Tag Archives: United States

Four More Bands added to Eindhoven Metal Meeting 2017

Carpathian Forest, Disharmonic Orchestra, Sabiendas and Antropomorphia have been added to the line-up of Eindhoven Metal Meeting 2017.

The ninth edition of Netherlands‘ loudest festival will take place on Friday 15 & Saturday 16th of December 2017, once again at the Effenaar in Eindhoven.

The line-up is shaping up as follows:

ANTROPOMORPHIA (NL)
BAPTISM (FI)
BLASPHEMY (CA)
CARPATHIAN FOREST (NO)
CORONER (CH)
DISHARMONIC ORCHESTRA (AT)
DOOL (NL)
EXTREME NOISE TERROR (UK)
MERCILESS (SE) – Last show ever!
OUR SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON US (AT)
PENTACLE (NL)
SABIENDAS (DE)
TANKARD (DE)
VENOM (UK)
VERWOED (NL)

More bands will be announced soon.

The strictly limited Early Bird tickets flew out of the door! Regular combi-tickets (€85 + handling fee) are now available on the official festival website. Day-tickets and the schedule will be made available later on.

Mark Slaughter announces new album through Dave Ellefson’s label

Legendary Hard Rock vocalist Mark Slaughter has announced the upcoming release of his second solo album, Halfway There, in May via EMP Label Group, the US based label of Megadeth bassist David Ellefson.

Halfway There, the follow up to 2015’s independently released Reflections In A Rearview Mirror, apparently sees Slaughter getting back to style of 80’s releases such as Stick it to Ya and The Wild Life, as well as heading in a newer, more mature, Progressive Metal direction.

Produced and co-mixed by Slaughter with John Cranfield (AFI, Andy Grammer), with art by famed horror/album artist “Mister” Sam Shearon (Rob Zombie, Iron Maiden, KISS, Clive Barker) Halfway There is due for release on May 26th in Europe through EMP/SPV and in North America by EMP Label Group/Amped.  It will be released in Japan on May 10th via EMP Label Group/Universal.

Mark will tour Japan in May with Slaughter, supporting RATT, in conjunction with the Japanese release of the LP, with shows in Nagoya, Osaka, and a performance at the Tokyo Metal Summit on May 14th with Ratt, Sebastian Bach, E’nuff Z’nuff, and more.

Slaughter says,

“My first solo record (Reflections in a Rear View Mirror) was kinda getting back on the horse, so to speak. I mean doing everything and recording… I’m taking on a lot more tasks as an engineer/producer/ writer on all this… because I’m doing everything. Ultimately at the end of the day, anybody who is a Slaughter fan, will certainly understand that I am a large part of the Slaughter sound and vibe, so obviously if you like that, it’s in there. It’s just that I take a lot more liberties on the solo side that I probably wouldn’t do when it’s a group effort.”

“The record is basically.. I spend a lot of time writing songs and things just grow out of me.. I’ll be woken up in the middle of the night from nowhere and the song’s just in my head and I just exorcise the demons and there you have it. I guess what it is, is an artist makes art. And I’ve really come to the fact that since we haven’t made a Slaughter record in so long, it’s one of those things that I still have to make the art. That’s what I do. That’s what I love to do, and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”

EMP A&R director Thom Hazaert adds:

“It’s been such an incredible honour to put this record together with Mark, who truly, in my humble opinion, is one of the greatest Hard Rock singers and songwriters of our generation, and, what a lot of people don’t realise, just a phenomenal player as well.  We spent almost a year going back and forth about the idea of putting the record out together, obviously Mark and David (Ellefson) have a great longstanding friendship, so it really was an amazing fit.

From the first time I heard the working demos of these songs, I knew Mark was working on something very, very special. Growing up (and still) a huge Slaughter fan, I think these songs are going to not only resonate with the people who already love Mark and what he does, but carve a niche far beyond.“

Ellefson himself adds:

“I have been friends with Mark for over 30 years, since he was in Vinnie Vincent Invasion, and there’s a lot of shared history.  So when we started talking about the idea of putting this record out, yes, it was a great and natural fit. Mark is such a tremendous talent and songwriter, and the scope of that is truly evident on Halfway There. We’re extremely proud, and excited, to have been able to partner with him on it, and can’t wait for the world to hear it.”

If you pre-order Halfway There on CD or limited-edition vinyl LP on empmerch.com, you will get a free immediate download of the song Hey You.  Also, the first 200 pre-orders will be signed.  You can pre-order the album HERE.

Tracklist:
1. Hey You
2. Devoted
3. Supernatural
4. Halfway There
5. Forevermore
6. Conspiracy
7. Reckless
8. Disposable
9. Turn It
10. Not Here

Who are The Next Generation Of Metal Festival Headliners?

The first generation have all-but retired. The second generation are taking their curtain calls. Some of the third generation are at least starting on the encores. So what (and more to the point, who) comes next?

Carl fondles his crystal ball…

Black Sabbath have retired from touring. So have Mötley Crüe. Iron Maiden are cutting back on the huge, globe-straddling jaunts. AC/DC are a shadow of their former selves and have almost become a tribute band, thanks to the treatment of Brian Johnson. Judas Priest must be starting to wind down now, as must Alice Cooper. Even Metallica, the newly re-united Guns N’ Roses, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson will be counting their remaining time on the road in years, rather than decades.

The same goes for Kiss, even though Gene Simmons will probably be working on a plan to sell even more of the legacy of “the hottest band in the world” before even he has to call it a day.

These are the things that, apparently, keep various media pundits, so called “fans” and mega-festival promoters awake at night.

Those of us who are keeping our eyes and ears open to those outside the stables of the likes of BMG, Universal, Sony and Geffen have seen the future, and it has a much rosier, healthier complexion than the doom-mongers would have us believe.

Allow me to guide you along an admittedly mostly subjective path, in no particular order other than the meanderings of my own mind:

Rammstein

The German technometal pioneers have got a massive, pyrotechnic-filled stage show, a charismatic frontman in Till Lindemann and they’ve certainly got the songs. Anyone who has been to any sort of Metal night in the past decade or so has heard the likes of Du Hast, Feuer Frei or Links 234 pounding out of the speakers and at the very least seen the mosh pit that forms as the dancefloor fills. The friction inside the band that almost broke them up a few years ago seems to have gone away.  Having seen them at Sonisphere in 2010, headlining the second stage, it wouldn’t be too much of an ask for them to take the logical next step and grab the glory of Main Stage Headliners.

Nightwish

To headline a festival, you need a band with a HUGE, bombastic sound and charisma to spare. The most important thing, though, is the songs. Tuomas Holopainen’s Symphonic Metal crew have all of those by the truckload. In Floor Jansen, they have someone who can literally sing anything from Death Metal to Opera, hitting all points in between and a truly commanding stage presence. As Gemma Lawler of British upstarts, Dakesis rightly said, “she’s a goddess”. The male side of the vocals being provided by Finnish Metal stalwart and Tarot founder, Marco Hietala certainly doesn’t hurt. Neither does the sheer quality and strength-in-depth of the band’s back catalogue and musicianship.

Avenged Sevenfold

Abandoning their Emo/-core roots and showing they can play and write songs that will burrow into your head and stay there (which, in this case isn’t a bad thing) has done A7x no end of favours. Their turning point was, most likely, the City Of Evil album. That’s the one where M Shadows actually start to sing, rather than scream. Guitar solos became more prevalent and the sheer melody was accentuated.

Like Metallica and even Def Leppard before them, disaster didn’t kill them. Even though Rick Allen “only” lost an arm and both Cliff and Rev lost their lives, all three bands were tempered by the fires, when lesser bands would have crumbled or at the very least, like Slipknot, when faced with the death of Paul Grey, lost their momentum.

As Mabh’s review from their recent UK trek showed, A7x have certainly got the chops to headline an arena tour. If they can do that, they’ve certainly got what it takes to headline the likes of Download.

They’ve even got a pre-made nickname in A7x.

Alter Bridge

It’s very tough to argue with a pedigree like Alter Bridge’s. Not only do they have Myles Kennedy, who could sing the phone book and make it interesting, they’ve also got Mark Tremonti on guitar. His own solo material is good stuff, and earns its plaudits with very good reason, but when he works with Slash’s vocalist of choice, it’s all over bar the shouting.

They’ve certainly got the songs. Anastasia, for instance. That one’s a festival closer by any and all measures. It’s not the only one in their arsenal, either. Whenever they release an album, it makes the annual top ten lists every time.

As I said, you really can’t argue.

Prophets Of Rage

Here’s another one that is almost impossible to argue with. Surprisingly, it’s the only “supergroup” on the list. Even more surprisingly, these guys have only released an EP so far.

Who are they?

You all remember Rage Against The Machine, right? Definite festival headliners. Replace Zak De La Rocha with Public Enemy’s Chuck D and DJ Lord and Cypress Hill’s B-Real, light the blue touchpaper with the current political climate in the US, UK and all around Europe and stand well back.

OK, like most supergroups, they may not have the longevity of the likes of Rammstein, Nightwish, Alter Bridge and A7x, but while they’re around, if you were in a band, would YOU like to try and follow THEM onto the Main Stage at a festival?

So that’s the immediate future sorted out. Come back next week and we’ll take a look even deeper into the future and take a look at the bands who may well take over in the decades to come…

Primordial Podcast 03 – A Pencil’s Story

Moose gives an update on the developments of Primordial Radio, responds to feedback and tells the story behind the framed pencil on the wall at America’s Cup (Sailing) in Auckland, New Zealand.

Agenda
1. Minutes/Update
2. Feedback
3. Team Additions
4. Newsletter – WTF?
5. Merch Update
6. Rules of operation
7. The Plan
a. Structure
b. Start-up Funds
c. Operating Revenues
8. What can I do?
9. AOB/ Week Ahead

http://primordialradio.com

Powerzone Halloween Spooktacular!

No tricks, just treats on this week’s Powerzone!

Make us your evil evenings soundtrack, we’ve got all the Metal you need to make your Halloween BRUTAL!

Including ghouls, ghosts, vampires, scary clowns, bears, trolls, goblins, witches, wolves, zombies and Frankenstein’s in attendance! See you at the link…

Grave Digger – Return Of The Reaper / Hell Funeral
Civil War – Road To Victory
Hammerfall – The Sacred Vow
Lordi – Hell Sent In The Clowns
Alice Cooper – Feed My Frankenstein
Finntroll – Sång
Nekrogoblikon – Bears
Ghoul – Blood And Guts
Tankard – Zombie Attack
Helloween – Halloween (Epic Track)
Trick Or Treat – Paper Dragon
Hell – Land Of The Living Dead (Volt Track)
Mercyful Fate – Evil
Carach Angren – The Sighting Is A Portant Of Doom
Cradle Of Filth – Hallowed By Thy Name [Iron Maiden Cover] (Coverzone)
Evil Scarecrow – Crabulon
The Devin Townsend Band – Vampira
Iced Earth – Wolf
Twins Crew – Burn The Witch
Wolf – At The Graveyard
Powerwolf – Headless Cross [Black Sabbath Cover]

Brujeria – Pocho Aztlan

Nuclear Blast

Review by Rick Ossian

Rick takes his life into his hands to review “Mexican” gangster Death Metal band, Brujeria‘s fourth album, Pocho Aztlan. May the gods have mercy on his soul

Brujeria (“Witchcraft“) are an extremely militant Grindcore Death Metal outfit from Los Angeles, Mexico, according to their bio.  They are on their fourth full-length album with their latest, Pocho Aztlan (“Wasted Promised Land“) and they are seriously, severely Spanish, as you might have surmised by now.  Their members are as follows: Juan Brujo voz  (I’m betting he’s a vocalist of some stature).  Garganta Fantasma is also listed as a vocalist.  On guitarra, the Infernal HongoHongo Jr. – Bateria Pinche (perhaps a battery of some sort..? Maybe he plays a drum machine, not sure!).  Peach does Voices del mal Pititis, and Concubina del Inferno helps out there, Sangron is the voz Mal d Tarika (another vocalist, I’m betting), and Baby Bruja Guero III must be a bassist or another percussionist, perhaps… I may be a bit out of my depth here.

In any case, if you are about to listen to these fine upstanding Spanish heroes, then BE PREPARED, dear reader.  You are in for some seriously severe stuff!  The title track features some considerable chanting (in Español, of course), FX, slamming, Spanish growling (Señor Cookie Monster), and some serious bass playing as well.brujeriagroupshot

Let’s go track by track, as is traditional…

No Aceptan Imitaciones (pretty self-explanatory, I’m going to go with the most obvious translation, as in we DON’T accept imitations) is up next, and it is about the heaviest fucking thing I’ve heard in some time.  It is probably going to tear your head off when you hear it!

Profecia del Anticristo ( again, I think we’re all pretty sure where were going with this one – I’d say our old friend Jack Scratch is the main man behind this tune) (The Prophecy of the Antichrist).  It is extremely heavy, as it should be.

Angel De la Frontera is our next tune on board, and for now I believe I will dispense with the translations.  Suffice it to say that there is a revolucion in the works!  There is plenty more slamming involved here, and even a bit of Spanish spoken word!

Plata ol Plomo (Silver or Lead) features more of the same, particularly in the intro.

Satongo is more growling and slamming… I sense a pattern developing here.

Isla de La Fantasia (Fantasy Island) is a short slam, but worthy of a listen nonetheless.

Bruja (Witch) features a feedback-laden intro, along with plenty of heavy riffing and chanting en Español (of course).

Mexico Campeon (Champion) is a super short slam, but again worthy.

Culpan La Mujer (They Blame Woman) features more of the same.

Codigos (Code) has more of the Spanish and FX stuff in the intro, but again is worth a listen.  It is the single longest number on board, somewhere between five-and-a-half and six minutes.  Most of the other number are 3-4 minutes or less.  When I indicate a ‘short slam’, that could be even as little as 2 minutes.

The final track is California Uber Aztlan, and by now you will be able to guess what is involved.

To sum up, let me be brief.  If you enjoy your Metal VERY growly, very militant, and severely extreme, and en Español, then Brujeria may very well be right up your proverbial alley.  Check them out!

Verdict: 7/10

Doll Skin Premieres Video For “Furious Fixation”

Doll Skin have today premiered their latest video for their fourth single Furious Fixation from the band’s debut album, In Your Face (Again), produced by Megadeth‘s David Ellefson.

The video was shot entirely on location near Gettysburg, Pa and includes exclusive video footage from Wasteland, who in turn invited the band to play at their Wasteland Weekend event in September.

Details can be found by clicking THIS LINK

“We are so beyond excited to be a part of the crazy world that is Wasteland Weekend! It’s been a dream of ours to play this for a long time, so it’s pretty surreal. They were so generous with their footage for our music video, we couldn’t be happier with how it looks.” – Meghan Herring/Doll Skin.

Todd Chamberlain of High Rock Pictures who directed the video said:

“It is with great pleasure that I present this music video for release and distribution. Working with Doll Skin and David Ellefson has been an incredible honour. Doll Skin are true performers and they worked so hard on this video. It was a long day on set, and everyone held up like a trooper.  To say that Doll Skin are talented is an understatement.  Not only are they musically inclined, but have a good sense of what is needed for other aspects such as filming, and they have their act together better than half the people I know three times their age. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these young ladies.”
Furious Fixation is a powerful song about the fall of society all around the world and how it becomes like the dystopian society you see in the movie Mad Max. The song gives you the feeling that you’re a part of this society and you’re having to fight for your survival.”- Sydney Dolezal/Doll Skin

Cameos in the video were graciously provided by:

Jim Krut: The Helicopter Zombie in George Romero‘s original 1978 Dawn of the Dead.  Jim has many acting credits and is still active in the business, including co-starring in High Rock‘s upcoming Indy horror flick Sideling Hill. He is also active on the Horror con circuit, attending many shows each year to meet with the fans. Jim is also a Vietnam Veteran.

Vernon Wells: Vernon has a long and distinguished acting career.  He is from Australia and is one hell of a kind-hearted gentleman. He appeared in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) with Mel Gibson, “Weird Science”(1985) with Robert Downey Jr, and Commando (1985) with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and much, much more.  We are extremely grateful and honoured to have him in this video.

The video can be seen here:

Currently, the band is on the Equal Rights, Equal Lefts Tour with Otep.

Tour Dates:

08/10 Lancaster, PA – Chameleon Club
08/11 Providence, RI – Fete Ballroom
08/12 Richmond, VA – Canal Club
08/14 Johnson City, TN – Capone’s
08/15 Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre
08/16 Spartanburg, SC Ground Zero
08/17 Macon, GA – Cox Capital Theater
08/18 Lake Park, FL – The Kelsey Theater
08/19 Tampa, FL – The Orpheum Theater
08/20 Pensacola, FL – Vinyl Music Hall
08/22 McAllen, TX – Sophie’s
08/23 Dallas, TX – Trees
08/24 Houston, TX – Scout Bar
08/26 Farmington, NM – Top Deck
08/27 Tucson, AZ – Club X
08/28 Kingsburg, CA – Bullfrogs
08/29 Santa Ana, CA – Observatory

Graspop 2016 – Day 3

Day 3 started with some actual nice weather for a change, so of course when it’s hot and sunny and you’re already exhausted from the previous two days, the obvious thing to do is to head out early to see the first band in one of the tents, right?

Graspop 2016 SikTh

Well, as crazy an idea as that sounds, I stand by my decision because it meant I got to see an excellent performance from the recently reformed SikTh.  I’m not overly convinced that having such a weird and technical band on first was necessarily the best of suggestions, but SikTh made the most of the small and at first relatively unenthusiastic crowd.  It took a lot of effort to win most of them over, but they certainly succeeded in getting people going for the day ahead.  What impressed me most though was the sound.  Given the technical problems of the first day, I really was impressed with how well they set the sound up for the first act on, especially as SikTh are the kind of band where getting that slightly wrong really would matter. I must say, I’m exceptionally glad they’ve reformed at that I was able to see them. 7/10

Graspop 2016 Delain

Delain were the band on the main stage as SikTh finished, so we missed the start of their set, but to be honest I’m just disappointed that we didn’t miss all of it.  I’d seen Delain before and they were rubbish then, but this was six years ago and I thought I’d give them the benefit of the doubt this time and see what they were like this time around.  They have not improved however, and I can’t see myself making the same mistake in future.  Their dull and monotonous songs were matched only by an equally boring performance which just added nothing to the experience and completely failed to gain any real reaction from the crowd.  Even for one of the first bands on in the day this was not a crowd reaction anybody should be proud of. 4/10

Graspop 2016 Sick Of It All

The same definitely cannot be said for Sick Of It All.  Despite only being there because they were drafted as last-minute replacements for Architects, you could have been fooled into thinking half the people there had bought tickets to the entire festival specifically to see them, so enthusiastic was the response.  The band too didn’t seem like one who had only turned up at the last minute, but like one who really wanted to be there and absolutely belonged there.  Energetic and engaging throughout, Sick Of It All‘s one major fault was that from my perspective (someone who didn’t know more than one or two songs beforehand) all of their songs sounded the same and consequently the initial excitement wore off when it all seemed to get a little too repetitive.  Still, if this is the kind of band that gets brought to your festival as a back-up, it suggests your festival is really doing something right. 7/10

Graspop 2016 Overkill

Overkill may not have been a bad band to see live, were it not for the fact that they obviously replaced their usual lead singer with a cross between a parrot and the Wicked Witch of the West.  He sounded dreadful and he squawked and screeched his way through the set while somehow maintaining an arrogant persona throughout.  Even without that though, the performance was just bad; laden with sloppy playing all over the place and a real sense that the band was trying just that little bit too hard and thought just a little too much of themselves.  Combine that attitude with a bad show and it just becomes embarrassing, which (given that the highlight of the show was when the lead singer fell over after trying to do a cool move) is really the most fitting way to describe the show.  When my friend asked me who I thought the worst band of the festival was, I said Overkill before he’d even finished the sentence.  It wasn’t even close.  3/10

Graspop 2016 Shinedown

Thankfully I had elected to stay on the other side of the stage divide meaning that I had an excellent spot for Shinedown.  They are another band where you sort of have to wonder about what they need to do in order to get a spot higher up on the bill.  They were excellent from first to last playing a mixture of newer tracks and older crowd pleasers and getting the balance between engaging the crowd and playing through a decent selection of their discography absolutely spot on in my view.  I have known Brent to go on a bit in between songs, but the only time he did this he ventured into the crowd itself to a great response and the whole stunt provided an excellent steady build up into the dynamic opening to Enemies, which got the whole crowd jumping despite the building heat. From this to getting everybody singing along to Second Chance, Shinedown proved that they could pull off songs of all varieties to excellent effect.  I just wish they’d had a bit longer to show themselves off, to be honest. 9/10

Graspop 2016 Saxon

They did have to make way for Heavy Metal legends Saxon though which, let’s face it, is hardly much of a step down. Saxon put in a very different kind of performance with far less energy, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t also very good.  Saxon put their many years of experience to great use delivering song after song as well as if they were in the recording studio.  And with such a rich back catalogue to choose from, you can definitely let your music do the talking.  There was a bit of a stage show which came into play as the set progressed, which helped keep things fresh and interesting.  Again, for Saxon I ended up staying on the other side of the barrier, but this time around I definitely envied those who did not.  I sort of can’t believe it took me this long to see them for the first time, but rest assured I shall not be leaving it quite so long next time. 8/10

Graspop 2016 Mark Tremonti

The reason we did stay put is because my friend wants Mark Tremonti‘s babies (and let’s face it, who can blame him for that).  Tremonti are an act who also let their music do the talking and even though the band only has three albums to pick from, there still is plenty of good quality material to make that work.  I personally was a little disappointed that they didn’t include more from their most recent album Dust, but given that it hasn’t been out all that long, they can definitely be forgiven for that.  The main problem with the show though was less to do with the band themselves and more to do with the crowd.  It seemed to me that most of the people there were just there because they’d heard of Mark Tremonti and when his band subsequently failed to play anything they actually knew, it just turned into a crowd-surfing fest meaning that those of us who do actually like their music had to spend the vast majority of the gig with our backs to them to prevent getting our necks broken.   It was one of those times where I can’t put my finger on anything specifically wrong with the performance as-such; it’s just that they didn’t have that something extra required to keep the crowd’s interest.  7/10

Graspop 2016 Powerwolf

Powerwolf had to be viewed from a distance because I’d never heard of them before the festival and again, food is necessary.  With a name like Powerwolf though I could sort of guess what to expect, and whilst I could not have predicted the exact details, I had gotten the gist pretty right.  Ridiculous personas ahoy!  Powerwolf had it all – costumes, rituals and, it must be said, some pretty decent sounding songs.  I imagine that seeing Powerwolf, for me, might be what it’s like to see Ghost live if you don’t already know their music.  A bizarre cult-like experience that because of the tongue-in-cheek absurdity of it all did unfortunately leave me feeling a little isolated from it all because I wasn’t already a fan and I felt that they didn’t really do much to cater for that.  This is something I feel I may need to rectify for next time, but for this time as soon as the original novelty wore off I found myself getting very bored very quickly.  6/10

Graspop 2016 Anthrax

I swear Anthrax are bloody stalking me, because they seem to appear at almost every festival I go to so long as they’re actually touring that year.  Either that or I’m stalking them, it’s definitely one of the two.  Whichever way round it is though, I’m not complaining because Anthrax are one of the most consistently good live bands around.  They always bring a combination of energy and presence to every show and this time was no exception.  I personally was very glad that they chose to do a few songs from their new album For All Kings, because I think it’s one of the best of the year, and the rest of the crowd seemed to respond warmly to them too, despite the fact that there must have been a decent chunk who would not have heard them before.  The one criticism I have of Anthrax‘s set wasn’t the recent songs, it was the choice to play more obscure older ones at the expense of some of their real classics.  Whatever they choose to play though, I cannot imagine a situation where I wouldn’t have a thoroughly good time at an Anthrax show. 8/10

Graspop 2016 Trivium

I felt a little bit bad staying where I was instead of going over to the other stage for Trivium, but in my defence, I did see them back in March and I really wanted to get a decent spot for Maiden.  It’s not as if Trivium were bad even from such a distance though, to be fair to them.  Switching between old and new songs as if they were all as fresh as could be, Trivium put forward an interesting set which had a performance to match it.  All members except the drummer were rushing about making full use of the stage to engage as much of the crowd as possible (including our side, which is not something I can remember any other band doing so far at the festival).  Meanwhile Matt Heafy‘s charisma held everybody’s attention all the way through.  The whole performance makes me wonder whether Trivium are festival headliners of the future, as they certainly seemed to have most of the elements there to make it work.  I guess only time will tell on that front. It would have been great to have been closer, but still the show was a highly enjoyable experience. 8/10

Graspop 2016 Iron Maiden

What can I tell you about Iron Maiden that you don’t already know? Well for starters, Book of Souls songs sound a lot better live than they do on record.  My response to the album was lukewarm, I have to say, but I am now very glad that I got to see some of those songs performed live, as it really did add something which felt though it was missing on the album itself.  Despite being one of the main reasons why Book of Souls failed to really hit the spot with me, Bruce Dickinson was clearly back on top form tonight both as a singer and as a frontman, while the lengthy instrumental sections of lots of the Book of Souls songs gave the other members ample time in the spotlight.  They got through enough of their classics to keep the crowd happy too, but the highlight of the show (and of the whole festival) for me was Blood Brothers, which Bruce dedicated to the victims of the attacks in Orlando, Paris and Brussels.  A strange thing happened during that song.  My friend got smoke from someone’s cigarette in his eyes and at the same time my contact lenses started playing up.  We absolutely were NOT two grown men getting all teary over Iron Maiden.  Nope, never happened!  Wasted Years brought a perfect end to an almost perfect show.  What more could a Metalhead ask for than two hours of Iron-F***ing-Maiden on a Sunday evening? 10/10

Graspop 2016 Twisted Sister

How on earth do you follow Iron Maiden?  This was the problem which Twisted Sister needed to solve, as frontman Dee Snider pointed out himself.  As unenviable a task as that undoubtedly is, Twisted Sister did as good a job as is reasonably possible.  As much of a twat as he clearly is, Snider‘s charismatic side shines through as he gets the crowd singing their heart out to every song, even to the extent where they simply refused to shut up after they finished playing We’re Not Gonna Take It.  I have criticised other bands at Graspop for not engaging with the audience, but with Twisted Sister the crowd participation really is what the show is all about and it was much better for it.  Every member of the band added something to the performance though and Mike Portnoy took over drum duties from the late AJ Pero as if he’d been there for the whole forty years.  I guess for such a talented drummer that isn’t much of a surprise, but it was odd watching him play relatively simple parts on a normal-sized drum kit for once.  If I were in a band doing my last ever show in a country, that’s how I’d want to go out.  Twisted Sister were better than almost every other band at Graspop this year, but they weren’t quite Iron Maiden so they get a 9.5/10 instead.

And so with a subsequent fireworks display came the end of a most awesome festival before the mundane reality of driving on a Belgian motorway for 3 hours just to sit in a queue for the ferry for 3 and a half hours got underway.  I guess you can’t have everything in life but at Graspop you could get pretty darn close!  Road trip to Belgium in June 2017 anyone?

KANSAS ANNOUNCE FIRST NEW ALBUM SINCE 1990

Legendary American Proggers, Kansas, will release their intensely anticipated new studio album The Prelude Implicit on 23rd September 2016.  The album is the first new release in 16 years for the band that has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, and is famous for “classic hits” such as Carry On Wayward Son (which fans of Supernatural will be familiar with, since it appears in the recaps of each season’s finale episode) and Dust In the Wind (as quoted in Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure when Bill “philosophizes” with Socrates).

The Prelude Implicit features 10 all new tracks written by the band and co-produced by Zak Rizvi, Phil Ehart, and Richard Williams.  Kansas’s signature sound is evident throughout the album.  They returned to the studio in January 2016 after signing with Inside Out Music.  Says Inside Out founder and president Thomas Waber:

Kansas are the biggest and most important Prog band to come out of the United States. I grew up listening to them, and their music is part of my DNA.  The Prelude Implicit undoubtedly adds to their already impressive musical legacy.  I can’t stop listening to it, and we are proud to be releasing the album.”

The result of the time in the studio was even more than the band imagined.

This is definitely a Kansas album,” remarks original guitarist Richard Williams.  “Whether it is the trademark Prog epic like The Voyage of Eight Eighteen, biting rocker such as Rhythm in the Spirit, or mindful ballad like The Unsung Heroes, there is something on this album for every kind of Kansas fan.  After years of pent-up creativity, the entire band is very proud of The Prelude Implicit.”

Lead vocalist Ronnie Platt adds, “Recording The Prelude Implicit was an incredible experience, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. It is my hope that, knowing the intense listeners that Kansas fans are, the continuity yet diversity of this album will be pleasing to them.”

When asked about what the album title, The Prelude Implicit means, “Without a doubt, this is a new musical beginning,” explained drummer, Phil Ehart.

The Prelude Implicit will be released September 23, 2016, on Inside Out Music.  The album will be available on CD, Double 180 Gram Vinyl, and digitally on iTunes and Google Play.  Pre-order opportunities will be available starting later this summer at KansasBand.com and Amazon.com.

The Prelude Implicit Track Listing:

  1.  With This Heart
  2.  Visibility Zero
  3.  The Unsung Heroes
  4.  Rhythm in the Spirit
  5.  Refugee
  6.  The Voyage of Eight Eighteen
  7.  Camouflage
  8.  Summer
  9.  Crowded Isolation
  10. Section 60

Sonata Arctica Announce New Album for October

Only two years after the release of Pariah’s Child plus a massive world tour, the Finnish melodic metal quintet Sonata Arctica are already back for more – their ninth album, cunningly entitled The Ninth Hour will see the light of day on 7th October.

“The studio work for the new record started seriously in mid-April 2016 in several home studios around Finland,” singer Tony Kakko explains. “But the main recording and mixing took place at the Studio57 in Alaveteli, Finland. It functions as a kind of centre point and all work finally ends up there. We aimed to create another melodic, beautiful, surprising Sonata Arctica album… Did it turn out that way? I surely think so. But maybe I should leave that for you to decide!
 
After a North American tour with their friends from Nightwish plus many headline shows around the globe, the band was once again able to take a look at the entire world as it is at the moment – on the edge of a possible armageddon. This spirit is reflected in the new artwork of The Ninth Hour:
 
The artwork of our ninth studio album The Ninth Hour depicts a future utopian landscape. Nature and human technologies are balanced. In the middle we have an hour glass contraption with a knob for us to meddle with. The right-hand side cup represents the nature side with no humans left, on the left we have the human dystopia after we have destroyed nature. The idea I had was, that turning the knob will tilt the hour glass in one direction or another, and the other cup will slowly empty and that future will be erased. Biblically we are expected to repent and sacrifice on The Ninth Hour…to dive right back to a more mundane reality, it’s a fact that we are currently living in critical, historical times. Our decisions will define the future. Not only ours as a race, but the future of this entire planet. We need to make sacrifices and in many cases we will repent our already made choices.

Right after the summer festival season and the release of their anticipated record, the band will embark on a European tour together with their label mates Twilight Force to present the new songs to their fans.