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BLACK SABBATH’s ’13’ Debuts at #1

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Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler posted the image above on his Facebook page, signaling that the band’s latest album, “13,” has topped the U.S. Billboard Charts.

No, not the Hard Rock or Heatseeker charts, where metal albums often reside. The Billboard Top 200.

According to Noisecreep, 155,000 copies of “13” were sold in its first week. It is the band’s first #1 album in the U.S.

“13” also topped the charts in the U.K., making it the first time in 43 years that Sabbath has a number one album in that country (the last being “Paranoid”). It is the longest time frame on record.

Metal is alive and well, ladies and gentlemen.


Album Review: BLACK SABBATH’s ’13’ (2-Disc Deluxe Edition)

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13. The number is loaded with superstition, taboo, and mystery. Its unlucky reputation has enamored metal bands since the genre’s inception.

Black Sabbath has had an arguably unlucky journey during the creation of this album. The band officially reunited with all four original members (Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward) on 11/11/11. Drummer Bill Ward left due to financial concerns. Guitarist Tony Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma. Singer Ozzy Osbourne’s son, Jack Osbourne, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Osbourne, after being sober for approximately five years, relapsed and his marriage to Sharon Osbourne was allegedly falling apart.

Fans worried whether the metal pioneers would be able to deliver. Forums became battlefields, with one side crying out “No Bill, no Sabbath!” as the other side clutched onto their old copies of “Paranoid” and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” for dear life, secretly hoping their heroes would not disappoint them.

So Sabbath recruited Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk to sit on Bill Ward’s stool, and they charged forward to create “13,” an instant classic that fits right at home with the rest of their Ozzy-fronted discography.

The ironically-named “End of the Beginning” starts the album off with your standard Sabbath doominess, both musically and lyrically. Like the rest of this album, it sounds like a blast from the past, with Ozzy crooning thought-provoking lyrics over Tony Iommi’s simplistic but powerful riff work and Geezer Butler’s rumbling bass. The song debuted on the season finale of “CSI” last month. It would have made a better choice for a single than “God is Dead?”, the next track on the album.

 

“God Is Dead?” is the second track and the first single released from this album. The music video was released yesterday and caused a ruckus on the Internet, with overly-religious people complaining about the song’s offensive title. Osbourne was inspired to write the song after seeing the phrase on the cover of a magazine and thinking about how many people have died in the name of religion (although he does not believe God is dead). The single clocks in at 9 minutes and sometimes seems too long, even for Sabbath. But it still has their classic sound and was given mostly positive reviews on its release.

The first thing that pops into my head when I hear the intro riff of “Loner” is “N.I.B.” I literally expect Ozzy to shout “oh yeah!” in between verses. Brad Wilk is good at channeling Bill Ward’s drumming style, knowing exactly when and what to do with his drum fills and using the toms at the precise moment.

“Zeitgeist” is 13’s “Planet Caravan”. mellow acoustic vibe, spacey phaser effects on Ozzy’s vocals, and exotic percussion. Osbourne sings about traveling on a space ship that eventually crashes. It’s like listening to a cleaner version of something left over from the “Paranoid” sessions, like if Sabbath had recorded this in 1971, but with our technology.

“Live Forever” starts off as another slow, early Sabbath-sounding song before the drums kick in with “Fairies Wear Boots”-type riffage. The lyrics still play on Sabbath’s signature “Heaven and Hell” themes, but also remind the listener of the band’s mortality. (“I don’t wanna live forever / But I don’t wanna die / I may dreaming, but whatever/ I live inside a lie.”) All the current members outlived singer Ronnie James Dio (who was part of Sabbath from: 1979-82, 1991-92, 2007). Iommi recorded the album while being treated for cancer, and Osbourne went back on drugs. It serves as a stark reminder that “13” *may* be this band’s last album (although they entertained the possibility of recording a follow-up). As I listened to this song, I thought, “Oh shit. These guys are still human,” something we often forget when we think of our heroes, musical and otherwise.

In “Damaged Soul,” Ozzy breaks out the harmonica, adding extra doom to another classic Sabbath-sounding song. Some of the lyrics rank right up there with “Hand of Doom”: “I don’t mind dying cause I’m already dead / Pray not for the living, I’ll live in your head / Dying is easy, it’s living that’s hard / I’m losing the battle between Satan and God.” Iommi nails it again, over Butler’s rumbling bass and Wilk’s spot-on drum fills. This is everything that is great about Sabbath compressed into one song.

“Dear Father” is the final track on the standard edition of the album. it is heavier than the rest of “13,” both musically and lyrically. It has strange time changes and discordant arpeggios, reminding one of Ozzy’s “Diary of a Madman” in parts. There are unexpected key and mood changes at the end. The lyrics come full-circle to the first track most people have heard from this album, “God is Dead?”: “Your molestations of the cross you defiled / A man once holy now despised and reviled… Dear Father forsaken, you knew what you were doing / In silence your violence has left me in ruin.” These should also be placed in the top tier of Ozzy-fronted Sabbath lyrics.

At this point, I’ve been listening to this album for 50 minutes. Unlike other albums, I was not constantly wondering, “how many songs are left?” or “I’m not sure if I like this or not”. I was actually sad that “13” was drawing to a close.

I blasted it on my iPhone and excitedly ran to the living room, proudly proclaiming to the rest of the household, “THIS is Sabbath!”

Then commences the second disc, with the three bonus tracks.

“Methademic” sounds like “Bark at the Moon”-era Ozzy, but with Sabbath acting as the band, if that makes any sense. It sounds newer than the other songs on the album, definitely more 1980s and than 1970s. Perhaps it is best that it was left off the standard edition of the album due to its different vibe, but it’s a good song nonetheless.

“Peace of Mind” is another classic Sabbath song, with the lyrics possibly referencing the events the band went through during the recording of this album: “I wish somebody would empty my head / I am so sorry for the things that I’ve said / This hopeless feeling that’s living inside / I’m just a lonely soul who’s trying to find some peace of mind.”

“Pariah” starts off as another slow-to-mid-tempo doomy song but has the coolest riff of the album. It is slightly more complex than the riffs on the rest of “13,” showing how the band has matured while still keeping most of the elements of their signature sound. It would have been a suitable ending to the standard release, and is another case of, “why didn’t they put it on the regular CD?”

Whether or not “13” is Sabbath’s final album, it is an instant classic. Musically, it feels like you were teleported back into the 1970s, as if they simply picked up where they left off with Ozzy–but had gotten ahold of today’s recording technology. This album shows why these men are the kings of heavy metal. An instant classic that fits nicely between “Paranoid” and “Volume 4”.

FINAL VERDICT: 9/10

Track Listing:

Disc 1
1. End of the Beginning
2. God is Dead?
3. Loner
4. Zeitgeist
5. Age of Reason
6. Live Forever
7. Damaged Soul
8. Dear Father

Disc 2
1. Methademic
2. Peace of Mind
3. Pariah


Album Review: MEGADETH “Super Collider” Deluxe Edition (2013)

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Before I begin this review, let me make my biases known.

I am a major-league Megadeth fan. I am a card-carrying member of the Megadeth Cyber Army. If you look at the “about” page of this blog, you will see me happily nestled between the two MegaDaves, singer/guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson.

Naturally, I was very excited about the release of the band’s latest effort, Super Collider.

With Super Collider, you can’t just say something like, “It’s Cryptic Writings-meets-Th1rt3en” and be accurate. SC is truly a culmination of all things ‘Deth, with some flashbacks to their thrashier days, elements of their more melodic and experimental albums like Risk, and the newer 2000s material. If you were expecting Rust in Peace II, you will be disappointed. But if you approach it with an open mind, you might be pleased.

SC kicks off with “Kingmaker”, which was released as a single approximately two weeks ago. It renewed people’s faith in Super Collider after so many had been disillusioned by the previous single, the 70s-road-trip-rock title track. “Kingmaker” is like a cross between Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave” and ‘Deth’s own “Sweating Bullets,” a tribute to the band’s own musical heritage while adding the thrash elements Megadeth have become known for.

Then comes the infamous “Super Collider,” in a very stark contrast to the opening song. For those who haven’t heard it, it sounds more like Foghat than Megadeth. It’s a middle-of-the-road hard rock song that doesn’t really go anywhere. Mustaine revealed that the band filmed a humorous music video to promote the lead single, and perhaps his intention behind the song will be known once the video is released.

The title “Burn!” sounds like Mustaine’s yell in “Take No Prisoners,” but the song itself is an average rocker, with a chorus that feels more at home in a KISS, Motley Crüe, or even a disco song (“Burn, baby burn… ’cause it feels so good”).

“Built For War” is definitely the worst song on the album, maybe even Megadeth’s worst song, period. Meme Theater posted a review of the album right after it leaked, and their critique of this track says it all:

“…it feels like there was Megadeth playing a toned down Megadeth song in one room while Dave Mustaine sings an unrelated melody and lyrical arrangement in another room, while a 2ND DAVE MUSTAINE stood in yet another separate room in said ‘Built for War!’ at random times, as bored as possible…”

“Off the Edge” has a very nice, dark intro and segues into an average metal song but with sub-par lyrics, at least for Megadeth (“Lately, it seems the world is going crazy / It won’t be long till they replace me / And nothing seems to faze me, anymore”). Think of “Fast Lane” from Th1rt3en, but with worse lyrics.

“Dance in the Rain” is the turning point of this album. David Draiman (Disturbed, Device) lends songwriting and guest vocals to this amazing song, which is one of Megadeth’s best since Youthanasia. The song is about American politicians/government taking advantage of We The People as we struggle to make ends meet. It reminds me why I love Megadeth in the first place: chugging guitar rhythms, Shawn Drover’s fast feet at the double bass drums, Chris Broderick’s wailing leads perfectly complementing Dave Mustaine’s eternally stark lyrics. The song starts off slow and progressively speeds up, eventually ripping into a blazing riff and brutal drums backing Draiman’s powerhouse vocals. It would be right at home on United Abominations or Endgame.

“Beginning of Sorrow” is another good , somewhat slow song with heavy lyrical content, about a neglected child. Mustaine’s daughter Electra contributes some backing vocals.

“The Blackest Crow” is one of the most anticipated songs on this album, since video previews on the band’s website showed instruments like a banjo, fiddle, and slide guitar being used. There were also talks of country legend Willie Nelson guesting on this track. Though Nelson did not appear, the song does its hype justice, serving as a strange but pleasant bridge between bluegrass and heavy metal.

Mustaine wrote “Forget To Remember” about his mother-in-law, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Though it is an upbeat song for Megadeth, the lyrics are some of their most poignant: “If this is living, what the hell is living for? / You’ve boarded up your eyes, your mind has locked the door”. Broderick’s fills and Mustaine’s voice are beautifully in sync, with the fogginess of some of Mustaine’s vocal lines possibly representing the fogginess of the woman’s memory. This is definitely a highlight of the album, though it is more radio-friendly than most Deth fans are used to.

“Don’t Turn Your Back…” starts off with an impressive bluesy guitar solo and progresses into a badass riff, then into a poppy chorus with more cheesy lyrics (“The best advice I can lend is / Don’t ever turn your back on a friend”). Kinda My Little Pony for Megadeth, even though the musical elements are fantastic.

Though “Cold Sweat” is a Thin Lizzy cover, ironically, it is one of the most Megadeth-sounding songs on the album. Great cover that sounds at home on Endgame.

“All I Want”, the first bonus track, has a vibe similar to Th1rt3en’s “Wrecker” and has obvious KISS influences in the lyrics (“We took off on a rocket ride”). Decent medium-tempo metal song.

“A House Divided” should have been released on all versions of the album. It is truly a shame that it is only available on the deluxe edition. It has an interesting trumpet intro by Bob Findley (who played on Megadeth’s “Silent Scorn”), and like “Dance in the Rain,” reminds me why I’m a fan of this band. Once again, Mustaine sings about injustice (“This is a sad day for violence / When speech results in silence”) as gang vocals creepily chant “We all know something’s wrong” in the background. It gave me goosebumps. It is a suiting finale to the new material.

The final track is a live version of “Countdown to Extinction,” recorded in Pomona, Calif. in December of last year. It is a preview of Megadeth’s next CD/DVD release, Countdown to Extinction Live, which should come out this fall.

Super Collider is just one of those albums that is so different, it has to grow on you. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen it called “Risk II”. But the truth is, there are so many different elements on SC, you can’t compare it to one single item in the Megadeth catalogue. It stands alone.

Final verdict: 7/10

Track Listing:
1. Kingmaker
2 .Super Collider
3. Burn!
4. Built For War
5. Off The Edge
6. Dance In The Rain
7. Beginning Of Sorrow
8. The Blackest Crow
9. Forget To Remember
10. Don’t Turn Your Back…
11. Cold Sweat (Thin Lizzy cover)
12. All I Want (Bonus Track)
13. A House Divided (Bonus Track)
14. Countdown To Extinction (Live In Pomona, CA) (Bonus Track)


HUNTRESS Holds “Virtual Yard Sale” to Raise Funds for Mayhem Fest Tour

Thrash metal band Huntress has started an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the upcoming Mayhem Fest tour.

Among some of the prizes for contributing to the campaign are: the sword prop used in the “Eight of Swords” video, vulgar drawings by singer Jill Janus, and guitarist Blake Meahl’s custom van.

They created this humorous commercial to promote the yard sale.

“Eight of Swords” music video:

Huntress’ sophomore album, Starbound Beast, will be released in the US July 2.


MEGADETH New Single Released

Megadeth debuted their newest single, “Kingmaker,” on Twitter today. Let us just say that it blows the previous single, “Super Collider” out of the water.

The album Super Collider is released June 4.


WARHEAD Debut Album Set For Release May 15

Warhead "Death Row" Album Cover

Phoenix thrash metal band Warhead will release their debut album, “Death Row,” tomorrow May 15. You can stream three of the tracks from the album here.

Warhead will also tour in support of the album.

Upcoming shows:

May 17 – Maya’s Cafe – Corona, CA

May 18 – Riff Haus – Fullerton, CA

May 22 – Musichead – Medford, OR

June 8 – Rocky Point Cantina – Tempe, AZ


PHIL ANSELMO Debuts Solo Track

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Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals will release their debut album, “Walk Through Exits Only,” on July 16.

The track “Usurper Bastard’s Rant” is now available for streaming.

Anselmo revealed that the song was inspired by how predictable and watered down music has become. He told Rolling Stone, “Traditions were meant to be celebrated and/or destroyed. The celebration is worn out in my view. It’s time for more destruction, and this is exactly the point of ‘Usurper Bastard’s Rant.'”

You can hear the song here.


HANDS OF A TRAITOR “Paper Prisons” Video Released

Last time TBOS talked to Hands of a Traitor, they were in the process of planning their newest music video for their single, “Paper Prisons”. The new video can be seen below.

They will be competing in the Battle for Mayhem Thursday, May 23 at Rocky Point Cantina in Tempe, Ariz.


Recap of the REVOLVER Golden God Awards

Last night was arguably the metal equivalent to the Grammys. But if you were too busy or too drunk to watch the black carpet being rolled out, TBOS brings you the highlights of the Revolver Golden Gods 2013.

Anthrax and (Half of) Pantera Play Tribute to Jeff Hanneman

Anthrax opened the show with guest appearances by Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown by Pantera. They performed “This Love” and part of “Raining Blood” as a tribute to Jeff Hanneman, who passed away yesterday morning.

Afterwards, Kerry King held a “moment of noise” (instead of a moment of silence) in order to honor his fallen bandmate.

The Dillinger Escape Plan Perform With Chino Moreno

In perhaps the most controversial event of the night, The Dillinger Escape Plan put on a bloody performance alongside Deftones’ Chino Moreno.

Halestorm and David Draiman Cover “Whole Lotta Love”

Distrubed/Device frontman David Draiman and Halestorm covered the Led Zeppelin classic, giving both powerhouse singers the opportunity to show off their chops.

Five Finger Death Punch Perform with Rob Halford and Rob Zombie

5FDP performed alongside the legendary Judas Priest frontman and horror mastermind.

Slipknot and Stone Sour Cover Sabbath

After Stone Sour played songs from their House of Gold and Bones series, Slipknot’s Clown and Chris Fehn joined Corey Taylor’s other band onstage to perform “Children of the Grave”.

Danzig Plays Misfits Classics

Danzig played a five-song set featuring hits like “Last Caress” and “Mother”. Misfits guitarist Doyle von Frankenstein joined him, and his guitar broke at the end.

Metallica Gets the Lifetime Achievement Award, Play With Rob Halford

Metallica received the ended the show with a four-song set, opening with “Disposable Heroes”. Rob Halford joined in during “Rapid Fire”.

More highlights:

  • Ghost B.C.’s Papa Emeritus II removed his hat when presenting an award in order to honor Jeff Hanneman.
  • After winning the Song of the Year award, Black Veil Brides were apparently booed by the crowd and decided to respond by insulting the audience.

 

The full list of winners can be seen below:

BEST GUITARIST
– John 5 (Rob Zombie & solo)
– Stephen Carpenter (Deftones)
– Alex Lifeson (Rush)
– Misha Mansoor (Periphery)
– Brendon Small (Dethklok)
– Kim Thayil (Soundgarden)

 

BEST DRUMMER
– Abe Cunningham (Deftones)
– Mario Duplantier (Gojira)
– Arejay Hale (Halestorm)
– Gene Hoglan (Dethklok & Testament)
– Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour)
– Neil Peart (Rush)

 

PAUL GRAY BEST BASSIST
– Rex Brown (Kill Devil Hill)
– Steve Harris (Iron Maiden & solo)
– Lemmy Kilmister (Motörhead)
– Geddy Lee (Rush)
– Jason Newsted (Newsted)
– Sergio Vega (Deftones)

 

BEST VOCALIST
– Phil Anselmo (Down & solo)
– Maria Brink (In This Moment)
– Chris Cornell (Soundgarden)
– Lzzy Hale (Halestorm)
– Chino Moreno (Deftones)
– Corey Taylor (Stone Sour & Slipknot)

 

BEST NEW TALENT
– Device
– Ghost
– Kvelertak
– Miss May I
– Of Mice & Men
– Young Guns

 

MOST METAL ATHLETE
– Tom Crabtree (Green Bay Packers, NFL)
– Tanner Faust (Rally and drifting car racing)
– Clay Guida (Mixed Martial Arts fighting, UFC)
– Triple H (WWE wrestling)
– Geoff Rowley (Skateboarding)
– CJ Wilson (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, MLB)

 

BEST LIVE BAND
– Anthrax
– Five Finger Death Punch
– Hatebreed
– Lamb of God
– Slipknot
– Volbeat

 

COMEBACK OF THE YEAR
– Aerosmith
– The Darkness
– Quicksand
– Refused
– Soundgarden
– Tenacious D

 

SONG OF THE YEAR
– Asking Alexandria, “Run Free”
– Avenged Sevenfold, “Carry On”
– Black Veil Brides, “In The End”
– Dethklok, “I Ejaculate Fire”
– Halestorm, “Love Bites (So Do I)”
– In This Moment, “Blood”

 

MOST DEDICATED FANS
– Black Label Society
– Black Veil Brides
– A Day To Remember
– HIM
– Rammstein
– Slipknot

 

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
– Deftones, Koi No Yokan
– Gojira, L’Enfant Sauvage
– Halestorm, The Strange Case of…
– Marilyn Manson, Born Villain
– Soundgarden, King Animal
– Stone Sour, House of Gold & Bones Part 1

Do you think the winners were deserving of their awards? Do you think some of the performances were outstanding or sub-par? Sound off in the comments section!


GHOST B.C., IDES OF GEMINI Live in Tucson, Ariz. – Aprl 23, 2013

Tuesday night may not be the ideal time to host a metal concert, and Tucson, Ariz., isn’t exactly known for its metal scene. But the Rialto Theater was packed with wild headbangers and stagedivers during last night’s Ghost B.C. concert.

(Ghost B.C. will hereafter be referred to as simply “Ghost”.)

Papa Emeritus alongside a Nameless Ghoul. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Ghost B.C.’s Papa Emeritus alongside a Nameless Ghoul. Photo by Alec Damiano.

The Rialto Theater was a seemingly perfect venue choice for the controversial band. With its rustic classic theater vibe and vintage red walls, the building itself matched the incense and candles burning on Ghost’s merch table.

Tucson sludge metallers Godhunter opened the show, their music a combination of death growls and doomy riffs.

Tucson metal band Godhunter performs. Photo by Alec Damiano

Tucson metal band Godhunter performs. Photo by Alec Damiano

Next up were Los Angeles doom outfit Ides of Gemini. Singer and bassist Sera Timms’ powerful voice complemented the death march-esque drums and ripping guitar perfectly.

Female-fronted doom metal band Ides of Gemini. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Female-fronted doom metal band Ides of Gemini. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Before the headliner went on, Ghost’s crew prepared a ritual where incense was lit and fog machines let out a (secular) haze filling the room.

A "secular haze" fills the room before Ghost goes on. Photo by Alec Damiano.

A “secular haze” fills the room before Ghost goes on. Photo by Alec Damiano.

The Nameless Ghouls opened with “Infestissumam” and Papa Emeritus made his grand entrance during “Per Aspera Ad Inferni”.

Ghost played an approximately 90-minute setlist with songs from both their albums, “Opus Eponymous” and “Infestissumam”. Papa Emeritus interacted with the crowd regularly, allowing crazed fans to grab his hands, which were covered by black latex gloves.

Papa Emeritus preaching to the crowd. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Papa Emeritus preaching to the crowd. Photo by Alec Damiano.

At the end of the show, a woman climbed onstage, wearing only a dress and a thong. Two young men later rushed the stage in a desperate attempt to steal the setlist. They were pulled out of the venue by security.

Ghost have always been controversial among metalheads. While some say they’re metal, others say they’re retro pop-rock. But Ghost sound far heavier live than on their albums. Audience members may not have moshed, but they certainly banged their heads and raised their fists.

The Nameless Ghouls. Photo by Alec Damiano.

The Nameless Ghouls. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Though the mysterious band may not record the heaviest music, their show was definitely metal nonetheless.


ALICE IN CHAINS Rumored to Headline Uproar Festival

According to trusted source WolverineKills, the rumored lineup for this summer’s Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival includes Alice in Chains, Jane’s Addiction, Coheed and Cambria, Papa Roach, and Hellyeah.

You can read the post here.

The official lineup will be released Monday, April 22.

Here are the confirmed dates for the tour, according to Uproar’s official website

Aug. 09 2013 Toyota Pavilion Scranton, PA
Aug. 10 2013 The Comcast Theatre Hartford, CT
Aug. 11 2013 Darien Lake Performing Arts Center Darien Center, NY
Aug. 13 2013 Saratoga Performing Arts Center Saratoga Springs, NY
Aug. 14 2013 Comcast Center Mansfield, MA
Aug. 16 2013 Jiffy Lube Live Bristow, VA
Aug. 17 2013 PNC Bank Arts Center Holmdel, NJ
Aug. 18 2013 Nikon at Jones Beach Theater Wantagh, NY
Aug. 20 2013 Molson Canadian Amphitheatre Toronto, ON
Aug. 22 2013 First Midwest Bank Pavilion Tinley Park, IL
Aug. 23 2013 Klipsch Music Center Noblesville, IN
Aug. 24 2013 DTE Energy Music Centre Clarkston, MI
Aug. 27 2013 Zoo Amphitheater Oklahoma City, OK
Aug. 28 2013 Gexa Energy Pavilion Dallas, TX
Aug. 29 2013 Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion Woodlands, TX
Aug. 31 2013 Isleta Amphitheater Albuquerque, NM
Sept. 01 2013 Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater Englewood, CO
Sept. 02 2013 USANA Amphitheatre Salt Lake City, UT
Sept. 08 2013 Sleep Country Amphitheatre Ridgefield, WA
Sept. 11 2013 Shoreline Amphitheatre Mountain View, CA
Sept. 13 2013 Desert Sky Pavilion Phoenix, AZ
Sept. 14 2013 Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre Chula Vista, CA
Sept. 15 2013 Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Irvine, CA

A Day with NightSphere

NightSphere is a Phoenix-based power metal band who have opened for big-name acts like DORO, Firewind and Sabaton.

Their influences range from Stravinsky to Manowar, and their keyboard-infused symphonic metal sets them apart from many other bands in the local scene.

NigthSphere performing in February 2013. Photo courtesy NightSphere's official Facebook.

NigthSphere performing in February 2013. Photo courtesy NightSphere’s official Facebook.

The band formed in 2010 when the members found each other on Craigslist. The current lineup is Christopher “C.J.” McConnell on vocals, Elsthon Gomez on lead guitar, Josh Marines on bass, Marc Williams on keyboards and Mike Rodriguez on drums.

The Blog of Shredding got the chance to sit down with them and discuss a variety of topics. Here are some highlights.

On the origin of the band’s name:

“We thought it was pretty accessible,” says singer C.J. McConnell. “You could remember it. If you had some crazy name like–we were thinking of Elementasia or something. Well, it sounds great, but… how can you chant that? You know, that’s the thing for us too. We want our audience to interact with us as much as possible.”

On why they are unique:

“We each bring something different to the table,” says drummer Mike Rodriguez. “You have a drummer that is influenced by Motley Crue and Metallica, a guitarist who’s (influenced by) Opeth and Katatonia, C.J. with everything that he is. (laughs) And then John Williams (referring to the composer) over here… (laughs) Just like the blending of everything together, it’s just like the stars aligned. It’s something different.”

“I think that we can appeal to people outside the metal community as well,” adds keyboardist Marc Williams.

NightSphere singer CJ McConnell and guitarist Elsthon Gomez, opening for Doro Pesch. Photo by Alec Damiano.

NightSphere singer C.J. McConnell and guitarist Elsthon Gomez, opening for Doro Pesch. Photo by Alec Damiano.

On what made them want to pursue music in the first place:

“When I was a boy, I heard this story about a show in Sao Paolo with Sepultura,” says Marines. “Like, they had such an awesome presence onstage, the fans killed some dude. And I was like, ‘Wow. That is serious.’ People are into this style. I want to be in this. I knew that’s my calling in life.”

“When I first joined NightSphere, (playing guitar) was kind of more like a hobby,” says Gomez. “But now with NightSphere, I could see myself making it as more of a career.

“Guitar DVDs with Elsthon Gomez,” adds McConnell. “Just wait for it.”

“Oh yeah, it’s gonna happen! Move aside, (Dream Theater guitarist) John Petrucci!”

On what would define success for them:

“Playing big stadiums. Honestly for me, if we played Wacken (Open Air Festival)–even like the small stage, the first band playing like at noon–I would be like ecstatic,” says Gomez.

“I’m gonna know when I make it when I’m sitting down to eat dinner at a steakhouse. I’ll be like cutting into my filet mignon, with a nice glass of wine. Expensive. And I just feel like a little tap on my shoulder, and then like I get up and I look into his face and it’s like (Manowar bassist and songwriter) Joey DeMaio, you know,” says Marines. “I mean, having respect from other top-notch guys that have been around. That’s when you know you make it. Your sales can be good and stuff, but if you have no respect from people who have already been there, then it doesn’t mean anything.”

“For me, it would be when I wake up in the morning, if I know that the only thing I have to do that day is sit at my computer or whatever and write music,” says Williams. “And I’m getting paid for it. That’s what I would like to do. When I do not have to worry about a day job, I’m done.”

NightSphere will perform at Rocky Point Cantina in Tempe, Ariz. on May 16 and at Joe’s Grotto in Phoenix on May 18.

You can hear their song “As We Are Told” below.


MEGADETH “Super Collider” Album Cover Revealed

Super Collider

You can also hear a snippet of their new song, “Don’t Turn Your Back,” here.


April’s Most Anticipated Albums – Device, Rob Zombie, Volbeat and More

Despite March being hailed by record stores as “Metal Month,” there are plenty of highly-anticipated albums that will be released in April.

The Blog of Shredding brings you the guide to what albums you should buy and where you can hear them (or at least some of the tracks) before they hit stores.

All release dates are U.S. release dates.

Device – “Device”

Release Date: April 9

Device's self-titled debut album (2013). Photo from Noisecreep.

Device’s self-titled debut album (2013). Photo from Noisecreep.

Device is the side project of Disturbed frontman David Draiman. The entire self-titled effort is now available for streaming on Noisecreep.

The lineup also includes Evanescence drummer Will Hunt, Dope guitarist Vitus and former Filter guitarist Geno Lenardo. M. Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold and Lzzy Hale from Halestorm make guest appearances.

Stone Sour – “House of Gold and Bones Part 2”

Release Date: April 9

Stone Sour's "House of Gold And Bones Part 2" (2013). Photo from Stone Sour's official website.

Stone Sour’s “House of Gold And Bones Part 2” (2013). Photo from Stone Sour’s official website.

“House of Gold and Bones Part 2” is the sequel to Stone Sour’s 2012 chart-topper, “House of Gold and Bones Part 1”. HOGAB is singer Corey Taylor’s project that includes the double album and a comic book series. HOGAB Part 2 also features Skid Row’s Rachel Bolan taking up bass duties.

TBOS previously reviewed this album. It is available for streaming on Stone Sour’s official website.

Volbeat – “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies”

Release Date: April 9

"Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies" (2013). Photo from Volbeat's official website.

“Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” (2013). Photo from Volbeat’s official website.

Volbeat’s first album to feature former Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano drops Tuesday. Legendary singer King Diamond (Mercyful Fate) is featured on the track “Room 24”.  “Room 24” is available for free on King Diamond’s website, as a gift to the fans.

Ghost B.C. – “Infestissumam”

Release Date: April 9 April 16

Ghost B.C.'s sophomore release. Photo from Ghost B.C.'s official website.

Ghost B.C.’s sophomore release. Photo from Ghost B.C.’s official website.

The release of Ghost B.C.’s sophomore album was delayed by a week due to controversy surrounding the artwork of “Infestissumam”. (The questionable artwork was not even on the album cover, but on the physical CD and would not have been visible to customers unless they purchased the album.)

Several of the songs from “Infestissumam” have already leaked online. The video for “Year Zero” can be seen below.

Skid Row – “United World Rebellion – Chapter One” (EP)

Release Date: April 16

"United World Rebellion" (2013), Skid Row's first record in 7 years. Photo from BLABBERMOUTH.NET

“United World Rebellion” (2013), Skid Row’s first record in seven years. Photo from BLABBERMOUTH.NET

“United World Rebellion – Chapter One” is the first in a series of EPs that Skid Row plans to release in the near future. It is their third record to feature singer Johnny Solinger, who replaced Sebastian Bach in 1999.

The official lyric video for “Kings of Demolition” can be seen below.

Geoff Tate’s Queensryche – “Frequency Unknown”

Release Date: April 23

Geoff Tate's first album with his incarnation of Queensryche. Photo from BLABBERMOUTH.NET

Geoff Tate’s first album with his incarnation of Queensryche. Photo from BLABBERMOUTH.NET

After a nasty split-up between singer Geoff Tate and his band Queensryche in late 2012, two versions of the band emerged: Geoff Tate’s Queensryche and simply, Queensryche.

The lineup of Tate’s version includes bassist Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Whitesnake, Quiet Riot) and drummer Simon Wright (AC/DC, Dio). Guest musicians on “Frequency Unknown” include K.K. Downing (Judas Priest), Chris Poland (Megadeth) and Lita Ford.

The single “Cold” is available for streaming below.

Rob Zombie – “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor”

Release Date: April 23

Rob Zombie, this year's Mayhem Fest headliner, will release his new album later this month. Photo from Rob Zombie's official website.

Rob Zombie, this year’s Mayhem Fest headliner, will release his new album later this month. Photo from Rob Zombie’s official website.

2013 is turning out to be the year of the Zombie.

Rob Zombie is headlining this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. His film, “The Lords of Salem,” hits theaters April 19.

On top of that, his new album “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor” has been highly acclaimed by various critics.

You can listen to the single, “Dead City Radio” here. The official music video will be released on VEVO on Monday.

More of April’s Most Anticipated Albums:

Flotsam and Jetsam – “Ugly Noise”

Release Date: April 16

Deep Purple – “NOW What?!”

Release Date: April 26

HIM – “Tears on Tape”

Release Date: April 26

Cathedral – “The Last Spire”

Release Date: April 29

For a more comprehensive list of upcoming metal releases, visit Metal Storm.


Album Review: Stone Sour – ‘House of Gold and Bones Part 2’ (2013)

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Release Date: April 9, 2013

Label: Roadrunner Records

Earlier today, Stone Sour streamed the sequel to their chart-topping album “House of Gold and Bones Part 1” (2012). Though “House of Gold and Bones Part 2” won’t officially be released in the States until next week, I am reviewing it now.

It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to an album that has genuinely kept me entertained the whole way through. When I heard HOGAB Pt. 2, I didn’t find myself looking back at the track list every so often, wondering, “Just how many songs are there left?” It is a fantastic album and fitting sequel to Part 1 with its schizophrenic time and style changes, sometimes during single songs.

HOGAB is singer Corey Taylor’s brainchild–two concept albums and a 4-part comic book miniseries about temptation and vice. The music itself is a representation of the conflicts the protagonist, Human, endures. It brings the lyrics to life, and the theme continues through Part 2.

Part 2 starts off with a melancholy piano ballad, “Red City”. It is quite the departure from “Last of the Real,” the final track of Part 1. But during the second track, “Black John,” thrashing drums kick in, signalling the alternative metal tour de force that is the rest of the album. “Sadist” is a slower, groove metal-esque number with chromatic riffs akin to Ozzy’s “Diary of a Madman”.”Peckinpah” is another grooving number, but the next song, “Stalemate,” is one of the highlights of HOGAB 2.

“Stalemate” starts off as an acoustic ballad with piano flourishes, and one assumes that it will be similar to the first track. But suddenly the electric guitars and drums kick in and you wonder what the hell just hit you. You just got your ass kicked and now your neck is broken from headbanging so much. Then there’s a key change to throw you another curveball.

In addition to hard rocking tracks like “’82,” “Do Me A Favor” and “House of Gold and Bones,” HOGAB 2 has its share of powerful ballads. While still heavy, “The Uncanny Valley” and “The Configuration” would do well in mainstream or crossover charts. “The Configuration” reminds me why 80s metal power ballads so great (Skid Row bassist Rachel Bolan, who contributed to this album, should know). It would be wise for Stone Sour to release it as a single.

This album showcases why Stone Sour is so great. The lyrics are very relatable, telling tales of adversity, self-doubt and self-empowerment. They actively troll their listeners with their musical epicness and make you go, “what the hell just happened?” You’re not sure what hit you, but it is well worth the bruise you’re left with.

Track Listing:

  1. Red City
  2. Black John
  3. Sadist
  4. Peckinpah
  5. Stalemate
  6. Gravesend
  7. ’82
  8. The Uncanny Valley
  9. Blue Smoke
  10. Do Me A Favor
  11. The Configuration
  12. House of Gold and Bones

Lineup:

Corey Taylor – vocals

James Root – guitar

Josh Rand – guitar

Roy Moyarga – drums

Rachel Bolan – bass

CORRECTION (4/6/13): Human is the protagonist of the story, not Allen.

 


Interview with Warhead

Warhead is a Phoenix-based classic thrash metal band who pull influence from the likes of Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden. Over the past few weeks, TBOS has been collaborating with them on a set of videos, chronicling the history of the band up to the release of their debut album, “Death Row”.

Here are some excerpts from the interview.

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Sam Bollard, bass guitarist. Photo by Alec Damiano.

The Blog of Shredding: What inspired you to pursue music in the speed metal genre?

Sam Bollard (bass guitar): It’s what we write. It’s just what we write. We don’t write anything else.

Nolan Castles (lead vocals & guitar): Like yeah, it’s totally natural. It’s not like we’re going like for speed metal, or thrash, death, whatever. You know what I mean? It was just like, we got together, wrote some songs, and that’s what it came out to be.

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Cody Bailey, lead guitarist. Photo by Alec Damiano.

TBOS: What moment made you realize, “I wanna pursue music for the rest of my life?”

Cody Bailey (lead guitar): Definitely watching a lot of live videos of just bands that I liked.

Dane White (drums): Metallica.

Cody Bailey: Yeah, I definitely just wanted to be in their position and get them the hell off the stage and put me there.

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Drummer Dane White. Photo by Alec Damiano

TBOS: What differentiates you from the rest of the Phoenix metal scene?

Dane White: Our stage show is probably one of the (things). I mean, music is one thing for us, but we have electricity when we play that I don’t really see in a lot of other bands when I look at other local bands. No offense to any of them, but I feel there’s definitely a stronger performance chemistry we have when we play together, and I think the audience notices that too. So I think that’s one of the things that sets us off from the others.

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Nolan Castles, lead vocalist and guitarist. Photo by Alec Damiano.

TBOS: How do you get your hair to be so fabulous?

Nolan Castles: To be honest, my hair is all-natural.

Sam Bollard: Head and Shoulders.

Nolan Castles: I wash my hair with dirt, shampoo. Hopefully someone leaves some regurgitation in the sink here.

Dane White: Oh God! (laughs)

Sam Bollard: We wash our hair with brew, take showers with dirt. (others laugh) And that’s about it. We’re thrash. We eat pizza. We drink. We f——- party and we get 45 seconds of sleep and we do it all over again!

Dane White: We literally do none of those things! (laughs)

Nolan Castles: Yes, we party hard. And then when we’re all done, we all go home for dinner.

Sam Bollard: We have a curfew.

Nolan Castles: “Two minutes to midnight” (in reference to the Iron Maiden song of the same name).

Sam Bollard: The f—— thrash curfew!… (laughs) Then we have to “hit the lights” (in reference to the Metallica song).

Warhead will perform at the Nile Theater in Mesa, Ariz. on April 18. Their debut album, “Death Row,” will be released May 16. They will also be interviewed on RockDefRadio Friday, April 5 at 8 p.m. ET.

You can hear their cover of Megadeth’s “Take No Prisoners” below.


ARIZONA METAL

Guest DJ Week here at the Blaze is always an interesting experience. In an attempt to one-up everybody else, Damage Inc. brought in one of Arizona’s most promising young death metal acts as well as one of the leading concert promoters in the Valley. Solar Impulse and Kim of 13th Floor Entertainment brought the house down with their lively discussion, earnest insights, and cock jokes. Click the pretty blue link below to jump in, and a very big thank you to all who helped make Guest DJ Week a complete success.

Be sure to check out Solar Impulse and listen to their music on Facebook and ReverbNation.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Solarimpulseofficial
ReverbNation: http://www.reverbnation.com/solarimpulsemetal


Chase Hansel (Guitars)

Matt Hobart (Vocals)

Nathan Bigelow (Drums)


And continue to check in with 13th Floor Entertainment to see what kickass shows are heading your way.

Official Website: http://www.13thfloorentertainment.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/13thfloorentertainment?fref=ts


Kimberly LaRowe

Damage Inc. 3-23-13 (Guest DJ…

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ARIZONA METAL

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Release Date: March 26, 2013

Label: Frontiers Records

Skid Row’s “Slave to the Grind” is one of my favorite albums of all time. When I heard that I had the opportunity to review Sebastian’s Bach’s latest solo effort, I jumped at the chance.

I had seen Bach live in December 2011 when he opened for Guns N’ Roses. He put on a fantastic show. I also saw Skid Row (with current singer Johnny Solinger) in July 2012, and they also put on a fantastic show. I refused to choose sides in the Bach-Skid debacle.

But “ABachalypse Now” leaves much to be desired.

“ABachalypse Now” is a CD/DVD package, but I was only able to review the audio portion.

The album is two discs. Disc 1 was recorded at Hellfest, France, and Disc 2 was recorded at the Club Nokia in Los Angeles. The latter was broadcasted on AXS TV. Both…

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Welcome to Warhead

Warhead is a speed/thrash metal band based out of Phoenix, Ariz. Their songs are written in the vein of the Big Four of Thrash Metal (Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer). They look like they got time-warped into 2013 straight from the 80s, and they sound like it too.

TBOS got the opportunity to interview Warhead and film them as they were rehearsing for their upcoming show. You can also hear their song, “Death Row,” in the video below.

Tomorrow March 15, they will perform at the Rocky Point Cantina in Tempe, Ariz. Other bands on the bill include: Hemoptysis, Scattered GutsExistence AD, and Fail to Reason. The show is all ages and tickets are $5. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Warhead will be touring in May in support of their debut album, “Death Row”. The full-length interview and more concert footage will be posted on TBOS closer to the album’s release date.

Warhead "Death Row" Album Cover

Warhead “Death Row” West Coast Tour 2013:

May 16 –  Phoenix
May 17 –  San Diego
May 18 – Los Angeles
May 19 –  San Francisco
May 21 –  Sacramento
May 22 – Eugene
May 23 –  Portland
May 25 – Seattle
May 26 – Boise
May 27 – Salt Lake City
May 28 – Las Vegas

For more updates, visit their Facebook page.


Hands of a Traitor: High School Metal Heroes

Hands of a Traitor. From left to right: Jacob Ricker (vocals), Kieran Lynch (guitar), Emile Trudeau (bass), Darin Senyk (guitar). Photo by Alec Damiano.

Hands of a Traitor. From left to right: Jacob Ricker (vocals), Kieran Lynch (guitar), Emile Trudeau (bass), Darin Senyk (guitar). Photo by Alec Damiano.

Hands of a Traitor have opened up for legends like Doro Pesch. While many metal bands have to wait until they’re adults in order to accomplish such a feat, HOAT is comprised entirely of high school sophomores.

TBOS got to sit in with the band as they worked with local filmmaker, Gil Tabasa, who will be directing the music video for their single, “Paper Prisons”.

HOAT reflect on how they got their start playing music, why they have become successful, and their upcoming concept series.

You can hear the interview below!


ARIZONA METAL

Your Arizona Metal staff welcomes you to the month of March by giving you another installment of Damage Inc., the best metalcast this side of the Loop-101. John Brady, Tom Kushibab, and noob radio personality Alec Damiano bring you information on the latest metal releases and shows around the greater-Phoenix area, and update you on the shows soon to blow through venues near you. Also, be sure to listen to opinions on women in metal, how relevant metal music might be to the college environment (if at all), and the ongoing power struggles on the interwebz. Damage Inc. airs every Saturday at noon on The Blaze 1330 AM and http://www.blazeradioonline.com, but you can always find the latest episodes right here on Arizona Metal. Now, click that brilliant blue link below and buckle up.

This week’s featured local artist/song: Ursus Colossus – “Eidolon”
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ursuscolossus
Bandcamp: http://www.ursuscolossus.bandcamp.com

Damage Inc. 3-2-13 by

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Video

Beliebers, Meet The Real (Concertgoing) World

Justin Bieber was two hours late to one of his concerts, and fan outrage made national news (including CNN)!

WHY is this on a metal blog?

Bands like Guns N’ Roses are notorious for being late to their shows, yet metalheads don’t make a big deal about it. It is wise to plan accordingly when you attend a concert.

This video shows some of the many differences between the pop and metal fanbases.


Video

Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe Acquitted in Manslaughter Case (vlog)

Thoughts on Randy Blythe’s manslaughter trial.


Interview with Frosthelm

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Frosthelm is number one on the ReverbNation metal charts in North Dakota. They will be working with Ralph Santolla (Death, Decide, Obituary), and are in the process of recording their first full-length album, which will be mixed by Grammy winner Matt Hyde (Slayer, Skeletonwitch).

TBOS got the chance to speak to bassist and co-founder Jim Cherry. You can hear the full chat below!

Their EP, “The North Winds Rend Flesh,” is available on iTunes.

CORRECTION (3/5/13): Ralph Santolla will be working on Frosthelm’s next album. Matt Hyde will be mixing and mastering the current album, not producing it.