student works together with a capella groups and several choirs in a big cathedral in northern Germany. As we have always recorded the choirs ourselves in the studio it was just natural that we asked him to set up a choir for us. I had already written the sheet music so it was no big deal to bring our gear there and record in the cathedral. I'm very happy with it and you simply can't recreate this sound in the studio. It just blew us away... NE: Speaking about high costs, Andreas Marschall’s paintings are quite expensive and a lot of bands stopped using him. Why did you decide to get him to paint your cover arts? Lars: Because we love his classic covers and he's such a great artist. His style just fits our music very well – it has the same atmosphere and feeling to it. I couldn't
imagine anyone else doing the cover for "Easton Hope" and we are totally happy that Andreas again agreed to do the artwork for us, since he hardly does covers anymore. Seeb: I think it's the other way round. It's not the bands that have stopped working with him, but Andreas who is very picky with the acts he paints cover art for. So it's a privilege and honour as well for us that he agreed to do the artworks for the last two records. I hope that it won't be the last. NE: On your debut album you had more folk influences and acoustic guitar parts, but you gradually dropped these ingredients. Why? Lars: There's no exact reason or big master plan for this. I think our sound just naturally evolved. We found that it is more fun to bang out one heavy riff after another, or something like that... No, seriously, you don't plan stuff like that, it just happens. Sometimes you don't realise it yourself until you look back at certain songs or albums because as a band we are too close to it. It takes a little time to be able to reflect on your own songs. Seeb: These ingredients are not completely dropped. There's one folk song on "Vale" called "This Is!" that didn't sound like a folk song because of the production – the acoustic guitars are barely audible. That's one of the reasons why we will have "Vale" remixed, remastered and re-released in November by AFM Records. The other one is because it's completely sold out now haha... But seriously, there may be more folky elements again on the next records. We'll see where the songwriting takes us. NE: Since you're re-mixing and re-mastering "Vale", it seems that you weren't satisfied with the original mix? Lars: I wouldn’t necessarily say so. The intention of the re-mix is to not make the album sound better, but to enhance it with further details in the arrangements. We recorded loads of keyboard/symphonic stuff that was not used, meaning that it got faded out in the mix. That was done on purpose back then because Lia (singer of Mystic Prophecy, who was responsible for the mix) wanted to emphasise the guitars and riffs. In hindsight we feel that we limited ourselves by doing so and now we got the chance to change that. So we will. NE: As far as I know you shot the “We Are Pirates” video on your own. Have you done some video work before? Seeb: Just some smaller projects, but "We Are Pirates" was the first video clip that Nils and I shot for Orden Ogan. There will be a few more coming up, so watch out! NE: I tried to trace the origins of the band's name. Ogan is a character from the Chrono series of computer games, while orden is a Spanish word for order. So, is Orden Ogan an "order of ogans" or am I heading down the wrong direction? Lars: Yes, you are going in the wrong direction. It’s actually a future-cyborg-insider joke... It may mean nothing to you now, but in 30 years from now you'll laugh your ass off! Seriously! NE: When I heard the intro to "Easton Hope" I thought it sounded like some historical movie soundtrack and later I found out you actually write film music. Have you written scores for some bigger productions? Seeb: Yes. I have composed scores for two movies, but there seems to be an evil spirit that doesn't want me to be successfull with it because both movies haven't been released yet... NE: The Polish Hard Rocker magazine added a free Orden Ogan CD to one of the latest issues. Why? Seeb: Bart Gabriel (chief-editor of Hard Rocker magazine) is a big fan of the band. AFM Records did get in touch with him with this idea and he immediately agreed, which was great for us, especially in Poland.
NE: Do you already know which stage are you playing at Wacken this year? Is this show going to be different to your regular club concerts? Lars: Yes, we’ll be headlining the medieval stage (or "Wackinger Stage" as they call it) on Saturday. As to the difference, ell, yes, it’s going to be Wacken, you know? Apart from that kind of hard to describe special festival vibe, it won’t be much different. Lots of fun and a great, loud metal party! Seeb: We will of course bring some surprises. Lars: Oh, yes, I forgot that. Well, ok, maybe it will differ a little more from regular club shows. Seeb: I think so. Come and see yourself, haha... NE: To round things up tell me, your debut album was self-financed, the second was released on a small label, and now you've got a deal with AFM. What will you be trying to achieve with the 4th release? Lars: I guess the usual stuff, world domination. Nothing more and nothing less. Seeb: As for me, I will try to write the best songs I've ever written. At the moment it looks quite good and I think that we can even exceed "Easton Hope". Oh and world domination of course, haha... WOJTEK GABRIEL www.myspace.com/ordenogan
t took the US heavy metal legend as long as 10 years to give their fans a new studio release. Not that they have released albums regularly before, because “La Raza’s” predecessor “Revelation” was also put out after a 9-year break. The thing is that the guys are usually quite busy with other bands and projects and you actually never know if Armored Saint is active or not. Well, they’ve been active recently and they brought us some new music at last and hopefully the fans will get a chance to catch the band live at some festivals here and there. I spoke to the bass player Joey Vera about their latest effort, uncommon to heavy metal influences in Armored Saint’s music and about their (very limited) touring plans. Read on. NE: As far as I know you and John Bush just started writing songs together at some point. How did you decide that the material you had written should be the new Armored Saint album?
teams have captains and coaches, players that do specific jobs and that is still the case here. When the other guys had heard what John and I were writing, they knew that we were on a creative roll, so they took a step back and said, go for it.
After we had written about 5 songs we had to decide what we were to do with them. At first we thought about starting a new band but we figured most people would make the comparisons to Saint. So we then thought the logical thing was to gear it towards a Saint record.
NE: When it comes to the riffs and song writing in general, the new album is actually more in a hard rock direction rather than heavy metal. Are you trying to reach some wider audience or did the songs just come out this way?
NE: You've always worked as a team. Why weren't the other guys involved in the song writing process this time?
We did not make any attempts to do anything other than write good music. I am a product of the 70’s and while I was writing I did not feel the need to hide where my influences come from. I had no interest in reinventing any wheels or
Yes we’ve worked as a team and we still do. But
making any new impressions. We would never compromise where our honesty is coming from in order to “reach a wider audience”. NE: There's a lot of variety on "La Raza". Do you feel more comfortable writing the songs when they aren't following a formula? We have this kind of freedom these days to do what we want to and it’s quite liberating. Out of this liberation comes a great sense to be honest. I am very aware that there are “some” kind of parameters in which Saint music should come across. But at the same time with this freedom, I also feel like I am not totally obligated to please anyone except myself. NE: The album is bluesier and funkier than your previous releases. Where did these influences come from? You’re not paying attention. We’ve always had blues and funky influences in our music. When we were in our late teens and early twenties we listened to stuff like jazz fusion, R&B, funk. Plus we’ve always had this little influence from Aerosmith since day one. It’s just that this time, there was no hiding anything. Let it all hang out. NE: As the Sandoval brothers weren't involved in the song writing, why are there so many Latin elements on the new release, beginning with the title of the album? Well I’m half Hispanic and half Irish. So there
you go. NE: So, have you ever said, “Let's write a pure heavy metal album now”? No not really. In our early days we’d have the occasional conversation about whether or not we were writing music that was “heavy enough”. But we don’t think in those terms anymore. We don’t need to prove anything anymore. We just want to make quality music. NE: Although you haven’t been very active for the last couple of years, you've progressed big time as a band. Do you think that these differences between "Revelation" and "La Raza" would have been as evident had you recorded the new album after 2-3 years, not 10? No I don’t. I like to think that I spent the time learning and experimenting, getting better at my craft. Grabbing information, letting it settle and become a part of the process. It takes time for this to happen. NE: You did the recordings on analogue equipment. I think it's pretty expensive nowadays. Is the sound better enough for you to justify the extra costs? That could be up for debate. The thing it really did, for me anyway, is that it forced me to work in a quick manner, make decisions fast and move on to the next thing. It’s this spirit of not making every little detail perfect. And the music needed
NE: A lot of the vocal parts that made it to the final cut were taken form the demo tracks. Was it the case with vocals only, or are some instrumental parts taken from the demo versions as well? There’s also quite a bit of guitar overdubs that were not redone either. The particular sounds that were originally captured were such that we felt it would be waste of time searching for something better. They fit, so we left them alone and used them. NE: When you were writing and recording the album you didn't have a deal. Do you think the album would have turned out any different if you had worked to a deadline? Yeah, probably. It was much better for us to write in a way where we had no clock ticking, or people calling us saying “Where’s the record?” NE: The packaging was made from the recycled materials. Are you all "environmentalist" or was it the label’s idea? Most of us are pretty conscience of these things. It was our idea to try and make the product as “clean” as possible. I’ve seen the technology evolve into a situation where manufacturing companies have made their products much more affordable than it used to be, say 10 years ago. So, since it’s within the realms of reality, why not use this to benefit the planet? NE: You are shooting the “Left Hook From The Right Field” video clip in a couple of days. What can you tell me about this video? Mostly it will be a performance video but we’re trying to incorporate a simple story line involving John and the lyrical content. That’s about all I can say right now. NE: I read quite a surprising statement in an interview. You said that you didn't want to put any efforts into promotion and touring this time. I wonder, what's actually the point recording an album if you don't want to promote it and tour with it?
Well, I’m doing promotion as we write. What I meant is that it’s not a top priority for us to do whatever necessary in order to sell as many records as possible. We have too many commitments to our family lives and jobs etc. We are not a band that can afford to go out on tour for a length of time, we’re just not that popular. It does not justify the expenses. We’ll do shows when they feel right or make sense, but it’s not an obligation we’re going to fill. NE: The "Revelation" album was quite successful. Why didn't you start working harder on the band right after its release instead of putting Armored Saint in hiatus again? “Revelation” was done as a project. John was still in Anthrax. I am still in Fates and was busy working with them in the early 2000s. We had other things that were a priority. Besides that, we made a promise that this band would not go down that road again, where it’s all or nothing. We did that already and we paid enough dues. Now we only do this if it’s a good time. NE: In the '80s Armored Saint seemed to be one of the more interesting US metal bands, but you've never really succeeded big time. Do you think that being on a major label, where you were just one of a hundred bands, was one of the problems? No, there are many reasons. Some logical and some mystical. Some poor decisions and some bad luck. It’s just the way the cards landed. What can you do? NE: How much did the band’s situation change when you switched or actually returned to Metal Blade? None really. The best thing about this is that the label is fully supportive of what the band is these days. It doesn’t feel the need to make us something we’re not. We are grateful for this freedom. NE: How different has the song writing process been since your main songwriter Dave Pritchard passed away? It’s different in many ways. The most obvious I guess is the fact that his style of guitar playing is not here anymore. The music now is less flashy for instance. NE: In the early '90s you appeared in the
Photos: Metal Blade
this. It needs to be imperfect, it needs a soul. If I would of done this entirely in the box, all in the computer, I’d still be mixing it!
horror movie “Hellraiser”. Was it your only movie appearance? Did you enjoy it? Yes, my only appearance. It was interesting but not something I’d want to do for very long. It was like shooting a music video. A very long day of mostly waiting around. But we did get to meet pin head which was cool. NE: Does Phil still have the guitar he got from Dave Mustaine after a fight they had in the early '80s? Yes. NE: You presented fans with a cool compilation called "Nod To The Old School" 9 years ago. Did you want to get all the unreleased material out for those fans that wanted to hear it? Yeah, we just thought we’d do something for the die hards and also something really frivolous. We sometimes take ourselves too seriously so it was
a fun way to shake that out. NE: In your opinion is it easier for a young metal band to get started now than it was 30 years ago? Yes. Gear is more affordable, there are more places to play, more people want to be in bands, you can even make your own recordings at home. There’s much more tools at their disposal. So, I don’t wanna hear any complaints! NE: You released your last 3 albums every 10 years, but as 2012 marks the 30 year anniversary of the band it would be nice to get a new Armored Saint release by that time. Is there any chance that you can do this? Hmm… there’s a story line in there somewhere. WOJTEK GABRIEL w w w. a r m o r e d s a i n t . c o m
INTERVIEW NE: Aloha Vektor. How has the road been treating you guys? Since you just wrapped the Winter Mayhem tour with Exmortus, got any excellent war stories? All of you must’ve been trying to outshred each other. Hello Noizz Eater! Being on the road was quite an awesome experience, especially with Exmortus. They are some of the greatest dudes we’ve had the pleasure of knowing and travelling with. I recommend everyone reading this to check them out! No spectacular war stories really, we just had an outstanding tour with some of our best friends. Although I was contemplating having a shred off with Conan of Exmortus on the last few tour dates, it just didn’t pan out, meaning I forgot to mention it, haha! NE: How did the four of you come together? Vektor emerged from a subspatial realm after the fabric of space was ripped apart by the destructive actions of humans in the year 2483. We travelled back in time to melt people’s brains into a soupy paste with our music, thus redirecting the flow of time and the fate of the universe. Our primordial bodies were sent to an arid region of the U.S. at Earth’s latitude 34.23 and longitude 111.33 (Phoenix, Arizona) in the year 2003. We didn’t recognise each other in our human forms so it took a while to find each other and complete the line-up. NE: Before we move into the heavier questions, I would first want to congratulate the band for the smashing debut you put out, “Black Future”. How long did it take to write all the songs I hear on it? Thank you, I’m glad you’re enjoying the album. Our writing process takes time, especially for our epic songs that are over 10 minutes. Each song is a different process, it could take one to two weeks to write some songs, and others it takes a month or more for all of the ideas to come together. Though when everything comes together, we’re all very proud of it. NE: More importantly, how did the four of you hook up with Heavy Artillery Records? Who met whom? We did have some help with this; our best friends
everything runs pretty smoothly on the creative side of this band and we have a lot of fun doing it. Practice-wise we all practice individually except for Erik who just plays Mass Effect 2 all the time. As a band we practice twice a week. NE: Vektor is ‘sci-fi’ metal. What were the bands inspirations for pursuing this particular theme? And which is better: Robocop or Blade Runner?
ektor exploded on the U.S. scene like a ninja atom bomb when they debuted in late 2009. The music might have been a tad retrogressive, but the effect on those exposed to it was blowyour-shit away cataclysmic. It’s beyond doubt that “Black Future” is one of the sickest progressive thrash metal albums released in decades.
Marrying an old school thrash aesthete to brain melting lyrical concepts, Vektor’s ambitious first outing spoke volumes of their potential. Almost five months removed from their Winter Mayhem tour with label mates Exmortus (also a band to watch), drummer extraordinaire Blake Anderson took the time to discuss touring, their album, and porn.
in Exmortus gave Heavy Artillery the recommendation to check us out. They approached us after hearing and liking the material. We all keep in good contact with the label.
David came up with the idea, Kian splurged his ink sauce onto the page and made it happen. We like how it came out, considering we never even saw it until he finished.
NE: What studio did you record in? How was the atmosphere like? Were you all having a good time or shredding like mother fuckers 24 hours a day? We recorded here in Phoenix, Arizona at Villain Recordings. It was the greatest experience we’ve ever had recording. The engineer, Byron, is one of the most talented sound engineers we’ve had the pleasure of working with. We’re all very happy with the quality and outcome of the album. And of course we were shredding our asses off in the studio, what else would you expect?! NE: One of my favourite aspects of “Black Future” is the cover art. In one of the reviews I wrote I described it as “cult”. I’d say the whole album is a wonderful package. But who conceptualised and executed the cover?
NE: More than one person I know has mistaken the band for Voivod at first glance of the logo. Is Voivod’s imprint on the Vektor sound all-encompassing and permanent or do you guys plan to evolve your style on future albums? Of course we always want to keep pushing our sound further, so we don't limit ourselves to any one influence. Voivod is not nearly as big of an influence as people like to tell us they are, and the logo has been talked about a lot more than we ever thought it would. Voivod's influence will always be a part of our sound but we still are open to lots of other styles and genres. NE: What kind of practice regimen does the band have both as a group and individually? Was the writing stage for the album a bitch?
Basically an interest in sci-fi movies and a lot of interest in science and astronomy. We sort of apply it as philosophy seen through astronomy. Even lots of stuff like Pink Floyd and more trippy ambient sort of bands were inspirations for that side of it. And it's Blade Runner by far. NE: What textbook did you consult for my favourite song, “Deoxyribonucleic Acid”? DNA is more of a philosophical journey into the different aspects of genetic engineering. David being a biology major sort of helped on that one. NE: How about worst Vektor show ever? Erik broke a damn string right before his “Black Future” solo while we were on tour in New Mexico, so that sucked big time. David broke the neck of his Jackson that same day too, so I think Las Cruces just hates us. In Fort Worth, Texas, Frank (bassist) got completely zonked before we played so he was just staring at the video screen behind us the whole time and doesn't remember a minute of it. He still did really well though! The worst Vektor show ever was probably in Amarillo, Texas, where the opening bands were 14 year olds singing gospel ballads mixed with screamo. Then the three people that did show up left before we went on... pretty terrible. NE: Can you name some of the essentials you guys bring along on tour? Is porn included? No porn, since we have laptops. I guess the essential on tour is Nintendo DS and books. Also we definitely dig baby carrots with garlic salt and cold Spaghetti-o's. Mario (the drummer) from Exmortus had an entire coat pocket full of condiments stolen from fast food joints around the country. Next time we won't forget our skateboards, that was a big mistake. NE: When life is getting a little too tough, what keeps you fighting on and playing music?
The writing stage was not at all a bitch since
In a weird circular way the music itself is what keeps us going because it's a great escape from the shitty world around us!
Photo: Heavy Artillery
NE: Thanks Vektor. I really love you guys, and I don’t mean this bromantically. When the four of you are having a disagreement, does a group hug patch things up? We prefer a circle jerk, but I guess hugs work too. Hugs have to suffice when we're all riding the red rag. Honestly we don't really have a lot of serious disagreements. Occasionally we have opposing views on things, musical and not, but we're good friends so it's no big deal. Thanks a lot for the interview, and glad you are enjoying the music. MIGUEL BLARDONY myspace.com/vektor
INTERVIEW NE: You didn't work on the album in the traditional way as you first wrote all the material, started the recordings and then started looking for the musicians to finish it. Why didn't you wait until the line-up was completed to work on the songs as a team? Because I wanted to record the music and have it ready for any prospective vocalists. I also felt confident I could play the guitar parts well enough and I was happy with the results. I also write everything for the most part. The “Over The Top” album was conceived and written by me on guitar and taught to the band, rehearsed and then the music was recorded. I then gave the singer all the lyrics and vocal melodies on tape and my producer did the rest. NE: The recording sessions take weeks or months nowadays, but as far as I know the "Over The Top" session went pretty quickly. It seems that you weren't looking for a polished sound, but a live feeling? Are you fully satisfied with the final product?
Fully. I have no issues. It is tighter than a lot of bands that take weeks in my opinion. It is also in standard 440 tuning. I hear nothing that sounds rushed or loose. It is a solid first album and I am very proud of it. NE: Some songs like "40 Deuces" have a very strong old school Priest vibe. I wonder, did these songs just came out this way, or did you consciously want some of them to sound Priest-like? Just came out that way. But I am heavily influenced by Priest. NE: You've also got some doom influences on the album, which were not present on the “High Speed GTO” EP. Did you want to pay a little tribute to this genre? I have a very varied taste and I just write what comes out of me. I love Sabbath and Slayer so there is always a bit of that heavier or doomier side coming out, just for spice. NE: The first guitar solo in the title track has a very strange vibe. I don't know how to describe it but it sounds like it was played out of key or something. Can you explain it? I think your referring to the 2nd actually (there is a short solo before that) but that was the one solo played by my engineer Ralph Patlan. I had him do a guest spot and I love it. He is a really unique player. Throws the ears for a loop but it works. NE: Are you going to let the other guys write material for the next one? I may have some stuff come in, but the sound and vision of WW will progress with me in the songwriting dept. NE: You're the only remaining member from the "High Speed GTO" line-up. Why didn't things work out with the guys? Bizarre gardening accident. You don't want to know.
NE: One would think that there might have been some musical differences between you and the rest of the band, but they went on to form Holy Grail which plays basically the same kind of music? I disagree. Holy Grail is very different in my opinion. It's good stuff but we have different views on many things musically. We’re best apart. NE: Modern technology has changed the face of the metal scene in many ways. You found your new singer Wyatt via the internet. Are you one of these bands that meet just to tour and record? Not really, but the internet helps a lot. NE: You can also play the guitar. Have you ever considered the guitar to be your main instrument or being the bass player/band leader like Steve Harris gives you more satisfaction? I prefer the power and feel of bass in a live setting, but I love guitar too. I love writing songs. NE: The video-clip for "High Speed GTO" won some awards. Did you expect that the clip would make such a big buzz in the metal underground? After I saw it, yes. It's epic. NE: It seems you filmed a video for "Over The Top" with the same director? Yes, the amazing Davey Vorhees. NE: The band's name brings to mind the Tolkien wizards - Saruman and Gandalf. When you decided to name the band
t feels a little weird when you go and see bands that are just starting their careers and the musicians are actually younger than you, but they play music you’ve been listening to for 20 years. Whether it’s weird or not, the most important thing is that old school metal, be it traditional heavy metal, thrash or hard rock won’t die when the legends are gone because there are bands like White Wizzard to carry on the flame. This interview with the bands founder and bassist Jon Leon is now a little out of date because after it was conducted the line-up changed once again. Despite this the interview contains a lot of interesting information about the LA combo and their brilliant debut album “Over The Top”. Enjoy it! weren't you afraid that it would be misleading and people would expect fantasy lyrics from you?
I like the new and the old. I would not perform them if they were not up to standard. Wyatt did a good job.
No, but I am cool with fantasy lyrics. Dio rules.
NE: I think you recently appeared on Bruce Dickinson's radio program? Did you enjoy it?
NE: The L.A. scene is famous for the glam rock bands. Are you alone or are there other traditional metal bands in your area? There is some but we are pretty odd man out for sure. That’s fine with me. I am happy and proud of my band. NE: I caught you live in Glasgow recently and I spotted at least a couple of guys dressed in White Wizzard T-shirts. Many fans also sung along to your lyrics. What was it like in the other cities? Would you say that the UK tour with Edguy was successful for you? Ah, that was one of my favorite crowds of the tour. Great city, great people. The tour was a great success for sure. NE: Was it very different to your US tour with Korpiklaani? Yes, I enjoyed Europe very much. NE: How did the new versions of the old numbers sound live in you opinion, compared to the ones sung by JamesPaul?
Of course. He is a great music fan and I respect him very much. It was a total honor. NE: History repeats itself and two early '80s metal scenes seem to have reincarnated as a lot of traditional metal and thrash metal bands have been formed recently. Do you think that any of these bands will be able to headline arena or stadium shows like Maiden and Metallica do today? Not sure. I do think bands that have great songs will succeed regardless. So we will see. I am happy with where we are. NE: To round the interview off, please tell me why people should buy the "Over The Top" CD and not steal it from the Internet? Because it really helps the band future and helps to build residuals that can help finance moving onwards and upwards. Thanks! WOJTEK GABRIEL w w w. w h i t e w i z z a r d . n e t
INTERVIEW NE: Evile, Kataklysm and Lazarus A.D. are on the tour as well. With such a great line-up this year, would you consider the "Hordes of Chaos II" tour as successful as the first? It was the same. In some places yes and in other places there was a little less people, but it was definitely just as successful so I would say yes.
reator has been one of the most defining acts in thrash metal history. Spearheading the thrash metal movement in 1985, the German masters have been dominating the metal scene for twenty-five years now. After all of these years the band still performs with the same intensity and power as they did back in 1985 and are showing no signs of slowing down. Kreator front-man and lead song writer Mille Petrozza took the time to sit with Noizz Eater and talked a little about the recent signing to Nuclear Blast, the latest album â€œHordes Of Chaosâ€? and the experiences of performing in new places. NE: Kreator recently signed a long term deal with Nuclear Blast. How does it feel to finally join forces with the biggest metal label around? It makes total sense! Before we were on SPV and they were a big label in Europe, but they are not as strong as Nuclear Blast over here in the USA and this is one of our most important places to get our records out. We are happy that we have better distributors now and Nuclear Blast should be good, so we feel real positive. NE: You and Nuclear Blast label manager Andy Siry have been friends for quite sometime. How did you guys first meet?
Photos: Nuclear Blast
He used to manage a band that opened for us and that was before he was working with Nuclear Blast. NE: Did you ever think you would be working together on a professional level? We talked about it you know, I mean we had our contract with SPV, so we brought it up here and there every time I was not happy. I would talk
about the stuff I was not happy about with Andy and they seem to have their shit a lot more together because they are total metal fans. They are very dedicated and they are very realistic as well. I think being on their label can only be good for Kreator.
kids, but then again it's almost blurry you know? I know that I've been a different person and it's just good that we were able to write music at that time that still works now a days. We were unaware of this, so for that matter it was definitely a good experience.
NE: This year marks Kreator's 25th anniversary. You celebrated by kicking off the North American tour with a few songs you hadn't performed live in a while. What was it like to be playing those songs live again after such a long time?
NE: These songs you performed were voted for by your fans. What classic tune was voted for the most?
Surprisingly good! We figured that maybe it's going to feel weird or something because there is one song that was from the very first album. We thought it would sound dated, but when we played them the reaction was great. It worked even better now than they did back in the day, so we're happy.
NE: Earlier on in the tour, Kreator shared the stage again with fellow thrash veterans Voivod. The last time you guys toured together was back in 1987. What was it like after all these years to play with Voivod again?
NE: Did it bring back any memories? Haha, probably. Yes, but I kind of ignore them. I try to live in the here and now. Of course I like thinking about the stuff we did when we were
"Flag of Hate". We play it anyway so they didn't have to vote for it, haha!
It was good. It's great to see that the guys from Voivod didn't change at all. They are still the same. Of course they are a little older now, but in their minds they are still seventeen just like Kreator. This is the good thing about music you know? You can stay a kid all of your life.
NE: Also Kreator was confirmed for this years Rockharz Open Air festival in Germany alongside Rage, Overkill and Doro. Are you looking forward to this festival appearance? Oh yeah! It's right around the corner from where we live. I can go home at night. Maybe even go on my bicycle. It's very close. NE: Are there any other music festivals lined up this year for Kreator? A lot! We have ten so far. We're going back to Russia to play some shows as well, so we're going to be very busy. NE: Kreator's latest album "Hordes Of Chaos" still carries a lot of momentum and the fans have really enjoyed it. Is it too early for Kreator to start focusing on a new album? I collect ideas at the moment and I focus on some songs. I feel it coming you know? I feel like there is a need for me to write new songs and that's what I'm doing at the moment, collecting ideas. I have so much time to kill on tour that I start writing in my head. Writing fragments, lyrics, choruses, stuff like that. NE: There were a few versions of the album available for purchase. The jewel case edition which had the ten songs, the deluxe version that had the bonus DVD, and the yet to be unveiled ultra-deluxe version that will include a t-shirt, a photo book and an extended version of the bonus DVD... Yes. It will be released with a coupon for a t-shirt for the fans to order. This is the last thing that we're going to do for SPV, so it's a little hard to organise.
INTERVIEW NE: You gave Kreator fans a unique opportunity. What was the overall fan reaction to these different versions of "Hordes of Chaos"? I think most people were into the extended version. They liked the DVD. They wanted to see how it was done. There's also a great documentary. I think it's the way to go you know? Give the fans some cool things. NE: The production on "Hordes Of Chaos" was terrific. Moses Schneider did a great job producing the album. Would you consider working with Moses again in the future? I think yes. He's very good when it comes to capturing the bands personality rather than trying to make the band sound polished and perfect, so we would definitely consider working with Moses again. NE: The "Hordes Of Chaos" release also sparked a very successful tour that took you to places where you've never performed before. Places like Beijing and Guatemala City. Can you describe some of the experiences you had performing in front of these new audiences? Yeah. Especially Guatemala and San Salvador to us were really intense, because San Salvador was very wild and the fans there are very dedicated. China was an experience. You can tell that the Chinese culture doesn't include metal. They are not there yet, you know what I mean? It takes a while. It was a great show and the people were really into it, but you can really tell that
everything around them isn't really focused on Western culture it's more Eastern culture. China to us was a good experience, but the most intense was Guatemala. NE: The album artwork for "Enemy Of God" and "Hordes Of Chaos" were created by artist Joachim Luetke who has also worked with Arch Enemy and Rage. Will you continue to work with Joachim for future Kreator album artwork? We'll see. I have ideas for something very good. I can't talk about it right now, haha! NE: Speaking of art, Ventor opened a tattoo shop in your home town of Essen, Germany. Have you stopped by his shop to get some work done? I'm beyond that. I have enough tattoos, haha!
much though. He's not a team player, but he's a good drummer. NE: Kreator's other axeman is Sami. He's a fantastic guitar player full of energy and spirit. How did you come across Sami?
NE: Ventor sat out a few tour dates last year due to some personal issues. Marco Minnemann whoâ€™s worked with Necrophagist, Illogicist and is currently with Ephel Duath filled in for Ventor. Was it different not having Ventor behind the drum kit?
I've always known him. He stood in for Tommy Vetterli for a while when he was not available. We've known the guy forever. He's a big and important part of Kreator.
Yeah, it was definitely different not having Ventor behind the kit, but it was still good. Marco is a really great drummer. He plays too
NE: Both of you make an excellent duo. Can you describe how working with Sami has been?
It's very natural. It doesn't really feel like working, but more like playing together. It's never hard working with Sami. NE: Thank you Mille for taking the time to talk metal with Noizz Eater and thank you for twenty-five wonderful years of Kreator! Any last words for your fans reading at home? Yeah. Thanks for the support and we'll give you another twenty-five years for sure! CARLOS LLANAS www.kreator-terrorzone.de
Photos: Metal Blade
NE: The music on "The End Of Tomorrow" is heavier than on "Spectral Rider", you've got some thrash and even death metal elements here and there. Is that what the new rhythm section brought to the table, or did you just find the first album to be to melodic? I think we, like anyone, are subject to an influence of what the band is listening to at the time. A lot of these songs were written while Nick was listening to some melodic death metal stuff and Eli was listening to a lot of thrash stuff - but the main influences will always be there as we still mostly listen to classic melodic metal, power metal etc. We had a thrash song on “Spectral Rider” and also some very melodic stuff on this one - I think we always try to have a good mix of the heavy and melodic. Maybe it seemed more pronounced on this album because the production was clearer in parts too. NE: The production of the new album is also more powerful. Did you work with a professional producer this time around? We recorded both albums ourselves mostly. The difference was that we didn't have any money on the first album and we didn't get off to a good start and then when we brought it to be mixed and mastered it was made worse instead of better. The second time around we spent the time and money to do things correctly and we had a producer who cared how it turned out. I should say that Jack Fenstermaker was a good producer on the first one - he produced our “Curse Of Heaven” demo CD which came out good - at the time of “Spectral Rider” he just had a bunch of personal issues and wasn't able to put any time into improving the sound of what we brought him. NE: Did you have any unexpected situations develop in the studio this time around? You had a lot of difficulties with floods and computer crashes last time?
he End Of Tomorrow” is a fine example of powerful US old-school sounding heavy metal - a release that all our readers should definitely check out. In a time when singers don’t sing and the guitarists don’t play solos it’s nice to put your hands on a release full of strong, melodic vocals and brilliant guitar work. I can only wonder why we haven’t interviewed the band already. We hereby correct our mistake and present you with an interview with the band’s vocalist Alec Firicano. We did actually, haha... The studio didn't flood, but the ceiling did leak directly on the computer after a bad storm. Luckily things turned out OK. There were also instances when stuff got erased accidently etc. - but that stuff happens. It was no big deal. The main delay was caused when both of my parents got in a terrible car accident and we had to take care of them for about 3-4 months as they recovered and that really delayed things severely. NE: On "Spectral Rider" you had this natural drum sound with no triggers and no samples. Why did you decide to go for a more contemporary sound this time round? Well, basically everyone in the band hated GTB's drum sound except for GTB. His toms were very small and we'd constantly argue with him about getting bigger, boomier toms. We also thought his snare was too pingy. So when we recorded the drums there was a big fight over how it should sound - it actually sounded pretty good the way it was when we recorded it, but we wanted to avoid the production issues we had with the last one so we deferred to the producer and the producer Pete suggested tweaking them with samples to make them sound bigger and we ended up giving in. So again, if we had the budget to spend the time to get a better drum sound, better drums etc. then things would have turned out differently - but that's the way it was unfortunately. I definitely favour real drums and hope to use live drums on future recordings. NE: The guitar work is definitely a highlight of the new album. Do you have a riffmaster in the band, or are the riffs, harmonies and solos a result of group work? I think the cool thing is that both Eli and Nick are "riff-masters" in their own right and are good at putting songs together. For most of the songs they usually bring in a song that is 80% finished and then just has to be arranged with the vocals and everyone's solos. Then there are a few songs we do that are totally collaborative just to make things interesting and give everyone a say. NE: The rhythm section guys left the band right before the start of the recording session. How much impact did it have on the final result? I mean you had to record with people you didn't know very well?
Well Howie the bass player left in the middle of recording - so we just had the guitarists go back and record most of his parts. So it wasn't a big deal because they knew the songs inside and out. It just sucks in that we'd like to have an album that is totally organic from a band standpoint for once - just for that camaraderie and continuity but it didn't hurt the quality of the music - just maybe changed the flavour in a few places. NE: You've recorded a Running Wild type of album. By that I mean that there are no ballads on it, just pure heavy metal. It seems that you guys are not into ballads? Ya we're really not. We're not prone to being quiet, or slow, or sitting still for long periods of time. We tend to want to make everything fast and up tempo, but also melodic, because if it doesn't have a good tune that can also get boring fast. So we always try to be "not boring". That doesn't mean we'll never do a ballad. We may do a couple just to mix things up, but we'll never do 3 or 4 on an album. NE: Some of the songs for the new album were written for other bands. Were they side projects of yours or did the new band members bring the songs along? 2 songs - "The Nightmare's Hold" and "Shattered Dreams" were written for a side project Eli had formed with former (and now current) bassist Rich Berte. The rhythm section of that band was Howie and GTB - so when those guys joined Ravage, we just took some of the songs they had written. One of the parts of the song "The End Of Tomorrow" sounded like a song from a local band we used to play with a lot called Incinerate - their guitarist Tim went on to join the band The Accursed - so we gave him credit on the song because of that part. Before I wrote the lyrics we used to jokingly call it "The Incinerate Song". But he never really collaborated with us. Howie actually wrote a good deal of "Freedom Fighter" before he was in the band too, I believe. I don't
INTERVIEW believe in using someone's music without giving them the proper credit. NE: A couple of songs on "The End Of Tomorrow" have a Painkiller-ish vibe to them. Is that why you chose "Night Crawler" to cover because it fits so well with your own material? Well that album is just a big influence on us in general. It is one of the albums that everyone in the band likes and agrees is one of the best metal albums ever - so there is a big influence. I don't know why we actually chose "Night Crawler" - truth be told it is one of my least favourite songs from "Painkiller" but it is a song we used to cover a lot years ago, so we just decided to finally record it, and we thought it fit in so it made the album. NE: On "Spectral Rider" some of the songs were just re-recorded numbers from your demos. Are the compositions on "The End Of Tomorrow" all brand new? No. "Damn Nation" was probably written as far back as 1999, but it was totally reworked. "Into The Shackles" was on our "Wicked Way" demo in 2001 - it was called "Into The Shackles Of The Night" back then. NE: The cover art for the debut release was quite cheesy. Is that why you decided to get a professional painter now, the guy who worked with Megadeth amongst others? Yes. No one liked the album art on “Spectral Rider”. I mean, I don't think it is a bad artwork per se, it just didn't fit what we were doing. It was another one of those things where we had spent our last dime and the label said, "OK, we'll come up with the artwork". So for this album we didn't want to leave anything to chance, so I personally oversaw the art and hired Ed Repka, who did a great job. NE: Whose idea was it to put your fanclub logo on the back of the spider on the cover art? That was my idea. It is supposed to show that the Society For World Wide Ravage, in the words of Overkill, is Takin' Over! NE: Your debut was released via the German underground label Karthago Records. Did they offer you the best conditions, or were they just the first label who showed interest in your album? A couple of labels showed interested after our "Curse Of Heaven" demo in 2003. Karthago were the ones who offered a short term deal and artistic freedom, which is what we wanted. Other labels wanted us to record a ballad, or take the "Curse Of Heaven" CD as is and just add demos to it, and we told them to screw, haha... Maybe they were right in some ways - as re-recording the
songs didn't turn out the way we'd hoped - but it was a good learning experience for us. NE: The deal with Metal
Blade was definitely a big step for Ravage. It's pretty hard for young old school metal bands to get deals with major labels now. How did you achieve that?
I have no idea. I was the last person to expect one of the major underground labels to sign a band like us. But they saw what we were doing on our own and decided to lend a little bit of a helping hand after we'd spent years of futile toil. I think, unlike a lot of other labels - who only sign acts that they deem economically viable - Brian Slagel will every once in a while go out and sign a band that he just likes if they make a good record and not give a crap whether or not it sells. I mean, I don't think anyone thought our album would be a commercial smash - and it wasn't by any means - so we are just happy to have had the experience of getting our record released and out there to a potentially wider audience. NE: You signed a deal with Metal Blade for the second release, but both your albums were basically self financed. Is it a long term deal? Will the label pay for the next recording session? We signed for many albums with them. If they are interested in our new material and if it works economically for them, then they will be putting out our albums for a long time. If they decide to drop us, we'll go back to putting out music ourselves because there is still music we want to record and get a record of - whether or not it reaches 50 people or 50000. NE: You mostly use your mid-range voice. Do you feel uncomfortable singing high, or do you just like to have a different sound than most today's power/heavy metal bands? Both, I guess. I am probably a natural baritone - but I have been working to expand my range for years and I have a pretty good idea of what I can pull off and what I can't. Though some critics would probably beg to differ haha… I try to push the limits of what I can do on every new recording. I think I reached a comfort zone on this latest one, but there is still a lot of room to improve. Singing songs in standard tuning on the new Steel Maid album also helped me with the high range singing and power screams as well. NE: A lot of metal singers started singing because noone else in the band wanted to take the job. It was the case with you as well. What convinced you that you were the right person? We tried out only one other singer early on and I just knew that there wasn't anyone else who was going to be able to push the band as a front-man and get my lyrics across the way I wanted them to be sung. Maybe the band suffered because of my shitty vocals for many years as a result of that decision - but at the time - in the mid ‘90s - metal was the furthest thing from cool and it was really hard to find a melodic metal singer for your band. We couldn't even find a good drummer so most of the time back then I was playing drums and singing at the same time - which impaired my development as both a singer and a drummer, haha... NE: In your opinion, how much do you think you have progressed as a singer since the mid-‘90s? I've progressed tremendously. I mean, I'm still not a great singer by any means - but I've expanded my
range by octaves and I think I know what I can and can't do - and that makes a huge difference. I think at this point I know my voice enough to be able to sing any cover song effectively (not embarrassingly) and to be able to not ruin good original musical material that is presented to me (not completely ruin it anyway). NE: Before the first studio album was out you had released 5 live albums and in just 3 years. What's the point in putting out so many live recordings? Was the quality of them good enough or are they bootleg releases? They are all horribly atrocious bootlegs of shows gone bad. They are maybe good for comedic purposes. So of the early demos we put out had some decent raw recordings, but for the most part almost everything from ‘96 – ’02 is just a bunch of kids in a basement trying to figure out their early teen years haha... NE: When you first started out the US rock scene was dominated by grunge and later nu-metal. What actually got you into the old-school metal music? Well my parents raised us on classical music as kids, so we had to discover rock music for ourselves - and I think that gave it a kind of lore and magic because it was so fresh to us when we got into it at around age 11/12. I remember being blown away by Metallica's self-titled album around that time - 1992-1993 - and from there I got into Iron Maiden, Priest, Ozzy, then more underground stuff. My brother Eli started with Megadeth and then Testament and then he got into power metal and black metal and underground heavy metal and got me into that stuff as well. So we were into it before we picked up guitar or drums. We had just been playing classical music - piano etc - so we made the switch. Nick got into power metal when he started playing guitar and was looking for something more "complicated" and challenging than the grunge stuff - so he got into Rhapsody and Gamma Ray and the power metal stuff and went from there. NE: It’s been almost a year since the release of “The End Of Tomorrow”. Are you working on some new stuff yet or are concerts your main focus now? We have a lot of new material prepared and we hope to record a little later in the year. Right now we are gathering our resources in case a big tour comes up and we are trying to get on as many festivaltype shows as we can - hopefully some in Europe. Hopefully it won't take another 5 years to release an album again. Thanks for the interview and Ravage in peace! WOJTEK GABRIEL w w w. r a v a g e t h e earth.com
lthough Torch was founded 30 years ago, they remain fairly unknown to most headbangers because of the 20-year hiatus that removed the band from the heavy metal map. You can only wonder where the band would have been now had they continued writing and releasing albums. The good news is that Torch has returned and the even better news is that last year they put out a compilation of re-recorded classics which is a great way to get to know the band. If you dig Accept and old-school heavy metal in general, you have to check this album out. I spoke to Dan Dark to obtain some information about Torch's future plans. NE: Why did you decide to play again under the Torch moniker and not form a new band? One could say it’s now a cover band with the original singer. The reason why I wanted to start Torch again was an easy one. The guys I play with are fucking Torch and the original voice is still the same, so I don’t feel like we are a cover band. Besides there is so many new music lovers out there that would love the chance to be part of the music we play. NE: Do you have any idea why the other original members weren’t interested in the re-union? Are they still into music at all? They haven’t played in a long time and there is no space in their lives to give up the time that is needed to restart Torch again. The only one that still works with music of some kind is Chris J. He has a music shop called First Music. NE: You disbanded in the mid-’80s after having released just two albums. Was it like the torch just burned out and there was no chemistry within the band anymore or was it due to a lack of commercial success? One reason why I couldn’t do it anymore was because Jane committed suicide. We were told about his death after a weekend photo shoot. We also had a lot of problems with the record companies back then. NE: When Torch called it quits you joined a cover band. Why didn’t you want to continue playing with Torch? It was only natural to start with an Accept cover band. They have been my idols forever and I couldn’t stop playing music - it’s like a drug. We had no plan to continue with Torch at that time. NE: Do you still do the Accept cover band now that Torch is back? Yes, I still play with the Accept cover band. There is 24 hours in a day, so we get to play a lot.
Photo: band archives
NE: In regards to Accept, didn’t you try to get the vacant vocal spot when the guys started talking about a return with a different singer?
Yes, that is correct. I emailed Accept and offered them my voice. They have been my idols forever and a lot of people told me that I should apply for the job. Unfortunately they said that they had already found a singer that they believed in. I’ve seen and heard a lot from this guy and I don’t think he has anything that sticks out, with either his voice or personality. From my experience I think Accept will only have one new album and that will be it. Only I can shoulder the mantel of Udo. NE: You’ve just played with U.D.O. in Gothenburg. Did you get to speak to Udo? No. Unfortunately I didn’t meet Udo in person, but it was still a memory of a lifetime to get to support U.D.O. NE: “The Dark Sinner”, your first recording in 25 years was out in early 2009. I can understand that re-recording the old songs was the easiest way to release an album quickly, but was that the only reason for not writing an entire new album? The two new numbers sound great! We felt that the old songs are good, so it can’t hurt to heat them up with a new sound and new arrangements. The music that we made is so good and I wanted more people to get the chance to be a part of it, with a sound that I wished to have had at the time. We wrote two new songs that we wanted to try and see what people think about them. Thank you, we are glad that you like the two new songs. NE: These new tunes fit the Torch style perfectly. Was it you or the new members who wrote them?
We wrote the new songs together. NE: What was it like to work with the old material today in comparison to 1983/4? Getting the chance to work with all the old material was a real challenge and I discovered that they became new songs again. NE: What would you say is the biggest difference between Dan Dark in 1983 and 2010? The difference between Dan Dark from 1983 to 2010 is that I have more pressure in my voice and I’m crazier on stage. NE: I’ve seen you twice in concert and you always put your hand down your pants when playing live. Please explain this? My hands end up in my pants because I discovered that it gives me a thrill on stage and there are other reasons to why I do it, but that will be my secret. Ha-ha! NE: The Swedish traditional metal scene is strong nowadays. Who are some of the bands from your country which you really like to listen to? Bullet is one of my favorite bands in Sweden. There is also another band called Hardcore Superstar that I like. NE: I suppose you would like to do an extended tour with Torch? Yes, we want to play live a lot and we are working on that, but it’s hard to find booking agencies that dare to book us. But we won’t give up. I know that people want to hear us live. NE: You’re working on the new material. When can we expect a proper full length release? Yes, we have started on some new material and the goal is to have a new album finished by next year. It will be a real bomb from Torch. WOJTEK GABRIEL myspace.com/torchmetal
cover for us. He listened to our music and liked it. Very simple.
NE: How are you doing today? I'm doing fine. A little hangover but that's normal.
Photo: Hells Headbangers
NE: Armour is about as exciting as underground heavy metal gets and we at Noizz Eater appreciate you granting this interview. Please fill our readers in on the back history of the band starting from how Armour was formed?
songs to a split seven-inch vinyl alongside Nocturnal. Are there any other bands you hope to one day do a split EP with?
NE: Was the idea for the cover art your idea? What is the album cover supposed to be depicting? Some kind of Satanic heavy metal alien abduction?
Yes, there are many bands that we would like to do a split release with... Metalucifer and Helvetets Port for example.
Something like that. We let the viewers decide.
NE: Looking back at the Armour
landed you an endorsement deal as well as a promotional deal from Dragonight Agency. Please describe how winning the contest has helped get the word out on Armour so far... We did get a nice PA system to our rehearsal place but that's it, but it is broken right now... we play so fucking loud! There's not been any other help. NE: What should metal fans expect when witnessing a live performance from Armour?
Armour was formed in the summer of 2006 by Vince Venom, Mike Slutz, Jake Spring and me Pete Talker. We wanted to create heavy music how it should be done. Eighties metal was the main influence. Fuck the now-a-days plastic sound and trendy clothes.
Pure metal. Raw sound and very raw playing... some drinking... women. NE: Are there currently any plans for Armour to perform some concerts outside of Finland?
NE: How would you describe the heavy metal scene in Lappeenranta, Finland? Are there many other bands who play a similar style of heavy metal to book concerts with? The scene here is very small and there's only one band to mention and it's Heavy Cross, they are good friends. We have lots of rock and punk bands in Lappeenranta. NE: Last December your first proper self titled full length album was released through Primitive Reaction Records. How has the album been received so far by your fans?
There's been some talk about Germany and maybe Greece but nothing is concrete. We would like to play outside Finland, so if you want us just contact us!
ailing from Lappeenranta, Finland comes Armour, the underground traditional heavy metal sensation comprised of blackened metal warriors from Satanic Warmaster, Blasphemous Evil and most notably Horna. The band's now infamous debut release “The Sonichouse Tapes” have been re-issued and widely circulated garnering the Finnish quartet some much deserved attention in the process. After a slew of singles, EP and seven inch split releases, 2009 saw the debut full length self titled album of Armour issued by Primitive Reaction. The “Heavy Metal Drinkers” in Armour are living dangerously in the fast lane, and wish to claim as many souls in the name of steel as possible on their current campaign. Noizz Eater recently had the chance to pick the corrosive metallic brains of Armour, read on for the results!
The fans love it! There's also been very positive reactions from people who haven't heard us before. We hit the second place on the Finnish single charts with our song "Can't Resist Your Spell". First place went to that stupid baseball shit. So it does not matter.
NE: How long did it take to write and record the ten songs featured on the new album? I can't say. Some of the songs are very old, like "Heavy Metal Drinkers" or "Hellfire". We just thought that we had enough songs to make an album. NE: The artwork for your self titled debut full length was illustrated by Joe Petagno, who is famous for his Motorhead album covers. How did you end up working with Joe? We asked if he would like to make an album
Joe made it how he saw our music. Some early versions was named as "Satan's Knights" so.... NE: Back in 2007 Armour released "The Sonichouse Tapes" EP. The American version of "The Sonichouse Tapes" was unique in that it featured Armour covers of WASP, Venom and Poison. That is a pretty eclectic group of cover tunes. Which bands in your opinion have influenced Armour the most?
discography it becomes apparent that you guys lean towards releasing EPs, singles and demo recordings instead of a more traditional approach like one full length record at a time. Are you trying to duplicate the success of the late seventies and early eighties NWoBHM bands by releasing mostly singles? Is that a conscious decision on your part as a band or has it just worked out like that so far?
Well... WASP, Accept and Saxon are definitely a big influence. We have played lots of different covers and those just ended up on the record.
Some songs or some versions of the songs are good and we want to release them but they don't fit on the album very well and we just love the 7" vinyl format so much. No other reason.
NE: Shortly after "The Sonichouse Tapes" EP was released, Armour contributed two
NE: Three years ago Armour won the Alphard Sound Technology contest that
NE: "Heavy Metal Drinkers" is the name of one of Armour's oldest and most popular songs. What is Armour's official drink(s) of choice? Is there anyone in the band who can outdrink the others? Well this is a very good question! My official drink is definitely beer! Other guys drink some long drinks, beer and hard liquor. Vince is quite a heavy drinker but I think I can now outdrink him... but I could be wrong. NE: What are some future goals for Armour as a young band?
Goals? Well, we want to go so far that everybody knows what Armour is. NE: What will be next for Armour? We are going to play some gigs and we are going to make a new album. There is going to be some smaller releases also. Rehearsals tonight... some alcohol and women. NE: Thanks for taking the time to talk metal with Noizz Eater. Any last words? Hail Satan! Buy the fucking album or die! ROBERT WILLIAMS myspace.com/metalarmour
NE: You've got a lot of stylistic variety on the album. Is Fozzy a kind of mirror that reflects all the different genres of music you listen to and are influenced by?
he US rock/ metallers from Fozzy have just completed a very successful UK tour, following the release of their second all-original-material album called “Chasing The Grail”. The band has got pretty big here in the recent months, which resulted in a few shows being upgraded to bigger venues. It seems that their new release suits the tastes of the
British hard music fans, as well as the UK press who have been very enthusiastic about the album. A few weeks prior to the tour I had a chance to talk to the band’s founder, guitarist Rich Ward, who turned out to be a very talkative person and wanted to provide as much information about the band as possible. Read on.
NE: The first question is simple. I know you're all very busy with other activities and bands, but why did it take as much as 5 years to get the album done?
commitment and say, “OK, it’s time to prioritise Fozzy. It’s time to put the work in and really make sure that we do it right.”
I think most of my musical priority has always been with my other band Stuck Mojo and Fozzy started as a side project from the very beginning. It was more of a covers band for fun and we made a few records but it was always my second priority. In 2005 when we put out the last Fozzy record “All That Remains” we toured quite a bit. We had a great time, but at the very end of that cycle we went back into working on the new Stuck Mojo record. We were all really energised by the momentum with the new Stuck Mojo material, had lots of tours and the band had all our focus. Chris’s wrestling schedule was busy and so, based on both of our schedules in order to even get the new Fozzy record written and recorded we all had to have a meeting and just say, “Time out, we all have to put the time aside”, because records obviously don’t write themselves and they take a lot of time to produce. We all just needed to make that
NE: It's obvious that "Chasing The Grail" is your most mature and best release so far. How did you know what to improve to make the album better than "All That Remains"? I think it was more about our focus than it was about trying to make improvements because when we did “All That Remains” I had just signed the deal with Spitfire/Eagle Rock Records to write and record a solo record called “The Duke”. I was still doing shows with Stuck Mojo and Chris was very busy with wrestling. I think the reason that this album is an improvement over the last is just because we were all willing to sacrifice our schedules and time in order to prioritise this album. Any time that an artists has 2 or 3 projects there will always have to be some compromises that are made with one or two or maybe all three of them in order to juggle
I would say yes, definitely. All of us have some bands that we have in common that we love. We all grew up on ‘80s metal music. The three of us were the biggest Iron Maiden fans of all time, you know, posters of Maiden covering our walls growing up and a couple of the guys in the band were big Priest fans. So we have this kind of this real love and appreciation for the NWoBHM that happened in the early ‘80s. But we are also big fans of Accept and Scorpions and then we first heard Metallica, we all went crazy. The band is also based in the South so there are a lot of Southern rock influences in the band, so I think there’s a little bit of all of that in there. NE: You've got some thrash and even death metal elements on the album. On the other hand you also have mainstream radio-friendly tunes like "Broken Soul". It seems like you wanted to reach a very wide audience with this release. Do you realise that it's impossible to please everyone with just one album? No, actually there was no thought behind pleasing anyone or reaching certain audiences and that’s the beautiful thing. It’s not like Metallica, where they have to think about “what type of record are we going to make and will the fans like it or will the fans not like it.” There’s all this pressure behind those types of bands and bands like Slayer, where they worry about whether they should stick to the formula or whether they should change. For a band like Fozzy, we really have the freedom do to just anything that we want to do. Chris Jericho’s real job is a professional sport star, he’s a wrestler. He’s hugely passionate and there’s a huge interest for him but ultimately he doesn’t derive his income from music and his career is not based on this, so the pressure is not there to satisfy some commercial mainstream sales. Because I also have a couple of other bands as well, that kind of frees you up to think that you can do about anything that you want to and make the record you want to make. If it’s not successful commercially than that’s OK,
Photos: Riot Entertainment
all of the projects and that’s true for anything in life when you have multiple focuses. Something is going to have to give and we felt that with this new album there’s no point in doing it unless we were willing to really step up and put all of our focus into writing and recording of the record. I think that has more to do with its success than anything. It’s just the focus and the commitment we had.
INTERVIEW because you have these other avenues for income. I think that’s always the problem when you’re talking about the music businesses that half of it is the creative music side and the other half is the business. A lot of times these things are at odds with each other because some bands place more consideration on the business side of making music. People who don’t feel that pressure and need to have to do things to be commercially successful, can make albums that are purely representative of who they are as musicians and where they want to be stylistically. I think we felt very free and open to make exactly the record that we wanted to do with no pressure to feel like we had to fit in any type of genre. We just make an album full of songs that we felt really strong about. NE: You haven't had these thrashy influences before and you never recorded any thrash metal covers. So what inspired the parts of "Pray For Blood" for example? When I grew up “Among The Living” by Anthrax was one of my favourite albums. That album changed my life. I love “Master Of Puppets” and “Ride The Lightning” like most metal fans - those albums were hugely influential on me. I love Exodus and I love Testament. These are bands that I grew up with and listened to and loved. There are moments on Stuck Mojo records and moments on Fozzy records where there’s some thrash elements but not completely from top to bottom. One of my favourite albums is “The Gathering” by Testament, I love that and I’m a huge Andy Sneap fan as well, as I’m a good friend of his. I love listening to his albums and that’s one of my favourite albums. It’s one of the albums that I train to and there’s a lot of really great drumming on there. I also love Strapping Young Lad and Devin Townsend has been a huge influence in my musical life. Some of the stuff off the Strapping “City” album is very crazy and over the top, as well as thrashy and progressive… I have influences all over the board from music that I’ve listened to over the last 20 or 30 years. It’s shaped us all as the players and I feel like this album was the first time that I’ve ever said, “Hey, let me just try exploring some different things that I enjoy.” NE: It's easy to hear some of the influences. There are echoes of the '80s British metal in your music and also '70s hard rock, but the overall sound is very modern. Why did you want to produce the album this way? Well, since I never made any records in the ‘70s or the ‘80s the only producers that I’ve ever worked with are Andy Sneap, Daniel Bergstrand, Devin Townsend and Shawn Grove here in Atlanta. These guys are all modern, aggressive music producers. I’ve produced the last few albums that I’ve recorded and all of my production influences come from the producers that I’ve worked with, I can’t say enough what an influence Andy Sneap has been to my life. From the production standpoint, I’ve learned everything I know from him, so I’m not a speck on his ass when it comes to his production but he’s always been a mentor of mine in the studio. I think the production probably has more to do with working with these producers than it has been trying to match the production of a style that I grew up with.
NE: The album closes with a long epic song called "Warmwood". You composed all the other songs but not this one. Aren’t you comfortable writing a song with so many parts? In my opinion a part of being a mature musician is to know that in a band everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. It’s like in a sports team, take a football team, not everyone should play goalkeeper and not everyone should be the striker. I mean everyone knows what the best position on a field is for them and it’s the same in a band. I have my things that I’m good at, but I’m not a huge progressive music guy. I’m not really a big Dream Theater fan. I like them but it’s not something I listen to a lot. I just didn’t feel like it’s a song that I could do as well as the rest of the guys. I just said “I’ll focus on the rest of the record and you guys take this one.” And it made sense. NE: The last question about the new album. Can you say the title of the song number 10 quickly? No, I can’t even say it slow, haha! I’m boycotting that album title. I’m like Malcolm Young from AC/DC. I only know four chords and I shouldn’t be forced to be able to pronounce words that big. NE: I wonder how was that possible that you got a deal based on cover songs only and that the label wanted you to record a covers album? I mean the labels never do such things, as they usually look for original material? I have no idea how that happened. It was the strangest thing that we’ve ever experienced because Fozzy started out as a kind of fun covers jam band where we just got together once in a while for a good time. We played some of our favourite songs and all of a sudden we started getting some interests in the industry. We had an offer from Jonny Z from Megaforce Records who said, “We really want you to make a covers album.” We were confused and we didn’t understand why they would want us to do that. But we thought it was a good opportunity and we of course said yes. We worked hard to make our own versions and we stayed just true enough to the originals that they were recognisable, but had some twist that made them more of what we would do if Chris Jericho and the members of Stuck Mojo had recorded them. It was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed it but again it was a reason we never quite made the band a main priority because we never would have thought in a million years that we would be a covers band recording albums and touring. It just didn’t make sense to us. But as time went on that’s why we evolved more into more and more originals and then the band started to change which was just a natural progression for us. NE: So why did you decide to write original songs?
Well, as musicians the most rewarding part of playing music is the creation of your own songs. We had this amazing opportunity to make albums and we thought that it would be a wasted opportunity to continue to make albums of other people’s songs. It wasn’t like we were lacking in the songwriting department. We had several people in the band that were good songwriters and we thought that it was just a good idea to make that transition because there’s only so many classic songs that you can re-record before it just gets boring. It’s neat to have bonus tracks on an album that are covers or for a band to do a special album full of covers. That’s always cool, but to do it exclusively… To us it just didn’t seem like an interesting thing, being just a covers band. NE: You had the story about the band and you claimed all the compositions were your own and the other bands stole them. It was an obvious joke, but did you have any problems because of it? No. As a matter of fact we had some contact with a lot of the bands that we were covering. They actually thought it was quite funny. For us it was a great way to show respect to these bands by covering their songs but at the same time we felt like that the secret behind doing the covers was to actually create an entire story with characters behind it. We felt like that would keep us from just being one of a million cover bands and I felt like that was the only way we were really willing to do it because that way it would at least have some humour behind it. NE: You guys seem to be pretty successful in the UK. How about the rest of Europe? We haven’t really toured a lot. We’ve done two or three shows in Germany and then we’ve played Australia and the States. It’s not that we don’t want to. Part of the real challenge for Fozzy is Chris’s commitments and scheduling it with his wrestling schedule. I mean obviously his career means that he has to work like 250 shows a year with wrestling and then on top of that he has travel days. So it makes it a challenge to be able to book shows. We do know that in the fall we’re going to do two or three French shows, two or three German shows and do a couple in Holland as well. So as the time goes on we’re going to try to expand on the continent as much as we can in Europe. But again, as is the case with the music business, a lot of it is out of our control. We obviously write and record the albums, but we have managers and booking agents in every territory, so it’s a lot of things that are going on in the business we’re not even aware of until the dates are booked and the management tells us where the shows are. WOJTEK GABRIEL w w w. f o z z y r o c k . c o m
NE: One of the guitar licks in "Let The Madness Begin" sounds like the vocal line from Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song". Is it just a coincidence? Oh no, I did that intentionally. I thought the drum part sounded very Led Zeppelin and because I love the drum bit, I felt like it would be natural to tip the hat at the very end of the song, to show respect. So the very end guitar lick line is the vocal melody for the “Immigrant Song”. NE: You've got Jeff Waters play a couple of solos on the album. Did you invite him because he's one of the best players around or because you know him personally? Both. Chris and Jeff have been good friends for a number of years and I’ve met Jeff on a number of occasions as well. Chris and I are both huge fans of Jeff’s playing and we thought it would be great to have him come in. You know it’s an honour. On the last Fozzy record we had Zakk Wylde, Marty Friedman and Mark Tremonti. We though it would be cool to have another guitar player that we really look up to, record a couple of solos and Jeff was at the top of our list.
INTERVIEW NE: I want to know more about what went on behindthe-scenes of “Riot Squad”. How much did the rest of the guys contribute during the writing stage and what studio did the band use to record the album?
t’s common knowledge I that a tidal wave of thrash
metal swept the world last year. But if any band deserved to be at its forefront, it’s Germany’s Paradox. They’re the genre’s elite, the vanguard, its jack booted storm troopers. There’s quite a bit of history behind the quartet; formed in the ‘80s, Paradox would go on hiatus several times in the ensuing two decades until the 2008 comeback “Electrify” NE: Hello Paradox! I want to congratulate you guys for the excellent “Riot Squad” you released last year. I loved that album to pieces. Now tell me, since it came out only a year since 2008’s “Electrify” were a lot of the songs leftovers from the previous recording or 100% new compositions? Hello and thanks for your kind words about “Riot Squad”! Except for "No Place To Survive" and "Riptide" every song is completely new. "Riptide" was written in 1990 while "No Place To Survive" is an unreleased demo track from the mid ‘80s. We played that song live during Dynamo Open Air 1988 but it never made it on a regular album, so I re-recorded it and now I’m really happy with the result. It’s a smasher! NE: You guys have been around for ages. But what happened during the long gaps between albums? I understand the numerous lineup changes and that heavy metal is never a stable profession. So what were you guys busy with when not fixated on thrash metal? After “Heresy” in 1990 we got into trouble with our label Roadrunner and with our management at the time. Both of them didn’t believe in us and then grunge exploded. Axel Blaha
reconnected them with their audience. Barely a year later came “Riot Squad,” an uncompromising melt-yourbrains-to-mush tour de force that’s one of the few thrash albums whose rapid fire tempos is combined with unbridled power. Still basking in the band’s success, singer guitarist Charlie Steinhauer spoke to us about “Riot Squad,” the upcoming ProgPower USA festival, and his influences. stopped playing drums for us and Roland, our bass player, left the band after he found a fulltime job and had no time anymore. The band called it quits. I made no music for the next eight years, just some sessions in several rehearsal rooms with different musicians form time to time. In 1998 I got a phone call from AFM Records. Then we launched our first comeback with “Collision Course” in 2000. In 2003 I suffered from a bowel disease. It took more than three years including six surgeries for me to get well again. Then we started the second comeback in 2006 at the Keep It True festival and two years later released our fourth album "Electrify" and the current release "Riot Squad” came out in 2009. NE: I’m a huge fan of Gus Drax ever since hearing him play on Biomechanical’s last album. Tell me how he joined the fold. Just one hour after the statement that Kai Pasemann quit the band came out in our Myspace we received an email from Gus Drax. He was very interested in the job. I listened to his work first, then I called him up and we talked about the details. We are very happy with Gus. He is also a great guy to be with and a killer guitarist. The first mail we received came from Gus and he nailed it right away.
We recorded in two different studios. Most of the guitars and bass were recorded in our own CS Homestudio, then we did drum sessions in Nürnberg. After that the album was mixed and mastered by Achim Köhler (whose previous work includes Primal Fear and Edguy) at his Indiscreet Studio. I produced the album by myself and recorded all rhythm and lead guitars and the vocal stuff. Olly (Keller, bass) came at my house to record the bass. Our former guitarist Kai wrote all lyrics, but didn’t like the recording sessions. NE: What are the four of you like in the studio? Is there a lot of hair pulling when someone has to lay down the same track over and over again? We have a very relaxed time during the recordings. If anything took too long there is enough room for other things to do in the studio. We recorded without any pressure or time limits. During the recording breaks we played some Playstation games or we just relaxed talking about things we could do better on the album. NE: The hard work obviously paid off because I haven’t read a single bad review of that album. These days metalheads usually go online to learn about bands thru their favourite webzines. Are there any particular sites you like visiting yourself? Yes. I visit the Blabbermouth every day to keep me informed about news in the metal scene or visit the Myspace sites of other bands to hear their music. But every month I also buy two of my favourite print-magazines, Heavy and Rock Hard magazine. NE: My favorite songs on “Riot Squad” are “Riptide” and “Nothingness”. The former just kills with its massive hooks while the other is dark and epic. How about the rest of your fans? Which songs from “Riot Squad” do they completely go nuts over? "Riptide," "Hollow Peace," "Nothingness," "No Place To Survive," and "Rise In Rank" are their favourites. NE: You’re playing in the latest Prog Power USA this year. Who was responsible for getting Paradox onto that most excellent festival? Just interest from the booking people. We received an email from them and fixed it very fast. This makes us proud, because it’s our first show in another continent and from what I’ve heard it will be held in a great venue and is a well organised event . NE: Do you have any particular role models when it comes to singing? If you ask me, I’d say you sound like a cross between Joey Belladonna and the vocalist of Metal Church circa “Blessing In Disguise”.
NE: Looking back on when you were still a teenager burning to play heavy music, did you expect to fulfill all the goals you set out to accomplish as a musician? What would you have done differently back in the day?
Photos: AFM Records
I have no special role models. I listen very closely to the instrumental versions of the new songs instead. After that I put the words in the right place and start to sing. I record everything and collect the best parts. I record the chorus step by step, since it’s the most important part of the song. Then comes pre-chorus and lines. Hell, if I could sing like Joey Belladonna then I would be happy. Hahaha! I’m a bit inspired of him. I also admire Erik AK ( Flotsam & Jetsam) and James Hetfield (Metallica).
INTERVIEW NE: Since I’m from South East Asia (the Philippines), I’m curious about the environment in your part of the world. What part of Germany do you call home? Are there a lot of ‘metal’ clubs and festivals in your neck of the woods? Aren’t you glad you live in the world’s heavy metal capital? The place I call home is Würzburg in northern Bavaria. It’s in the middle-south of Germany between Frankfurt and Nürnberg. There are a lot of cover bands here and they actually earn more money than original bands, it’s totally crazy! We have some venues here, too. Namely Rockfabrik and Rockpalace. I’m glad to live here, but sometimes I wish for better weather, hahaha! It rains too much and is too cold! The most important thing for me is we have a good healthcare system here in Germany. For vacations I prefer holidaying in the Indian Ocean, specifically the Maldives. NE: When do you have those moments when you feel like you can play thrash metal forever? Does your natural high from music happen more often when playing onstage or is it simply when you’re with your band?
” I believe in thrash metal as music for every occasion...” I wish I could take away the breaks after “Heresy” and “Collision Course”. We had a great start with the “Product Of Imagination” album here in Germany. We were considered the best newcomers in 1987 and it was album of the month in the biggest magazines. Then after “Heresy” we lost a lot of time. Worse, after “Collision Course” I was getting sick for a few years, but I never gave up. I fought for the continuation of Paradox and now we recorded two albums in two years. NE: There are four accomplished musicians in the band. How would you describe your relationship with each other? Thank you. We always show respect for each other. It’s great to work with such good musicians. With that level you have more possibilities on stage and during recordings. It makes the whole process more fun.
NE: Name three things that piss you off. Lies. Ignorance. Disrespect. NE: Are you bummed that the Scorpions are releasing their last album? Do you have your own ‘special’ Scorpions experience or memory? When was the last time you went under a girl’s bedroom window and sang “Still Loving You”? It’s sad but it’s time for them. They recorded great music and sold millions of records. They have reached all their goals and now they will have a clean end to a great career. I like their early albums "Lovedrive," "Blackout," and "Love At First Sting." In 2001 we did a cover version of "Dynamite" for a Nuclear Blast tribute compilation. About the girl(s), hmm… I can’t remember if there was just one girl. Hahaha!
I believe in thrash metal as music for every occasion, but I also like other metal genres. Maybe one time I will record a solo album with all ideas I can’t use for Paradox, because they are too melodic. The best moment I know of is when you hit the stage with your band. NE: If I had a beer in hand right now, I’d toast the band’s future success. Are there any ideas already floating around for the next album? Yeah! I’ve started with the song writing process last week. At first I collect all ideas I have and then I select the best parts. The next album should be in stores by 2011 because we’ll be celebrating our 25 years anniversary. I’m sure no Paradox headbanger will be disappointed by the new stuff. I write music for my loyal fans. If you buy Paradox you will get pure Paradox. Fast and melodic power-thrash with class! MIGUEL BLARDONY m y s p a c e . c o m / p a r a d o x b angers
here was a golden era in rock, exemplified by glitzy glamour, edgy songs, catchy guitar riffs and eyeliner melting in the hot sun. It was the 1980s and the L.A. glam metal scene was cutting its teeth on the Sunset Strip and turning out sleaze rock and no one did it better than L.A. Guns. Recently, I had the chance to talk with Tracii Guns, the renaissance man of rock, in L.A. as he was preparing for the next round of tours and support for the just released deluxe reissue of “Shrinking Violet”. Tracii is busier than ever. His clip is full, the safety is off and the next musical adventure is within his sight.
NE: You started LA Guns in 1983 and haven’t stopped since - can you give us a bit of a look back into how you got into the LA scene to begin with? Well, I’ve been playing guitar my whole life, actually since I was six years old. That was when I started taking it seriously. As I was living in L.A. by the time I was in my early teens I was doing studio work - my family had friends in the rock and roll business. No one really big or anything but I was working really young and I have been really fortunate - the L.A. scene kinda came to me. I was in a band in high school and junior high school and my high school band eventually turned into L.A. Guns when I was 16 or 17. I always worked with a lot of people and becoming a part of the L.A. scene was just a natural progression, because that’s where you played, places like The Troubadour, The Roxy and The Whiskey. It was great and really healthy and everybody was into rock, because rock was really progressing, it was turning into kind of like going from Journey and Aerosmith and Black Sabbath into a more refined heavy kind of melodic rock. I always liked the kind of dirtier stuff. When I was 12 years old, that’s when punk rock started happening. That was when the Sex Pistols started coming out - there was a big Huntington Beach scene here with The Germs and The Weirdos and all of these bands and I really liked Devo as much as I liked Ozzy and the Scorpions. But what I didn’t like was the stuff that was over produced. I didn’t like certain things like REO Speedwagon and Journey that I just felt would have been better off had they left it a little less slick. So when I started having to write songs, and got a record deal when I was 20 with Polygram, I really didn’t want to jump on with everyone else because at the time more than Motley Crue and Ratt bands like Bon Jovi were starting, the more melodic stuff was starting to happen again. But I really wanted to stay clear of that really big power sound. I really dug what David Lee Roth was doing then with Steve Vai. I started thinking, “Wow a cross between that band, early Motley Crue and the NY Dolls would be so cool!” And that was after Guns N’
Roses. With Guns N’ Roses we went for a real heavy Aerosmith sound but when I got back to L.A. Guns it was more about trying to incorporate a real street, kinda dirty image with some catchy tunes without leaving out the fact that people like really good songs. They don’t just like shredding guitar and big drums, that’s what musicians like! There was a lot of chemistry going into it based on what I had learned through the years. NE: Tell us about the re release of “Shrinking Violet”? What prompted that? “Shrinking Violet” was originally done in 1999, the first time Jizzy Pearl was with L.A. Guns. We did it with a friend of mine, Tom Mathers with the label Paris Records. What we wanted to do was to have some new music to go with us on tour with Poison and Poison hadn’t played for a long time and it was a big tour, all outdoor arenas etc between 5,000 to 15,000 people a night. And we thought it would be a great way to make some money out there because we didn’t make a lot of money on that tour. We wanted to have stuff to sell beside T-shirts and we also wanted people to take Jizzy home with L.A. Guns musically. So we did that but we never released it and we didn’t put it through any distribution channels at all. We did mail order and a few Mom and Pop shops that Tom Mathers knew so it wasn’t like a real big commercial record at all. There wasn’t any advertising or marketing for it. And Jizzy rejoined L.A. Guns a year ago, and then Dean from Steve Vai’s record label Favored Nations contacted me through facebook saying, “Hey we know Jizzy is back in the band, we wanna do a new record with you guys” and I was really into the idea but then as we got talking Dean asked me, ”Whatever happened with that record you did 10 years ago?” I told him, “Well it was a small release on a small independent record label” and we started talking about that and since I own the masters and it was already done, it was an easy thing to get up on Itunes, get up on their distribution, which is really big - get it worldwide and in the stores and finish off that record and give people a chance to hear it. People seem to gravitate towards that record because it’s kind of a classic rock sounding record. It’s timeless, it doesn’t really have an ‘80s or ‘70s sound, it just kind of does its own thing. So that’s why we decided on that and of course we took into consideration that the less money we spent on recording could be used in PR and marketing the record. We’re going to do some television and some twisted and weird stuff, nothing too twisted and weird, but we’re going to have some parties and have a lot of fun with it!
NE: What still motivates you and keeps you going after more than 20 years? You know the thing with music, musicians and myths, it’s a real volatile combination. When I was a kid the idea was to start your own Led Zeppelin, a band that seemed like they had been around for a 100 years and would be around for another 100 years. Four members that are not interchangeable, a big magical thing. I think that’s what musicians from the ‘70s and ‘80s really envisioned for themselves in
a really unrealistic way, but that was just the goal for everybody. But growing up in a musical family, there were country artists, classical, folk artists, a big combination of music from where I come from and the idea of my family and what I grew up with was to play with as many people as you can to become the best musician you can be. And as a result people will gravitate to you and your progression of music. So it’s really important for me to always be doing something outside of L.A. Guns as well as L.A. Guns because L.A. Guns is my baby, that’s my vision, I can do whatever I want with it. I can create any sound, have different players, lineups, experiment but at the same time in order for me 25 years down the line, in order for me to play “Sex Action” and “Ballad of Jayne” over and over again live and still sound fresh is for me to actually get away from those songs for awhile and work on other music with other people with other goals in mind. Some things I do for charity, some for money but I really take the gift I have been given and try to maximise it and try to use it in the most credible way possible. Even if I do a tribute record I make sure it’s really good. I don’t do anything half ass and I would encourage other musicians not to do that as well. Because no one ever remembers the good stuff, they remember the horrible fatalities of people who choke on vomit, so it’s important to not be shitty at the end of day. NE: When you’re dealing with very public issues that L.A. Guns has in the past, how do you rise above that stuff? Well, you gotta weave a good story especially since this is your life. All of those little frictions and dirty laundry, arguments in public, is a part of your legend and your story and it is a part of what humanises heroes and stars. Everyone wants their heroes and stars to have errors and faults and be human because your fans grow with you and they relate with what you go through and they don’t feel like they are alienated. People relate to you being human. And fuck ups are the best way to relate to people because everyone fucks up! NE: Is there a singular musical moment that you are most proud of? Honestly there is. There have been a lot of great shows, great recordings but I tell you something. When I played with the Brides Of Destruction in England in 2004, you know Nikki Sixx is sooooo instrumental in my development as a musician, when I was 16-17 years old that’s when I got to play “Shout At The Devil”, “Livewire” and “One More Reason To Die” and “Never Enough” and eight songs we had written together, in front of 10,000 people and the crowd was just going nuts. I remember it was like 115 degrees in that tent and we were wearing leather and makeup and stupid hair on stage and playing louder than fucking anything and it was so worth my whole career of 20 years before that point to just do that show, you know what I mean? And the reviews we got from the show were off the fucking charts and it was one of the most satisfying moments in my life and those are the
Photos: Cheryl Spelts, Andrew Orth, band archives
INTERVIEW things that I enjoy doing. As much as I love doing the 70-100 club shows a year and some bigger festivals, it’s a great job, I meet a lot of great people and I get to play guitar and I improve constantly, but it’s the big shows where you have created something out of nowhere and all of a sudden it’s a spectacle and people really dig it and that’s very satisfying. You can’t buy a crowd like that, there’s only one way to get there and that’s by being good enough and to have those people respond in a positive way. You’ve won, it should satisfy your success meter or whatever you want to call it. Happy people become successful, when people who are waiting to be successful then to be happy, it never happens. NE: OK, you have been involved on some level with Guns N’ Roses, Contraband, Brides Of Destruction. Tell our readers which was the most challenging experience in a good way? I’ll tell you the Contraband project was really challenging because it was something put together by my manager, Alan Kovac, who started a new label and he managed all of the artists who were on that record. It was outside writers and cover songs so it was like we didn’t even get cassettes of the songs before we hit the studio, so it was a matter of just showing up at the studio and just playing, you know what I mean? It was like “Whoa, OK hold on, let me listen to the songs a few times!” and none of the artists involved with the record had any input musically, or choice wise I should say, as we all played our instruments the way we play and it was fun. We actually went out and played some shows but it was difficult and challenging because it was during the time of “Hollywood Vampires” and we had a heavy schedule and we were touring like crazy! And I was flying all over the world to get back to L.A. to do videos and interviews and record that record and I also met my girlfriend way back then who I am still with now so there was a lot going on in my life at the time. It was a challenge, it was fun and it ended up being a highlight for sure.
guitars and a higher octave lead vocal. That was ground breaking at that point. Led Zeppelin had a lot of the same qualities but they didn’t have a punk rock attitude that we were trying to inject. By the time I got to L.A. Guns again and got up with Mick Crips, who was the other guitar player in L.A. Guns, he was also a real music visionary, wanting to do things over the top and in a campy way and not a cheesy way. Meaning that “OK, if what is happening right now is a glam, look, we have to do something more evil with it. We have to wear more leather and be dirtier and make sure nothing looks store bought and our makeup has to be all over our face and not pretty”, you know what I mean? There was a lot of discussion about doing things that other people were doing but doing it better and different. So there was every intention in my mind since working with Axl of always trying to break the status quo. We could be another Aerosmith or Stones, we could do that but then you’re just a copy cat. How do you not be a copy cat? Especially when everything that was cool had almost already been done. So there was always a little bit more thought behind it. You spend an extra ten minutes in writing, an extra ten minutes in a photo shoot so that you don’t look like every other rocker who has worked with that photographer and you present yourself differently and hope that in terms of what you are pioneering that people respect you. NE: Speaking of legends, I noticed that Iggy Pop had some glowing remarks about you on the new CD. Tell us about that and who in your career impressed you or was a mentor? Yeah, Iggy has always been a believer in raw and rough and the diamond in the rough theory. I first met him when we were rehearsing for the “Cocked And Loaded” tour, we were in the same studio and at that point and time, he asked me to play just after Alice Cooper asked me to play and so I couldn’t do it obviously but he was such a genuine cool dirty guy. Jumping ahead a bit, when we started the Brides, that was the one thing Nikki said which was that he wasn’t dirty enough personally, and I was like “Nikki, you’re the biggest dirtball in the world!” and he was like, “Yeah but you just walk in and look like you’re a mess” and I said, “Well that’s because I AM a mess!” But that’s the kind of quality Iggy and Keith Richards has, you can put 3 piece suits and $1000.00 fedoras on these guys and they still look so cool. If I’ve achieved 1% of that in my life then that’s a real compliment to me and when you have someone like Iggy Pop define you in their own vision in the same way you define that person then it really makes you feel like you’re doing something right. He knows how much I appreciate it. It’s just a really fucking cool thing to do as a friend.
NE: L.A. Guns is often considered one of the bands to really jump start the glam scene. Did you and the band have any idea that you were ushering in a new vibe or was it more organic? You know, I think when Axl was in L.A. Guns before he did Guns N’ Roses that was a defining moment for both of us personally. It was like we were two guys who had a vision. He had grown up with Izzy and I had lived with Izzy for about a year when he joined L.A. Guns. Now, Izzy Stradlin was a real visionary in terms of what should be next, what is cool, what is not cool, what is going to last, what is not going to last, and we both got this kind of education from Izzy’s attitude. So at that point Axl and I would talk about not sounding like anyone else but drawing from our influences, but making it our own and if we had a part in a song that sounded like anybody else we would change it immediately! ‘Cause we both knew we had what it took to change things and get it sounding as original as possible. By the time we got into Guns N’ Roses, we decided we wanted to be a heavy Aerosmith. We were going to have a funky swagger, with big giant distorted
all I listened to. He was able to be so dynamic, so funky, so clean, so heavy at his age and had such amazing qualities like Jimmy Page but in a different format. Around the same time I got into Pantera and saw what Dimebag was doing with metal and he had taken it to a point where it was still really heavy but melodic too, and it was still really nasty without being this technically proficient perfection, it was just so over the top. He would take Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen to the extreme and I really noticed that, it was an amazing clarifying moment for me. As a musician it doesn’t happen enough, and most of the time for me now it’s like a local band with a bunch of guys in their 30s and 40s playing G G Allen punked up rock that gets my attention, it just has to be original and they have to be good at what they are doing and I get off on it. NE: What was it like working with Gilby Clarke? I’ve known Gilby since I was about 17 or 18 and I always knew he was a great soundman because that’s what he used to do. He had built a studio at his house and asked to do a record and for me to trust him and we did it in about a month and half at his place and it turned out really well and obviously if you have an opportunity to create music with one of your best friends it’s a pleasant experience. A lot of times you’re going into the studio with complete strangers and you have a different point of view on what you are trying to achieve and what they are trying to achieve and since Gilby had grown up with Guns N’ Roses he knew exactly what it should be like. It was cool to have one of my best friends involved as a producer and engineer. We did it on 16 bit DAT tapes which are like the worst format ever invented for recording and it turned out great. The live tracks were done by my friend Wex in Texas, he runs a club there called the Dead Horse which is by far my absolute favorite place to play, it has this cool sweaty NY punk vibe to it and the crowds are always great and packed, going out of their minds and we recorded our live album there. So we added those three tracks and we have 11 more and we’re not sure what we’re going to do with them yet. NE: Well, Tracii this has been great. Do you have any final thoughts or plugs for our readers?
NE: So, who has been your mentor? My whole career has been guided by “What would Jimmy Page do?” because he is the whole reason why I got into electric guitar period! And wanting to create a musical path, a magic sound and push myself. I always refer to his catalogue of an encyclopedia of every rock style imaginable but having said that there are two guys that really blew me out of the water and they are completely different . One is John Frusciante, of the Chilli Peppers, I met him right when he joined the Chilli Peppers, we were in the same studio which is where I meet most people, he was 18 years old and I was 22 and they were tearing it up and he was on fire! When “Mother’s Milk” came out it was my favorite record and it was
Thanks so much. Well, I have this ‘70s band with Matt Sorum, Frankie Perez, Phil Soussan and we just did a benefit for Music Cares and we raised $30,000 and the band is called Carnival of Dogs and we’re going to be doing a lot of shows this year. It’s a pretty spectacular band. We do Cheap Trick, the Stooges, Hendrix and we do it well so be on the lookout for it! KIM THORE www.lagunsofficial.com
f 21st century American heavy metal had a calling card, it’s WildeStarr, who debuted last year. A collaborative project that began in 2005 between former Vicious Rumors bassist Dave Starr and studio singer London Wilde, their aptly titled “Arrival” came loaded with delectable riffs, powerful hooks, melody galore, and a lethal edge that lent its old school charm a modern twist. Taking a moment’s break from the pre-production for album number two, the pair were enthusiastic to receive Noizz Eater’s questions and discuss their upcoming sophomore release, tours, and the all-important female factor. NE: With the success of “Arrival” behind you, what’s the next great leap for WildeStarr? Dave: Keep doing what we have done so far, which is to write more great songs for the next CD, and that’s what we are doing right now. The challenge for us is to maintain the high level of song writing and performance that we achieved on “Arrival.” I am not too worried because the new tunes are sounding great! London: Our goals right now are to complete our next record and put together a touring line up. NE: Dave, it’s just you, London, and session drummer Jim Hawthorne. Are there any further plans for additional personnel in the band? D: WildeStarr is a duo. It’s just London and I. We are the band. Having said that, we have a new drummer that we are working with on the upcoming CD. His name is Josh Foster. He is a young guy with a very different background than what we are used to. He’s really into technical death metal. It might sound like an abstract combination to have him working with us, but so far things sound pretty cool! He is bringing a certain different edge and outlook to our music, and that's good. He loves what we are doing, and he has lots of energy. I think the drumming will be a bit more intense this time around, but it will still fit in and be a part of the WildeStarr sound. Jim Hawthorne did a great job on the last CD, we are just trying something different, that's all. We are not changing our style, but we will just have more intense drumming to go along with it. I talked to a few people about being the second guitarist on next CD, but I don't see it happening now. London and I are very protective of what we have and what we are doing. We don't want anyone messing things up. We don't want to make any moves that we will later regret. We checked out a bassist back in 2006, and one of the first things he did was tell us our songs needed changes here and there. Needless to say, he did not last long! The only thing certain is that unless we are 100 % happy in bringing others in to work with us we will do it all ourselves again, just like we did on “Arrival.”
NE: Oh right, you’re planning tour dates for 2010. How’s that coming along? How extensive are your road commitments going to be this year? Any festivals? D: Actually, we are not planning on any live shows and touring until 2011. We have been working with Chip Ruggieri (PR for Judas Priest and Rob Halford) for the last six months and he has been a huge help to us. One of the things he is going to work with us on for the next CD is touring, as well as better promotion and distribution. NE: According to the official bio, you and London first worked together while you were mixing a Chastain album. How far back did you know each other prior to this meeting? D: I played bass on the last Chastain CD "In An Outrage" (2004). London engineered the bass track for me. We met in ‘87 or ‘88, back in the day when I was in Vicious Rumors. This was around the “Digital Dictator” album and tours. L: Dave and I have been friends a long time. The first time Dave showed me some of his own material was as far back as 1995. He even recorded a demo single at my studio all those years ago. NE: London, how come your locks are silvery? I have to be honest here, your hair is very uh, magnificent. And you’re pretty too. That’s a compliment, by the way. L: Thank you very much! Some people shine golden like the sun. Others shine silver like the moon. I prefer the moon. NE: Actually it would have been better if I asked about your vocals, which are very impressive. What singing background do you have? L: Thank you again! I am a self taught singer. My influences are Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford and Geoff Tate. I have been mostly a studio musician for the last 10 years before forming WildeStarr with Dave in 2005. NE: And Dave, you’re a bassist but you also play guitar for your current project. Does your bass playing style ever carry over to your guitar playing?
Photos: band archives
D: I think everything is associated in one way or another. I think being a good bass player and having such an extensive background on bass helped (and helps) me a lot. Now I am also a pretty good guitar player as well (or so I am told), so it’s a big help to be able to do both. Most guitar players I know are not very good bass players and they only think of how things relate in terms of guitar playing. That's a very narrow way of thinking. Playing all the guitars and bass on “Arrival” was a tremendous amount of work, but I think the results and the quality speak for themselves. NE: When you two decided to collaborate, did naming the project WildeStarr come instantly or were you coming up with other ideas? I gotta admit, when I chose to review your album, it’s because WildeStarr had this ring to it.
INTERVIEW D: I think overall, the production sounds pretty good. I have compared it to some of the other records I have made in the past and I think “Arrival” sounds as good or better. Of course, it’s easy to look back and say, maybe this or that could have been better or done differently, but that's life. No record is going to be perfect, especially when you don't have unlimited time and money in the studio. Some of the bass parts got a bit lost in the mix as well as some of the cymbals. I was not happy about those two things. L: I think WIldeStarr has a lot more bite than what came across in the studio recording. The "Arrival" record is very polished and beautiful sounding, and we love it, but our next record will be more heavy and closer to our true sound. Heavier drums, and more prominent bass is something you can expect. NE: You released “Arrival” via your own label, Furnace Maximus Records. Where did you find the capital and resources to launch your own product?
L: We never went through a band naming process where we tossed around ideas. When Dave and I got married in 2001, my friends started teasing me that my hyphenated married name would be Wilde-Starr. It just morphed into a standard thing for us that anything Dave and I did together became WildeStarr. D: It makes sense since we are a duo, but that was not our thinking when we started out. We were not really sure what we were going to do, but in the beginning we had so many problems trying to find other musicians to work with that it always came back to London and I. We were the only people we could count on to get this record done. NE: The two of you aren’t new to studio work, but how did you approach the pre-production and actual recording of “Arrival”? Did you take your time to write the best material possible? Was there any improvisation in the studio? L: I am very comfortable in the studio environment, so most of the vocal melody song writing was improvisation in the studio as a jumping off point. Some of the improvisational vocals made it to the final record, others were perfected and refined like molding clay. Dave and I edit and critique the song until we are happy with it. Sometimes it happens quickly, other times, we may do a complete re-write, and start over. D: I did very little improvisation in the studio while recording the CD, the one thing that comes to mind is the ending solo in "The Chain". I changed that in the studio and I actually changed the rhythm parts underneath it as well! I just felt I had a better/stronger idea, and it needed to get changed. This was very close to the end of the recording. Leading up to the recording of the CD, we did change things here and there. "Nevermore" needed an almost total re-write of the music. The final version that you hear on the record is 1,000 times better than it was before. NE: My only beef with your debut is the production, which was decent, but at times felt as if the songs didn’t have the right, uhm, ‘voltage’ in them. Listening to “Arrival” now, is there anything you hear that you would like to change?
D: We just poured all we had into the record and the promotion. Sometimes that's what you have to do. Every penny came out of our own pockets. We are not
rich, but we are not poor either. L: Dave and I made a lot of sacrifices to get the record out, but it was something we believed in and had to do. I am very glad we did it and I wouldn't change a thing. NE: As a professional musician, which aspects of your vocation do you enjoy the most - performing, recording, or jamming out a song all by yourself? D: London and I are looking forward to taking WildeStarr to the live stage. That will be pretty cool. My performing and touring days with Vicious Rumors ended in 1993. I do miss performing on stage at times. I have only done studio work over the last 17 years. I really loved the challenge of making “Arrival”. It was the most complex thing I have ever been involved in. L: The feeling of accomplishment when you are done creating something you are proud of is my favorite part. The creation process can go from simple joy, to hard work, pressure and stress. But once it's done and it sounds awesome, you feel like it was all worth it.
L: I think the metal community is much more receptive to women fronted metal than it has been in the past. It is fantastic to see more female fronted bands become successful. It also results in more women as metal fans, which is good for everyone! NE: Dave, you’ve successfully battled personal demons and managed to get this new project off the ground. What keeps you fighting when life is knocking you down? D: I had a really bad drinking problem combined with untreated serious depression, and those two things went on for over 10 years until I decided enough is enough. I got clean and sober in 2005 and then got myself to a doctor and went on medication for the depression shortly after I quit drinking. This was a crossroad in my life, it was literally a choice of life or death. I chose life. The decision was easy once I put my mind to it, but it took over 10 years to get there. I am lucky to be alive. I have many things to be thankful for, and WildeStarr is one of them. There is no way I could have made this album if I was still drinking. NE: Considering your status as independent artists and the state of the business in general, do you ever contemplate the future of recorded music? Is your vision for the future hopeful, resigned, or cynical? D: I try to be optimistic. I don't like the illegal downloading that goes on, it’s terrible. It has cost WildeStarr a huge amount of lost revenue. I don't know what, if anything, can ever fix this problem. L: I think complacency has contributed to the problem of illegal downloading. I do wish the music industry would be more inventive and pro active in coming up with solutions and generating awareness. Most people don't think they are causing any harm. I get the impression that people still believe they are "robbing the rich" when they download an artists' songs for free, which just isn't the case. NE: Unfortunately this is all the time we have. I would have loved to hang out with you guys and talked about “Arrival”. Are the two of you just itching to conquer Europe? D: Thanks Miguel! I had three great European tours with Vicious Rumors and I would love to get back over there with WildeStarr! L: Thank you very much Miguel, we enjoyed speaking with you! Yes, I am very excited to conquer Europe. I’m also looking forward to meeting our fans in person and making new ones! MIGUEL BLARDONY w w w. w i l d e s t a r r. c o m
NE: The album came out in August, but the first video wasn't released until January this year. Why the wait? L: The video was a very complex and time consuming project because of all the special effects. I started the video a year and a half before the record came out, and worked on it in my spare time. Once the record was done, I was able to work full time on completing it, but due to the detailed nature of the video it took another several months to complete. Every set was drawn and painstakingly created by myself, and each frame had up to 10 layers of video and effects. Add the fact that the song was over five minutes long and that’s a lot of video editing for one person. NE: Is today the best time to be a female in a metal band?
hen it comes to music I really like being positively surprised and Rampart's debut album couldn't have surprised me more. First of all, the band is from Bulgaria and I bet 99% of you have never heard of any Bulgarian metal bands. Secondly, they are fronted by a female singer, who actually sings the metal way and does not wail like all the boring gothic princesses who all sound the same. The last surprising thing is that the band managed to create a style of their own, despite the fact that you can hear strong echoes of Running Wild and early Helloween in their music. “Voice Of The Wilderness” is a great debut release and its main creators - singer/lyricist Maria and guitarist/songwriter Yavor were kind enough to answer some questions for Noizz Eater. NE: "Voice of The Wilderness" has been available for almost half a year now. How has the metal community responded to your debut release? M: We are more than gratified with the response. Although “Voice Of The Wilderness” is a debut it was welcomed in the worldwide metal society. The press, as well as the fans, responded enthusiastically. This stimulates us to work in the same direction. NE: You sound very German. Are all the members fans of the Teutonic scene or is it only Yavor, who wrote the material? M: Yes, all of us are. We are fans of the Teutonic scene and like every composer Yavor, has his inspirations, but he also writes the music with a creative approach. The fans, who write to us, listen to our music without prejudices. NE: Would you say that it's easier for a metal band to compose music when they have a classically trained musician in the line-up? M: I believe that this is one of the benefits of our band. But I do not think that this is a compulsory formula for success. Either you have the inspiration or you don’t. Y: In my opinion composing and the arranging songs is easier when you have knowledge about the main music disciplines and theory. The classical music helps me a lot when I write songs. NE: Why did a music school graduate and trained violinist actually want to play heavy metal? Y: I have always loved heavy metal. When I was a student at the music school and I was playing classical works on violin, I was listening to heavy metal. I was trying to reproduce it with the violin but it did not work and that is why I started guitar lessons. There are lots of elements in classical music which remind me of heavy metal and it can be found in composers like Beethoven, Wagner, Vivaldi, and Paganini. I find many common things between the two types of music. NE: Most of the songs on the debut album are uptempo compositions and they are quite energetic. Would you say that it's harder to make an impression with a slow metal song? M: It is easier to make an impression with a slow metal song and most of the radio stations play our slower tracks. We consider
INTERVIEW that heavy metal has not attained its final shape and the genre still has something to say. We believe that our energetic songs are at a high level and we are striving to maintain that level.
Photos: Inferno Records
NE: You've got some classical arrangements in the ballad "Age Of Steel" and they sound like real instruments and not keyboards. Were they some of Yavor's friends from his music school who joined you on this song? M: The recording of all the instruments in the strings section (violins, violas, and violoncello) was accomplished by an electrical violin. Our guest violinist Sofia is also a big heavy metal admirer. I played with her in the female metal project called Vipera and Yavor also knows her from the Music Academy. The metal scene in Bulgaria is not big, so it was not an accident that Sofia recorded with us. NE: Apart from the aforementioned ballad you don't use much more than guitars, bass and drums on the album. Do you consider these instruments to be enough for a traditional metal band? Y: The fact that the most popular bands in this genre like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Helloween, Running Wild, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Accept, AC/DC and others use these exact instruments is sufficient proof of their effectiveness. I do think that experimenting with other instruments is good as in the ballad “Age of Steel”. NE: In your lyrics you mix history and fantasy with social matters and everyday life. If you were asked to write a concept album, which subject would you choose? M: I will again mix history and fantasy with social matters and everyday life because the first two inspire Yavor to invent the music and the second two express my personal point of view. If I had to write the lyrics for a concept album I would choose some subjects from the first Crusades, the legends about King Arthur, Pirates of the Caribbean or The Second World War. “Lord of the Rings” is another source of inspiration for a concept album. We have one song on the first album “Orchrist” concerning this topic. I wrote three more texts in this direction, but I am not sure if all of them will be included on our next release because it will not be a concept album. NE: Do you write your vocal lines yourself? M: The writing of the vocal lines is a mutual creative process of interaction between me and Yavor, but he indeed tries to push his musical authority. When our visions differ we leave the choice to the others in the band. When I am inspired about a new text, the lyrics come with their own music and vocal lines. NE: Who are your female singer gurus? M: I am sorry but I do not have any female singer gurus. My singer gurus are male – Bruce Dickinson, Kai Hansen, and Ronnie James Dio. NE: You've got the fortress of Tsarevets on your cover. Whose idea was it to put this important landmark of your country on the cover? Y: The idea was mine. The Baldwin’s tower at Tsarevets fortress is a symbol of victory and at the same time our band’s name is a bastion of heavy metal in Bulgaria. NE: So do you consider yourselves the defenders of Bulgarian heavy metal? M: Yes, we do! We focus our efforts on classic heavy metal as a genre. We intentionally removed different influences because we want to address our message directly. This burns inside us and we will always defend it. The name of the band is a reflection of our disposition. NE: You've recorded a song for the Helloween/Gamma Ray tribute. Why did you choose a song from the Deris
times and not something more classic? M: We wanted to cover a song which would gain a new identity. The older songs are too loaded up with their own image and they would not give us the opportunity to impose our style upon them. The fact that Kai Hansen is one of my inspirations would have been an additional obstacle when making a creative cover. We believe that a cover song should be more than an imitation of the original. NE: The Rampart recording line-up was a trio for a couple of years, but last year two guys joined your team and you've worked as a five-piece since then. Did Victor and Alexander bring any new ideas to the table? Will they be involved in the song writing process? M: We recorded some songs as a trio and at the time we had no need for “fresh blood”. Later our concert performances required the participation of additional musicians and now the best of them are part of Rampart. Victor and Alexander are already involved in the process of writing new songs and they enhance the creative impulse of the band. At the moment we are writing material for our second album. NE: From what I've heard you're writing some piraterelated lyrics for the next release? Can we look forward to a Running Wild tribute song? M: We nearly have a two hours repertoire of Running Wild cover songs which we play to lend colour to our club shows. We delivered a special Running Wild concert tribute in the summer of 2009 and the band is one of Yavor’s main inspirations. However my pirate-related lyrics “The Black Pearl”, “Bloody Symphony” and so on are a product of my childhood love of pirate novels, such as “Captain Blood”, “The Chronicles of Captain Blood”, “The Sea Hawk” by Rafael Sabatini, “The Black Corsair”, “Queen of the Caribbean”, “Son of the Red Corsair”, and “The Last Pirates” by Emilio Salgari. This love was reawaken by the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy. The relation to Running Wild in these new songs is more psychological, than musical. NE: When it comes to the Bulgarian scene, apart from Rampart only Ahat comes to mind. Do you have any other traditional metal bands there? Why can't break through?
M: As I already said the scene in Bulgaria is small. Despite this, we do have classic metal bands here and they have their achievements. Besides Ahat, other pioneers in the genre are Impulse, Iceberg and Epizod. Each of these bands have released several albums. NE: Did you live through the Iron Curtain years? If so, was it possible to get music from the "rotten West" in Bulgaria during the '80s? M: I do not have memories from the Iron Curtain times, but I know a lot of people from this period. As far as I have been told it has been hard for the rock music to pass through the boundaries of our country, but there have been cases where this happened and it was mainly from the children of some communist leaders. The metal fans, who have expressed their affinity to metal, have been chased by the police. With a resolution from Moscow, dating from 1987, the communists permitted the foundation of one metal band in each socialist country, which would be strictly controlled by the authorities. Here in Bulgaria a group of instrumentalists received the opportunity to legally play their favorite genre which they had been rehearsing in secret. So, the band Impulse started to play heavy metal instead of melodic rock. In 1988 the world saw Impulse - a Bulgarian band for the first time at a festival in Belgium. However they were not our first metal band - Trotil were. They had formed earlier and played illegally in storehouses because of state concerns. Tapes of Judas Priest, Accept, Scorpions, Metallica had been already played illegally and soon the state record company released Whitesnake, Dio and Yngwie Malmsteen albums. Young rock musicians were free in the evening of the downfall of the Iron Curtain and after 1990 everything from the West could be found on unlicensed tapes. I bought my first one sometime in 1994. NE: Will metal fans across Europe have a chance to see Rampart live? M: The European fans near and in Bulgaria can see us regularly. We do have offers for West Europe, but the negotiations are not finished yet. We expect the number of shows to increase. We believe that our songs have reached the hearts of the metal fans and we hope your readers will hear our music and judge it on its merits. WOJTEK GABRIEL www.myspace.com/rampartbg
any hard rock and metal bands that have hidden under a rock for years have returned to the scene recently and now Picture, the old Dutch dogs have decided to please old-school metal fans with a new studio release after 20 years. I wouldn't say they've learned any new tricks over this period, as they have returned to their early raw metal sound, rather than the melodic stuff they incorporated in their music on “Eternal Dark” and its follow-up. I can only say that the band made the right decision because “Old Dogs New Tricks” is a solid compilation of varied traditional metal compositions, and a release you would expect from a band like Picture. One of the two original members, drummer Laurens Bakker answered Noizz Eater's questions about their latest release and more... NE: The music you wrote for the new album is more in the early Picture style, I mean it isn't as melodic as "Eternal Dark" or "Traitor" for example. Do you consider "Old Dogs..." a kind of "back to the roots" album? It’s a simple, down to earth old school metal album, but recorded with the latest modern studios. The songs aren’t complicated but because of that it rocks all the more. NE: Your current singer Pete only sang on the melodic albums, yet his voice fits the heavier music you wrote. I'm curious if
at that time or was it the label's idea? It was just the way the band developed. The record company never had any influence in the direction or style. They contracted us because of the way we were and weren’t planning on any changes. If they didn’t like what they heard they wouldn’t have extended our contract I guess. you tried to get any of the early singers on board? Pete was our first choice. Without his voice, power and style, the album wouldn’t have sounded as good as it does. NE: You've been around for over 30 years now. Do you consider yourselves the "old dogs"? Is this the origin of the album's title? Yes, we are the old dogs. We were the first Dutch metal band with a major label and had a lot of influence in forming the direction of Dutch metal in the ‘80s.
NE: Why did you open the album with the title track? I mean it's quite a slow composition, while the next one, "Blood Out Of The Stone" kicks ass much harder...
We didn’t really consider any other song to start the album with. We were happy to open with the title track. You get to hear the other tracks anyway if you listen to the whole album. “Old Dogs New Tricks” is a powerful song as well. We wouldn’t of course start with “Now It’s Too Late”, the ballad, haha… NE: As your last album was out 22 years ago, is the material on "Old Dogs..." a compilation of ideas that you've gathered over this period, or did you start writing when you got back together? No. We only started writing again when we reunited. All the songs are fresh and new. NE: "Bomber" has been your only video clip so far. Are you planning on filming anything for the new album? Yes, there’s an official clip for “Now It’s Too Late” and there are fans who make their own clips and put them on Youtube for us. NE: I'm not sure who was the main songwriter at the beginning of the band and who it is now. Are the same people still responsible for writing music for Picture?
Money problems to put it simply. Pete was sent out to South America to do a promotion tour which was pretty successful. NE: Why did you put a fake crowd on the "Hard Rock Live" compilation? When we recorded the show we didn’t record the audience, only the instruments with close up mikes. We didn’t have any other option but to use a canned audience. But still, it’s the music that’s important so that’s why we did it. NE: Your last album before the break-up was a modern hard rock album and it wasn’t like your earlier works at all. Why did you actually release "Marathon" under the Picture moniker? Record company obligations. Rien the bass player was the only original member left and he was stuck with the responsibility of the contract. That’s why it doesn’t sound like Picture. NE: When you re-united in 1995 for some shows, did you consider recording any new material at the time? Not immediately. Only when we reformed for Sweden Rock did we realise that there were still people out there who were interested. NE: Apart from HammerFall's version of "Eternal Dark" have you ever heard any Picture songs performed by younger metal bands? Yeah, there’s a couple of things on Youtube. It’s quite a compliment really!
Usually one of the guitarists comes up with a riff and the song gets formed and arranged by the whole band. Pete does the vocal melodies and lyrics.
NE: The Netherlands have always been into traditional metal, a lot of NWoBHM bands loved to play your country. What's the situation like with old-school music nowadays?
NE: You got a chance to support AC/DC in the early stages of your career. Was it with Bon Scott or Brian Johnson? What do you remember?
Not too good. It’s difficult to be a metal band in Holland. Most of the good festivals have been shelved. For us Germany is better, more metal and right next door!
That was the Bon Scott period and AC/DC was great. They are really good people and just dedicated rockers who are always ready and willing to help out. The crew was great too. Angus lives in Holland now as well. NE: You had a shift in your direction after the first two albums and you took a more melodic path. Did it feel right
NE: Back in the day you were supposed to do a big tour with Kiss in South America, but it didn't work out. Why?
NE: Now that you're back on the scene, can we expect more shows and another album? The shows are an ongoing thing and we have started writing for a new album that will be released around October. We also plan on rerecording “Eternal Dark” for the new album. Nowadays we play it a bit heavier and we want to capture the way it is now. WOJTEK GABRIEL www.pictureofficial.com
INTERVIEW NE: I understand that you have been working on the idea of your own band for some time now and it’s finally become a reality with Angels Of Babylon. Can you remember when you took those first steps? I started thinking about an actual band around 1995, to be honest Simon… I would sit around with an acoustic guitar whilst the TV was on. I had a little pocket recorder that I recorded all my ideas on and they came to me while watching soap operas, haha! I knew I had some great songs, so I started to think how to get them into a workable format. NE: Was there a clear direction that you wanted to pursue? Well, at first, the original idea was for a rock opera. I’d written it in that style, played all the instruments, and recorded it in my home studio all by myself. I had some guest singers and lead guitar players lined up, but it took four years to complete and it sat on a shelf for a few years after that because of the bands I was doing and other general stuff. It’s a story about vampires and ghosts. It’s sort of like a gothic “Romeo and Juliet”. The band idea just came about because the right people happened to come onto my patch at just the right time! NE: So when did the rest of the band members actually come into the picture? I would assume that working with vocalist David Fefolt on the Forgotten Realm CD “Power And Glory“ made that connection happen? Right. I did the studio work in Arizona with Dave Fefolt on the Forgotten Realm CD and I absolutely fell in love with his singing. We both had the idea to start a band together there and then. David Ellefson was in another room right along the corridor and we called him in to ask if he would be interested. I then found Ethan Brosh on MySpace. NE: What were you looking for in particular? Talent obviously, but what else? A load of different things basically, but mainly guys I can get along with. You have to trust the guys you’re working with and you have to respect their time and effort. You can work separately now in your own studios but nothing beats being good friends!
ngels of Babylon is a new band created by former Manowar drummer Rhino. Featuring a line-up that consists of vocalist David Fefolt (Hawk, Forgotten Realm, Valhalla, Masi), bassist David Ellefson (Megadeth) and guitarist Ethan Brosh, Rhino has assembled a powerful line-up to record the debut album “Kingdom Of Evil” for Metal Heaven Records. If you
haven’t had the opportunity to hear it yet, you should because it’s refreshing to hear such a talented group of players focus on song writing and not only technical know-how. I see “Kingdom Of Evil” as the beginning of great career and hope that this interview with Rhino helps to introduce to Angels Of Babylon to even more new listeners.
balance? Some bands do tend to lose a grip with this dynamic.
swords and Vikings, but it’s very different. I mean, I love that stuff too, but that’s just not how I write.
Keep it simple and keep it direct! I think some bands out there think they have to dress up their songs with orchestration to make them sound bigger or more interesting. In some cases I guess that’s true and it works for those bands, but for me, I don’t have a real huge orchestral knowledge or keyboard ability, so I keep it simple. The feeling is there but very simple instrumentation is used to create it.
NE: Do you think the Manowar connection will be a help or a hindrance in anyway?
NE: At 45 or so minutes, the CD runs for the perfect length. Too many releases nowadays simply go for too long. Would you agree?
NE: If I could ask one question about your time in the band. A lot was made about the moment that Scott Columbus passed on his drum kit to you. What can you remember about it?
God yes! I think people lose so much interest during an album that’s over blown and too long. Just make your point and move on.
NE: Did you put this line-up together with the intention of Angels Of Babylon becoming a band and not a project?
NE: So what has the reaction to “Kingdom Of Evil” been like so far?
Yes and it certainly isn’t a project because that gives the impression that it has no future. I wanted to be a part of something where I could say I wasn’t just the drummer, but I was the songwriter working with a great team of songwriters like the two David’s. I also have a particular vision for everything I do. I wanted that creative freedom and a band identity.
Very good actually! Dave Ellefson’s done some stuff and so have I. There have been a few bad reviews, but they were probably done by some death metal guys? NE: Did people expect an album that they could compare to Manowar? Were many surprised at all?
NE: Have you started looking for a bassist since David Ellefson has now returned to the Megadeth camp?
Possibly, but I hope most people were pleasantly surprised it wasn't that kind of sound. I think they were expecting it to be all about
No, I don’t think so. You could say the same thing of Dave’s connection with Megadeth too… I think it will help actually. People out there love Manowar and with me being connected to it, it’s a very good thing.
It was one of the greatest times of my life. I wouldn't trade it for the world! Those guys have sent me around the globe and it has made such an emotional impact on my life. It’s a very special band! NE: So what’s next for you and Angels Of Babylon? To try to tour as much as possible and keep writing killer records! We’re trying to make sure everyone has time to make this work. I am certainly looking forward to hearing us live, which sadly hasn’t happened just yet – so, let’s hope it can happen this year! SIMON LUKIC www.myspace.com/officialangelsofbabylon
No. David is still very much a part of Angels. We are making plans every day for the future of the band. There is room for everyone to do their own thing here. It has to be like that. Photo: Metal Heaven
NE: Moving onto the music, I was really impressed by the entire album. It has a classic feel, with a huge emphasis on hooks and memorable arrangements. Is that what you were going for? I really appreciate that brother... that’s exactly it, yes. For one thing, I can’t really write overtly complex metal tunes. I am not that good of a guitar player, so it had to have big hooks. Another thing, I get so tired of hearing the kind of metal that moves all over the freaking place! What is that? If I hear the word "prog" one more time, I'm going to puke! The way I write is to give people a certain emotion in a simple form and get them moved on to a new one pretty quickly. It doesn't have to be complicated! Plus, I think it goes over so much better live. NE: I agree. There’s a symphonic undercurrent to the material though, without it being overblown or overbearing. Was that something you wanted to
t’s been said that if Johnny Cash was born in 1968 and got his hands on a Slayer album when he was 18 or so, he would be singing metal a la Volbeat and vis a vis Michael Poulsen. This Danish wonder that has the metal world standing up and taking notice is a heady mix of rockabilly, early rock and roll and metal held together by a handful of pomade and nine gauge super slinky strings. Capturing this writer’s attention was the matchless sound that only a band with the guts to push musical boundaries can achieve: individuality in a musical landscape that is often more about following the recipe than being creative. I had the opportunity to catch up with Michael Poulsen recently while he and the band were recording their much anticipated new album “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven” in Denmark… So slip on a black leather jacket, slide some pomade through your hair and channel Johnny, Elvis and Tom Araya… It’s surprisingly natural, it’s Volbeat! NE: How did you decide and become a musician and singer?
look, feel and sound of the band or was your evolution more organic?
NE: Undoubtedly, you have had impressive success in Denmark and Europe making waves in the music scene there - which has now carried over to the States. Tell us more about the crossover and what happened. Yeah, now we’re signed to a major label, and we started to make some noise in the US when we went on tour with a band called Nightwish. That was a pretty good tour and small radio stations started playing our songs, people were starting to talk about us, then a band, called Metallica, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of them, they suddenly became very interested in us, they had been touring in Denmark and they hadn’t played there for a long time. Well Lars, who’s from the Copenhagen like I am, started calling the media to see what was going on, what’s the big fuss in Denmark right now and everyone told him about Volbeat. So we got the opportunity to play with Metallica. And as it turns out, James Hetfield really liked us as well. So, that was some kind of a start of a relationship with Metallica because later we were set to tour with them in the US. I gave James our CDs, and had met him at a release party, and we discussed touring and I told him to call me and he did one day!
NE: I just reviewed your live DVD and it seems like you NE: I could definitely sense I needed to write material that was a create some kind of mania in your fans? little bit more way back to the ‘50s and ‘60s but I still loved the NE: You know, I think it distorted sound and double bass drums and everything and I all has something to do Our listeners are very dedicated and seem to have the Volbeat fever! started thinking why not combine the two? Do the songs like they with the fact that since I It’s nice when you are playing live and you can see people sing along were done in the ‘50s or ‘60s, keep the melodies, but do it in a was a child I was really with the songs, we have in our audiences people from 12 years old to metal way, keep the metal sound and it ended up being Volbeat. interested in old rock their 60s. Everything from metal heads to just normal people sitting and roll music. My NE: You’ve accomplished a hard task in metal as a on the bank, are at our shows which is a good thing. parents were playing result, a kind of “this is what Johnny Cash would sound Elvis, Johnny Cash and NE: So let’s talk about the new album, “Beyond Hell/Above like if he were doing metal”. So after forming Volbeat Fats Domino, Chuck Heaven”. Is it a musical departure? what was the initial response within the industry? Berry, Little Richard, all the music from the It’s really difficult to say because we just started yesterday! So far we Well we did a couple of demos and shuffled those around and ‘50s - they were have just been putting down the drum tracks, next is the guitars. Of ended up signing with our first record label. Before that, I playing it all of the course it will be different but still hold true to the Volbeat style. There’s a remember when we were first shopping our demo to labels and time, and generally my family were all interested in music few surprises, some guests that are really gonna be interesting for our we would be told “we really like your shit but we don’t know but no one was writing or playing - they were just listeners. style. I can’t really say too much yet because it’s all brand new in the who’s going to buy it, so we can’t sign you” but we kept on I remember listening to some of the old records that studio- but after the first three albums you won’t be disappointed! playing loud and the audiences kept getting bigger and bigger belonged to my sister’s boyfriend. He had old vinyl from and suddenly we were written about in underground magazines, Black Sabbath, Dio and bands like that and early Metallica NE: As a composer and songwriter what spurs you to write a and the last couple of our records with our first label were selling. - I got really hooked into the metal scene. In school, I song? Since the first release we have been touring so much in Europe, gathered some friends and tried to form a metal band but we’ve been sacrificing ourselves to the world in a way. We’ve it seemed like I was the only guy that was 100% dedicated ourselves, given up jobs, and doing it the hard way. It’s Umm, you know it’s different it can be anything - you can be watching a dedicated and serious. So I had to seek out something been very difficult but we got a massive hit with our second CD in movie, and then hear some notes, or a riff I hear from a band and I want to different. I ended up forming Dominus which was a death Denmark, which went number one, which meant we were selling maybe do it another way, it can be me sitting down with my guitar just metal band. As I got older and out on my own, I started more records than Britney Spears and Bruce Springsteen! It was fooling around. The inspiration can come from anything. It can come from missing the old rock and roll songs that I grew up with really crazy, we were suddenly all over the radio, we had this hit when you’re in a really good mood and your wife told you something really and even though Dominus got pretty good respect and a called “The Garden’s Tale” and you know, we toured a lot with sweet, it can really be anything, so there isn’t a single inspiration. name in Europe, I felt I needed to do something new. this record, and the venues and halls got bigger, the crowds got NE: Your biography states that you got to work with some of bigger and suddenly we were performing for 10,000 people in NE: So, in breaking off to form Volbeat, did Denmark. Elvis’s studio musicians. What was that experience like? you already have a well formed plan of the I got a call because they were touring in Denmark. It was a great compliment but, personally I hate seeing other people perform Elvis’s songs, I can’t stand it. So I was really a little afraid about it but they said, do it your own way, don’t think too much about it, just do it your way. And I did that and I’m really glad I did it, because being on stage with those legends who have been playing this long and being told that I had a great voice by them and that I could make it was a big compliment.
NE: It’s been almost a decade since Volbeat formed. Can you single out one event that you are most proud of?
Umm, that’s a tough one because there’s been so many great things going on - of course I have to say that going on tour with Metallica has been a high point and pretty crazy because everybody in the band has been Metallica fans since they were teenagers! To be on the road with them and them having our CDs has been crazy! Also, being able to make this kind of music in Denmark and making a living at it has been great. www.volbeat.dk
Photos: Wojtek Gabriel
KISS , 9 May 2 010, SECC, Glasgo w
The crowd screams their guts out along to the "You wanted the best... You got the best... The hottest band in the world" introduction, the curtain falls down. Gene, Paul and Tommy appear on a huge hydraulic platform that lifts them over Eric's drumkit and then brings them down to the stage. They step down and the band kicks off the concert with "Modern Day Delilah", a track from the latest album which they promote on the current tour. The best imaginable rock'n'roll show/party/circus, whatever you'd like to call it, begins almost the exact same way it has for the last thirty years and from the very first second you know you will get value for money and more, whether it's your first time seeing Kiss or your tenth. Kiss has never been about perfect musicianship or outstanding vocals, but about the entertaining rock theatre, complemented by a soundtrack in the shape of some of the greatest rock party tunes ever written and the fans who gathered tonight in sold-out Glasgow's SECC to witness this theatrical/musical performance got all they expected to get from Kiss. Every band member presented their well known on-stage tricks and characteristics and on top of that the crowd’s eyes were pleased with such a vast amount of pyrotechnics. You should have seen the amount of flames, fireworks and explosions, it was enough for a couple of rock concerts put together, all unveiled for one night and one show. As for the tricks, you've probably seen it all, but to set the record straight... Gene breathed fire using a burning sword, spat blood, flew on the top of the light rig and obviously stuck out the longest tongue you've ever seen in your life. Paul swung the microphone, flew across the crowd to a small turning platform (to perform "I Was Made For Lovin' You"), made a speech about politics and the economy and how Kiss is not going to change the world, but play rock'n'roll (before the band launched into the Argent cover song "God Gave Rock'n'Roll To You") and at the end of the show smashed his axe (I wonder if he does it on every show on this tour?) after the "longest encore you've ever heard" (his own words). The two original members got the most attention obviously, but the guitarist Tommy Thayer and the drummer Eric Singer had their special moments as well. Tommy shot rockets from his guitar's neck and afterwards his axe magically (on a transparent string) flew up and disappeared beneath the lighting rig and Eric played a drum solo whilst his drum kit was lifted up and later shot rockets from a bazooka, plus directed the four final explosions after "Detroit Rock City" which closed the main set. On top of that, the fans saw great lighting and mirror ball effects, smoke lying just on stage and a confetti downpour at the very end of the show. The stage set itself was pretty big as well and consisted of two platforms on both sides of the stage, where the guys would often climb to perform on, the central platform for Eric Singer, a huge central screen, two big screens on the sides and dozens of small screens lying on stage where they played the actual course of events, but also some animations and movies, and photos of great rock'n'rollers (during “God Gave Rock‘n’Roll” to you) including The
Beatles, Janis Joplin, Jimy Hendrix, Eric Clapton etc. You’ll only get more tricks and effects during an Alice Cooper concert. The show itself went perfectly smooth and although there's no place for improvisation at a Kiss show and everything is directed and rehearsed to the limits, the spectacle you get is just perfect. The very important part of the show was the crowd obviously and the reception was overwhelming, as usual. Thousands of throats sung/screamed the lyrics along with the band, who interchanged vocal duties all the time. The fans, many of them sporting Kiss make-up, obviously had a great time, but why wouldn't they, when the band performed hits like "Cold Gin", "Firehouse", "Deuce", "Crazy, Crazy Nights", "Love Gun" etc. The song selection wasn't very surprising, but there are tunes that have to be played at a Kiss show and they were. The band promoted their latest release with just three songs and apart from the opener, the crowd heard "Say Yeah" and "I'm An Animal" and the aforementioned longest encore ever was a fivesong highlight which included hot versions of "Lick It Up", "Shout It Out Loud", "I Was Made For Lovin' You", "God Gave Rock'n'Roll To You" and "Rock And Roll All Night" when the crowd's ecstasy had reached its limits. Did they miss any of the biggest hits? Probably yes, but only because they have such an impressive back catalogue, that the show could have easily been twice as long. You could die of dehydration if you didn’t want to miss any songs, but you would never get bored. I'm not going to make efforts and think of a fancy conclusion here. You
wanted the best, you got the best, it's as simple as that. Kiss are masters of their trade and one of the rock world's biggest entertainers. You can only wish that some young bands existed that could please your eyes and ears the way Kiss does. If these great performers like Alice Cooper or Kiss call it quits, the rock world will become unbelievably poor. As long as you get the chance, catch Kiss live, whether you like their music or not. It's a must for every rock fan to see them at least once in a lifetime and take a part in the best rock show you can imagine. WOJTEK GABRIEL
GIG REVIEW NAZARETH + DEBORAH BON HAM , 19 Febr uar y 201 0, O2 ABC, Glas gow them hungry for some Nazareth. The well known Scottish rock act kicked off their show with an older hit in "Telegram" and then performed a mean set of their biggest numbers, throwing some obscure tracks and a few newer compositions in the mix. The crowd, mostly in their late thirties and early forties responded enthusiastically for all of the older hits, like "Miss Misery", "My White Bicycle", "Shanghai'd In Shanghai", "Hair Of The Dog" (featuring Dan McCafferty's solo on vocoder implemented into bagpipes) and "Broken Down Angel". One of the most memorable moments of the show was a composition from the latest album "The Newz" called "The Gathering" which is a double-bass drum driven, very metal sounding tune. The biggest highlight of the main set was however "Love Hurts", which they played slower than on the album, yet it still came across as being really powerful. Dan McCafferty's voice was coming through the PA very loud and clear during the entire show, but during "Love Hurts" the singer showed off his real mastership. In this place I'd like to make an apology for bashing him a bit in my previous review. He clearly was sick back then as his performance was way below average, but this time he was in tip-top shape and confirmed that he's still one of the best old-school rock shouters around. He also seemed to be in a very jovial mood tonight, announcing the tracks
in humorous ways and speaking a lot to the fans, and his joke of the evening was about the water the band got for the show. He took a look at the label which read "Volvic" and asked if it wasn't what they use for cleaning lavatories? And NAZARETH then every time he drank the water he couldn't stop himself from laughing, making the crowd laugh as well. The rest of the band performed pretty flawlessly and the original half of the band - Dan and the bass player Pete Agnew was perfectly complemented by the younger half - the guitarist Jimmy Murrison and Pete's son Lee on drums. The set wasn't very long and after twelve tunes the band exited the stage only to return later for an encore which consisted of the acoustic number "See Me" from "The Newz" album and two of Nazareth's most known songs - "Razamanaz" and "This Flight Tonight" - the Joni Mitchell cover which the band made a big hit of. "Razamanaz" featured a nice guitar solo by Jimmy and "This
Photo: Wojtek Gabriel
The stubborn bunch of Scottish rockers from Nazareth, who have had a successful career spanning some forty-years, don't even think about hanging up their instruments and going on a pension. It seems that they still enjoy performing live and recording albums and as the crowds still flock to their shows, there is no reason for them to call it a day. Or maybe they just understand that as soon as they call it quits, the Scottish traditional hard rock scene will miss an internationally recognised act, as there are really no big bands Nazareth could pass the torch to. Nazareth have just embarked on an extended UK tour, dubbed "Still Loud 'n' Proud" to further promote their latest album entitled "The Newz" and they obviously visited Scotland to play a few shows for their fellow-countrymen. Support came from John Bohnam's sister Deborah, playing an energetic forty-minute long set of seventies inspired blues/rock. Not an expert in this kind of music here, so I can't really tell you if it was good, brilliant or only so-so, but one thing is for sure - Deborah possesses a charismatic and powerful voice and she knows how to use it. Standing there barefoot and shaking her head with a Janis Joplin-like manner, she easily convinced the crowd who seemed to really enjoy her music. The band sounded very professional and succeeded at their task at hand, which was warming up the crowd and making
Flight Tonight" was a great show closer, leaving fans wanting to hear more premier league hard rock music. The band are definitely still there and they can easily outperform many of today's younger rock acts. They have the skills, they have the charisma and they have a backpack full of top hits, collected over the forty years of the band's existence. It's really a pleasure to watch them in concert and let's hope they will stay with us for as long as possible to please the old and new fans alike with the Nazareth evergreens and hopefully, with more quality music. PATRYCJA GABRIEL
EUROPE + DIAMOND HEAD , 28 Febr uar y 2010, O2 ABC, Glasgo w
In regards to the band, having the chance to catch them live a couple of times since their come-back I would say that they have greatly redeveloped their stage skills and showmanship over the last six years and on top of that, all the guys were in good shape tonight. Obviously, the two band members the crowd's eyes were on the most often were Joey Tempest and John Norum. The now-Londoner Joey was in his element and simply ruled over the audience, twirling his trademark white mike stand and posing on the edge of the stage. Joey seemed to be in tip-top form vocally as well. He looked over at the prompter a couple of times, especially during the newest songs, to remember the lyrics but I don't think many of the attendees were aware of that fact. John Norum, one of the best hard rock guitarists around didn't just shred, but presented a couple of tasteful and well thought-out solos, which are so hard to find in today's rock/metal music. John's skills were clearly visible especially when the band played his solo number called "Optimus". The setlist, as was expected, was a mixture of the classic oldies and the newer-era Europe material. The band kicked off the show with "Last Look At Eden" the title track of their latest LP and later performed four more songs from that release, including the symphonic "No Stone Unturned" and the acoustic "New Love In Town". They added just one song to the mix from each of the other two new-millennium albums and for the rest of the set they focused on their earlier material. The sound of many of the tunes has been updated to sound more modern and the likes of "Let The Good Times Rock" and "Sign Of The Times" had a very contemporary feeling to them, but fortunately most of the numbers sounded pretty much as you remember them from the albums. The funny thing was that the band slipped in parts of various covers into their
original material, so we heard a few bars of "No Woman No Cry" in "Superstitious", "You Shook Me All Night Long" in "Cherokee" and "Another One Bites The Dust" in the closing number "Rock The Night". One of the highlights was also the ballad "Carrie", which began with just keyboards and acoustic guitar by Joey, and which was co-sung by the crowd as usual. The crowd themselves responded enthusiastically both for the new songs and the classics, and when they started chanting "Joey fuckin' Tempest!" during "Let The Good Times Rock" even the frontman looked a bit surprised and he commented they should probably switch to decaf, haha... Needless to say the madness reached its peak during the encore in the form of "The Final Countdown", the group's most timeless hit from the eighties. To sum things up I'd say that the band didn't outdo their brilliant performance at last year's Sweden Rock festival, but it was a very solid hard rock show by a group of seasoned professionals. The teenage fan-girl part of me would love to hear a lot more of older hits, especially from the forgotten debut release, but the grown-up reviewer part understands that the band can't build their shows solely on their past. The balance between the old and the new material was pretty satisfying and the fans were leaving the venue with wide grins on their faces, which is a good enough conclusion to this review. PATRYCJA GABRIEL
Photos: Wojtek Gabriel
Europe did a proper UK tour after their previous release "Secret Society" and as "Last Look At Eden" was far better received by both fans and the press here, the Swedish hard rock legends were obliged in a way to making another trip across the British islands. With the addition of NWOBHM legends Diamond Head completing the bill, the attendees could expect nothing but a great evening filled with quality rock and metal music. Do you get annoyed when the support acts are some shitty unknown bands, that get the job only because their label paid enough money? I absolutely hate such situations, but this time the fans didn't have to worry about getting bored to death during the support act's set, as the band who went onstage to warm the crowd up were the NWOBHM legends Diamond Head centred around riff-master Brian Tatler. Diamond Head had only half an hour to get the crowd going, but they definitely succeeded. They mixed their newer material with their early eighties classics half-and-half, and as their show was as short as it was, they put all their energy into the performance. During the opening number "It's Electric" taken from the group's self-titled debut album the band had a couple of fans singing along, and the situation repeated itself during two other classics - "In The Heat Of The Night" and especially "Am I Evil?", which Diamond Head
closed the set with. The songs from their 2005 release "All Will Be Revealed" made the rest of the setlist and they all sounded as good, with maybe the monotonous chorus of "Mine All Mine" being a bit annoying. Nick Tart complemented his powerful voice with natural stage presence and he had a surprisingly good rapport with the crowd, who actually didn't behave like they were watching a support act. The drummer Karl Wilcox had his part in entertaining the fans as well, as he sprayed water out of his mouth above his head during the entire show. Diamond Head worked perfectly as a team and delivered solid old-school metal goods. The only disappointing thing was the length of their set, but it was a support act's concert, so hopefully all those who enjoyed the band's show tonight will remember to catch them at their future headlining tours. All the ignorant people who think that radio and television are the only outlets where you can learn about new music (or should I say "music") from, consider Europe a one-hit wonder. The real rock fans however know all too well that these Swedish melodic rockers made a huge contribution to the scene in the eighties and are still making a contribution as they've already released three albums during their post-hiatus era. With the resurgence of the hair metal genre in full effect, one would expect that Europe's current crowd would mostly consist of screaming teenagers, but surprisingly, 90% of the rockers who turned out to see the band were in their thirties, at the very least. It seemed that many of them were Europe fans in the eighties and they showed up to take a nostalgic and sentimental trip back in time with one of their favourite bands.
GIG REVIEW EDGUY + WHITE WIZZARD , 15 Ma rch 2010, Th e Ca tho use , Glasgo w first EP - "High Speed GTO" (also title track). It's really hard to say anything about the concert's highlights, as the guys just chose to play their best tunes, which definitely wasn't easy, as I can't think of any White Wizzard song, that wouldn't work in the live setting. Whether it was the fast "love song" "Celestina", "White Wizzard" with its doomy end or the anthemic "High Roller", all numbers were applauded with a huge dose of metallic enthusiasm. The live versions of White Wizzard songs kicked as much ass as the studio versions and everything gelled together real well, beginning with the old school guitar riffs and harmonies all the way through to Wyatt Anderssonâ€™s vocals, to the most recognisable element of White Wizzard's music - the Maiden-ish galloping basslines. For the metalheads who are already big Wizzard fans the show was also a nice occasion to hear a bit different versions of some songs from the first EP, as they were sung by a different singer. In general, the band plays the kind of music you can't hate, as long as you're into metal, so the atmosphere during White Wizzardâ€™s show was hot rather than just lukewarm. One of the best known German power metal acts changed their direction two albums ago, from their earlier melodic power metal traits to a sound more akin to US modern hard rock. They probably lost some older fans and gained a couple of new ones since that time, but when it comes to live performances Edguy haven't changed even a little bit. This due in no small part to Edguy frontman Tobias Sammett being one of the best entertainers in the genre. The larger stages may suit them better, but the band didn't seem to worry about the size of the stage and if you've seen them before on another occasion, you could argue that this was just a regular Edguy show, only in a more intimate atmosphere. The fans who like the newer incarnation of the band more were surely very satisfied with tonight's setlist, as Edguy leaned
heavily on the material from their last two releases. Apart from the opening song called "Dead Or Rock" the second era was represented (amongst others) by the modern sounding "Ministry Of Saints" and "Fucking With Fire", the big hit "Superheroes" and the ballad "Save Me", which in my opinion they should stop playing and swap it out in favour of an older ballad, as it's been probably the weakest number in their set for a couple of years now. As the majority of the fans who came to see Edguy probably got into their music in the late nineties or the early 2000s, the guys are kind of forced to play some old material as well and they seem to still enjoy performing it a lot as it brings more variety to their sets. "Tears Of A Mandrake" and "Vain Glory Opera" plus the glammy "Lavatory Love Machine" were obviously some of the highlights of the show, and also the encore part that consisted of "Babylon" and "King Of Fools" was one of the most memorable moments in the set. Mentioning the encore, the band went into a short fragment of Maiden's "The Trooper" and unsurprisingly they were joined by the whole venue on this tune. Edguy sounded pretty tight on stage and you could easily guess that they're an experienced bunch of players. Although for the fans who stood up at the front it was hard to distinguish the instruments (which is always the case at the Cathouse), the general sound was pretty good. A pity that they used the pre-recorded keyboards, but thanks to this there was more space for Tobi to jump around, haha... The chief of the group did what he is best
Photo: Wojtek Gabriel
Everyone who has witnessed the German oncepower metal, now-hard rock combo in action know full well that Edguy are capable of putting on concerts that are both dynamic and entertaining, especially when they have a chance to perform on a big festival stage. The U.K. isn't a power metal loving country, so unfortunately this time the Germans had to play a string of shows in smaller venues, but hopes were still high that they would put their all into their performance. The support act came for the buzz-making US traditional metallers White Wizzard, who are definitely one of the leading bands of the retro-metal wave and they fit the Edguy bill just perfectly. The young Californians made a lot of heads turn when they released their humorous music videos, starring the White Wizzard. Well, the band is definitely all about having fun, but on the other hand they treat their music with respect and it seems that they clearly know what they'd like to achieve. The founder/bassist Jon Leon didn't look for a "suitable" direction, but simply decided that eighties heavy metal is the best music genre in the world and with two separate White Wizzard lineups recorded the highly acclaimed EP and a full length album, both suiting the taste of every Maiden and Priest maniac. As a support act White Wizzard didn't get as much time as they might have wished, but they also didn't have time to get tired, so they rolled over an eight song set with this kind of unstoppable youthful energy, that beams out onto the crowd and radiates making the fans metal mad. You didn't have to look far to spot headbangers dressed in White Wizzard tees. It seems that at least a couple of fans came to the show especially for this young group and White Wizzard have already started building their own fanbase. The band mixed the material from both of their releases, opening the show with the most known song from their latest album - the title track entitled "Over The Top", and closing their concert with the most well known song from their
at - entertained the crowd with his childish song announcements, like "Officially stolen from Europe" (about "Vain Glory Opera") or "Whimpy pussy ballad" about "Save Me", so this part of the Edguy show was still there. Tobi also went into the "Let's divide you into two halves" game and for this I'd really like to ask the frontmen of the world - please stop doing this! An average concert goer has seen this a hundred times and it's really, really, really played out. Also, I could do without the drum-solo as the set wasn't even that particularly long and the band could have played another classic number instead. To sum things up, it definitely wasn't the greatest Edguy concert ever, as (I know I'm repeating myself again and again) a big stage with a great lighting rig is where Edguy really belongs, but despite some minor flaws the band put on a lively and energetic performance. They seem to have found the right balance between the older and newer material and let's just hope that they still will be playing their older hits as they continue to write and record albums. Both bands, Edguy and their support act White Wizzard managed to win the Glasgow crowd over and the fans will remember this evening as an awesome live metal experience. WOJTEK GABRIEL
SLAYER + THE HAUNTED , 27 May 2010, Bar row land Ballro om, Glasg ow not sure about the other shows, but the Scottish thrashers were no doubt hungry as a pack of wolves during the most severe winter, which you could tell by watching them go crazy that night. Before we were served the main dish, the appetiser came in the form of the Swedish metallers known as The Haunted who took to the stage. It's easy to review shows of bands you've never heard before (which was the case here) because they either succeed at convincing you, or they do not. I didn't buy them. I mean, they put a lot of energy in their performance and when it comes to professionalism, I wouldn't take anything away from them. The point is that after three or four songs, they simply bored me. I must admit I was in the minority, as the modern thrash with melodic death elements, complemented by angry screams provided by Peter Dolving seemed to sound aggressive enough to get the crowd going. Well, maybe I'm wrong and other fans are right, but as the band didn't do anything spectacular in my opinion, I was pretty surprised by the reception they received. As the crowd was really warmed up after The Haunted's set, you could only expect the total
Photo: Wojtek Gabriel
So, Slayer managed to land on the British shores at last. The UK tour that was originally scheduled for last autumn was postponed until March due to frontman Tom Araya's health issues, but things didn't go as smoothly as the band and the fans were hoping and the tour was pushed back once again. After enduring a prolonged waiting period, with tickets in their hands, the thrash maniacs couldn't be more hungry for some live Slayer. I'm
madness to erupt when the headliners appeared on stage. And madness it was my dear readers. The fans had to wait far too long for their favourite band to come and play for them, so when they at last unleashed the fury, they did it properly. What better way to show appreciation to one of the biggest thrash acts, than crazy circle moshpits going during all of the faster moments of the show, constant crowd surfing, screaming the lyrics at the top of your lungs and chanting "Slayer! Slayer!" by every possible occasion? I'm sure the band gets that a lot, but they still looked pretty satisfied with the reactions and they obviously know that they have the most dedicated fans in the world, who made Slayer what it is today. The band themselves weren't as crazy as their audience, but every Slayer maniac knows that this band is not about running across the stage, jumping or destroying instruments. What Slayer is about are these hellish sounds that drill through your skull and make your blood boil. And that's what the band delivered tonight, more or less. I'm not going to praise Dave Lombardo's drumming or the excellence of King/Hanneman guitar duets, because everyone does it. I'll just say that the setlist was a well balanced mix of the old and the new, and the newer songs like "Hate Worldwide", "Cult", "Jihad", "Beauty Through Order" etc. were received with no less enthusiasm than the classic numbers such as "War Ensemble", "Hell Awaits", "Raining Blood", "Chemical Warfare" and "Seasons In The Abyss". Slayer's new material worked really
well in the live setting and sounded a hundred times better than on the album, but the band still leaned heavily towards the early numbers, and the second half of the show as well as the murderous encore ("South Of Heaven" + "Silent Scream" + "Angel Of Death") was focused on the bandâ€™s material from the eighties. Tom Araya's speeches were short and to the point, and he set the record straight saying he had a neck surgery, not a back surgery (which was announced earlier). There was also no wasted time spent on guitar or drum solos, and the band focused solely on playing actual songs. From the kick-off number, the title track from the latest release "World Painted Blood" 'till the last note of "Angel Of Death" Slayer showed nothing but pure domination in playing the highest quality thrash metal music known to man. The guys are quickly approaching their thirtieth anniversary as a band, but they're still at the very top of the game. They're not just a thrash metal band, they're a thrash metal institution. Who cares that Tom can't bang his head anymore and who cares that King and Hanneman have to buy larger clothes nowadays. Slayer still delivers and that's all that the fans need. You could easily spot some guys in their forties in the audience, but most of the crowd were teenager males so there's definitely the future for Slayer and let's hope that the problems the band experienced recently won't stop them from touring and releasing more albums. WOJTEK GABRIEL
GIG REVIEW HAMMERFALL + DREAM EVIL , 2 May 2010 , The Cathouse , Glasg ow "Crusader's Anthem" and the set's closing song "Book Of Heavy Metal" all sounded great and the band spiced them all up with melodic guitar harmonies, stadium-type backing choirs provided by the guitarists and pumping rhythms. Last but not least, the vocal performance by Niklas Isfeldt has to be mentioned and called nothing less than impressive. The guy has a pair of powerful pipes and his clean and strong voice perfectly complemented the musical contents of the compositions. Yes, it was that good. I wonder if Dream Evil should be called a support act, as had they been given more time, they could've easily done a co-headlining set. I hope they impressed the fans enough to boost the album sales a little bit, so maybe they'll be able to do a small headlining tour in the nearest future. I wouldn't say that it was an easy task for HammerFall to go on stage and outperform their colleagues, and had both bands been equally known, I'm not sure what the score of this competition would have been. The point is, that HammerFall are better known, more experienced and it was their show, which means the crowd that showed up tonight knew their material and was looking forward to their concert. Seemed like an easy job, but you've probably seen good bands fall short of expectations before so you really never know. Luckily the guys in HammerFall were in excellent form tonight and in the mood to party. HammerFall did just what they are best at and that would be playing a bunch of old-school melodic metal tunes and having as much fun on stage as the fans in front of it. Still promoting "No Sacrifice, No Victory" they had to include some newer numbers in the set and apart from the opener "Punish And Enslave" the fans heard "Hallowed Be My Name" and "Any Means Necessary" but the remainder consisted of more classic material, with "Renegade", "Crimson Thunder" and "Bloodbound" being some of the eveningâ€™s highlights. The band seemed to forget about their beginnings for a while as they played just one tune from the nineties when I caught them live last time, but they have brought the older material back now and the compositions like "The
Metal Age", "Stronger HAMMERFALL Than All" and "Heeding The Call" didn't age even a little bit. To be honest, these songs sounded more powerful and sincere than their latest material. The band are used to playing much bigger stages so they might have felt a bit uncomfortable, but being the professionals that they are, they didn't show it. Oscar Dronjak was practising some karate-taekwondo-whatever and was kicking the air around Pontus Norgren's face all the time, which for me personally would be a bit annoying so I was just waiting for when Pontus would actually kick Oscar, haha... Nothing like that happened but all this kicking didn't make much sense in the context of a metal show. A funny thing however was a little light up marquee sign stuck to Oscar's guitar, that said "blowjob is better than no job" and showed Oscar's sense of humour. Anders Johansson was making his usual silly faces and he played the smallest drum kit I have ever seen at a HammerFall show, but I'm sure after the concert he showed someone his penis (which he usually does) to get rid of this tiny-drum-kit trauma. As for Joacim Cans, it wasn't his best performance and he actually looked pretty tired. I liked better to listen to him when the band was tuned to E and not one step down, as the high pitched vocals were one of the most important ingredients of their early music and now Joacim sounds a bit less powerful. Anyway, he hid his tiredness behind the black eyeliners and showed nothing but professionalism, as the rest of the band did. His input into the general fun was the introduction of the band when he mentioned all the musicians' names and when the time for Anders was Joacim just said "and behind me - the drummer", or something along this lines, haha...
Photo: Wojtek Gabriel
The most popular Swedish traditional metal band have already played the UK in support of their latest release "No Sacrifice, No Victory", but clearly two to three dates wasn't enough for them, so they decided to re-visit the British islands and embark on a proper tour and also drive up to Scotland, three years after their last show in this area. This wasn't a bad idea at all as "No Sacrificeâ€Ś" was out many moons ago, so HammerFall could remind the fans of that killer piece of steel and hopefully raise the status of the band up a little bit. Another Swedish quality power metal combo called Dream Evil got the support slot, so the fans received a bonus instead of the standard headliner plus local support lineup this time around. Having just released their new album entitled "In The Night", the Swedish power metallers from Dream Evil (yes, they named the band after the Dio album) actually had a better reason for touring than the headliner themselves. Comprised of premier league musicians (the ex-members list includes Snowy Shaw and Gus G.) and having toured with the likes of Blind Guardian, Saxon and also HammerFall in the past, the guys aren't just your regular support act and they always put on a professional and energetic show. They didn't let down the Glasgow crowd tonight and they kicked major ass again. Although it did seem like many attendees were unfamiliar with the band's material, after just two or three songs the Swedes had the maniacs banging their heads and pumping the air with their fists. Their rhythmical, sometimes a bit Manowar-ish hymns are perfect for live performances and their choruses are so simple and catchy that even if you've not heard them before you become immediately convinced, provided you're a heavy metal fan. Dream Evil opened their short show with a fast number called "Immortal", from their new album and they probably didn't want to overload the crowd with just their latest stuff as they included only one more new song in the setlist, titled (the cheesiest possible way) "Bang Your Head". With the remaining five numbers they re-freshed their back catalogue a little bit and they chose the choicest tunes for tonight. "Made Of Metal",
In general, although the band sounded much heavier, the compositions they wrote would go down well in any tuning, so the fans seemed to be quite happy about the entire show. To round the set off HammerFall played a three song encore and closed the set the same way they've been doing it for years - with "Hearts On Fire", which was co-sung by the crowd as you might have expected. The Swedes kind of re-opened the gates for many young traditional heavy/power metal acts, which started popping out like mushrooms after the rain in the late nineties, but although a lot of quality bands have been founded since then, HammerFall are still one of the leaders and they deserve to be on top of their respected genre. They know how to write a good song and they know how to play it live to make the fans happy. Tonight's concert was far from their best, mainly because it was just a raw show, without big production behind it and I suppose everyone likes to get something extra with their portion of live music. The band still seem to create music because they like to, not only because it pays their bills and the fans appreciate it. I don't think anyone who bought their ticket for this show left the venue disappointed and that's the single most important conclusion to this review. WOJTEK GABRIEL
FOZZY , 13 M a y 2010 , The Ga rage, Glasgow
Photo: Wojtek Gabriel
Fozzy have just released their first studio album in five years, which is definitely their best written and most well produced effort to date. The band centred around the WWE star Chris Jericho, that also consists of three members of the rap-metal act Stuck Mojo have always had a
huge following in the UK, but still, this year's increase in their popularity must have surprised them a lot. The tickets sold so fast, that a couple of shows had to be upgraded to larger venues, which means that the part of the crowd which digs Fozzy because of their music, not because of the frontman's other job, must have really enjoyed the new album. Before the show began the band made a very serious statement, playing an intro in the shape of "We Will Rock You" and I was curious if they'd be able to stand up to it. I didn't have to wait long, because by the first song of the show, a new number called "Under Blackened Skies" they had already convinced me that they went on tour for one single reason - to kick the fans' asses, and to kick them hard. From the very first second it was clear that the guys on stage had as much fun as the attendees, if not more and they simply put all their energy into the show. The fans didn't want to be in debt, so they also put a lot of effort into some crazy headbanging, jumping and shouting out the lyrics along with
Chris. The band's performance maybe wasn't perfect (although Billy Grey showed some serious shredding over Rich Ward's riffs) but the point is that to play every note perfectly you need to stand in one place staring at your guitar's neck, which wasn't the case here. The noise at metal shows stops the fans from noticing most of the mistakes anyway, so I wish some other bands learned from Fozzy and tried to move on stage at least a bit. Not everyone is Tony Iommi, who can make a huge impact barely moving on stage. Back to Fozzy, the set of songs they chose to play on this tour was more or less predictable, as it was obvious they would play four-five fresh songs, some older material and a couple of covers like they always do. I must say the new stuff sounded the most professional and it was hard to spot anyone in the crowd who didn't welcome the likes of "Martyr No More", "Let The Madness Begin" and "God Pounds His Nails" with an ear-to-ear grin on their faces. In regard to the latter tune, the crowd played an important role here, as Chris told them to chant either "one-two-three" or "hey-hey-hey", depending on which hand he raised, and this way the band had really powerful backing vocals complementing the song. The older material
with numbers like the heavy "Wanderlust", and "To Kill A Stranger" with its symphonic intro went down pretty well too and also the reception for the cover songs was very warm. Krokus's rocker "Eat The Rich" and two closing numbers - Stuck Mojo's "Not Promised Tomorrow" (with guest appearance by the famous producer and Sabbat axeman Andy Sneap) and Priest's "Freewheel Burning" were the tunes the once-cover band put down on tonight's setlist. I must confess that I'm pretty narrow-minded when it comes to music and in most cases I follow a simple rule "old-school sound... gooood, modern sound... baaaad". But having seen Fozzy live, I can tell you, if you come across anyone saying this band is a joke, they clearly have never been to a Fozzy show and probably didn't even hear the music. The band doesn't stay in the shade of Stuck Mojo and Jericho's WWE fame, but stands strong on its own ten feet and maybe they aren't America's most entertaining band (which they claim on their website) but they know how to deliver the goods, both in the studio and live on stage. This show was as enjoyable as it gets. WOJTEK GABRIEL
Photos: Wojtek Gabriel
FM + AIRRACE , 2 1 May 2010, Th e Catho use, Glasgo w
AIRRACE When FM reunited a couple of years back for a one-off show at the famous British AOR festival Firefest, they didn't expect they would get such an overwhelming reception. It must have been a big surprise for them to find out that they were still so popular and that there was still a huge demand for their music. The fans' response gave them a kick to start working on some fresh material and the new album "Metropolis" saw the light of day at the end of May, fifteen years after the last studio work was out. The band embarked on a short UK tour in support of "Metropolis" and the Scottish fans had a chance to catch them live at The Cathouse. The band that shared the bill with FM were English rockers Airrace, who only put out one album in 1984 and disappeared from the scene right after that. As "Shaft Of Light" is considered a real gem in the AOR underground, the fans who dig this genre were probably quite happy to hear about Airrace's return. For the majority of tonight's crowd this was probably the first opportunity to see Airrace on stage and they didn't quite know
what to expect, but having seen the band at last year's Firefest I was sure no one would be disappointed with the supporting act's show. The band easily managed to kick some serious ass with their energetic mix of British seventies rock and US influenced AOR, and the spotlight of this short set had to have been directed at singer Keith Murrell. This little guy not only owns a melodic and strong voice but is a damn good frontman as well and he knows how to invite the crowd to have some fun together with the band. As for the crowd, a lot of fans were familiar with the "Shaft Of Light" material and they joined the band in some tunes, which clearly made the band happy. Having a rather short back catalogue Airrace focused on their debut album, and the live versions of the rocky "Not Really Me", the bluesy "Promise To Call" and the melodic "First One Over The Line" went down really well. The band threw in the mix a couple of old compositions which were written for the follow-up to the debut release and from those new-old tunes the dynamic "Better Believe It" and the UFO/Uriah Heep inspired "One Step Ahead" were real highlights of the set. The band was in good overall shape and apart from the singer, the other band member who made a lasting impression on me was guitarist Laurie Mansworth, who showed the fans some quality axemanship. If I hadn't seen the band before, their show would have been a really nice surprise for me, but since I had seen them, this time for me was "just" another good concert by this interesting AOR/hard rock squad. After a while the Cathouse crowd heard sirens and a voice announcing "Ladies and gentlemen! Please welcome on stage the mighty FM!" Steve Overland and the gang appeared to the shouts and applause from the audience and kicked the show off with a new single called "Wildside". It wasn't difficult to predict that the band would be performing some new material, but luckily they didn't go for too many fresh numbers and only
played three more (as far as I remember), including the title track and filled the rest of the set with just classic stuff. I've mentioned that some of the fans joined Airrace in a couple of tracks, but this time it seemed that every attendee was a big FM fan, as most of them knew the lyrics and howled them along with Steve. The AOR enthusiasts, mostly in their late thirties/early forties don't have too many occasions to see their favourite bands they listened to twenty five years ago live (as most of them don't exist anymore) so when there's a chance, they really let it loose. Had some of the big hits been faster, I'd probably have witnessed some moshpits going on, haha! Yes, the crowd was that enthusiastic, especially during the older hits such as "Face To Face", "That Girl", "Burning My Heart Down" and the group's encore which included "Frozen Heart" and "American Girls". The calmer moments like the acoustic ballad "Only The Strong Survive" were received very well too. The band's performance was pretty good, but to be honest I liked Airrace's attitude better. FM are clearly far more professional on stage and their big choruses went down like a storm, but the show definitely wasn't as energetic as Airrace's. Plus, what has to be said, the sound was much worse. The band was set way too loud for a melodic rock outfit and the music lost selectivity, and during the encore part you could hardly hear Steve's voice, at least up front near to the barrier. No reservations about the musicianship though, as all the guys, including the newest addition to the lineup, guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick, did a good job, but the overall experience was spoiled a bit by the sound. In the end it didn't matter as the crowd had the party of their lives and couldn't be more satisfied with the concert. The double bill of old-school AOR bands was a nice treat for all the fans of the genre. Both acts showed nothing but
professionalism tonight, but although FM was welcomed much warmer and almost received a hysterical reception, I'll still be insisting, that Airrace seemed to be more happy about playing live and giving their 100%, while FM maybe gave us 90%. The sad thing is that there were no teenagers in the crowd which isn't a good sign for the melodic rock performers. I know that the genre has "adult" in its name, but still, you would expect that in the times where eighties music is being re-discovered, some youngsters would become interested in FM's stuff. It's a shame that they didn't. In conclusion, I'll just say that it's good to have both FM and Airrace back on the scene, because even if the younger audience members don't reach for these bands' music, their parents can bring back some fond memories from their youth and have such great parties as the one they had tonight. PATRYCJA GABRIEL
ANVIL , 1 6 J u n e 2010, Th e Cathous e, Glas gow garnered the Canadian old-school trio the attention of both the media and fans, the band is now afforded the luxury of touring on their own and headlining smaller venues. The guys always are the first to admit in interviews that they live for performing live and they're as happy to play for only ten people, but being the main act of the evening has got to be more fulfilling for Anvil, as every person in attendance buys the ticket especially to see them and no one else. Having seen the band just a couple of days prior to the tour at one of the summer festivals and having enjoyed that show thoroughly, I was looking forward to witnessing them live inperson once more at the Cathouse and sharing this experience with two to three hundred other metalheads, lots of sweating and beer drinking and head banging. I was also looking forward to a much longer set this time around, hopefully consisting of some obscure tracks, not a usual best-of comprised of the first three albums. In regards to metalheads, I was really surprised how many weird folks showed up to see the band tonight. By weird, I mean people who don't look like
Photo: Wojtek Gabriel
British metal fans had the first opportunity in years to see Anvil on a regular tour, when the band joined Saxon on their 2009 UK trek. As the success of the movie "Anvil: The Story of Anvil"
metalheads, don't act like metalheads, and generally seem to have mistaken the venues, haha! Well, we're coming back to the movie again, as the current Anvil crowds are a mix of actual fans, and people who have seen the movie and would like to check out the band live. In regards to the setlist, I don't want to say I was disappointed because I was not, but it was again a very predictable best-of the first three albums set, and with just eleven songs it was hard to call the concert a real headlining performance. The band opened the show with the instrumental "March Of The Crabs" and then rolled over the hits from the early eighties, such as "666", "School Love", "Winged Assassins" and "Mothra", mixing in just two newer songs - the title track from "This Is Thirteen" and "White Rhino", with its extended drum-solo where Robb Reiner could go beserk, as always. Lips made the same speeches as a couple of days earlier about Robb being his long time buddy and about the people who saw the movie being his friends not just fans. He dedicated "Thumb Hang" (one of the first tunes ever written by Anvil, but recorded just recently) to Ronnie James Dio and played a couple of Sabbath riffs before. As you may know the dildo is back to the Anvil show and Lips played a solo with it in "Mothra" and also his trademark screaming at the guitar pick-ups wasn't missed tonight. The guys had a lot of fun as usual, with Lips smiling all the
time, Robb not smiling at all and Glenn Five making strange faces and posing with his bass. The last numbers of the set were some of the biggest tunes Anvil ever produced, and both "Forged In Fire" and especially "Metal On Metal" were screamed along with Lips by the ecstatic audience. The curfew was drawing near, but the band managed to come back and play an encore number - the fast "Jackhammer", which closed the eleven song concert. Lips announced that they soon would go out to meet the fans as they left the stage. If you managed to catch the Canadians live recently, you probably noticed that the show was almost identical to what you've seen and almost identical to what they've been doing over the last two to three years. I'd be really glad if the band introduced more variety into their performances as they always say they've released thirteen albums, but there are quite a few records they never touch base on. To sum it up, I'd like to say that whatever they play, they're always fun to watch and they're probably one of the most positive bands on the current metal scene. Well, if your dreams come true as they did for Anvil, you would obviously be enjoying it to the maximum and that's what Anvil are doing now, and hopefully what they will be doing for many, many years to come. WOJTEK GABRIEL
DORO - Fight (Steamhammer/SPV)
SPV have been recently putting out many re-releases from their back catalogue, some of them in the shape of a double gatefold LP. Two of these babies landed in Noizz Eater’s mailbox and we couldn’t be happier because we’re vinyl maniacs. When we get the opportunity to lay our hands on still sealed 12 inch albums, we get into the state of intellectual ecstasy. Doro’s “Fight” is actually one of the weaker moments in her catalogue, with compositions that can be described as modern hard rock with a wee bit of punkish attitude and metallic elements. Strangely, the ballads are the strongest compositions on this album. Anyway, the “Fight” LP is worth it for the colourful cover art alone, and also the printed inside gatefold packaging. The printed LP envelopes are full of photos and liner notes by the band members. This is a great treat for the Metal Queen’s true fans. [WG]
SODOM - Agent Orange (Steamhammer/SPV) Unlike Doro’s “Fight” Sodom’s “Agent Orange” is one of the best, if not the best album the German thrash masters have ever created. At the end of ‘80s/beginning of the ‘90s the band was definitely at their peak and wrote some of the strongest compositions that ever came from the German thrash metal scene. Frank Blackfire’s guitar work is just mad here and it’s a pity that the guy left after the release of this album because he actually helped Sodom go into a more technical direction. Tom Angelripper’s vocal performance is simply evil and while the drumming isn’t the greatest, the now deceased Chris Witchhunter had a really special sound. The title track, “Ausgebombt” and a couple of other tracks have landed on Sodom compilation albums which means that “Agent Orange” is rated very highly as well. The double gatefold edition is again a collectors item rather than something a regular thrash fan would pay for. However, the Andreas Marshall’s artwork on the 12 inch cover and the printed inside cover will probably convince the band’s die-hard maniacs to get this LP, if they didn’t buy the original gatefold edition back in 1989. [WG]
Last Look At Eden
It goes without saying that Europe will forever live in the shadow of their 1986 worldwide hit “The Final Countdown”. While they may have never been able to match the song in terms of success, the band does have a worthy back catalogue that is equally as strong if not stronger than the release that made them superstars. Their recent material however sees the band exploring a more modern rock approach and “Last Look At Eden” while continuing along this path, finds the band returning to a more stripped down old school rock sound. Now I can understand Europe’s need to expand their ideas - maybe even grow up and mature, but they have clearly forsaken their sound for a style that is really not theirs. Vocalist Joey Tempest sings in a manner that is devoid of the melody and range he is known for, while guitarist John Norum plays a minor supporting role that lacks fire or passion. I mean there’s no way that songs like “Catch The Plane”, “Mojito Girl” or “U Devil U” measure up against any of the songs that appeared on the band’s debut released back in 1983. While listening, I kept an ear out for the hooks, that while often cheesy (anyone remember “Carrie”?), is what made Europe’s material stand out back in the day. The truth is there are none to be found here. I may be wrong, but it also seems as if the band has lost their sense of fun and the serious stance just doesn’t cut it for me. I mean they’re Europe for Christ’s sake, not U2 and should therefore drop the pretences and rock out a little. I’ll never claim to be their biggest fan, but I know that Europe once wrote catchy pop metal tunes that in some strange way appealed to both the mainstream and -
whether they want to admit it or not, some corners of the underground. A night out and a few beers would always prove this to be true and on a number of occasions I’ve seen harden thrashers loose themselves in the band’s songs. I understand that the world is a shitty place - the truth is it’s always been, but the hard rock Europe helped define gave people a positive outlet and in many ways helped them turn off the negativity for a little while. The Europe of yesterday used to smile on their covers. The Europe of today presents themselves awash with dark colours instead - even though it looks as if John Norum is holding himself back from sneaking in a quick smirk where the band photos are concerned. “Last Look At Eden” is what it is and Europe is obviously cool with the direction, but I’m left wondering what their loyal fans actually think of the music? Do they secretly wish for the band to write in a style that brought them their greatest success or do they simply accept the fact that having “a” Europe, is better than having no Europe at all? [SL]
ORDEN OGAN Easton Hope
crunch of “All These Dark Years”, including many other standouts that swim in the confluence where thrash and speed metal meet. Much to the satisfied listener’s dismay, an obligatory ballad titled “Requiem” drags for a while and it’s followed by the odious “We Are Pirates”, a galloping catastrophe meriting the skip button ASAP. Horrible, horrible, horrible. The legacy of Running Wild is done a terrible disservice by the abomination. But never fear, because the quintet rally and are at their bombastic best as they approach the album’s epic eight minute finisher “Of Downfall And Demise”. Though comparisons to Blind Guardian are irresistible given the quintet’s predilection for hair raising gang style chants, heart stopping symphonic touches, intelligent lyrics, and awe inspiring guitar driven finesse, these Teutonic templars have a kind of magic stirring in their souls. Judging by the strengths of the material at hand, Orden Ogan have nowhere to go but up. They’re a band with worlds to conquer and you’re glad for this chest of wonders called “Easton Hope”. [MB]
HEAVENLY Carpe Diem
Like the vast majority of power metal bands peddling their poofery today, a full blown orchestra stirs strong emotions at the beginning of “Easton Hope” the sophomore release from Germany’s Orden Ogan. Said orchestra orgy, titled “Rise And Ruin”, churns for a few minutes before the Blind Guardian tinged power-thrash the band prefer kicks the door in. For those whose tastes demand a more intense serving of melody, Orden Ogan are gratification incarnate. Their latest opus comes filled to the brim with meaty songs, from the anthemic title track to the chest-thumping
Ever since “Sign Of The Winner” proved too fruity to handle, this writer has always been suspicious of Heavenly. In a world where the metalness of Trivium and As I Lay Dying is perennially suspect, how come nobody’s complaining when these French dandies go on a Queen binge (try this album’s “Farewell”) to the point of plagiarism? That’s the thing with metalhead bigots they’re all hypocrites. Their sound the sweetest mix of metal’s progressive tendencies and the keyboard-
fixated trend that’s been popular in Europe since, uh, Europe released “The Final Countdown”, Heavenly return to suffocate us with their soft-as-a-feather material. Judging by the porntastic cover that’ll no doubt inspire a few nocturnal emissions, this fey quintet appear to be on the right track with this “Carpe Diem”. Two hot chicks in lingerie certainly beats such dull cliche’s as skulls, eagles, and inverted crucifixes. The album is cranked open by these ungodly moans from tormented females. At first you’re not sure if they’re dying from ecstasy or if the band decided to open their latest with a cover of Manowar’s “Pleasure Slave”, but the metal ball soon gets rolling and title track “Carpe Diem” proves its killer edge. Think Symphony X meets Edguy at their neoclassical best. Without a doubt, Heavenly defy the haters here and seduce new fans with a proper display of aural manliness. Too bad the Queen inspired “Farewell” comes next. It’s where singer Ben Sotto squeals his best Freddie Mercury amidst a backdrop of bombast and Brian May-esque licks from the Carbinaux/Lapauze guitar tandem. The album stews in fairy juice on the ensuing tracks and it’s not pleasant. Don’t be surprised to suddenly crave Hypocrisy and Cannibal Corpse by the time “Ode To Joy” brings the band’s saccharine sweetness to unbearable levels. But surprise, surprise, “Carpe Diem” actually finishes on a strong note with “Save our Souls”. These guys have testicles after all... now if only Monsieur Sotto could grow some chest hair... [MB]
Old Dogs New Tricks
23 years after the last Picture release (I’m talking about the “Every Story…” album as I don't consider 1987’s "Marathon" a Picture release) the Dutch legends return to the scene with a new studio album. They weren't completely inactive during all these years, as they played some re-union shows every once in a while, but release-wise the fans haven't heard from them in a long time. When I first read news about a new Picture release I was a bit afraid the band would update their sound and record one of those contemporary albums, but then I heard two of the new songs live and I liked what I heard, so I knew that "Old Dogs New Tricks" would be pure old school heavy metal like the early days. The title track opens the album and it is a mid-tempo tune and not the best choice in my opinion, but if the next number, the speedier "Blood Out Of A Stone" doesn’t make you bang your head, you're not a metal fan. The remaining 10 songs are pretty varied, both tempo and songwritingwise. You can hear some '70s rock influences in "Opposites Attract" and some twin NWoBHM inspired guitar leads in "Who Can You Trust", while the slow "Live By The Sword" has an epic feeling to it. The album closes with "Never In A Million Years" and it is a great up-tempo conclusion to the release. I suppose if you listen to the album yourselves you'll find some of the songs a bit ordinary (as I did), but in general "Old Dogs New Tricks" easily stands up to the band's back catalogue, in every aspect.
If you still live in the '80s and miss bands that can re-create the magic of that period, then you won't be disappointed with "Old Dogs New Tricks". Pete Lovell's old-school sounding voice and the music Picture has offered on their new release will bring back memories of the golden era of heavy metal. To learn more about the album, read our interview with the guys. [WG]
Demonica is the latest musical venture from one of heavy metal finest song writers and guitarists Hank Sherman. Hank is best known for his ground breaking work with Mercyful Fate and while many will argue that he hasn’t been able to reach those musical heights again, I have enjoyed the work he has released under the Zoser Mez and Force Of Evil monikers. His hard rock project Fate wasn’t that bad either, just not what many were expecting at the time. With that said, it’s certain that most will only want him recording with Mercyful Fate, but considering the fact that the band tends to work around King Diamond’s schedule, Mercyful Fate always gets put on hold. So, whatever anyone thinks, I respect the fact that Hank has continued to write music. His latest offering is called Demonica and this time he has turned his attention towards thrash and put together a very solid line up to assist him with his new venture. Joining Hank is Klaus "Hyr" Hansen (Battalion, Trauma Center) on vocals, Craig Locicero (Forbidden) on guitar, Marc Grabowski (Corruption) on bass and Mark Hernandez (Forbidden, Heathen, Defiance, Vio-Lence) behind the kit - an impressive group of musicians if ever there was one. But is it any good? Well “Demonstrous” begins solidly with “Demon Class” and as the CD progresses songs such as “Ghost Hunt” and “Below Zero” impress but for the most part the band deliver a rather generic thrash attack. The playing is tight and dynamic - I wouldn’t expect anything less from such a line up, but Demonica’s music is rather staid for the most part, missing the character it needs to rise above the pack. There are many moments where Hank’s trademark style does come to the surface, but for some unusual reason the album lacks his European influences, giving the songs a very American flavour. Now don’t get me wrong, I love American thrash, but had Hank combined the style with his traditional metal background, then we may have got something very unique. Klaus does a solid job on vocals - nothing ground breaking, but solid, while the rest of the band do a more than capable job in their supporting roles. That’s another thing that came to mind while listening to “Demonstrous” - it all sounds like a project and not a band. Real thrash needs to felt and cultivated over time and Demonica aren’t there yet, sounding very much like a group of session players brought together to bring a solo project to life. I understand the above comes across as harsh, but as much I wanted to like “Demonstrous” - and trust me I did, I have to say it fell below my expectations which I find disappointing because the thought of Hank writing a thrash metal album was totally appealing to
ALBUM REVIEWS me and something I was looking forward to. One can be cynical and conclude that Hank has jumped on the band wagon here, considering that the thrash revival is in full swing, but despite what I’ve said, it really hasn’t been too much of a stretch for him to adapt his playing style. It’s actually quite a blast to hear him writing in a style that he helped pioneer, considering the fact that Hank himself has inspired a multitude of thrash metal guitarists over the years. To those who have followed Hank’s career over the years, “Demonstrous” may be a heavier album, but it shouldn’t put you off in any way, so give it a go as you might enjoy the songs more than I did. To those new to the thrash, check the band out because if you’re one of the fans that Exodus or Testament has been able to convert in recent years, then you just might embrace Demonica as well. [SL]
DREAM EVIL In The Night
So, Dream Evil return with their first album in four years, "In The Night" also being their fifth album overall. We’ve come to expect hard rocking tunes from the fun-loving Swedes led by the indefatigable Fredrik Nordstrom and given full voice by Nick Isfeldt. Markus Black is the only casualty of the intervening four years; his six-string duties are now taken over by Daniel Varghamne, but there is none of the drama that existed before 2006’s "United" came out, when stalwarts Gus G and Snowy Shaw left the band, and when Nick Isfeldt and bassist Peter Stalfors left and rejoined the band in quick succession. Snowy Shaw’s departure was widely credited as being the reason for the tight and focused songwriting on "United", and the style on "In The Night" remains much the same. Midpaced power/heavy metal so beloved by familiar names like Judas Priest, Primal Fear, Hammerfall, Edguy etc. The imbalance and inconsistency of "The Book Of Heavy Metal" is avoided, and it seems like this is a conscious decision by the band to present a more coherent sound. Unfortunately, this impacts upon the overall spontaneity of the record. "The Book Of Heavy Metal" had its flaws, granted, but you always knew it was Dream Evil. "In The Night", while being a good decent piece of modern heavy metal, doesn’t grasp the imagination the way earlier efforts did. The riffs are heavy, but safe. The vocals are competent, but lack the bombast and sheer over-the-top-ness that I sort of want to see in a power metal band, especially one like Dream Evil. The "catchiness" factor and memorable choruses quotient has suffered somewhat as well, although that might be down to the band adopting a darker style in recent years. The lyrics are subpar as usual (their odes to heavy metal will not compare to "March Of The Metallians"), although the intentionally/ironically named "The Ballad" is bound to get a lot of sing-alongs if this ever becomes a live favourite. Soaring piano/synth plus “We are made of metal/Whoa-oh/Our hearts are made of steel/Even if we’re stained with blood/You know/We got that sex appeal” = sheer cheesy awesomeness! Bottom line is this isn’t the worst power metal record you’ll ever hear in your life,
but unless you’re a fan of the band or the genre, there won’t be too much here for you. It’s decent, it’s Dream Evil, and if you intend on seeing them on tour soon and want to learn the new songs, get "In The Night". [JHN]
Emission Of Sins
Hellfueled’s claim to fame is the do Ozzy Osbourne one better. While there has always been a dearth of Rob Halford clones, Bruce Dickinson disciples, and Ronnie James Dio imitators, nobody’s working the Ozzy magic better than Andy Alkman, whose singing on each Hellfueled album puts whatever the Ozzman has released since “Blizzard” to shame. (Yeah, Andy’s that good.) For "Emission Of Sins" the Swedish quartet are back with a newfangled dish unequalled in today’s globalised metal scene. Blending '80s aplomb, rock n’ roll swagger, grooving catchiness, and radio friendly appeal, plus Alkman’s distinct vocals; one can only expect hellraising excellence. Much to humanity’s satisfaction, "Emission Of Sins" is a winning release. While not the band’s finest effort (that would be 2005’s rawking "Born II Rock"), it’s a solid addition to Hellfueled’s discography. The album launches off with "Where Angels Die" showcasing guitar wonder Jack Lundgren’s knack for whale sized hooks. He’s also quite the well-rounded player, able to execute wrecking ball riffs and virtuostic solos with panache. Heavier fare triumphs on the second track "Am I Blind" before the anthemic "I’m The Crucifix" inspires distraction. Too bad for these guys, despite their talent for memorable tunes (releasing several demos before the debut album really sharpens your songwriting), the material around "Emission Of Sins" middle reeks of filler. This doesn’t mean there are no longer any standouts, as the cheeky "For My Family and Satan" and the milder radio rock single "In Anger" add variety to the invigorating (but oft lackluster) material here. Hellfueled go down the heavy route for the chest thumping "Stone By Stone" and finally wrap this newest with the soaring instrumental "Move On". Once finished, the listener can expect to at least be glad for the wicked good time these Ozz-sounding Swedes have delivered. [MB]
CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED
Featuring Richard Christy (Death, Control Denied, and Iced Earth) on drums, producer Jason Suecof on guitar, Tim "Ripper" Owens (Winters Bane, Judas Priest, Iced Earth,
Yngwie Malmsteen) on vocals and Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus, Testament, Death, Control Denied) on bass, Charred Walls Of The Damned is a supergroup, but unlike most, is a line-up that actually delivers. Richard, as many of you know, is currently a part of The Howard Stern Show and has to our benefit, been busy assembling a collection of songs over the last few years. The ideas are finally given life here and despite a slight modern feel, especially where the production is concerned, “Charred Walls Of The Damned” is a convincing old school metal experience that will satisfy the most skeptical fan. The song writing is simple, yet effective and it’s refreshing to hear such a talented group of musicians not overplay, but focus on the song. Tim does another killer job on vocals and it’s been a while since I’ve heard metal’s journey man sound so comfortable. Richard may have written the songs with Tim in mind – that I really don’t know, but the fact that this is a new band/project most likely has a lot to do with it because Tim has had no shoes to fill this time, giving him the opportunity to just be himself. Whichever way you slice it, Charred Walls Of The Damned can stand on its two... err eight feet without fear. They have released a solid debut that old school metal fans will enjoy and were smart enough to not alienate new listeners with a production that is retro just for the sake of it. Richard’s already working on the next release but until then, get this if screaming melodic vocals, blazing guitars, and neck breaking riffs excite you. [SL]
Draw Down The Moon
predecessors. Whether you consider them a glorified tribute band or unrepentant peddlers of nostalgia, what can’t be denied is the consistency the Witch have maintained since "Capture The Magic" caused a stir in the underground a few years back. On "Draw Down The Moon" Icarus Witch sup from the pool of all your favorite '70s and '80s metal influences on a suitably old school eight song jaunt filled with magic and arcane sorcery. And a Judas Priest cover. A worthy rendition of "The Ripper" is a surprise tribute that explodes at the very end. From its glorious cover art (three cheers for the naked chick) to the vintage production, the quintet prove that they are masters of their craft. Guitarists Quinn Lukas and Ed Skero may not be prone to blistering solos, but what they lack in useless virtuosity they more than make up for with flair. Just listen to the upbeat "Aquarius Rising" or the title track, both sterling examples of Icarus Witch’s unquestionable love for a bygone era’s timeless charm. A talent for songwriting also comes into focus once the hooks and epic choruses to such winners as "Black Candles", "Funeral Wine" (which was the band’s original name aeons ago), and "Haunting Visions". Longtime singer Matthew Bizilla may have left the band recently, but as long the band continue down the straight and narrow path they blazed, Icarus Witch shall prevail no matter what. [MB]
Legend Of The Shadowking (SPV/Steamhammer)
as they continue churning out the same album every few years. Eager listeners will find “Legend Of The Shadowking” hard to distinguish next to similar releases by Heavenly, Edguy, Rhapsody Of Fire, Sonata Arctica, and the rest of the fruity symphonic bunch. Matters begin on a depressing note for Freedom Call’s latest opus with the operatic “Out Of The Ruins”. It’s so staid, you almost want to cry. Matters don’t improve for “Thunder God” despite a glimmer of refreshing heaviness during a breakdown near song’s end. The quartet proceed to lance our expectations to death on such grimace inducing tunes as “Tears Of Babylon”, “Remember!”, and uber pretentious neo classical crap such as “Ludwig II”. God save us. On the flipside of such predictable offerings are a precious few songs that prove there’s more to Freedom Call than rehashed garbage. “Under The Spell Of The Moon” may count among the group’s slower tunes, but it does pack a good amount of emotional heft and cinematic ambience. There are other shining examples too, but you really lose your appetite for what the album has to offer when Freedom Call force feed you superficial keyboard pomp and dull lyrical cheese inspired by Arthurian legend. Yuck. No doubt Freedom Call are capable musicians, but “Legend Of The Shadowking” is a major downer because the band prefer running on auto pilot instead of writing interesting songs. [MB]
WINTER’S VERGE Tales Of Tragedy
Having stuck to their old school guns since arriving in the scene five years ago, Icarus Witch once again present us a solid (third) album that builds on all the strengths of its
Counting themselves among the power metal legion’s most devout stalwarts, Freedom Call have forged quite an extensive discography in their decade plus existence. But it does cause much grief to this scribe hearing the sad decline of quality
Winter’s Verge are a Cyprian sextet who possess a gift for storytelling that balances the lackluster ‘progressive’ music they peddle, which is also a headscratcher. These guys are progressive? Where? All this writer hears are the oft-used keyboard flourishes
SAVAGE GRACE Master Of Disguise / The Dominatress After The Fall From Grace / Ride Into The Night (Limb Music)
Limb Music have been known for mainly releasing melodic power metal and progressive metal bands, with Rhapsody being the most successful band from their rooster. Keeping that in mind many must have been quite surprised, when the label decided to re-release the two albums by the legendary Californian speed metal act Savage Grace. What we have here are really awesome versions of the albums, with bonuses in the shape of two EPs plus many demo and live tracks. On these two CDs you basically get the entire Savage Grace discography and more, packaged with a fat booklet consisting of liner notes, rare photos etc. The entire catalogue has been re-mixed and re-mastered from the original tapes by Uwe Lulis (ex-Grave Digger) and the guy has done a good job here, as the albums sound more up-to-date and powerful, without losing their original atmosphere. It doesn’t make sense to get deeper into the music because if you dig the US speed metal scene (eg. Toxik, Liege Lord, Agent Steel and Metal Church), you already know about Savage Grace and these two albums. For those who don’t – you can expect speed, great melodic and catchy song writing, speed, awesome guitar duels, speed, hellish screams provided by Mike Smith on “Master Of Disguise” and Christian Logue on “After The Fall From Grace”, and speed. As the band is basically one of the forefathers of the speed metal genre don’t look for ballads here because there are no mid tempo songs here - just speed. To sum up this review – if you dig old school traditional heavy metal, then get these re-releases, because they offer pure value for money. If you live in Europe and have visited some festivals this year you might have caught Christian Logue and the Roxxcalibur guys backing him live on stage. Hopefully the band will be back soon to play more shows and there’s a rumour floating around about a new Savage Grace album – so until that happens, let’s keep our fingers crossed. [WG]
GAMMA RAY To The Metal
(earMusic/edel) "To The Metal"? Ugh! Couldn’t Kai and his fugly cohorts think of a better album title? Then again, it’s not this writer’s place to make suggestion now that the finished product is before us. To their credit, 20 years of recording has allowed the metallic quartet ample time to perfect their brew. As generic and cartoonish (look at all those bright colors!) as the songs here are, they do bear the indelible stamp of Gamma Ray, from the opening salvo "Ride" to the hard rockish "Mother Angel" and the patented speed metal of "All You Need To Know". Those who have never doubted Gamma Ray’s ability to feed them consistent material will see their faith amply rewarded this year, dumb album names be damned. Again: "To The Metal"? The title track itself is a not so subtle nod to Judas Priest’s classic "Metal Gods" except the band pasted a new set of lyrics on top of its long familiar melody. Ignoring a sacharine sweet power ballad simmering for a good four minutes around the album’s middle, there’s hardly anything to complain about on "To The Metal"’s entirety. The energy is infectious, the music vibrant, the lyrics a blend of fairytale majesty and Kai’s personal beliefs about life on earth. Of course, when the soloing rips, your speakers almost melt, as these are so perfectly woven into the fabric of each song - whether it’s the edge-of-your-seat finisher "Chasing Shadows" or the twisted "Deadlands" - that the juicy metallic morsels on each serving are to die for. For long time Gamma Ray punters and even those who just started liking the band with 2005’s "Majestic" or "Land of the Free Part 2", "To The Metal" is ultimate gratification. [MB] that ornament a million other similarly styled albums, the same noodling guitar riffs, the same flat clean vocals that don’t electrify you, the same lifeless production, the same melodic backbone buttressed by thrash grit and sweeping choruses. It’s tiresome, not progressive. In fact, Winter’s Verge would have gotten a serious critical spanking if it weren’t for the songs on this "Tales Of Tragedy". At first you’re thinking concept opus, but a cursory listen would reveal, why, tales of tragedy. Eleven unkind yarns that deal its nameless protagonists a lousy deck of cards. Interesting. Opener "World Of Lies" worms its way into the hearts of Angra and Dream Theatre fans despite being passable at best. There’s a slight improvement in emotional pull at "Old Man’s Wish" and the album seems to be on the right track by the time the balladic cuts "For Those Who Are Gone" together with the embittered "A Madness Once Called Love" stew in melancholy juices. "Captain’s Log" even proves a refreshing take on the seafaring adventure theme as the skipper of a doomed vessel recounts his ship’s unfortunate demise. What did this scribe tell you about Winter’s Verge’s lyrics? They’re top notch. Only the songs they inhabit aren’t. Such is the dreary fate of the album by the time it reaches its latter segment. Blessed by occasional glimmers of genuine brilliance where the quintet showcase the raw talent caged within, "Tales Of Tragedy" might not grab you by the collar, but it sure does lay the groundwork for future success. A couple more albums, amigos. [MB]
of Geno Arce and Dwain Miller, at first listen “Streets Of Rock & Roll” sounds primed to put Keel back on the map. The album launches on a strong note but just as our expectations reach fever pitch the band lose focus and stick to a boring formula that leaves our ungratified enthusiasm dead in the water. Drawing heavily on the aesthete and style of their best years, Keel’s latest will be familiar territory to longtime patrons of the Sunset Strip scene circa-Motley Crue/Poison. All the tricks are here in great abundance, from saccharine guitar licks to snarling sleaze and odes to the woman that got away. As the album lurches onward, the musical fare flits between the expected rockers to ‘relevant’ tunes about the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (“Hold Steady”). Matters take a syrupy turn for the worse at around “No More Lonely Nights” and “Looking For A Good Time”. It comes as no surprise most of the cuts here will prove a nostalgia trip for the dinosaurs who prize their Bon Jovi collection. If the year were 1988 or 89, “Streets Of Rock & Roll” would be immense. Unfortunately we’re at 2010. Whether it sucks or not, Keel’s latest is a soaring testament to an age that’s long past. [MB]
In Search Of Perfection
Tribe Of Force
Streets Of Rock & Roll
It has been a while since Keel decided to venture back into the scene and "Streets Of Rock n’ Roll" feels like an earnest effort to rekindle the flame that’s been driving Ron and his band since day dot. But alas, there have been too many reunions as of late from this or that band whose chances at lasting success were smothered by the onset of the ‘90s. Who said music is a forgiving business anyway? The line up pulsating with renewed vigor by the presence of the Marc Ferrari-Bryan Jay guitar duo plus a rhythm section composed
magic (like, duh!) Gus still bothered writing whole songs (he’s no Herman Li) that have a beginning, middle, and end. There’s excess for sure, but not pointless excess. Whether it’s the vibrant opener “Kiss Of Life” or the bleeding licks of “In Loving Memory”, Gus remains in impeccable form. But Gus was weaned on thrash early, so expect the incendiary fireworks to take center stage on the boggling “Abnormal Sequence”, “In The Presence Of The Dead”, and “1,000 Nights”. A bag of delights for guitar nerds and neo classical aficionados alike, this album bodes well for its creator’s future. While he may not - and may never find perfection, Gus’ tireless search certainly brings him close. Highly Recommended. [MB]
Gus Drax is a Greek guitar wunderkind who fell under the wing of that most excellent British thrash project, Biomechanical, some years ago. Since then, Biomechanical has gone on an extended break and Gus finally found the time to scrape together his own compositions for a debut album of his own. A purely instrumental affair that’s guested on by ex-Nevermore shredder Steve Smyth plus collaborative musicians from the Greek scene, “In Search Of Perfection” speaks volumes of Gus’ own potential. At 22, Gus can already flit between thrash, power/speed metal, and hard rock with considerable ease; styles that each get their time of day among the ten songs here. But what really sets Gus apart from a lot of self styled instrumentalists is that he’s a good composer in his own right. While guitar albums are always meant to showcase a particular musician’s fretboard
Van Canto are Deutschland’s a capella metal masters. Except for a genuine rhythm section (just the drums), main vocalist Philipe Schunke, his female opposite Luga Scharf, “guitarists” (seriously) Stefan Schmidt and Ross Thompson, plus bass overlord Ingo Sterzinger leave all the music magic to their honey dewed voices. Laughable as hearing someone sing a guitar riff is, it actually works quite a spell the first time around for album opener “Lost Forever.” In fact, “Lost Forever” would have worked as a “real” song. Lyric wise it’s golden and Van Canto are no duffers in the writing department either. However impressive their latest album’s beginning may be, the listener is bound to receive such clunkers as “To Sing A Metal Song,” “Last Night Of The Kings,” and “One To Ten” with a pained grimace. If you thought Rhapsody Of Fire was awful, the depths of cheese Van Canto descend is tragic. Surprise, surprise, past the turns of ye olde medieval gimmicry that bedevil the previous tracks, the “band” do a worthy “Master Of Puppets” cover and hearing it will most likely leave many - including this hack writer coloured impressed. Using their voices and nothing else besides (well, drums of course), the crunch and thrashing pace, not to mention the majestic harmony around the middle, are all rendered in grand style. This is perhaps the only song on
the album worth repeated listens. Once the tribute wraps, Van Canto return to their usual tricks for the dull “Magic Taborea” and even have the Sonata Arctica guy sharing the verses on “Hearted” (is this even a word?) before the dreadful “Frodo’s Dream” closes the sad affair that’ “Tribe Of Force”. Hold it one second - why the hell would anyone in their right mind still kick the dead horse that’s JRR Tolkien for song material? But to the band’s credit, for an a cappela album “Tribe Of Force” is an impressive feat that’s bound to kill a few people from the sheer hilarity factor. [MB]
In case you didn’t know, Krokus have been around for ages. But hey, rock n’ roll never dies so here comes their new album “Hoodoo”. According to whichever edition of dictionary you check, a hoodoo is a rather unlucky person best avoided. It’s an ironic choice of album title since after just a cursory listen it’s best that this “Hoodoo” isn’t slobbered over with too much enthusiasm. The problem here isn’t the music or lack of passion - it’s all just too easy. The lyrics, the predictable hooks, the neverchanging drumbeats. It’s pure hard rock best consumed with cold beer and an empty highway ahead of you. The album gets off to a worthy start at the invigorating “Drive It In” but quickly loses steam past the title track. A cover of the staid classic “Born To Be Wid” further saps your enthusiasm and what comes next from Marc Storace and the gang is good times and tough choices. Pure rock n’ roll razzmatazz. Often corny (“Rock n’ Roll Handshake”), sometimes cool (“Ride Into The Sun”, “Firestar”), and 100% straight from the gut. The Fernando Vio Arb-Mark Kohler guitar tandem may no longer be unleashing fireworks but the guitars here fit the rhythm like a glove. Also, drummer Freddy Steady might not get much of a work out done behind the kit, then again, it’s no longer necessary. So it comes to a final verdict... is this essential? A decent purchase but not essential. [MB]
Can’t Slow Down
I suppose most AOR enthusiasts had problems controlling their salivary secretion when one of the biggest acts in the genre finally announced the release date of their new studio album. The fans' hunger surely reached its peak by the end of a 15-year period between the releases, but on the other hand no-one could really predict what the band was to offer this time around. It's
obvious that they had to change musically over such a long period of time and keeping in mind that a new singer hopped on board, the album seemed to be a big mystery. So, let's start with the singer. If you thought Foreigner would be in trouble finding anyone who could easily fill in Lou Gramm's shoes, you couldn't have been more wrong. Kelly Hansen's voice is scarily reminiscent of Gramm's, but thanks to that move the general sound of the band didn't change much and also the old numbers work perfectly in the live setting. So, Kelly's voice is a big advantage here, but what about the music the guys put on the album? Well, it's definitely too soft, with far too many ballads. The title "Can't Slow Down" is a false statement, as the band slowed down big time. AOR, although pretty melodic in its nature is still guitar-oriented music and can’t hear much guitar playing here, let alone any serious soloing. It's really hard to understand because they have a shouter who has a powerful set of pipes and Foreigner could have easily pulled off some really good rockin' material. It's a shame that they didn't include anything harder on the album. When it comes to the songwriting, there's nothing here to rave about as well. The band offered us a few catchy compositions, but I wouldn't expect that any of the new songs will become as big as "Cold As Ice", "Urgent" or "Juke Box Hero". The tune that comes the closest to the good old days is "Too Late"; the title track, the dynamic "Ready" and the melodic "Angel Tonight" are quality compositions, but the rest (including 4 ballads) really drag the album down. I received the promo copy quite late and it landed on my desk around the same time as the new H.E.A.T. album did and there's really no contest here. The young Swedish sensation easily kick Foreigner's butt. The guys are either ageing and loosing their energy, or they simply have burnt out. It could even be a bit of both... The bottom line is that "Can't Slow Down" is not an album I was expecting from a multi-million selling rock legend and with all the respect I have for Foreigner, they could have done so much better. [WG]
Heavier Than Metal
Since we’re smack dab in the middle of an '80s uprising by the metal underground’s young guns, Skullfist are yet another group infatuated with the tr00est old school, thereby explaining the muddled production and hairy melodies on this grandiose five song EP “Heavier Than Metal”. That’s certainly a lot of cheek coming from a new band, declaring yourself heavier than metal, but it does get your attention, which is a good thing. Too bad Skull Fist aren’t exactly heavy, just traditional in the metallic sense, meaning hooks, speed, and pure attitude is what fuels this impatient jaunt across a bygone era. Paying homage to both Manowar and the earliest forebears of proto-thrash, the rollicking “Sign Of The Warrior” explodes from your speakers armed with crackling guitar duels and singer Jackie Slaughter’s girlish shrieks. When the man screams to punctuate his chest beating verses, the falsettos are high enough to make King
ALBUM REVIEWS Diamond smile. Passable songwriters at best, Skullfist go about the business of rocking with proven ingredients that range from simplistic riffs, occasional guitar wizardry, pulsating bass lines, and uninspiring percussion. Oh yeah, then there’s the vocals. Hilarious. Songs like “Ride The Beast”, “Blackout”, and the slaying wave goodbye “No False Metal” prove okay tracks that will endear themselves to fans of Twisted Sister, WASP, Judas Priest, early Motley Crue, etc. etc. You get the idea. This may be passionate, but you shouldn’t expect to go bonkers about it. [MB]
Hotter Than Hell
"Delirious Nomad". John Bush sounds comfortable and it appears that he is clearly enjoying himself, while the rest of the band puts in a strong performance – one that is professional, but not lacking in feel. Armored Saint were always the odd band out in LA metal scene and eternally caught in the middle because they were too heavy for the glamsters and too light for thrashers. It’s been some 28 years later and I doubt things have changed because they still do not fit in with what’s hip or current. Above all they never received the attention or success they so richly diverse, but after all the trials and tribulations, we’re fortunate that the band is still willing to get together every now and again – or decade, for that matter and write and record some new songs. The band may now exist on a semi-permanent basis but that’s no excuse to not check out the new album. They may have aged a few years and times continue to change, but I guess – and excuse the obvious pun, there’s no stopping the "March Of The Saint". [SL]
Just As The Dust Had Settled (Shadow Kingdom) Big Ball is part tribute, part nostalgic indulgence from Mr. Thomas Gurrath and co., whose avowed intent with “Hotter Than Hell” is to worship at the altar of AC/DC by writing and performing AC/DC-like songs with a raunchier twist. Sometimes it works, other times it falls flat on its face. “Porna Lisa” and “High Heels And Hell Whores” are rather upbeat examples of Gurrath’s libidinous sonic ejaculations. He sings here too, sounding like a cross between Udo and Brian Johnson. The long and short of the whole album is it’s loaded with AC/DC driven rock n’ roll that never strays from the originators that inspired their creation. Should anything else be said? Nah. [MB]
ARMORED SAINT La Raza
Now that the dust has settled and we now know that John Bush will not be rejoining Anthrax, the release of a new Armored Saint album couldn’t have been better timed. It’s been a decade since the release of their comeback album "Revelation", so my interest in "La Raza" was quite high, as I am a huge fan of the band. With that said, I was also a little apprehensive since I consider "Revelation" a patchy album at best and thought Armored Saint would revisit it in some form or another. Well I needn’t have worried because with "La Raza" the band has made a positive move forward in a backward kind of way. Confused? Well, the band has basically returned to their roots and injected a healthy dose of classic '70s rock influences into their traditional metal sound. Tracks like "Loose Cannon", "Head On", and "Get Off The Fence" are immediate favourites and beam with huge hooks and solid arrangements. While it may sound strange to not hear the band pounding away from the get go, the songs will soon open up and in no time remind you of the catchy vibes heard on "Symbol Of Salvation" or
Let me take you some 30 years back in time to the early era of NWoBHM that would later become one of the most important phenomenons on the '80s rock scene. Whilst all metal fans are aware of the existence of the big acts that kick-started their careers in the UK in the late '70s, only true enthusiasts of the genre know that the scene consisted of hundreds of local bands who never made it like Maiden or Saxon did or even Demon or Angel Witch for that matter. These bands only managed to release some singles, EPs or demos and died before they had a chance to really break through. Most of them remain totally forgotten as a result. But now and again some gems like this Jameson Raid anthology are released on CD and although releases such as these are geared towards the crazy NWoBHM maniac, rather than the average Iron Maiden fan, it's good to have an opportunity to dive into the history of the genre. Musically Jameson Raid sits on the fence between '70s British hard rock and the actual early metal sound, so you can hear here some cool heavy (for that time) riffs, but also some Queen-inspired choirs, some '60s rock'n'roll influences and just plain melodic rock, all delivered at mostly midtempos. What really lets you down is the really shitty quality of the recordings and you need to get used to it, but once you do, you'll discover that the band had real potential, were solid songwriters and on top of that, Terry Dark was one good vocalist. In contrast, the quality of the packaging is top notch, as many similar releases are low budget, whilst Jameson Raid's CD comes with a 24-page booklet full of vintage photos, band member memories, as well as lyrics and a biography, making it really stand out. Grab this CD if you want to learn some more about the origins of NWoBHM, but don't expect another "Angel Witch", "Lighting To The Nations" or "Iron Maiden". This is strongly recommended to all the maniacs of the more obscure side of this great scene. [WG]
8 Still The Orchestra Plays SAVATAGE
legend that is Savatage. More importantly this 2CD collection and the new range of reissues will help keep the memory of the late Criss Oliva alive - a guitarist whose talent, tone and style was as unique as the music he played. [SL]
Chasing The Grail
which is definitely the best piece of music Fozzy have come up with so far. Despite being so positive, "Chasing The Grail" is a bit too long if you ask me. I'd throw out the ballad "Broken Soul" and the filler "Watch Me Shine" which would make the album just right. Anyway, if you like contemporary hard rock with a metal edge and are open-minded, you won't regret buying this release. With the skills they have, Fozzy could easily become one of the biggest rock/metal bands on the current scene that is, if they only had more time to developing the project further. [WG]
NEVERLAND If you read the interview Wojtek conducted with mastermind Jon Oliva in the last issue of Noizz Eater, everyone should now realise that Savatage as an entity has been laid to rest. The success of Trans-Siberian Orchestra has given the individual band members long overdue financial stability and Jon has moved on with Jon Oliva’s Pain, so fans – despite it being difficult to accept, need to just get over it. Or do they? Well the “band” as it stands now has signed a deal with Edel’s earMusic to remaster and release their entire 14 album back catalogue, which will help preserve the Savatage legacy. The first step in this process is the release of “Still The Orchestra Plays” a two CD remastered greatest hits collection covering key moments of the bands recording career. Jon has added three bonus tracks – acoustic versions of “Anywhere”, “Not What You See” and “Out On The Streets” and as an extra incentive, the limited edition release will include a DVD version of the 1994 “Japan Live” show as a bonus. Split into two volumes “Still The Orchestra Plays” does a solid job of covering the bands career and while fans may disagreed on certain selections, we already have the original releases to enjoy – so don’t get to precious about it. What we have here however is a compilation that will best suit new fans who are looking for an easy entry point into the rich catalogue the band has left behind. Long time fans may find the three acoustic tracks of interest and while they’re what you’d expect from Jon - competent, emotional and perfectly executed, they’re not really essential. The DVD on the other hand will perk the interest of many as “Japan Live” was originally released on VHS. The fact that this is the first time it has appeared on DVD should mean that the limited edition will be snapped up quickly, so act fast if you’re keen. When all is said and done, “Still The Orchestra Plays” may not be an essential purchase for die hards, but it’s a cool way to remind people of the
Rich Ward's (of Stuck Mojo fame) project stopped recording covers on their last release "All That Remains" and on the new offering you also will find an all-original mix. The main difference between the two is that the band has experimented even more this time around and has recorded their most varied, but also most accomplished album so far. The last thing you could say about "Chasing The Grail" is that it's boring or that the songs sound alike. On the contrary - they are all different, yet the band managed to make the release sound like an actual album, not a compilation of random tracks. You would think that a release that ranges from soft pop ballads to extreme death metal rhythms and delicate falsettos to guttural growls may be a bit chaotic, but it isn't. You get a bit of everything here, with the hard rock, heavy and thrash metal scenes all put together to make a fresh and interesting mix. The production is quite modern, but you can still hear echoes of the traditional metal scene in many compositions. Chris Jericho's vocals may annoy you a bit because of their strong Ozzy-sque feeling and he's definitely not a premier league singer, but his voice fits the music perfectly. The drums sound quite nonhuman which is the case with many modern releases, but that's unfortunately the way the albums are produced nowadays. The guitars sound pretty modern too, but both the riffing and soloing are top quality. What's most important is that the songwriting is very mature and whether it's a heavy hitting rocker or a bit poppy tune, you can hear the musical experience shining through. At the end we get a 14-minute progressive workout called "Wormwood"
Neverland is a magical alliance between singer Iris Mavraki and a particularly talented prog-band called Dreamtone. With a good label backing their crusade, the band stand poised to conquer Europe and become the first name in Turkish power metal. To achieve this end, the sextet pull no stops putting together an album that will be the envy of Rhapsody clones the world over. There are even choice guest spots here from Jon Oliva, Edu Falaschi, and a couple others. Unfortunately, “Ophidia” didn’t exactly sit well with this writer. It’s not because they lack talent, since Neverland are a capable unit. It’s just a bad combination of corny lyrics and music that’s the fodder of every Euro-band in the melodic genres. (Like uh, Blind Guardian, Orden Ogan, Manticora, Avantasia, Heavenly). The album begins on a grand note and is a bit reminiscent of Christopher Lee’s two bit ye olde storytelling for Rhapsody Of Fire, craptastic faux British accent included. Alright, moving on... by-the-numbers and utterly predictable speed metal is what’s force fed the expectant listener on most of the album’s running time. Now even if the music won’t grab you by the collar and take you places once-thought unbelievable, Neverland deserve credit for the seamless blend of storytelling and cinematic orchestration that inhabits the songs here.
WHITE WIZZARD - Over The Top (Earache)
Has it really been over 30 years since Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Saxon, Judas Priest, UFO, Dio, The Scorpions, Motorhead and Iron Maiden thrust their Gibson Flying V/Fender Strat fuelled madness into the collective hearts of many a budding rock and heavy metal fan? Yes, the times they are achangin’, back to the '80s! Spandex, fucking awful hairdos, the PMRC, twin guitars, arena tours, singers who could hit top C while having their shoes set on fire... and fun fun fun! This is in spite of the fact that ‘originality’ is not a word that springs to mind when you listen to "Over The Top". Everything on this album has been done before by all the bands mentioned in the first paragraph of this review, and desecrated and destroyed by countless other copycat bands, so much so that the word ‘worship’ itself has become a derogatory term, opprobrious, worthy of the vilest of abuse. But White Wizzard is a different beast altogether. In fact, they’re probably not even a beast. More like a very excitable terrier whose voice has not broken yet. It’s impossible to hate them. They play their music with a naive wide-eyed charm that is endearing, lovable, nostalgic and fist-pumping all at the same time. They have the killer twin guitar assault so beloved by Judas Priest, Blue Oyster Cult, Thin Lizzy and the guitar gods themselves: Smith and Murray. They have the straight up bass-heavy rock approach of AC/DC, Motorhead and Saxon, boosted by the melodic sensibilities of Uriah Heep and Deep Purple, and the guitar solos are right up there with the best of the Blackmores and Schenkers, Tipton/Downing, Buck Dharma and Vivian Campbell – in sentiment and heart if not in skill. But unsurprisingly, it’s to Iron Maiden that White Wizzard owe the most to, and the band they draw the most from. The bass, most especially, is pure Steve Harris worship – in a good way. This is music to party to, this is music to drink beer and smoke pot to, this is music to get laid to at 17, this is music to go on a road trip. I fucking love it. [JHN]
ALBUM REVIEWS AIRBOURNE - No Guts. No Glory. (Roadrunner)
The long and short of Airbourne is they’re AC/DC for today’s contemporary rockers. Which uh, pretty much says all that needs to be said about the band. For Christ’s sake they’re even honest-to-goodness Australians. That means the comparisons are so obvious, it’s stupid. For those still hung over from “Black Ice” (it’s been two years mate, get over it!) and still not sated by Airbourne’s AC/DC worshippin’ debut “Runnin’ Wild”, here comes the brand new “No Guts No Glory” to stir up a party (again). Get the beer and broads out, boys, Airbourne’s in town! Ever true to their forefathers, the fists will be a-pumping once opener “Born To Kill” starts to boogie as singer-guitarist Joel O’Keefe’s salty proclamations on the hallowed pursuit of rock n’ roll get under your skin. Airbourne are a band so infectious, beware not to let this album catch you in a good mood, or else. Promise, by the time the band are dishing out the third song “Blonde, Bad, And Beautiful”, mayhaps even earlier, you’ll be swinging yer hips, tapping those feet, and looking for a willing female to romp in the bushes with. Airbourne hardly allow for a moment’s relaxation across the album’s 13 song breadth and stick to a reliable formula without fault. You gotta admit, the album boils for quite a while; Airbourne are a virile bunch. The lyrical fare never strays from the expected rock n’ roll worship (“Raise The Flag”), chicks (“Blonde, Bad, and Beautiful”), the working man’s blues (“Steel Town”), sexual innuendo (“Armed And Dangerous”), and chest thumping self empowerment (“No Way But The Hard Way”). The official press release says this was recorded in Chicago and the band ‘left the doors open’ while laying down the tracks. It sounds like AC/DC anyway, so who cares? [MB] In fact, this is what saves the album at its weakest moments. Even when the sextet aren’t raging at full throttle, they can string a compelling yarn. However, if its visceral thrills you’re hankering for waste no time taking a huge bite off “Silence The Wolves”, “Invisible War”, ‘Ashes To Fall”, and “No One Leaves The Hill”. For reasons unknown but to God, a steaming pile of bonus tracks await your further perusal at the end. Listen to them at your own risk. That’s it, adios. [MB]
“Metropolis” is FM latest’s album and it stays true to the classy AOR the band is known for. While the band has always been too mellow for my tastes, there is no denying their talent, especially Steve Overland’s vocals. The album gets to a promising start with the AC/DC inspired “Wildside”, a song driven by crisp riffs and catchy hooks. Not bad at all I thought and despite the fact that I knew what I was in for, I still held onto hope for something a little heavier, but I got what I expected from FM in the end. If bands such as Boston, Survivor et al are to your liking then give FM’s latest a spin because if accomplished pop rock is your music of choice, then you could do a lot worse. [SL]
A Touch Of Heaven
called ‘sensitive guy’s mellow rock’ Serpentine would fit it to a T. Wasting no time with boring intros, Serpentine set the mood for the turgid romance to come at the title track that opens the album. “A Touch Of Heaven” is an okay song clocking in at a massive six minutes plus, it’s followed by the whining (how else would you describe Tony Mills’ vocals?) remorse of “Whatever Heartache” whose lyrics are no different from a lot of relationship yarns in the pop and RnB realms. Maybe it’s because a lot of excellent thrash and heavy metal titles came in the mail for review this month, but little on “A Touch Of Heaven” is worth coming back to, especially when romance isn’t your cup of tea. That’s right, romance. Serpentine spend more than 50 minutes exploring the tender recesses of the human heart on such syrupy cuts as “Let Love Rain Down”, “We Belong”, “Fashion”, and “Love Suicide” whose gist is self explanatory. Rather sickening to be honest, but the awful truth is Serpentine are a very capable musical unit. The real stars here are mainman/keyboardist Gareth David Noon and the Christopher Gould-John Clews guitar duo. For additional cringes and guilty pleasure, the band cap the whole experience with that timeless heartache anthem by Toni Braxton, “Unbreak My Heart”. You know what? It’s actually quite addictive. (Gulp!) [MB]
Unite And Conquer
Kings Of Avalon
After sinking his teeth on “A Touch Of Heaven” for the better part of a month, this writer can declare UK AOR champions Serpentine emos from a bygone age. You can’t help it. If there ever was a subgenre
made, I would say that the band sounds like a heavier version of a Sammy Hagar lead Van Halen. It may sound like an interesting idea but repeated listens prove that the concept doesn’t really work. Much like Stratovarius’ unsatisfactory self titled comeback of 2005 and Sonata Arctica’s current status as a band, "Unite And Conquer" suffers from the same imbalance. Tunes like “Hardrock Showdown” and “Get Ready To Rock” – if the song titles haven’t already given it away, are clearly derivative and lack energy. But like their Finnish counterparts, its Methusalem’s faster songs such as "Forever", "Running In Circles" and "Thunder" which impress the most. As it stands now Methusalem have a bit of an identity crisis and need to choose a direction they want to follow. Diversity is fine by me, but it ultimately has to work and from what I can gather Methusalem, wants to primarily be taken seriously as a band, but also show their fun/party side as well. When all is said and done, that’s a difficult line for any band to maintain – even the already mentioned Van Halen has stumbled along the way trying to do just that. When all is said and done, Methusalem certainly have the ability, but do they have the talent? Only time will tell... [SL]
Methusalem hail from the Netherlands and are a new band to me. Having released an EP in 2005, I recently came into possession of their debut "Unite And Conquer". The cool cover got my interest as did the information that the band members once were in death and gothic metal bands, but made the change to melodic rock/metal, which is unusual to say the least. So what does it sound like? First impressions often do count and while majority of the album is competently played, "Unite And Conquer" ultimately lacks direction. For the most part, it seems as if the band has decided to test the waters with their music and have placed one foot in hard rock field and the other in power metal. If a comparison needs to be
Not since Manowar’s abdominal assets graced their classic “Kings Of Metal” album has another band displayed such finely toned muscles as Sweden’s Cryonic, who declare themselves “Kings Of Avalon” on this bombastic declaration of intent. Come to think of it, these Scandinavians just ripped off a Manowar album! It’s not such a bad thing, really. Just pop this CD in and prepare to be slain several different ways by screaming guitars, chunky riffs that bear the heft of a battle axe, seismic percussion, and singer Bigswede’s ball tingling wails. Wait, his name is Bigswede? If there be one blemish on this fine opus, it would be the raw production. Maybe the band wanted that old school feel or maybe they couldn’t afford the right studio/producer for a polished mix, but it does lend a peculiar charm to the eleven
0-10 tracks inhabiting the album. Cryonic launch their crusade with an obligatory pledge to the metal cause (like, yawn) titled “Avalon” before unleashing gritty numbers such as “Living On the Road”, the galloping “King Of The Hill”, and the battle themed “Demon”. The lyrical fare doesn’t break new ground and keeps us enchanted with tales of going on tour, rocking out, and worshipping metal. True to their roots, Cryonic embrace the attendant rock star life to the full. There are a couple of excellent ballads as well plus no shortage of nods to Judas Priest, HammerFall, Saxon and WASP. For the demographic itching to don a loincloth and grab a sword, many anthemic delights of which haven’t been heard since Manowar’s golden age (around the time between “Into Glory Ride” and “Kings Of Metal”) are peddled by Cryonic. These Swedes slay posers and ignite multiple orgasms (among the ladies) with equal aplomb, so don’t miss this towering example of trueness. [MB]
Christian hard rock/metal scene, the mainstream didn’t really have the need for anymore bands which is a shame. I’ve always been a fan of the sub genre with bands like Saint and Sacred Warrior, as well as Vengeance Rising and Mortification getting a lot of airtime. Legacy who hailed from the States existed between 1987 and 1992 and could have made a splash alongside Stryper at the time because their style of hard rock would have appealed to Dokken, White Lion and Ratt fans alike. Like most Christian metal bands the playing of the individual band members is top notch – a major factor of the style, as you’d be hard pressed to find a sloppy band in the Christian rock/metal scene, making Legacy a very competent group from the vocals to the drums. The songs themselves fit in nicely with what was going in scene at the time with tight, well craft arrangements, catchy hooks and a commercial touch driving most songs. My biggest problem with Christian hard rock bands were always the sappy, asinine ballads and it’s the same with Legacy, but the heavy moment’s definitely rock, with tracks such as “Cross The Line” and “One Way Or The Other” bordering on metal. As this is a compilation of the bands recorded material, the production is uneven at times, but never unlistenable, making Legacy’s official CD release something I would recommend to all hard rock fans. [SL]
The Wicked Symphony
(Nuclear Blast) Charlotte was a US based hard rock band from Los Angeles, California that formed in 1987. Despite not releasing any album at the time, they did manage to record a number of tunes and here they are under the title of “Medusa Groove”. Despite the band name what we have here is a band with a lot more substance than many who existed in the LA scene at the time. More Bang Tango, than Poison, Charlotte had a strong feel and rocked hard. There are some less than impressive moments like “Ocean Of Love And Mercy”, but for the most part “Medusa Groove” pushes the right buttons. “Miss Necrophilia” and “All Tied Up” show off the bands ability to combine solid arrangements and hooks with an edge. It also offers some insight of their potential of where they could have headed as a band had they continued. As you listen to “Medusa Groove” you can hear the undercurrents of Great White (when they were interesting), Motely Crue (when they were cool) and The Cult circa “Sonic Temple” which separates Charlotte from the Pretty Boy Floyd’s and Faster Pussycats of the world. Hard rock fans will no doubt find “Medusa Groove” of interest and just may consider the band something of an undiscovered gem so pick up a copy when you next see it. [SL]
Despite Stryper’s success in the eighties, history has shown that even though there was a great deal of talent within the
As is the norm in all Avantasia records, the party is launched by an immense opener whose breadth is meant to dazzle the expectant metalhead. The title track does this to perfection and with vocal duties split between Avantasia leader Tobias Sammet, Symphony X’s Russel Allen, plus the ever recurring Jorn Lande - who has the most powerful lungs in Europe - you’re surprised the backing band still manage to keep busy on such a massive undertaking. The song “Wicked Symphony” is simply great, great, great, great, great. In a word: great. So is its speed metal follow up “Wastelands” and the Ripper Owens helmed scream fest “Scales Of Justice”. Five albums deep and the songs might have become rather repetitive, but Avantasia’s only goal since day one has been to sweep you off your feet and take you elsewhere. Every single note on “The Wicked Symphony” does this and when matters take a radio friendly turn, like on the Klaus Meine guested “Dying For An Angel”, it’s still a glorious ride oozing cool. Having perfected every guise of the melodic spectrum of metal, Tobias Sammet and his backing band flit between all the usual staples without stopping to catch their breath. The tender quasi-ballad “Runaway Train”, no matter how much it defines balladic excellence, gets eclipsed by the soaring mid tempo anthem “Crestfallen” before the grooving rocker “Black Wings” lumbers in. By the time “The Edge” brings this half of the newest Avantasia to a close (it’s a two-album release, remember), you’ve just had enough power metal, speed metal, AOR, hard rock, and unadulterated bombast poured down your ears to clog it for a solid month. Maybe it’s a good idea to
ALBUM REVIEWS hold off listening to “Angel Of Babylon” then, because this “Wicked” can tower all by its awesome self. [MB]
Angel Of Babylon
It speaks volumes of Tobias Sammet’s musical fecundity to behold the surplus material from the latest Avantasia sessions that have been collected for “Angel Of Babylon”. It makes you wonder if on the next installment of the Avantasia franchise, Tobi and his guests will bludgeon us with an enormous boxed set. But alas, album reviews leave no space for guess work, so let’s get down to the business at hand: “Angel Of Babylon”. It’s pretty damn excellent and enjoys a spectacular beginning with “Stargazers” and quickly settles for the usual Avantasia fare of speed metal plus shameless bouts of AOR excess. The guest list here is equally daunting and this writer chooses to skip the big names in favour of highlighting the, uh, highlights? Anyway, they’re “Death Is Just A Feeling”, “Symphony Of Life”, where a chick takes over vocals for an almost gothic romp, and the rock n roll infused “Alone I Remember” that packs enough sleaze to gladden anyone whose tastes runs the spectrum of Skid Row and Savatage. As for the rest, they’re good too, except you might no longer be keen on such a numbing melodic barrage that’s the quintessence of Avantasia. It’s just too much, dude. An overdose of saccharine melodies can be bad for your music tastes, you know. Despite the reluctance, this is still top notch melodic power metal that towers above its European peers. Without a doubt, Avantasia has grown into one of the most potent brands in the musical universe we inhabit. Whether you think the magic is fast becoming stale or not, it’s all the fault of the entire project’s ambitious, prolific, and largerthan-life mastermind, Tobias Sammet. In case you haven’t noticed, the man is fast becoming an unstoppable force in heavy metal. [MB]
Only Come Out At Night
I reviewed Chris Laney’s debut album “Pure” a couple of issues back, so I approached “Only Come Out At Night” with some interest. I remember Chris’ music having a little edge to it and while that attitude can still be found here, his new tunes more or less fall into the glam rock genre. Fans of Def Leppard, Tigertailz, Hanoi Rocks or any of the other new generation of sleaze rockers will therefore find a lot to enjoy here. While I can appreciate a tune like “Gotta Run” for its
energy and rocking vibe, a ballad like “Daydream” simply bores me to tears and has me wondering why Chris would need to focus on such insubstantial material. I can understand Chris’ need to cover many bases and explore his muse as an artist, but “Only Come Out At Night” comes across as inconsistent and uneven after repeated listens. With contributions from Bruce Kulick (KISS), Brian Robertson (Thin Lizzy, Motörhead), Conny Bloom (Hanoi Rocks, Electric Boys), Ian Haugland (Europe), Zinny Zan (Shotgun Messiah, Zan Clan) and Nalle Grizzly Pahlsson (Therion, Treat, Randy Piper’s Animal), Chris has certainly gathered an all star cast around him, so give this a listen to before you dive right in. Considering that he has worked with Candlemass and received a Grammy nomination for “Death Doom Magic”, shows that Chris understands heavy. With that in mind I would like to hear him go in that direction himself because I believe the results would definitely be very interesting. [SL]
CANDLEMASS Ashes To Ashes
Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow (SPV)
This was my first experience with Glyder, a hard rock band from Ireland who have already released 2 albums over their 6 years as a band. As I’m always keen to explore new sounds I pressed play with very few expectations and an open mind. Well after 13 tracks – three of them being bonus tracks, I have to say that I’ve got a good idea of the Glyder sound now and it’s not for me. If you can picture a band somewhere in between the Beatles, U2 and Stiltskin, then you now also have got an idea about Glyder. When all is said and done, “Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow” lacks the grit and dirt associated with rock, making even the lamest AOR band sound downright metal in comparison. Those who enjoy the “lighter” of rock may find something to like here, but I’ll pass and wish the band well with their career. [SL]
AXEL RUDI PELL The Crest
handle. Sadly, matters take a turn for the worse on the riff laden ”Prisoner Of Love” resplendent in its faux ‘80s attitude and saccharine declarations. “Dreaming Dead” is a marked improvement and wonder of wonders, in a power metal scene already polluted by staid ballads, Axel Rudi Pell pull off the uplifting “Glory Night” with such unprecedented aplomb, they just saved the art form. Unlike a lot of their co-practioners, Axel Rudi Pell are one of the few power metal bands whose repertoire does contain an electrifying power voltage. If the jaw dropping “Devil Zone” hasn’t fed your appetite, waste no time sinking your teeth on “Dark Waves Of The Sea”, “Burning Rain”, and “The End Of Our Time”. Setting them farther apart from their peers, the production on “The Crest” leaves a lot of grit in the mix, which actually makes band namesake and guitarist Axel Rudi Pell’s riffs sound tougher. But of course, it’s not only him who’s shining here. A lot of the songs wouldn’t work hadn’t Ferdy Domberg lent some of his own keyboard and piano magic into the compositions. Let’s not forget Johnny Gioeli. His voice can raise the dead. Forgiving it’s lapses, “The Crest” is a solid effort worth owning. [MB]
Gravity Of Light
Though their musicianship is beyond suspect, the first two tracks of “The Crest” from Germany’s Axel Rudi Pell fall under the shadow of evil filler and it isn’t until the rousing “Devil Zone” that the band get to shine. It’s an epic song that liberally borrows elements from Dio’s “The Last In Line” and the baroque flourishes of Yngwie Malmsteen for an unforgettable jaunt where singer Johnny Gioeli declares “In our dreams and our glory/life’s a never ending story”. When this chorus explodes from your speakers, it’s almost too bombastic too
(Steamhammer/SPV) Now, this is pretty cool to have a chance to review a live album recorded at a show which you actually witnessed in person. I'm not quite sure why the band decided to record a festival concert, rather than a headlining show, but they supposedly got the opportunity to do so and they simply went for it. 10 songs spanning over some 60+ minutes playing time makes for quite a short live album, but apart from that, there are very few things I would complain about. The recording perfectly caught the atmosphere of a Candlemass show and although the production isn't the best you've heard, the result is very pleasurable to your ears. The audience should have been set a bit louder in the mix as I remember the powerful choirs joining Rob Lowe in the choruses and on the album the fans - who should be an important part of every live recording, are only clearly audible in between the songs. But the doomy rhythm section that drives the whole band is in the right place and with a good amount of Sabbath-inspired riffs and non-nonsense soloing, you quickly forget about some of the production flaws. The setlist strangely consist of cuts from only the first two and the last two albums, plus a surprise cover of Rainbow's "Kill The King", but the new stuff works very well when mixed with the classics. Rob does justice to the early material, but it's pretty clear that he feels more comfortable with the tunes that were written for his voice. Also, I wouldn't say he particularly succeeded at the aforementioned cover song, but that wasn't an easy task and I think the fans will forgive him. The album doesn't seem to have been tweaked much in the studio because you can hear some mistakes here and there and that's one of the things I really love about it. If you want to get more, grab the DVD version which consists of an additional show from Greece. In regards to the "Ashes To Ashes" CD, it's a good representation of what the current line-up is capable of on stage and it's definitely a nice treat for all fans of the band. [WG]
the positive message at “End Of The World” and the lovelorn twists of “Emily”. But it’s their loss, not Asia’s. On matters of theme, the quartet stick to familiar territory, probing the tender spots of the human heart using melody and a fine tuned ear for perfectly wrought choruses. Though Asia were once lopped into the progressive genre, there’s not a lot of progression going on throughout this album. The bulk of “Omega” is straightforward, accessible fare occasionally lent extra charm by Geoff Downes’ retrogressive keyboard flourishes. Even the soloing from Steve Howe hardly packs an edge anymore, it’s pure good taste and elegance, like a fine vintage. Even perfect, some might say, like John Wetton’s vocals. He may be an old man, but it hardly matters. For “Omega,” Asia keep to their comfort zone and do what they do best. Expect to be grateful. [MB]
There was a time in the ‘80s when Asia were among the biggest selling rock acts on the planet. 30 years and a million wrinkles since they debuted, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Palmer Carl, and John Wetton give us “Omega”, whose title may suggest the band are capping their legacy with a proper swansong. If such is the case, then it’s quite the grand gesture. “Omega” is an album loaded with chill, infectious AOR whose simplicity belies the honest musicianship exercised by each of the members. The super-catchy opening romp “Finger On The Trigger” hooks the listener right in and the good vibes continue right up to the resplendent “Listen, Children” whose infectious chorus ranks it among the best songs on the album. Diehard metalheads unfamiliar to the open mindedness Asia exhibit on their tunes may be surprised by
In case you didn’t know, Tarot is Nightwish bassist Marco Hietala’s mistress away from his main musical amour. It has been quite a while since their last album and the time elapsed serves the bands well after hearing the dozen odd tracks here. Call his lyrics cheesy and his approach to songwriting formulaic, but Marco and the four dudes in Tarot deliver a brand of unadulterated metal that’s straightforward and instantly gratifying. Feel free to add ‘epic’ once the bombast of songs like “Magic And Technology”, “I Walk Forever”, and the soaring “Gone” send shivers down to the every marrow of your bones. “Gravity Of Light” also works as a welcome soundtrack for those still aching from Dio’s loss. While this writer did not feel King Ronnie’s demise personally, the impact of such a loss is not lost on him either. Tarot are obviously a band who’ve supped from the elfin vocalist’s storied legacy and even Marco’s singing is reminiscent of RJD’s own patented style. On top of the album’s sentimental appeal, there’s still so much meat to chew throughout “Gravity Of Light”, be it raging metal anthems (i.e. the imposing “Satan Is Dead”), more
TREAT - Coup The Grace (Frontiers)
For the avid metal and rock fan, few albums this year will be mentioned with the same infectious enthusiasm as Treat’s “Coup De Grace”. The quintet’s history dates to the 1980s, but the background info is better left to an internet search than this review. The present material is a long-awaited comeback and thank the starry heavens, the ravenous gods of rock n' roll, even grand mama, for bands like Treat who are unafraid to show us what having a good time really means. Skipping the intro, the party is soon a-rolling on “The War Is Over” and if the hooks don’t snag you at the first few seconds, then stay put to let the song sink in. Promise, by the time Robert Ernlund is belting out the chorus, you’ll be swinging yer hips and getting acquainted with the nearest member of the opposite sex. That’s the thing with Treat. They rock the old fashioned way, meaning a hefty dose of romance comes hand in hand with their tireless gospels about living your rockstar fantasies. (This would be the excellent “The Skies Of Mongolia”.) Musically, Treat is familiar ground to fans of AC/DC and Def Leppard. Might as well throw in Whitesnake and Bon Jovi. So if power chords and catchy songs are among your weaknesses, expect multiple orgasms across the album’s 14 guarantees of hard rock ecstasy; ample proof how prolific these Swedes are when peddling the saccharine romantic syrup. Without batting an eyelash, this writer henceforth declares “Coup De Grace” a masterpiece. It can’t be anything less once you’ve succumbed to the irresistible charms of “All In”, the syrupy “A Life To Die For”, and the breathless, why, “Breathless”. Treat makes you want to tear your shirt, scream, cry, dance, jump for joy, and fall in love. [MB]
ALBUM REVIEWS TRIPTYKON - Eparistera Daimones (Century Media)
H.R. Giger’s vision of a pornographic nightmare on the cover, Tom G. Warrior’s vision of a musical nightmare inhabiting the album inside. It’s not just Austrian on Austrian, it’s sicko on sicko. Much to the glee of the ravenous horde who admire everything Tom G. keeps himself busy with, the album birthed by such a union, one “Eparistera Daimones”, is a veritable feast of hellish proportions. The songs are massive, the musicianship top notch, even the production conspires for an all consuming evil effect. It’s the soundtrack for the depths of Mordor, grimmer and infinitely more sinister than most socalled black metal devotees. Shame on them, inferior beings that they are. The album begins with a lazy drone paving the way for the stripped down speed metal of the opening track, whose aggression and rollicking pace is a wonder for ears to behold. After an eleven minutes that never teeters and careens headlong into puddle of bored indifference, a good thing gets better for “Abyss Within My Soul”, whose mammoth riffs and testicular bass lines from the Slajh chick will endear it to fans across the metal spectrum. It’s dark enough for the extreme set, but still possessing a smidgen of melody and inventiveness that gentler tastes can appreciate. The trio of musicians supporting Tom take a much needed break for the eerie interlude “Shrine” before they return to the business of inducing goosebumps with a succession of hammering tracks. Despite the length of the songs here, Triptykon succeed because they can handle extra large material with deft aplomb. Somber piano notes, faint girl vocals, and a hypnotic doom laden melody sweetens the bleak stretch of “My Pain” until the behemoth that’s album closer “The Prolonging” awakens. Running at a colossal 20 minutes, by the time Triptykon are finished, a visceral musical experience has just graced (or brutalised) your ears. This can’t be missed. [MB] contemplative tracks that feature a considerable amount of hard rock, and hooks galore. Tarot’s foundation is pure heavy metal according to the crystal clear vision of its members. The songs come laden with riffs, Hietala’s unmistakable bass lines, massive choruses whose sheer verve gloss over such drab lyrical fusillades that include the band lamenting their technophobia what else could the chorus of “Magic And Technology” mean? As a testament to their stature in the metal scene, the album’s secondary aspects are well looked after, be it the crisp production, lack of excessive keyboard (a good thing), and the choice solos from Marco’s bro, Zachary. Excellent. [MB]
KISSIN’ DYNAMITE Addicted To Metal
and “Supersonic Killer” their infectious charms. If Kissin’ Dynamite can match the flair they inject into this album with a powerful live show, then Germany has a new force to be reckoned with in the festival circuit. By the time the band cast off with album closer “Metal Nation”, Kissin’ Dynamite have drawn the line between the metal world and the heathens that surround us. Posers dare not cross. [MB]
RHAPSODY OF FIRE
Rhapsody Of Fire for what they are when you finally decide to give “The Frozen Tears Of Angels” a try. Luca Turilli’s guitar pyrotechnics alone are a spectacle in their own right. [MB]
Exhibit B: The Human Condition (Nuclear Blast)
The Frozen Tears Of Angels (Nuclear Blast)
Considering their age, Kissin’ Dynamite have a lot going for them. They may not be at the cutting edge of metal, but the oldschool worship the German fivesome embrace on their major label sophomore album is a highly recommended joyride. If opening salvo “Addicted To Metal” doesn’t get your fist in the air, prepare for a rash of corny tunes paying homage to Dream Evil, Def Leppard, Scorpions, Cryonic, KISS, Manowar, U.D.O. and Accept - Mr. Dirkschneider even guests on the title track. Forgiving the album’s sentimental cuts “High Enough” (a Damn Yankees cover) and “Why Can’t You Hear Me”, which showcases the band’s songwriting panache, “Addicted To Metal” lives up to its ambitions: delivering the goods without resorting to either symphonic pomp or boring speed metal nonsense. Musically, the quintet aren’t inclined to grandiose displays of instrumental masturbation. Forgiving a glittering solo or three from the Andre Braun-Jon Muller guitar duo, Kissin’ Dynamite’s hallowed tutelage simply demands straightforward lyrical fare, undeniable hooks, and massive choruses. Singer Johannes Braun is a regular belter and his gift for songcraft is what lends such melting tunes as “Love Me Hate Me”, “In The Name Of The Iron Fist”, the retrogressive arena anthem “Hysteria”,
To be honest, this writer was a bit skeptical about the new Rhapsody Of Fire. C’mon, Rhapsody Of Fire? The cheesy Italians who are the ultimate personification the symphonic Euro metal, whose unadulterated pretentious camp is (almost) a curse to behold. But of course, dutiful as ever to the metal cause, he spent a good amount of time digesting what the new album had in store and holy crap, it’s actually goddamn awesome. Barring the odious utterances done by Christoper Lee - er, Saruman - that breathe life into whatever concept is driving Rhapsody Of Fire’s newest opus (it sure isn’t Shakespeare and sure involves swords and magicry), the band are in fine form on every single hard hitting track. More than a decade since the genre-defining “Symphony Of Enchanted Lands”, Luca Turilli’s baby has grown into a majestic beast. What you do is skip the awful interludes and savor the blistering tunes that are armed to the teeth with screaming neoclassical guitars, cinematic pomp, and the soaring vocals from Fabio Lione. Honestly, the songs here in the band’s native Italian aren’t too hot, but when they pull no stops for “Crystal Moonlight” or the ball-tingling title track, the only exclamation you’ll manage is ‘wow’. It would also be a crime to miss “The Haunting Of Cold Dreams”, a somber affair whose emotional heft strums a tender tale on your heart strings; better hold back those sobs now. For the rest of the album, expect massive choirs, furious upbeat tempos, and magical wonder only these fairies could execute with conviction. If you’re still among the band’s haters, just accept
2010 is shaping up to be a mammoth year for resurgent old school thrash metal. If the first quarter belonged to Overkill, the summer falls under the shadow of Exodus and their “Exhibit B”. But alas, matters are amiss throughout this study of the human condition. Having mastered the art of the epic song on their previous outing, the band now deliver a product whose content is firmly divided between bloated six minute diatribes and leaner fare. Among the former is “The Ballad Of Leonard And Charles” that opens the album on a gentle note before the guitar leads start frothing for the build up to the ensuing carnage. As it gets underway the listener is slapped in the face by how familiar it all sounds. It seems there’s no more catharsis when listening to Exodus these days, and this is precisely what bedevils the songs here. In a word: rehashed. Fear not, because Exodus haven’t regurgitated exactly the same album. Though you discern a smidgen of this among the many furious cuts like how “Burn, Hollywood, Burn” is reminiscent to the previous “Exhibit A”’s “Bedlam 123”. Putting such trivialities aside, “Exhibit B” succeeds at feeding us Exodus approved venom and viciousness that has become the band’s trademark since “Tempo Of The Damned”. Love him or hate him, singer Rob Dukes is an integral part of the band. No one else is better at screaming the wrathful incantations that are the lyrics to “Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)”, the genuine atrocity exhibition “Nanking”, or the brutalising horror yarn “The Sun Is My Destroyer”. Even when the by-the-numbers approach predominates on the album’s collection of filler Exodus are still a razor sharp implement when it comes to incinerating guitar duels, riffs galore (Gary Holt is superb!), and uncompromised musical violence. [MB]
STORMZONE Death Dealer
The Northern Irish melodic rockers, who released a well received debut album some three years ago aren’t rockers anymore. They sold their souls to metal! Yes, the new offering from Harv Harbinson (ex-Fastway, ex-Sweet Savage) and his comrades has little in common with the keyboard driven material from their first release, but if you like early ‘80s NWoBHM song writing and early ‘80s production qualities you’ll be more than happy here. Those who dig everything vintage and hate everything modern will love Harv’s mid-range oldschool sounding voice, the Maiden-ish guitar duels and the warrior based lyrics. Even the cover art is painted by the famous fantasy artist Rodney Matthews (although it’s not his best one). Spanning over 70 minutes the album seems a bit too long and in all honesty, the first half of the disc is of higher quality than the second. I would have thrown out 2-3 numbers to make the album more compact and easier to digest. Still, the strong skills of the song writing team shine throughout and if traditional British metal is your favourite genre, then you will certainly want this CD. If it’s not and you really liked the band’s debut, then don’t worry. Although more on the metallic side of rock, “Death Dealer” is so catchy and melodic that even AOR enthusiasts should be pleased with it. Stormzone have done a good job on all levels and had this release been put out 25 years ago, it would now be considered an absolute classic of the NWoBHM genre. If you live in the past, get it, if you don’t, give it a chance. [WG]
Lord Of The Wasteland (Noise Art)
already, ergo, don’t expect any thrash or assorted nonsense outside the band’s limited influences. The beginning and end of Steelwing is straightforward old school heavy metal with vintage production. The songs are pretty consistent but don’t really grab you unless they thunder forth from your speakers (”The Illusion” is a good example). While the band have a firm grasp of technique, they don’t exactly work wonders rounding the same wheel. If you’re really bonkers over NWOBHM bands and the old school revivalist movement, then go take a bite off Steelwing’s magnum opus. But if you’re inclined to the modern set, might as well twiddle your thumbs until Testament’s new album comes along. [MB]
When Moonshine And Dynamite Collide (Mighty Loud)
Jackyl are proud to declare themselves a rare breed of Southern Fried rock that puts swagger and attitude way ahead in their priorities list rather than dishing out radio friendly pop tunes. Whether it’s Jesse Dupree’s Robert Plant-gone-Hillbilly drawl on every song here or the hammering pace of the Roman Glick-Chriss Worley rhythm section, Jackyl spare no prisoners as they go about the business of living up to their ambitious album title. “When Moonshine And Dynamite Collide” is indeed an apt summation of the sonic vitriol burning across the present material’s more than 30 minute length. A mere push of the play button instantly sends the expectant listener on a hellfueled ride through the grease and grit that’s an integral part of the environment these guys hail from. Songs like “My Moonshine Kicks Your Cocaine’s Ass” and the excellent chest thumping anthem “Just Like A Negro” bring the boogie to fever pitch. Especially livid are the album’s crunchiest rockers such as “Get Mad At It” and “The Overflow Of Love”. The swirling licks from axe wunderkind Jeff Worley alone are enough to get the blood circulating faster. Except for a few oddball tracks (“Mercedes Benz”), Jackyl burn at an even pace throughout an album destined to be their calling card. [MB]
PRETTY MAIDS Pandemonium
(Frontiers) According to the official bio Steelwing got their big break by winning this massive band competition in Sweden and have since written enough material for a serious debut. Said debut “Lord Of The Wasteland” comes loaded with heaps of energy and attitude from five Scandinavians who were toddlers during the heyday of the bands they worship, namely Iron Maiden and the NWOBHM horde. Matters begin in grand fashion on the quintet’s ambitious debut as a surging instrumental sets the mood for the glory to come. Once it wraps, Steelwing embark on a metallic crusade to win over as many fans using ear piercing falsettos, galloping melodies, and flashy guitar play. In fact, this writer has to commend the band’s topnotch musicianship, especially guitarists Robby Rockbag and Alex Vega. On the flipside of such endowments, you’ve heard what Steelwing peddle so many times
Much to this writer’s satisfaction, there’s little amiss on the latest from Pretty Maids. From start to finish “Pandemonium” is pure excellence; an irresistible blend of heavy metal crunch and AOR catchyness that improves blood circulation on its most glorious moments. Forgiving the obligatory ballad-esque tune (this would be “Old Enough To Know”), the quintet divide their latest batch of fresh material between no-
ALBUM REVIEWS nonsense rockers and melodic charmers. Counting themselves the creme de la creme among the former is “I.N.V.U.”, “Beautiful Madness”, the Charles Manson inspired “Cielo Drive”, and the chest-thumping “It Comes At Night” that has the benefit of a remix come album’s end. On the flipside of the album’s heavy metal element are a slew of saccharine laid back tracks such as “Old Enough To Know”, “Final Days Of Innocence”, and the rather forgettable album closer “Breathless”. After 30 years and a million line-ups since their inception, Pretty Maids have every right to feel blessed considering the freshness of the band’s latest material. Longtime singer Ronnie Atkins’ voice may never be suited to the upper register of power metal, but the range he has is utilised to perfection. The lyrics are a wonder in themselves; straightforward and never cheesy, four years since their last official studio release Pretty Maids seem to expend no effort stringing narrative yarns (“Cielo Drive”) and AOR tomfoolery (“Little Drops Of Heaven”) at will. When matters could get as heavy as Primal Fear without forgetting the Scorpions’ hard rock panache and a little keyboard ambience, Pretty Maids give us an album that straddles all the best the melodic end of the spectrum has to offer. [MB]
BLACK MAJESTY In Your Honour
Metalium has Mr. Metalian, Gamma Ray that weird mummy guy with fangs, HammerFall the hammer wielding warrior, and Australia’s Black Majesty, well, a black knight and a lion. Also put a check on cheesy song titles (“God Of War”, “Millenium”), soaring clean vocals, and vibrant twin guitar bombast. Sheesh, the way things are shaping up, Black Majesty have little to offer besides all the usual power metal clichés. Four albums since they embarked on a crusade to fight for what is good and true, the quartet seem to have fallen into a creative rut. Or maybe they’re at the height of their powers. It depends on what your persuasion is. If sword wielding douche-bagery is your personal definition of awesomeness, then whooptidoo, Black Majesty are the latest additions to your hallowed power metal pantheon. However, discriminating ears can’t help fault the band for the boring efficiency that plagues most of the songs here. Besides the excellent symphonic ambience that graces the album’s better cuts (trust Black Majesty to lay off the effeminate keyboards in favour of tempered operatic additions to their repertoire) the Steve Janevski-Hanny Mohammed guitar duo may churn out Painkiller worthy riffs in excess, but they tend to repeat themselves a wee bit too much. The same goes for singer John Gio Cavaliere (he’s named Cavaliere, now how’s that for trueness?), a decent chap behind the mic who often rises to the occasion yet fails to deliver the expected brilliance the band sorely needs. This is the recurring problem of “In Your Honor”; it’s honest and straight from the gut, glorious the way Lost Horizon and Dream Evil once were. At the end of the day however, do we really need more of the same pseudo-medieval fighting-the-world dross? It’s your choice, for heavy is the weight upon the true who
walk the narrow path of righteousness. Pretentious? That’s the kind of gimmickry Black Majesty has in excess. [MB]
Time To Be King Cursed by the pitfalls that often bedevil prolific musicians, a boring efficiency marks most of the songs inside Annihilator’s self titled umpteenth album. The opus begins on a strong note as the start of “The Trend” meanders a bit so that the ever versatile Jeff Waters can flex his musical muscles and show off. When the lyrics finally get underway you’re either let down or appreciative of the smooth transition from boiling leads to an infectious melody. The thing is singer-guitarist Dave Padden’s throatwork is an acquired taste. While his awkward yells bear glimmers of Hetfield, Mille Petroza, Chuck Billy, and even Matt Heafy, Padden’s singing does his genre justice, but it often seems rather flat, especially when he’s got such dull lyrics to work with. On matters of musicianship however, Annihilator are in fine form and being Annihilator, it’s Jeff Waters who’s the star of the album (duh). Handling lead guitar, bass, and some vocals, the man shines the most on the instrument he has professed to have mastered. Whether it’s jagged crunching riffs or boiling solos, Jeff is on par with his closest comparison, Dave Mustaine. In fact, it would be a dream to hear - nay, merely contemplate hearing - what Mustaine and Waters could accomplish together, megalomaniacal egos notwithstanding. For instant thrash relief, the best cuts here are the certified speed/thrash anthems “Coward”, “Ambush”, “The Other Side”, and “Payback”. Skip the odd album closer “Romeo Delight” and the ‘modern’ tinged dirge “25 Seconds”. They suck without remorse. [MB]
a ballad lurking somewhere in the mix (“If You Want Me”). The unsuspecting listener is forewarned to be careful of the licks here; between Meniketti and Phil Kennemore are such choice flourishes that any guitar susceptible meathead will succumb to their wiles in no time. For heftier fare, this writer is glad to report that such material is in abundance throughout “Facemelter”, from the opening salvo “On With The Show”, the swaggering “Blind Patriot”, the menace of “How Long”, and “I Want Your Money”’s infectious verve, it’s all bananas. Good stuff. When this is spinning in your player, forget your t-shirt, just go grab a beer and a pair of torn jeans. [MB]
an excellent guitarist whose occasional segues of flashy playing doesn’t upstage the other members. On its final stretch, the melancholic historical yarn “Blue Europa” and “Under The Moon” tingle our finer sensibilities before the band bow out with panache. Melodic to perfection and devoid of redundant cheese, Masterplan simply cannot fail with “Time To Be King”. It’s the harbinger of their ascendance. [MB]
“Invocation” spanks unholy arse. Oh, and don’t forget the excellent bonus tracks at the end. They’re heaps of fun. [MB]
Are You One Of Us? (Demolition)
If Masterplan aren’t the first word in European power metal, they should be in the aftermath of this excellent “Time To Be King”. Perhaps the only drawback on the present material is it won’t sate the ravenous hordes lusting for speed along the lines of their favorite Gamma Ray or Primal Fear. Then again, Jorn Lande isn’t at his best with faster tempos. The man’s voice soars too such heights, it’s best complemented by a lush backdrop, which is what guitarist Roland Grapow and keyboard maestro Axel Mackenrott create throughout the album. Eschewing pointless intros, once “Fiddle of Time” is underway the susceptible listener is swept by its melody and brought along for an unforgettable journey. Unlike a lot of power metal bands (no names), Masterplan are adept at weaving stories into their songs. So adept even, that the music and lyrics blend to perfection. “Blow Your Winds” eases the momentum a bit until the thrilling romp “Far From The End Of The World” races across the cosmos with Jorn playing the role of an astronaut who discovers a new home for the human race. Having fired our imaginations, the band descend from the heavens for the title track then take a dramatic turn on “The Lonely Winds Of War” and “The Dark Road”. Next to Jorn, who nails every song to perfection, the other highlight on “Time To Be King” is Roland Grapow. The man is
Owing to their relative ‘newness’ to the scene (they’ve been around a mere 20 years), Dew Scented might never enjoy a hallowed association with Deutschland’s Big Three, but the thrash they do, why, they do pretty well. For umpteenth album “Invocation” the quintet launch their latest salvo of incinerating tunes with a properly grim instrumental opener “Downfall” before the meat n’ potatoes takes over on “Arise From Decay” and the ensuing tracks. While Dew Scented are a capable bunch, the band suffer from the same shortcoming that afflicts many a thrash group: the machinegun drums married to rapid-fire tempos is bogged down by tedium when used too often. This writer alone can name countless bands who’ve been stuck in this muck far too often, including the best known names like Destruction, Kreator, Slayer… But thank your left nut there’s a creative demon bedevilling the minds of Dew Scented’s personnel, because aside from its stretches of been-there-done-that are several burning tracks that do all thrash fans proud. The aforementioned “Downfall” included, “Artificial Life”, the breathtaking necro bombast of the instrumental segue “Totem”, “Global Hysteria”, and “Critical Mass” count themselves among the album’s choicest cuts. On the musicianship front, Dew Scented’s axemen aren’t big when it comes to solos but more than compensate in the riff department. Frontman Leif Jensen’s murderous/constipated caveman approach to singing is also worth mention. He’s cool. The production’s okay, the lyrics a bit corny, but as a complete thrash package,
While the band is asking the question, I’ll state here that I’m not. Glitterati - as the name suggests is a glam rock band and this follow up to the bands 2005 Atlantic Records debut “The Glitterati” should appeal to fans who count Hanoi Rocks, Motley Crue and Def Leppard amongst their favourites. The album has a crisp commercial sound, nicely placed hooks and enough “attitude” to give the band a touch of street cred. Songs like “Fucks Me Up” and “Fight, Fight, Fight” show that the boys have some balls and are not to be messed with... wink, wick, nudge, nudge, so you better stay out of their way and don’t you dare tease them about the pink logo or you’ll get what’s coming to you ok! If Glitterati sound like a band that would/will appeal to you, then disregard these words and have a blast. Those wanting a heavier experience best look elsewhere. [SL]
Coat Of Arms
Everyone take cover! Streaking across our playlist like a guided missile, Sweden’s preeminent metal commandos have returned to spin yarns fraught with much violence and glory. Their latest symphonic bombardment “Coat Of Arms” cranks open for a title track recounting the heroic efforts of the Spartans at Thermopylae before
SCORPIONS - Sting In The Tail
Perhaps no other band in the rock universe are the living definition of old school than Y&T who’ve been around since before your parents met. The last several years have been rather lean for the band, but the present line up have rallied under the banner of founding member Dave Meniketti for a facemelting good time. Running at a massive 13 songs deep, “Facemelter” is far from your ‘80s revival - it’s quite a trend these days - or AC/DC worship and sticks to the basics of rawk: hooks, melody, and honest songwriting. Past the introductory overture “On With The Show” Meniketti and co. waste no time delivering us honest-togoodness rockers, radio friendly ditties, and
Unless you missed the pre-release publicity that stated this was to be the last Scorpions album, “Sting In The Tail” will indeed be the last ever Scorpions album. Ergo, it being the last studio effort from Germany’s biggest rock export, the dear listener may be compelled to indulge in its musical fare for historical/sentimental reasons. But even for a last album and all such a farewell implies, “Sting In The Tail” is quite drama free and the syrupy crap only surfaces for the odd ballad. These include the ever so catchy tearjerker “Lorelei”, its equally dramatic sibling “Sly”, and the final cast off at curtain fall “The Best Is Yet To Come”. The songs themselves are straightforward affairs loaded with the usual hooks and lyrical fodder that swings across the manifold experiences rocking hard involves. This is epitomised in the opening salvo “Born To Rock” where Claus Meine and the gang reaffirm fealty to loud guitars. The title track is just as infectious and features an irresistible swagger you can dance to. A hefty dose of raunch predominates on the hip thrusting innuendo of “Slave Me” before the sentimental nonsense takes over at “The Good Die Young”. But in this scribe’s snotty opinion “Sting In The Tail” doesn’t climax until the four hit combo of “Rock Zone”, “No Limit”, “Lorelei”, and the libido-charged “Turn You On”. It’s perfect material for driving down the autobahn with the hood down and a fist pumping the air. The album winds down on its closing stretch of music and as the quintet bow out on the hopeful “The Best Is Yet To Come” - perhaps a not so subtle hint at a ‘reunion’ two years from now - the band toast their past success by leaving us feeling warm and tingly inside. Holding back the upswell of sentiment for a moment, “Sting In the Tail” does justice to what the Scorpions have always stood for: unadulterated rock n’ roll. Klaus, Rudolph, Matthias, Pawel and James have given us a solid opus of startling honesty. Thanks guys. Sniff, sniff. [MB]
RATT - Infestation (Roadrunner)
Ratt. According to the historical annals of metal these guys are always mentioned in the same breath as those Sunset Strip pretty boys who defined a seminal era. Having tanked in the early ‘90s, managed a comeback almost a decade later only to submerge again, Stephen Pearcy and Warren Demartini are collaborating once more for this raging Roadrunner debut they’ve got going. Now endowed with the presence of additional members, matters begin on a strong note for the electrifying opener “Eat Me Alive” and continue improving one song at a time. A considerable amount of time between albums seem to be doing a lot of bands good these days. Several years removed from their last studio opus, Ratt are in fine form on such hard partying traipses as the singalong “A Little Too Much”, the party anthem “Lost Weekend”, the pleading lovelorn poetry of “Take Me Home”, and the saccharine come ons at ”As Good As It Gets”. However, it’s not until singer Pearcy suggests “Shake yer ass baby/while I’m looking for a fight” on the chorus of “Take A Big Bite” that the raunch level is raised by a few degrees. Enlivened by a swagger that would put recent efforts by Motley Crue, Tesla, even G n’ R to shame, “Infestation” is the epitome of a modern rock album that straddles the old school and reaches out to the current generation. As a clear indicator of its broad appeal, some songs here wouldn’t be put to shame on mainstream radio and TV. Masterful on a lot of levels, Ratt’s “Infestation” shouldn’t be dismissed. [MB] skipping a few millenniums to land us in “Midway” and the bloody house-to-house combat during the ill-fated Warsaw Uprising (that would be “Uprising”). Still lingering in their favourite historical epoch (World War 2), Sabaton leave no stone unturned as they pillage the Holocaust, the exploits of fighter pilots, the German Army (“Wehrmacht”), and the saboteurs who crippled Hitler’s war machine on uh, “Saboteurs”. As is the sextet’s wont, lyrical fare throughout the album is simplistic to the point of corny, so there’s much pomp and bombast to go around. Never indulgent with their guitar solos or other vulgar displays of virtuosity, Sabaton stick to the trademark Sabaton aesthete where singer Joakim Broden’s voice soars above the already soaring melodies (why does he sound like an Irish leprechaun?), thundering percussion, and video game sound effects. (This would be keyboard maestro Daniel Myhr’s fault.) If you missed the band’s career defining “The Art of War”, “Coat Of Arms” is a welcome introduction to Sabaton and their martial themed anthems. However, if you’ve followed these guys since day dot, the material at hand is nothing new and can be quite predictable even when the cheese literally pours out your speakers on the Judas Priest remix “Metal Rippers”. Ugh! [MB]
track “Diamonds”, the speed metal romp “Nightmares”, and the grandiose closer “Take Me To Hell”. Production-wise “Diamonds” has a charming veneer that stays true to the Enforcer aesthete; the riffs don’t grate, the hooks are enormous, and the drums rumble along to each song’s melodic pace. As songwriters Enforcer are quite the talented bunch. They certainly know how to balance the nostalgic camp that’s the prerequisite of their sound without including the usual tired clichés. These bastards even have the genius to straddle the fine line between vintage speed metal and all out thrash, so if you’re hankering to slip into a pair of tight denim jeans and attendant high top sneakers, it’s Enforcer’s fault. A solid effort that establishes where these Swedes stand, “Diamonds” is a must have for anyone who considers “British Steel” classical music. [MB]
The Obsidian Conspiracy
SHADOWSIDE Dare To Dream
Boys and girls, here we have yet another retrogressive slab of heavy metal indulgence from icebound Sweden. But what sets Enforcer apart from the tidal wave of new ‘old school’ bands today is the sheer panache they disport themselves with. The songs on their latest album “Diamonds” breathe the look and feel of another era (say around 1983) with alarming clarity. Opener “Midnight Vice” gets the party going and the album moves at an even pace from this point onward. The guitars alone will be familiar territory for Judas Priest devotees and the rest of the ingredients that make Enforcer such an entertaining unit are drawn from the bygone NWOBHM right down to singer Olof Wikstrand’s testiclepopping falsettos. Burst nuts aside, the best cuts on the album would be “Katana”, the instrumental title
drummer Van Williams. Jeff Loomis shines here too, and his greatest triumphs are on the raging “Moonrise (Through Mirrors of Death”, “Without Morals”, “Emptiness Unobstructed” and the title track that comes at the bitter end. In short, the faster songs are his element. But the real peaks of the album are the quartet’s adventures in slower fare, namely “The Blue Marble And The New Soul”, “The Day You Built The Wall”, and “She Comes In Colors”. All are unique and bear Nevermore’s trademark hella cool lyrics, especially “Blue Marble…” whose heartfelt tenderness and contrasting scorn may trigger an emotional upheaval. Almost two decades in the biz and Nevermore are as flawless as ever. You almost hate them for being so perfect. [MB]
Five years of tours, health problems, hiatus, and a wonderful DVD since the definitive “This Godless Endeavour”, Nevermore have returned to feed their long expectant fan base a worthy follow up. Listening to what “The Obsidian Conspiracy” has to offer, you’re glad for the re-acquaintance. Even a cursory first taste reveals several tracks here immediately deserve a hallowed place in Nevermore’s ever growing backlog of classics. For its opening salvo “The Termination Proclamation”, fluid grooves set the pace for an acidic diatribe by Warrel Dane where he declares with utter contempt “Welcome to this violent station/the termination proclamation.” Compared to their previous albums, Nevermore haven’t been as groove-laden as they currently are. Axeman Jeff Loomis’ riffing style, though still armed with a jagged razor edge, increases its hook factor every time a yawning groove punctuates each note he plays. The best example of this is “Your Poison Throne”. It showcases Nevermore at pure melodic mode and while far from mediocre, the listener knows they’ve come up with stronger material and it’s passable at best. But the album’s real meat is the combination of Warrel Dane’s peerless vocals buttering the airtight rhythm section by bassist Jim Sheppard and
Ever the glittering fount of metallic goodness, Brazil can always be relied upon to deliver passion and excellence in copious quantities. Not only has it spawned generations of influential bands, but new talents constantly emerge to seduce susceptible overseas audiences. This chick fronted quartet called Shadowside are no exception and seem on their way to carving a devoted following. Unfortunately there isn’t much in the band’s present material that inspires such thoughts. For starters, Dani Nolden may have enough power in her voice to light up a small city - so much power in fact, she sounds like a dude - but her voice is Blaze Bailey dull and the lyrics she sings are worse. On the musicianship front, guitarist Raphael Mattos injects a lot of ear-catching verve into the juicy licks that populate the album and he counts among “Dare To Dream”’s must-hear highlights. Aside from his excellent guitar playing and the tight rhythm section however, little else is moving in the right direction for Shadowside’s sophomore outing. Problems arise early. Opener “Nation Hollow Mind” has a great start but proceeds to fall apart as it unravels. The ensuing tracks barely improve on the album’s initial weaknesses and unless you haven’t lost your patience by the utterly forgettable “Baby In the Dark”, Shadowside still have a good half hour of music to torture you with.
Small virtuostic flourishes plus the occasional hook help alleviate the dross that weighs down this effort, but by and large Shadowside are just plodding along through such clunkers as the yawn-inducing ballad “Wings Of Freedom” and the glass is half empty title track at the end. Don’t be surprise if you’re left a little cold by this “Dare To Dream”. [MB]
The Road Less Travelled
To be honest, bland indifference was this writer’s initial reception of “The Road Less Traveled”, the sophomore album from Norway’s up-and-coming female-fronted power metal quartet Triosphere. Then one cold night, it all changed. He fell in love, experienced a maelstrom of emotion, got swept away by bassist Ida Haukland’s powerful vocals, whose barest semblance of femininity makes the lyrics soar far, far, away. She’s a comer, commanding the album’s speedier offerings and nerve wracking turbulence with the grace of a seasoned professional. Her voice is timeless and the bass lines thunking along to the melody isn’t anything to be ashamed about either. Oh wait, there are three other guys in the band too. Sorry. The reader might get the impression this writer is obsessing over Ida too much. He’s not obsessing, merely giving credit where credit is due. Because Ida has a good chance of reaching new heights in her genre so long as Triosphere keep it together on future albums. So the guys won’t feel left out in the cold, Ida’s other half on the rhythm section, drummer Orjan Aare Jorgensen, is a decent chap. But the real heroes are the guitar duo of Marcus SilverTor Ole Byberg. Just listen to “The Death Of Jane Doe”, “Marrionette”, the emotional heft of “The Anger And The Silent Remorse” that will make your heart flutter, and the title track. Don’t forget the instrumental book ends that sandwich the album’s nine songs. You’re thinking they’re the usual boring crap, but let the magic sink in and before you know it you’ve fallen under the quartet’s spell. If you’re after the heavier songs, head straight to “Driven”, “21”, “The Road Less Traveled”, and “Worlds Apart”. However, if it’s melodic drama you crave, there’s more than enough here to keep you happy. [MB]
Ever since the untimely demise of Dio his spirit has made its presence felt throughout this magazine. Not only is a memorial to the old goat present here, but Magica have a new record out and in case you didn’t
know "Magica" is the title of a Dio album. In fact, true to the essence of their namesake, Romania’s Magica are avowed peddlers of theme driven metal operas and “Dark Diary” is but their latest foray into the fantastical. To be honest and economical (we got word counts here, you know), a lot of this album just doesn’t grab you by the collar as it easily falls into the ‘chick-metal’ pit. It’s unavoidable when an angelic female singer is part of the equation, there’s a keyboardist, and the lyrics deal with realms beyond our own. Barf. It’s not all bad though. Just familiar to the point of tedium. Among the album’s highlights aside from a good song or two is guitarist Boydan Costea. It’s his licks and flourishes of virtuosity that save an awful tune from oblivion. Additionally, if Ana Mladinovici weren’t such an angelic crooner, “Dark Diary” would rank alongside Brazil’s Shadowside, who have inflicted untold pains upon this writer because of their odious new album. It’s so bad, it’s still getting bashed on a different review. Anyway, if you want to give these guys a chance, just pop in the CD and enjoy the manifold delights of “Anywhere But Home”, “Release My Demons”, “My Kin My Enemy”, and “On The Side Of Evil”. [MB]
Witchery have long been a sinister force lurking in the bowels of the Swedish scene for the past 12 years. Good for them they’ve got a solid, if rather obscure, discography to their credit that combined the best of both worlds, namely the extreme and melodic, thus creating a perfect - or near perfect - whole. Having ‘disappeared’ for the last few years, the quintet now resurface after a few key personnel changes and return to deliver “Witchkrieg”. It’s but a playful take on the occult themes the band have long embraced, but the charm quickly vanishes once Erik ‘Legion’ Hagstedt begins spitting venom at God to the accompaniment of his backing band, who’re among the best musicians the Scandinavian scene ever produced. For those new to Witchery, it’s a supergroup composed of Patrik Jensen (The Haunted), Richard Corpse (Séance), Sharlee D’Angelo (Arch Enemy), Martin Axe (Bloodbath), and Mr. Hagstedt, who used to scream blasphemies for Marduk. Talk about an unholy alliance. The album’s sonic devilry begins without the benefit of a yawninducing intro and you’re glad Witchery have the sense to go for the throat on the first few seconds of music. The songs “Witchkrieg”, “The God Who Fell From Earth”, the incinerating thrash barrage “The Reaver”, and the speed metal romp “Witch Hunter” are all fine examples of extreme thrash blessed with heavy metal crunch. While the band utilise blastbeats and ferocious vocals with ruthless efficiency, the power of the almighty riff is never lost on them. The album also features guest spots from Kerry King, Gary Holt, Lee Altus, Andy LaRocque, Hank Sherman, and Jim Durkin. All guitarists, all shredding on a few choice occasions on the album’s hellish tracks. Because you will feel its power down to your testicles, ignoring “Witchkrieg” is a blasphemy in itself. [MB]