May 22 & 23, 2010 at Crew Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
by Chris A. & Deb Rao
[author: Chris A.] It’s the fourth time Columbus has hosted the “Rock on the Range” festival and by the size of the audience you’d never know there was any kind of economic crisis. With approximately 50,000 people attending each day, “Rock on the Range” is proving to be “the” show of the year in the upper Midwest of the United States. Three stages, 30-plus bands, dozens of vendors and lots of creative merchandise for sale, it’s a big party and a very good time. As with past years, there were three stages; the Monster Stage was the main stage inside the Columbus Crew Stadium while the Kicker Stage was located on the north side of the stadium and the smaller Jaegermeister Stage was positioned on the south. “Rock on the Range” has always been a great place for upstart “baby bands” to get some exposure plus they don’t seem to shy away from including diverse acts on the bill. In the case of Rock on the Range, a show known primarily as a “metal festival” it was interesting that the show would be opened and closed by rap oriented acts. Headliners for Saturday on the Monster Stage were, “Rise Against”, “Three Days Grace” and “Godsmack”. On Sunday the main bands were, “Seether”, “Rob Zombie” with “Limb Bizkit” closing the festival.
Despite a damp start to Saturday, gray clouds and occasional sprinkles didn’t appear to hold the crowd back as the yellow benches in Crew Stadium started to disappear as fans arrived to the show. At noon, the show started with Windsor, Ontario Detroit Tigers fan, “Richy Nix,” a tall thin white-guy from Ontario, rapping to metal. Twenty minutes later on the main stage, “Sevendust” exploded into their set, erasing any memories of cockeyed baseball caps and robotic hand gestures, with in-your-face metal intensity. Nearly 11 hours later the sound of electric guitars and the gritty metal of “Godsmack” faded as day-one came to an end.
Sunday was a glorious day, blue skies, beautiful hot sun and no indication of rain. At noon, “Shaman’s Harvest” a great young band, opened the show on the Kicker stage. Over the course of the next 11 hours Apocalyptica performed its brand of “metal”. Australian metal band “Airbourne” made a lot of friends and demonstrated why we all love blues-based rock ‘n’ roll! At nearly 10 pm, Fred Durst and the now out-of-seclusion “Limb Bizkit” capped off an incredible two-days of great music.
With three stages and almost invariably two running at one time, it was impossible for anyone to see all the bands. As seems to be the case with Columbus rock ‘n’ roll crowds, the fans were very mellow at Rock on the Range. It was a big party with lots of beer and thousands of friends. Sitting back and observing, It was amazing to watch the incredibly orderly procession of thousands of people snaking along the paths to get from stage to stage. Venue security, the Columbus Police Department (who were there in numbers) were extremely fan-friendly and were clearly there to keep an eye on things and to snatch up the occasional drunk-moron who got a bit too out of hand.
Each performance day started at 12 noon and for the most part the show stayed on time and ran smoothly. “Rock on the Range” 2010 was a very successful event with great bands and thousands of happy fans. Keep any eye here for interview articles from John 5, Airbourne and others from the weekends show. For more information on “Rock on the Range” visit www.rockontherange.com You can also see my photos of “Rock on the Range” by visiting www.chrisa.us
Rock on the Range Photo Gallery
Photos appear courtesy of Chris A. and Deb Rao
[author: Deb Rao] As thousands of rock fans descended to Columbus, Ohio at Crew Stadium, one thing was for certain the sporting venue was turned into a rock and roll extravaganza for one of the most anticipated events of the summer Rock On The Range 2010. The event promised to feature one of the most solid line-ups to date. This year Rock On The Range was hosted by Mistress Juliya and broadcast live by Nikki Sixx and his new hit radio show Sixx Sense.
Tattoos, body jewelry and rock clothing venders filled the area to the hilt. The crowd featured a young audience and some older fans of the older bands. One of the most exciting aspects of this year’s line-up on May 22 headlined by Boston’s Godsmack with the diversity to the line-up. ROTR featured the best in punk, alternative, hip-hop and hard rock cutting edge bands making an impact in music today. The festival featured three stages of music included the Jager Stage. Kicker Stage, and Monster Stage. I found myself mostly stationed at the Kicker Stage but after the days shooting of that stage was over, I managed to catch full sets of Rise Against, Three Days Grace, and Godsmack. More on the main acts later.
My journey began early in the morning from Boston, as my flight landed in Columbus, Ohio a tad late due to flight delays. But no worries a full day of music was ahead of me. One of the first acts I had the pleasure of seeing was Eleven Seven Music recording artists Drowning Pool on the Monster Stage. This band is one of the hardest working bands in music today. Singer Ryan McCombs has picked up the pieces and breathed new life into the band. As the sun tried to break through the ominous clouds, Drowning Pool heated up the stage with a set that included these songs,”Enemy,” “Sinner”,”37 Stitches,” Feel Like I Do”,”Regret”,”Tear Away”, and “Bodies.”
Next up on the Monster Stage was Puddle of Mudd who is in the midst of a successful headlining tour. Puddle Of Mudd is best when performing at festivals like this. Lead frontman Wes Scantlin always manages to get the crowd rolling and today’s performance was no exception. The band opened with the ferocious “Control”, as Wes took full control of the moment and the mosh pits began. Slammin’ into new song “Spaceship’ let the party begin as Wes yelled,”What’s up Motherf***ers?” Highlight of the set with fists in the air included the AC/DC cover “TNT.”
I proceeded to make my way to the Kicker Stage to catch one of the most exciting and promising acts of the day Halestorm. Mistress Juliya introduced the band as Lzzy Hale dressed in a black and red dress and hit the stage with a set that was clearly mesmerizing. Halestorm opened their set with “It’s Not You.” The ’80s had Heart and Pat Benetar as the reigning rock queens. Well, this is the Millennium and Lzzy Hale most definitely deserves the title as best new female of the decade. Lzzy can rock with the best of them and Halestorm clearly won the title for best act on the Kicker Stage at ROTR 2010.
It was great to see all the female musicians performing here today. Next up another great band that gave an outstanding performance was Christian rock band Skillet. Fronted by John Cooper, his wife Korey Cooper on guitar was also spellbinding. Jen Ledger was featured on drums. The band also featured a cello and violin, which added a nice flavor to the hard rock sound. Highlights of the set were the songs “Hero”, and “Monster.”
The Kicker Stage featured some of the best acts all day. Next up Killswitch Engage made Massachusetts proud. It was exhilarating to see all the talent from the Mass area here today. Highlight of the Killswitch Engage set was when singer Howard Jones dedicated the song “Holy Diver” to the legendary Dio. Metal horns in the air. May you rest in peace.
Throughout the day many of the bands held meet and greets including Adelita’s Way and Puddle Of Mudd. It was great to see the inter-action between fans and bands. This festival is all about the music. The rock stars left their attitudes at the door and chatted with the fans and showed their appreciation.
The event was blessed by the weather this year as the sun finally broke through the crowds with temperatures in the 80′s. Finally, the Kicker Stage music was over and now it was time to enjoy the Monster Stage. The floor began to fill up to capacity for The Deftones. I spoke with many fans who were eager to see the band. The Deftones took full advantage of the set premiering many new songs from their latest release Diamond Eyes. They are definitely one of the best punk rock bands around; true pioneers.
One of the most promising acts on the Monster Stage was Rise Against. I never heard of them before and really enjoy their high-energy set. The award for most promising act on the Monster Stage would have to go to Three Days Grace. This is a band that you associate all their hits on the radio when you hear them they play live and you go “I know that song.” This was my first time seeing this Canadian band perform live and I have to say I was very impressed by Adam Gontier vocals. Sporting a black hat, Adam and company delivered a set that was powerful and poignant. Adam is the master of love gone wrong songs. I highly enjoyed the “I Hate Everything About You.”
Boston’s Godsmack was the headliner on the Monster Stage and did Boston Proud. Sully Erna took full control of the Mid-western crowd and showed them how we rock in Boston. Their set list included
Godsmack Set List:
Straight Out of Line
War and Peace
Cryin’ Like a Bitch
Batalla de los Tambores
Spotted in the audience, was Jackass star Jason Acuna. Actually, he was sitting in back of me with a beret of beauties on his lap. The announcer of the show commented that this years show broke all attendance records. Rock On The Range 2010 proved to be a haven for rock fans to unite and enjoy some of the best cutting edge bands in music today. It was a time to make new friends, spend time with old friends, and celebrate the exciting new wave of music today.
Special Thanks to the great staff of MSO for letting Hardrock Haven cover Rock On The Range 2010. Be sure to check out Rock On The Range interviews with Puddle Of Mudd, Sevendust, Richy Nix, and coming soon Adelita’s Way and Apocalyptica.
Rock On The Range May 22 Line-up:
Drowning Pool 1:40
Puddle of Mudd 2:55
Papa Roach 4:15
Rise Against 7:05
Three Days Grace 8:51
Richy Nix 12:00
Violent Soho 1:05
Adelita’s Way 2:20
Killswitch Engage 6:20
Like A Storm 12:00
Taddy Porter 1:05
Non Point 3:40
by Joe Mis
Modern Alchemy is the first release from New York progressive rockers Elysium Theory. This Hudson Valley quintet has put together a surprisingly mature and powerful debut album with eleven tracks of a unique mix of progressive rock and progressive metal.
Founded back in 2006 by four talented musicians from upstate New York, Elysium Theory took a long hard look around and in early 2009 found their ideal vocalist, and their patience has paid off. Displaying influences from the greats of progressive music (Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, etc.), these guys play together like a veteran band and have achieved a cohesive style and sound seldom heard on an indie debut release. With intense rhythm lines, mystical lyrics and energetic guitars too heavy to be considered pure progressive rock and sweeping keyboards and melodic vocals too light to be pure prog metal, Elysium Theory seems to straddle the two genres.
As with most progressive bands, Elysium Theory’s music is driven mostly by the rhythm section. Guitarist Tim Reid is a very good rhythm player and dials the intensity up and down as appropriate. His solo work is very good as well, and at no time does he try to dominate the sound. Keyboard player Benny Reyes is an excellent counterpart to Reid, laying down great riffs and trills, again without trying to dominate the music. These two make a fine team whether playing lead or rhythm. The guys at the bottom end are no slouches either, and further illustrate the underlying teamwork of the band. Bassist Jeff Fister is a very capable player and lays down great big booming bass lines and is equally at home during slow and moody passages. Drummer Ted Feeney is a great partner, blasting out solid drum lines and handling the many progressive tempo changes with style. Lead vocalist and newest band member Dan Peterson is a good prog singer, definitely in the mold of Dream Theater’s James LaBrie. He does not have LaBrie’s awesome dynamic range (but then who does?), but he uses his voice very well and is always enthusiastic, crisp and clear.
The key to Elysium Theory’s music is indeed the above-mentioned teamwork. The band functions like the proverbial “well-oiled machine” and there are no prima donnas here, again something not commonly heard on debut releases. The band also did their own production and engineering and delivers an almost “live” performance without using massive amounts of audio trickery. Aside from some overdubs on the vocal tracks and light layering of keys and guitars, this is a very “simple” and clean recording that suits the band well. Musically that songs are well crafted and diverse in tempo and structure, and all feature solid arrangements and smart lyrics focusing on the mystic…
“Lorimer’s Pulse” opens the album on a high as a very slick progressive instrumental, leaving no doubts as to what will follow. “Modern Alchemy” features all the progressive metal/rock characteristics: metaphysical lyrics, heavy keys, punchy bass and drums, a great guitar solo and the requisite numerous tempo changes. A bit of electronica gets tossed into the dark and creepy “Spiritcom,” while “All Seeing Eye” bounces and bubbles along driven by the bass and drums. “Beyond Yourself” is packed with fine guitar work, solid keyboards and uplifting lyrics, and “The Source” gives Peterson the opportunity to push his voice to the limit (which he only very slightly exceeds).
“Chaos” changes the tone to intense and pounding, driven by the drums, while “Russian Winter” follows with a very smooth and fluid melody, driven by well played guitars and keys. “River In The Sky” is a softer rock piece, but not quite a ballad – and is well done all around. “Blacklight Reflection” delivers more of a straight up high-energy rock groove, and “Intrigued By Faith” wraps the album with solid and thought-provoking words.
There are not many negatives here. Modern Alchemy can almost be classed as a “concept album” which inherently limits their choice of subject matter. As Elysium Theory matures their lyrical focus should begin to branch out and their musical themes become more diverse, thus broadening their commercial appeal.
Elysium Theory is a band that has worked hard, and has truly earned the loyal following they’ve acquired. With a little luck they’ll land a solid record deal and continue to make good music. Overall this is a fine debut, and any fan of progressive rock or metal will find Modern Alchemy enjoyable. The CD is available from CD Baby and Amazon, so definitely give it a listen.
Genre: Progressive Rock
Dan Peterson (vocals)
Ted Feeney (drums)
Jeff Fister (bass)
Tim Reid (guitar)
Benny Reyes (keyboards)
1. Lorimer’s Pulse
2. Modern Alchemy
4. All Seeing Eye
5. Beyond Yourself
6. The Source
8. Russian Winter
9. River In The Sky
10. Blacklight Reflection
11. Intrigued By Faith
Hardrock Haven rating: 8.5/10
by Justin Gaines
It seems odd in the DVD era to encounter a live album without a video counterpart, but that’s exactly what we get with In Real Time, the latest release from veteran rocker John Waite. In Real Time is the first live recording (the handful of live tracks on 2001’s Live & Rare aside) from Waite, who has enjoyed highly successful runs with The Babys and Bad English as well as a long and equally successful solo career.
Despite 30+ years in the business, Waite’s voice still sounds remarkably good, and he and his band seem to have some real energy and chemistry on this set. Waite solo hits “Change,” “Head First” and especially “Missing You” sound completely vital. “Head First” is particularly rocking. Aside from his solo material, Waite revisits a pair of The Babys’ best hits with “Back On My Feet Again” and “Head First” as well as Bad English hits “Best Of What I Got” and, lamentably, “When I See You Smile.” Sorry, but that song is a contender for worst power ballad ever, and needs to be retired.
His cover of the Led Zeppelin classic “Rock and Roll” was a major surprise. For some reason, you just don’t expect a singer like John Waite to try his hand at a Led Zeppelin tune, especially not such a boisterous one. Even more surprising – Waite and company do a damn fine job at it, making it one of the album’s high points.
Aside from the two minutes spent introducing the band and leading up to “New York City Girl,” In Real Time is a tight, energetic live performance that gets right to the hits. It’s a high quality recording overall as well, which isn’t always a given with live releases. It’s probably not an essential John Waite album, but fans of The Babys. Bad English and/or Waite’s solo career should find In Real Time quite enjoyable. It’s just a shame there isn’t a DVD release to go with it.
John Waite (v)
Billy Wilkes (d)
Tim Hogan (b)
Luis Maldonado (g)
2. Back On My Feet Again
3. In Dreams
4. Every Time I Think Of You
5. Band Intro
7. New York City Girl
8. Best Of What I Got
9. Missing You
10. Head First
11. Rock and Roll
12. When I See You Smile
Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10
by Derric Miller
Guitarist John LeCompt of We Are the Fallen checked in with Hardrock Haven to talk about the new band and their debut Tear the World Down; why they chose “Bury Me” as the debut single; the success of the new album; how the songwriting works in the band; upcoming tour dates including the Download Festival; a few words about Dio and Paul Gray; and a whole lot more.
We Are the Fallen features former Evanescence bandmates and is fronted by former American Idol contestant Carly Smithson. Tune in now to get to know their talented guitarist, and pick up Tear the World Down immediately thereafter …
(If the embedded player doesn’t populate, click here to stream the interview in a stand alone player.)
May 26, 2010 by Managing Editor
by Derric Miller
Lead singer/guitarist Steve Handel of Seventh calling checked in with Hardrock Haven to talk about the brand new debut release Epidemic; why they went with the song “Epidemic” as the title track; how they define their sounds, and if it’s somewhere between Slayer and Metal Church; the upcoming tour; specific songs like “Paid in Blood” and the 9-minute opus “Beyond (The Wicked Lies);” and a whole lot more.
Handel is a talented guitarist and METAL singer, and Seventh Calling is another one of those bands who are rebranding what the term “American Heavy Metal” really means. Tune in now to get to know Seventh Calling’s frontman, and pick up Epidemic immediately thereafter.
(If the embedded player doesn’t populate, click here to stream the interview in a stand alone player.)
May 15, 2010 at Liberty Memorial, Kansas City, MO.
by John Kindred & Shawna McHenry
Rockfest always is advertised as a festival that keeps the average fan from shelling out wads of money. The organizers, radio station 98.9 The Rock and AEG Live, provide a days’ worth of entertainment with fairly low-cost ticket prices, food and drink prices capped at a maximum of $5 per item and readily available free water.
This year, thunder and rain marked the festival most of the day. Fans made the best of it, enjoying the music despite the lack of sun. This certainly was the one of the coldest and wettest Rockfests to date. Concertgoers have billed the day as “Mudfest 2010” on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Some imaginative fans created a mudslide, and concertgoers who took the journey down the water-soaked hill encased themselves in mud.
Two stages provided the day’s musical entertainment. Fifteen bands followed a predefined rotation that kept the music rumbling throughout the afternoon and well into the evening, which was topped off by fireworks. With this year’s headliner being Godsmack, fans truly were able to embrace some of the day’s popular hard rock and metal bands.
The second stage, sponsored by Monster Energy Drink, was given more attention to make it bigger and better than previous years. The raising of the stage by several additional feet provided crowds a better viewing of the bands. Apparently, this sparked the second stage bands to take their live performances to the next level. The highlight of the day included Airbourne’s front man, Joel O’Keefffe, climbing 20 feet up the stage scaffolding for an old-school guitar solo. Their energy and classic hard rock sound got fans out of the dreary day’s slump and back into a rock festival mood.
The spirited festival event continues to bring an economic boost to the Kansas City area, if only just for a day. The festival also caters to a younger crowd, which maybe wouldn’t have had the income to drop on a more expensive event. However, long lines for frequent food and beverage runs continued to empty wallets. And hanging out with a bone-crushing crowd of 55,000 definitely leads to claustrophobia. In the end, promoters and fans find Rockfest a win/win event.
Main Stage Monster Energy Stage
1:30 – Halestorm
2:40 – Rev Theory
3:50 – Drowning Pool
5:00 – Papa Roach
6:30 – Seether
8:00 – Three Days Grace
9:30 – Godsmack
Monster Energy Stage
12:00 – Taddy Porter
1:00 – Shaman’s Harvest
2:10 – Adelitas Way
3:20 – Burn Halo
4:30 – The Veer Union
6:00 – Janus
7:30 – Airbourne
9:00 – Five Finger Death Punch
Kansas City Rockfest Photo Gallery
by Derric Miller
The headhunters known as Krokus are back, and even after over 30 years of churning out powerful, anthemic Hard Rock masterpieces, with their new release Hoodoo, the band has proven that when you are this good … there’s no reason to stop.
The band’s first single, “Hoodoo Woman,” is a blues-tinged rocker highlighting everything that makes Krokus timeless: dirty, sleazy and superior vocals from singer Marc Storace along with guitarist Fernando von Arb’s signature riffing and effortless style. Talent alone won’t get you by, though–you have to write songs people actually want to hear. And that’s why they picked “Hoodoo Woman” as the first single, because it’s got “hit” written all over it.
Krokus isn’t allergic to covering classic songs. In fact, their cover of Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz” certainly put them all over the map, at least in the States. It’s still a tad strange for Krokus to go the uber-covered route of “Born to Be Wild.” It’s one of the kind of songs you will want to hear once, and probably pass it over for the new content on Hoodoo. (That being said, they have made every biker in world thrilled by bringing this Steppenwolf classic to the forefront again.)
“Ride Into the Sun” is one of those songs that you will keep coming back to, time and time again. It’s not a ballad, like “Screaming in the Night,” but it certainly haunts in the same vein. It’s darker, an ominous composition atypical for Krokus. You are going to hear a real Led Zeppelin vibe to it at times. When you read the lyrics, violent yet poetic, you will understand Krokus found a dark well of inspiration to pen this tune.
The next single and video is “Too Hot,” and this is exactly the kind of song you want from Krokus. They’ve been compared to AC/DC a few times, and it’s a fair comparison, although Krokus writes with a far greater sense of melody than AC/DC. But still, the simplistic yet hooky as hell song should have you guzzling whiskey and tearing your clothes off and dancing like a fool, in whatever order suits you at the time.
If you REALLY want to know why AC/DC and Krokus have a lot in common, just listen to the opening bars and vocals on “Dirty Street.”
One somewhat bereft aspect to Hoodoo is that they didn’t bother going the ballad route. Songs like “Keep Me Rolling” and the closer “Firestar” are all uptempo rockers, sort of the signature bluesy style Krokus originated in the ’70s, evolved in the ’80s and perfected ever since. Still, perhaps something along the lines of the aforementioned “Screaming in the Night” instead of the cover would have made Hoodoo that much better.
With mixing efforts by Dennis Ward and production from founder/bassist Chris Von Rohr, and some of the best songwriting Krokus has accomplished in years, Hoodoo is more than just a wake up call of “hey, we are back!.” Hoodoo is proof that Krokus is simply one of the best Hard Rock bands ever, and, that they aren’t stopping any time soon …
Genre: Hard Rock
Marc Storace (vocals)
Fernando von Arb (guitar)
Chris von Rohr (bass)
Mark Kohler (guitar)
Freddy steady (drums)
1. Drive It In
2. Hoodoo Woman
3. Born To Be Wild
4. Rock N Roll Handshake
5. Ride Into The Sun
6. Too Hot
7. In My Blood
8. Dirty Street
9. Keep Me Rolling
10. Shot Of Love
Hardrock Haven rating: 7.9/10
by Joe Mis
Touch The Sky – Volume I is the official debut of Texas-based Christian rockers Supernal Endgame. Essentially a trio of multi-instrumentalists, Supernal Endgame is joined by numerous guest musicians, and together they put together a mellow and spiritual progressive rock album.
Formed 10 years ago by keyboardist/guitarist John Eargle and vocalist/drummer Rob Price, Supernal Endgame blends progressive rock with ambient electronica and some pop elements to create a mellow and unique sound. Add in the Christian spiritual lyrics and Supernal Endgame becomes something truly different. The listener needs to keep in mind that this is truly a Christian rock album, so if you have trouble with religious themes you may want to avoid this release. If not, then read on…
Vocalist and drummer Rob Price has a fine voice – deep, resonant and fluid. He sings calmly and quietly throughout the album, always clear and understandable – and with a great enthusiasm for the lyrics. John Eargle lays down some great keyboard riffs and some nice and simple guitar lines, and Dan Pomeroy’s guitar work is deft and fluid. The many guest musicians blend in seamlessly and do not in any way distract from the core music of Supernal Endgame. Numerous well done violins and mandolins add to the ethereal mood of the disc.
At times the music evokes thoughts of Rush, Yes, or the Steve Morse Band, while at others the influence of Dream Theater is obvious. Supernal Endgame’s musicianship is excellent, and their songwriting skills are well developed. Their arrangements are deep and complex as one would expect from anything labeled “progressive”, yet the melody always seems to come to the forefront. Sometimes ’70s and sometimes symphonic, Touch The Sky seems to be trying to do just that…
Undoubtedly the musical highlight is the 10-minute plus “Still Believe”. It features great vocals and big sweeping guitar passages laid over some mellow keyboard lines. “Psalm 51” opens with an amazingly heavy bass line that is quickly overlaid by a tin whistle and tribal drums, demonstrating the band’s musical versatility. “Disclosure” is an instrumental chocked full of great keys and percussion, while “Fall To My Knees” has an almost country-pop-rock feel to it. All of the other tracks are musically interesting pieces, and all performed with a great deal of passion. They mix electrics and acoustics, vary tempos within tracks, and sometimes get a little heavy, but never cross over into hard rock or metal.
The only negative here is the simple fact that by limiting themselves to fully Christian music they are also limiting themselves to a small subset of topics and styles, thus sacrificing a good deal of commercial appeal. Any of the songs on this album could be played at an outdoor concert or in the middle of a church worship service, and while each track by itself is very good by the middle of the album most casual listeners will begin to drift away. Touch The Sky is a long CD with 14 tracks in total, and by the time track 8 or 9 rolls around you’ll be waiting for the band to really cut loose and mix it up, but sadly that does not happen.
Overall, Supernal Endgame’s first attempt is a fine one. There is no doubt that the band is passionate and secure in their beliefs. As the liner notes indicate, they tried and succeeded in making a “worship” album. By being so evangelical they are giving up some commercial appeal, but wide commercial success does not seem to be the band’s overall goal. Unlike fellow Christian rockers Mehida or the latest release from Pillar, this band is not the least bit subtle about their themes.
If you are not into the Christian rock scene the overly religious themes will seem overbearing and heavy handed, but if you are a fan of the genre and looking for good progressive rock, then this album is a winner. Musically solid but a little long winded at times, Supernal Endgame should be able to make a major impact on both the Christian and progressive rock scenes.
Genre: Christian Rock, Progressive Rock
John Eargle (guitars, keyboards, bass, backing vocals)
Rob Price (drums, lead vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar)
Dan Pomeroy (guitars, mandolin, tin whistle, backing vocals)
Guest Musicians: Tom More (bass, keyboards), Dan Henderson: (bass), Brad “Baby” Bibbs (violin, mandolin, percussion), Roine Stolt (guitar), Randy George (bass), Tony Narvarte (keyboards), Katie Price (violin), Mike Musal (tympani and shakers), and Randy Lyle (violin).
1. Everlasting Fanfare (pt. 1)
2. Still Believe
3. Psalm 51
5. Fall To My Knees
7. Loving Embrace
9. In Your Hands
10. Gossamer Strings
11. You Reached Down
12. At Play In The Fields
13. Perfect Grace
14. Everlasting Fanfare (pt 2)
Label: ProgRock Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 7.5/10
by Justin Gaines
2009’s Goons and Masters is the debut offering from Swedish band Oblivious. When a band cites Clutch and Dozer as primary influences, you pretty much know you’re in for a grooving stoner rock album, and that’s exactly what Oblivious delivers.
Aside from the expected groove and Sabbath/Pentagram worship guitar riffage, there is also a ‘70s rock vibe on Goon and Masters. Think Foghat or Grand Funk Railroad, only, you know, doomier. There’s also that uniquely Swedish sense of melody which makes Oblivious sound like the Scandinavian equivalent of Fireball Ministry. It’s heavy, but up-tempo.
Isak’s gravelly vocals only add to the heaviness. It all adds up to a totally rocking album that has all of the expected heaviness but remains accessible to the average rock fan. Leadoff track “Egoboy” is one of the album’s highlights, rocking with plenty of swagger. “Bring It On Me” is another winner, mainly because it sounds like something inadvertently left off Sabbath’s Master of Reality album. The whole album rocks with a similar energy. You end up enjoying it because it sounds so familiar.
Goons and Masters is a completely solid, completely enjoyable stoner rock album. It’s also completely forgettable. As much as you may be nodding your head while this album is playing, as soon as it ends you’ll be hard-pressed to remember what you just heard. The bottom line is that while Oblivious will undoubtedly appeal to serious stoner rock fans, you’re probably better off spinning one of your old Clutch albums or the latest from The Company Band.
Genre: Stoner Rock
3. Red Eyed Goon
4. Master of Time
5. Kickin and Screamin
6. Bring It On Me
7. Dead End Night
8. Boiling Brain
9. Bide Your Time
10. Blind Faith
Hardrock Haven rating: 6/10
by Justin Gaines
2009’s VR is the third full-length album from Fury UK. The Manchester band has a sound that’s hard to pin down, falling somewhere between hard rock and metal. The band cites influences like Dream Theater, Metallica and Dio, but they may be closer to Subhuman Race-era Skid Row with a gritty NWOBHM edge.
The lyrical content of VR is positively grim, recalling some of those fatalistic thrash metal themes of the early ‘90s like politics, religion and war. The lyrics suit the overall tone of the album though, which is fairly dark. Guitarist/lead vocalist Chris Appleton somehow manages to thrash away while still maintaining a sense of melody and delivering the occasional hard rock hook. Unfortunately he’s not the best vocalist. The band could really benefit from a dedicated lead singer; someone with enough power to make these songs really stand out. Appleton’s voice just isn’t strong enough or distinctive enough to compete with brother Luke Appleton and Martin McNee’s thundering rhythms or his own impressive guitar work. The band might also benefit from some songwriting support. Their lyrics are intelligent enough, but the song structures could use some work.
VR is a completely solid, completely rocking album, but its “middle of the road” nature may end up hurting it. It may be too dark and heavy for rock fans, and not powerful enough for metal fans. The potential for greatness is definitely there, but Fury UK still has a ways to go.
Genre: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Chris Appleton (g/v)
Martin McNee (d)
Luke Appleton (b)
2. Game Over
3. The Hostage
4. Playing With Violence
5. The Outpost
6. The Human Condition
8. The Last Invention
9. Call To Arms
10. Death By Lightning
Hardrock Haven rating: 6.5/10
May 20, 2010 by Managing Editor
by Derric Miller
Krokus lead singer Marc Storace checked in with Hardrock Haven to talk about their brand new studio release Hoodoo; upcoming tour plans; how after 30-plus year he is still a vocal powerhouse; how specific songs like “Too Hot” were written; the cover of “Born to be Wild;” the passing of Ronnie James Dio; and a whole lot more.
Krokus is one of the legendary ’80s bands, and their brand new studio release sets the bar once again. Tune in now to catch up with one of Hard Rock’s legendary singers, and pick up Hoodoo as quickly as you can.
(If the embedded player doesn’t populate, click here to stream the interview in a stand alone player.)
May 20, 2010 by Publisher
by Deb Rao
SEVENDUST has just released one of their most anticipated, passionate, and personal albums of the year, Cold Day Memory. The Atlanta, Georgia rock band is currently on tour in support of their latest release and looking forward to performing at one of the biggest U.S. Festivals this Summer, Rock On The Range on May 22. To add to all of the excitement of this whirlwind year, Sevendust will be joining The Carnival Of Madness Tour this summer. Sevendust’s features original lineup – Lajon Witherspoon (vocals), Morgan Rose (drums/vocals), Clint Lowery (guitar/vocals), Vince Hornsby (bass/vocals) and John Connolly (guitar/vocals).
One of the reasons of the success of Sevendust’s latest release Cold Day Memory is due to the return of guitarist Clint Lowery. Clint, who re-joined the band two years ago makes his mark with vocals and with guitar arrangements that are passionate, and spellbinding textured around the melodically aggressive vocals of Lajon Witherspoon, Every song stands on its own personal and up-close inflicting lyrics that everyone can identify with at some point of our lives. From the hauntingly love gone wrong song “Forever Dead” to their new hit single “Unraveling.” Cold Day Memory touches upon every aspect of life. The good, the bad, the trials and tribulations that we endure are all exposed in an album this is well crafted from start to finish. Sevendust return to the scene energized with a sound that is larger than life.
Guitarist Clint Lowery gives us an up close and personal look of his track-by-track account of Cold Day Memory. Clint also discusses the current Sevendust tour, Rock On The Range, and upcoming Carnival of Madness Tour at Hardrock Haven. Clint Lowery of Sevendust on Rock On The Range,”Yes, it is going to be awesome. It is always nice to be part of that thing. That festival has taken on some legs. It is a huge deal. It is probably of the biggest ones in the U.S. right now. It feels good to be part of it, playing there with our piers. To play in that competitive atmosphere is great.”
HRH: Sevendust is currently on tour. I know the band is playing your hometown of Atlanta on Friday. How is the tour going so far?
CLINT: The tour is going good so far. We have been out for a long time so this is just like another day in the office. We are excited on the new record being out and playing new material. So that is good.
HRH: I have heard the new album. It is fantastic. Tell us about the writing process.
CLINT: It usually starts with John and I. We have the seeds of the music. Then we get together and play through it. On this record the guys let me do a lot of the writing. I have been gone for three records. I got involved a lot on the vocals and lyrics and everything. It is always a group effort in the end. It takes all of us to do it. I have a lot of drive on this record. I really wanted to put my two cents in. I had a good time doing it.
HRH: Do you think the band has come full circle now that you returned to the mix?
CLINT: Yes, in a way it made me appreciate the band a lot more. The guys are my brothers. It is our lively hood and we take it real serious.
HRH: What prompted you to return to the band? I know you said you were gone five years and recently returned two years ago to the band.
CLINT: Just the fact that it is family. It was all down to being happy the way you want to live. Those guys I am comfortable with them. They are my family. It was a creative decision that I thought would be the best thing. It was an emotional, personal decision as well.
HRH: The new single is called “Unraveling.” Is there a new video out for the single too?
CLINT: There is a collage of the making of the record. It is just us in the studio. But the video is on MTV 2 or you can watch it on our official website.
HRH: Sevendust is going to be performing at Rock On The Range on May 22. Are you looking forward to performing the new material to the masses at one of the most anticipated festivals of the year?
CLINT: Yes, it is going to be awesome. It is always nice to be part of that thing. That festival has taken on some legs. It is a huge deal. It is probably of the biggest ones in the U.S. right now. It feels good to be part of it, playing there with our piers. To play in that competitive atmosphere is great.
HRH: Also, it was just announced that Sevendust is going out on the road with Shinedown on the Carnival of Madness Tour. Are you looking forward to this tour?
CLINT: Yes, that is going to be awesome.
HRH: How do you think Sevendust has evolved since back in the day?
CLINT: It is just natural things. We get older, we get more experience. We find a shortcut to do things. You kind of have to challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone. You just grow. Things change. The things that you like change. I think the music kind of reflects that.
HRH: I noticed on this album too that Cold Day Memory is full of melody. How difficult was it to go through all the guitar structure and tones? Did you have anything specifically in mind when writing the album?
CLINT: No, we just kind of wanted to do what was natural to us. That always seemed to work. Sometimes it ends up a little melodic and sometimes it ends up really aggresive. We just wanted to have all of those flavors. Because we can do it. We have a lot of different singers. A lot of different textures that we can add to our music that some bands don’t. We utilized it all.
HRH: Clint, is there anything else that you want to say about the new album?
CLINT: I want to thank everyone for the great response for it. We appreciate every bit of it.
Sevendust Clint Lowery Track By Track of Cold Day Memory
l. “Splinter”- “That is the one we wanted to re-capture our childhood with an Iron Maiden metal type of thing. There was a lot of high energy when we did that. We knew that was going to be the first one on the record.”
2. “Forever Dead”- “Is kind of a dysfunctional kind of love song. Are you going to be stuck with me forever? That is what the topic of it. It is a great love song.”
3. “Unraveling”- I wrote with Dave Bassette. Basically, we wanted to talk about the exposing of either a parent or a authority figure of some kind that is fake and let you down when you rally needed them.
4. “Last Breath” -”Is kind of a last I will to go my grave kind of saying. I will keep trying to get through hard times until I am gone.”
5. “Karma” – “Karma is basically self explanatory. It is about calling yourself out on the things that you do. When you make mistakes you are going to pay for them. When you do good you are going to be rewarded.”
6. “Ride Insane” – “Trying to get lost riding motorcycles.”
7. “Confessions (Without Faith)” – “Confessions is our band’s story. Our situation as brothers and what we go through as a band together.”
8. “Nowhere” – “This is one of the funniest songs we had doing. It is just a song about the way the world is. How we all kind of follow the media and all that stuff like a cattle kind of things.”
9. “Here And Now” – “That is about I am in desperate need of support or help. It is kind of like having run ins waking up the next day after you exerted yourself a lot. You’re just in.”
10. “The End Is Coming” – “It is just the basic truth that the end comes for everyone. No matter what.”
11. “Better Place” -”Is about my personal fight with drugs and alcohol. My years of struggle with that. I thought I would write a song about it.”
12. “Strong Arm Broken” – “That is about an ex or someone you just want to beat the hell of.” (Laughter)
Visit Sevendust on the web: www.myspace.com/sevendust
May 20, 2010 by Publisher
by Deb Rao
One of the top acts in music today Puddle Of Mudd is gearing up for an exciting appearance at Rock On The Range at 2:55P.M on Saturday May 22. Puddle Of Mudd is currently burning up the airwaves with their second hit single “Stoned” off their fourth studio album, Volume 4: Songs In The Key Of Love And Hate.
The band just stormed through New England with near capacity crowds at the Webster Theatre in Connecticut, Hampton Beach Casino, and Higher Ground in Burlington, Vt. Part of the success of the new album and tour is due to the return of guitarist Paul Phillips. I recently had the opportunity to discuss the new Puddle Of Mudd album in-depth with Paul Phillips with a special Track By Track. Plus we discussed the band’s upcoming appearance at Rock On The Range, Carnival Of Madness Tour, guitars, and the passing of the legendary Ronnie James Dio.
HRH: Paul, Thank you so much for checking in with Hardrock Haven. Puddle Of Mudd is currently on the road in support of your latest release Volume 4: Songs In the Key Of Love And Hate. What have some of the highlights of the tour been so far? I know the band performed to great shows this past weekend in New England.
PAUL: I don’t know if there is any one particular one. I just love to play live. Any show has the potential to be the highlight of the tour when you have a good crowd and energy going back and forth. We just had a few in a row that were really good. I just enjoy playing live and having people out there singing the words and having a good time. .
HRH: I was at the show in Hampton Beach and the crowd was very enthusiastic about the new material. I noticed a whole new generation of younger fans at the show. How inspiring is this for you as an artist to see the fan base of the band grow since the Come Clean era?
PAUL: Yes, it is crazy. This year is the tenth Anniversary of Come Clean. So we have people that have kind of grown up with us throughout the years. Luckily, we came to having success with radio with our songs. This brings in a new audience. You will see these younger kids as well. And there are these families. We see people now bringing their kids. Older people bringing their kids. It is kind of cool that we can reach across that whole generation gap. It is pretty neat to have that happen.
HRH: The new single “Stoned” is burning up the airwaves in Boston on radio station WAAF. It also marks the return of you to the band. Do you think the album returns back to your early roots?
PAUL: I think a little more so than the last record. When I left, I left during the writing of the Famous record. We weren’t getting along. We weren’t working together well. Not a whole lot of things were happening. After I left, they kind of went the route of going with different songwriters to kind of help out with the record. It is a good record. But I think it went a little poppy and a little polished than what we have done before. I don’t know if we made a conscious effort to try to strip it down a little bit and be more of ourselves. That is just what happens when we get into a room together. I don’t know if it is anything that we ever discuss. We are not a band that writes in the same room together. We always write separate. We bring our ideas in. This time I was staying up in Wes’s house during the writing and recording. By proximity we had a lot of writing sessions together. We would bring them in to the band the next day and hash them out. Doug wrote some stuff on his own. It was definitely the most collaborative and friendly good vibe that we have had making a record. Which was great compared to what it was before.
HRH: I can see what you mean. Because on the Famous album too, I got that. Maybe it was just a bit too over-polished for then band. But this record has the right amount of elements from the Come Clean era including acoustic and electric. As a guitarist what kind of sounds were you looking to achieve on the new album.
PAUL: Thank you very much I appreciate that. I always wanted to rock. When this nu-metal was going on I tried to lean somewhere between that and a little classic rock. I tried to give it as much punch and clarity out of this as you can. Like you said, the acoustics we have always kind of use a lot of live acoustics a lot on some of the slower melody things. It is a constant battle. I am always trying to find that perfect tone. I think it is something that you can never reach. You always say I can do better if I do this.
HRH: I have seen both tours your headlining one and the recent one with Shinedown. I noticed the band is doing an acoustic portion of at the show. Are you enjoying this part of the show?
PAUL: I enjoy part of it. Because it is just Wes. I get to jump off the stage for a bit and cool down. I get like a little intermission in the middle. I jump around like a monkey so I get to catch my breath, and have a drink and come back up. It is cool to do that. I have always seen bands to that. I have enjoyed it. I have seen bands that actually have a whole change in scenery with a backdrop and all that and do a whole acoustic set. Zeppelin did that back in the day. They’re a lot of bands that have done it. It is just like taking a journey. We come out and rock and then you chill off a bit and bring a different vibe and bring it back up and finish off the show. It is something different to add to the show.
HRH: Tell us about the upcoming Carnival Of Madness Tour with Shinedown. What can the fans expect to see on this tour?
PAUL: Well, it is a little shorter set for us. Because there are so many bands on the bill. Basically, we are going to go out there and rock the hits. Throw in a few songs off of the new record and go out there and do our thing. The whole tour is all great friends of great bands and ours. It is a win win for us, as well for the fans who are buying the ticket. It is a cheap ticket price. It is going to be a great tour.
HRH: I know a lot of fans are really happy that you have returned to the band. There is a really definite impact on this album. What prompted your return to Puddle Of Mudd?
PAUL: I hadn’t talked to the guys since I had quit. I have seen Doug a couple of times. I hadn’t talked to Wes since the day I quit. I live in Jacksonville, Florida and they were part of a big radio show there. It is something like me and my friends go to every year. It is an all day hangout. They were telling me go. I was like I don’t want to go. I don’t want to see Puddle and have to be around all that. But I went to it and ran into everybody. We just hung out and started talking. Wes and me went to a bar later. Oddly, enough we were getting along and not fighting. We just started talking on the phone. It wasn’t even about me coming back to the band. It was like,”Hey how are you doing man?” One day I got a phone call and they said we are playing a show down and we want you to play. Come on back. I was like under those circumstances it would be under a much better vibe. So that is the only way I would have come back. I didn’t want to come back and be miserable again. So it was a much cooler vibe and I came right back in.
HRH: How do you think the band has evolved since the Come Clean release?
PAUL: Everybody is trying to become a better player and songwriter. I think as far as the song writing I don’t think we try to re-invent the wheel. There is a sound that we make and a sound that people like. We are not trying to go in and make some crazy concert record with like 13-minute songs. We keep our lyrics to everyday stuff. Keep it real and stuff like that. I mean hopefully we are evolving as players and in writing great songs. I don’t know if we are really trying to take our song writing somewhere else.
HRH: Tell us about the making of the new video “Stoned.” It is a really fun video to watch.
PAUL: It was fun to make. Sometimes you get those videos that just last all day long. We did this one really quick. We were on a tight schedule. We had a show the day before and after, so we had to cram it in all in one day. They said you got to smash some stuff in our office. I was like cool. I got there and they had a sledgehammer and I was like I definitely have to have that. That has to be mine. I have to use that. They had all the actors do their stuff first. We got in and smashed some stuff and played the song a few times and we were out. It was quick and easy.
HRH: Are you endorsed by PRS guitars?
PAUL: Yes, I am. They have been with me from the very beginning. They came basically the time the first single “Control” came out. I have been with them ever since. They have been good to me.
HRH: Puddle Of Mudd is getting ready for a very important show on Saturday May 22. The band goes on at 2:55 P.M. How important is it for the band to play to the masses your new material at ROTR?
PAUL: It is great when you get to play when you have that many good bands. When you get to play in front of more people than you normally do. You definitely want to have your A game on and put the best show on possible. There may be a lot of fans that haven’t bought the record. It is always an opportunity to get new fans. Our good buddy is the promoter of the show. He started Rock On The Range, so we always want to impress him. He is a hard critic.
HRH: Any bands that you are looking forward to seeing perform at ROTR?
PAUL: It is kind of bittersweet. I am really excited to see The Deftones. You may or may not know their bass player who is a friend of ours that was the first tour that we did with The Deftones got in a car accident. He has been in a coma for over a year now. They went ahead and got another bass player. They are back together. They have been gone for a while. I am super excited because I am a huge fan. They are good friends of mine. It is going to be weird without the original bass player knowing his circumstances. They had to continue on but it is a little weird with him being in a coma. He is on life support and the whole deal. It is terrible.
HRH: What are your thoughts on the passing of Ronnie James Dio? The Metal world was so saddened by this news.
PAUL: It is crazy when you lose anybody like that. Like an icon. It is like when you lost Michael Jackson. Regardless of what your opinions are or what not. I mean he was an icon. He is regarded as one of the best metal singers of all time. He had success with Dio and Rainbow and Black Sabbath. It is just weird when you know he is not doing the Heaven And Hell tour one day and one day he is dying of cancer. When he was doing the Heaven And Hell tour he was out there rocking. It is a sad day anytime when you lose anybody who put great music and art out to the world. He put some great music out in the world and it will live forever.
HRH: What are the future touring plans of the band? I know you have the Carnival Of Madness Tour this summer. Will the band remain on the road throughout the year?
PAUL: I think so. I think we will probably go the end of the year. Depending on the demand at that point, maybe start thinking about another record. I am pretty sure we will definitely be going at least to the end of the year.
HRH: Paul, do you have any advice for aspiring guitarists?
PAUL: Practice, practice, practice! It goes without saying. Practice with a metronome. Get your timing together. If you got friends or whatever that play guitar or drums you got to get out there and jam with them too. It is one thing to sit around and practice scales every day. If you don’t have your feel and your groove locked in that is the most important thing when you get into a band. There are a lot of people that aren’t that technically advanced. When they deal with people and start jamming they just get it. They do it. Most of the best guitar players are just all feel and they don’t know a note. They just know a note and know it sounds good and what feels good.
Hardrock Haven is proud to present a Track By Track Of Volume 4: Songs In The Key Of Love And Hate by Puddle Of Mudd Guitarist Paul Phillips:
l. Stoned -”That is basically a F*U* song. It has a lot to do with major labels. And other bands dealing with major labels. Anybody who is stuck in that corporate world and having to do something that they don’t always want to do. Unfortunately you get pressured into doing some things that you don’t want to do in the music industry as well. So basically it is like hey instead of looking up to you I like to be doing what I like to do. You can probably kind of figure that one out.”
2. Spaceship -”That was one that was at least 3 quarters of the way done when I came back to the band. We added a few extra parts in there to just spice it up a bit. We pretty much knew all of the time it was going to be the first single. It just had kind of that novelty feel that we do a lot. We went up to Vancouver and recorded that with Brian Howes. I am happy with it too. I think the guitars are slammin’ on it.”
3. Keep It Together – “This song is probably the one I am most proud of. That was one that I actually wrote when I was away from the band. It is something that I had sitting around. It was actually a lot slower when I originally wrote it. Then there was a way more difficult more guitar part in just the result of the way Wes was trying to sing and play the guitar. He started playing the way it is now. He played it faster instead of picking out all the crazy notes I had in there. He stripped it down. So that is the way it ended up. It got stripped down a lot and sped up a lot. To me that is our credit achievement on the record. I am really proud of that song.”
4. Out Of My Way -”Me and Wes have a habit of staying up late and drinking and writing songs. We have these little hand held recorders. That is one we wrote on the recorder in Vancouver in a hotel room and listened back to it three months later. Wes is like,” Do you remember writing that?” I am like I don’t remember writing that one either. That was funny. If I didn’t have that little hand held recorder that song would have been lost and it wouldn’t have made it.”
5. Blood On The Table -”This song is fun. I like to turn that into a driving song. When you speed you put on an up tempo song like that. That was a riff and vocals that Wes had sitting around for a while. He started playing. I am like,” What is that?” Wes said I wrote that a long time ago. I like that it is cool. I wrote a chorus to it. It is basically about fighting with people in close proximities. It has a lot to do with band frustrations. Sometimes you give everything you got to each other and you bleed for each other on a daily basis. Sometimes it can get frustrating if it is not returned in the same matter. If you feel like you are doing it more than somebody else. It can apply to any kind of relationship that you have. There has to be that equal thing. ”
6. The Only Reason – That was actually a song that I had nothing to do with. That one was written for Famous. It was recorded for Famous. It ended up not making Famous. But we always thought it was a good song. So we insisted on this record that it get put on the record. I always thought it should have been on the Famous record even though I wasn’t around. I always thought it was a really good song. It has got a cool time change in it. It goes from 3/4 to 4/4 which is pretty cool. So we just re-mixed it, so it is kind of cohesive with this record. So we put it on there.”
7. Pitchin’ A Fit – “That was fun. That is pretty much about me and Wes being up late and doing our thing.”
8. Uno Mas -”That is a Doug track that Doug brought in. It is a little punk rock jammer. When I first came back to play and listened to the demo at his house, I was like that is cool I like that. It has a good up-tempo beat. It never really backs down. It took Wes a while to write lyrics to it. We knocked that one out too.”
9. Better Place -”That about Wes’s cousin who overdosed on drugs. That was basically a letter to him. You are in a better place now. I miss ya. It was a heartfelt goodbye to him.”
10. Hooky -”That was a lot of fun to write. That riff was actually written by Wes’s son who was in the “Blurry” video. He is twelve now. He has started to rock the guitar pretty well. He was staying with Wes for the summer. We were hanging out. He started playing that riff. We were like we should write a song to it. So we started asking him,” What would you rather do today than go to school?” He is like,” I rather do this. I rather so that.” We ended up writing this whole song around him with his guitar riff and vocals. Then Wes changed some of the vocals. Some of the more risqué’ vocals came from Wes and not the twelve year old kid. A lot of them are the exact same thing that he came up with. It was kind of a joke. But then we thought it would totally make his life, if we went in and recorded this song. So we waited till he left and went into the studio and recorded it. Once we got the disc and played it for him, I have never seen anybody smile that way. He couldn’t believe something that he did was on record and we recorded it.”
by Deb Rao
Don’t miss Overkill on the Killfest Tour this Spring. Overkill front man Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth has checked in with Hardrock Haven for a detailed Track By Track of Ironbound.
HRH: I remember during our earlier interviews that Overkill has a distinctive sound that you really don’t stray to far way from the secret formula that launched your career and made you successful. In making Ironbound did you go back into your mindset of the early thrash days? What was running through your mind when making the album and what did you want to accomplish in the studio when recording your 15th album Ironbound?
Bobby: Yes, it is unbelievable. I don’t think anything ran through our minds specifically as the songs took shape and were assembled we were coming right off the road. That was really the X-factor with this. What made this record what it is the fact that in March we were touring and in April we started assembling. This is that little bit kick in the pants that can put it over the top. We did a lot of touring for Immortalis with a lot of fresh type touring for Immortalis with regard to our set list and with regards to bands that we toured with some of the younger thrash bands like Warbinger. But also some of the old school guys like ourselves in Exodus. So I think that when you come off like a Overkill/Exodus tour and go into the studio in April to start recording drum tracks you are really bringing the stage into the studio. That becomes that unseen element, unplanned element. Then all the plans go away, as you start achieving something that has more energy that you initially thought it would have. I really think that was the over the top element. The fact that we came off from the road and into the studio.
HRH: The core of Overkill still remains intact. You and bassist DD Verni are the only original members. You have drummer Ron Lipnicki, and guitarist Derek, and Dave. What was it like working with drummer Ron Lipnicki on this album and the rest of the band? How did everything fall into place with the newer members when recording this album?
Bobby: Ron has the best hands ever in Overkill. He really understands what to do with his hands. He is absolutely creative. He is a raw vital talent. When you have that raw creatively, it has the stallion vibe to it. Where it runs free. I think you run with the stallion instead of trying to put him into a pen. I think that really is something that he brought to the table here. That lifted everyone else’s energy up. He understands what he does in-depth and does it with a wide unbridle approach to it. So if you have that I think everyone rises to his level of energy. So it becomes kind of natural after awhile. You are just thinking of it is. Ron sets the tempo that we have to follow or it is not a good record and obviously the rest of us did.
HRH: Tell us about the Killfest Tour and what the fans can expect to see at this Thrash metal extravaganza?
Bobby: It is obviously a blend of everything the old and the new. It has been 25 years since the record Feel The Fire. We are going to lean on that record just a little bit. There is going to be just a few cuts from that and a few obscure ones. To rest on laurels would be wrong for this. Ironbound’s strength speaks for itself too. I think what we are going to do is do a blend of everything and out in a few of our hits or misses in there and some obscurity also with 3, 4, or 5 cuts from Ironbound. I think it is necessary to show the history of the band from start to present but really rely on the present with regard to performance. The package is going to contain us, Vader, Warbinger, God Dethroned, and Evile. It is going to be a good Thrash tour. It has been bumped up to a lot of big venues. Tickets are selling already. It is really kind of exciting to be involved in this resurrection of thrash at a higher level.
HRH: How do The European fans differ from American audiences?
Bobby: I don’t know that once the guitar note yeah know the first guitar note or drum note happens that they really differ anymore. I think that this has been really kind of a universal language now for a 25 or 30-year period in some cases. If somebody is a Megedeth fan in Germany, the U.K., or Japan as opposed to Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago, I think there is really the same kind of reaction that they get out of this. This really becomes a singular culture at that particular moment or for that length of the song. There are differenced with regards to promotion in Germany or the U.K. with regard to the U.S. I really think that now once you are playing it really doesn’t differ that much not as much as it used to. I think it has really been a learned experience. If that experience has been learned to this point it is really not a life style. People once they are in a life style understand it just universally.
Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth Track By Track of Ironbound:
The Green And Black – “This is kind of a testimonial with regard to understanding that this is just not about the five that make this music but about all that make this collectively happen. I think that with the Green and Black being our colors, it is really about those that bleed the Green and Black. How hard it is, hard easy it is, it has been both at certain times. They have always stayed therefore for 25 years we exist. ”
Ironbound – “We were throwing it back and forth, a whole bunch of different things. This was actually DD’s title. I had something that was Iron related; he had something that was Iron related. It is funny you work with a guy for thirty years you start understanding each other. I think that one of the things that was funny. I had something like Ironworks. He has Ironbound. Ironbound is actually a neighborhood in Newark, NJ. The reason it was named that it is right by the Port and all of the railroad tracks come out of there. They say that if you are above the Ironbound it looks like it is tied to the earth by metal ribbons. Because there is so many railroad tracks that go through there. We thought it was kind of the tip in the hat to let’s say local but at the same time it depicted our place in the scene with regard to being tied to the metal or tied to the iron. So I think that it was kind of cool to think locally yet act globally.
Bring Me The Night – “Bring Me The Night” is really simple. I think it is about understanding where you excel. Musically the song is such a throw back with regard to riff. Which makes me feel like I am almost when performing this song whether it is in video or rehearsal it almost seems like years that have gone by. I feel like it is a transition where the band started. But the really cool thing about it is the contemporary stand on the song. It lends itself to the older feel and at the same time gives a contemporary stand.”
The Goal Is Your Soul – “It is really musically out of the box type arrangements. One of the things I really like about this record in general is that sometimes he arranges songs with regard to standard. Sometime he goes so sub-standard or beyond standard that it is always a surprise.”
Give A Little – ” I that this one is really about arrangement with regard to lyrical content. It is a look at religion in general.”
Endless War – “I think we are what we are what we are. We will always be compared to that. All I did was compare the journey to let’s say the politics with social situations. Regardless of how big the situations seems whether it be endless or not in the world that many of those situations are also personal and affect those from singular to the family as opposed to let’s say world populations.”
The Head And Heart – “There was a book written in the 1600′s or about the first religious persecutions in the U.K. and how immigrations had started to the U.S. to stop that persecution. Really the song is about freedom.”
In Vain – “In Vain” is about citing your goals. I have to skip after this for The S.R.C., which is the tenth song, and about getting the goal or obtaining the goal. You cite the goal in “In Vain”. “If these are the rules to obtain what you need, “The S.R.C. is obtaining it. So I think two songs go together in some degree.”
Killing For A Living – “Autobiographical. Most of the spoken lyric through this or effective lyric in this song is really just from my own diary. It is really that simple. I think if somebody knows the band that well. They will be able to identify with every sentence in that. It is really about winning after being set up to lose. I am not saying it is a great accomplish of mine but it goes from everything and understanding you are a smaller part of things as opposed to the center of the wheel. If you understand that you are a smaller part. The successes come easier.”
The S.R.C. – “Refer to “In Vain.”
by John Kindred
Bassist Ben Kuzay’s sophomore release Perpetual Reign is an instrumental album that spotlights the bass guitar as the primary instrument. Shred bass, if you will, provides the listener with a unique perspective of the intricacies and nuances of the bass guitar when it isn’t held to the traditional boundaries of modern music. Kuzay was influenced by the likes of Geezer Butler, David Harbour, Steve Digiorgio and Stuart Hamm. He makes his a career as a full-time musician, recording and touring.
Perpetual Reign features eight songs, including “Homage to Hated Heroes,” in which Kuzay performs with one his heroes, David Harbour. The music falls into the hard rock and metal genres along with bits of neo-classical and technical performances. With an emphasis on lead bass performances, the guitars provide rhythm tracks to accent and help give the music its metallic nature. The guitars are significant enough that Kuzay embellishes his bass runs by mirroring them with the guitar. The album is not devoid of guitar solos or lead breaks, but they certainly are not the primary focus. The drums are typical for this kind of venture, providing a hard rock backdrop for the underlying arrangements. Keyboards also are used to fill out the musical arrangements.
Perpetual Reign leans heavily on the bottom end rumble of Kuzay’s bass. His bass soloing features fusion-driven passages, incorporating techniques like finger tapping, neo-classical runs and the use of power chords. Kuzay’s experience leads him to merge elements from hard rock and metal into energized compositions that grab and retain your attention. The only real criticism is the opening song “Vortex.” At more than seven minutes, the song is too long and is repetitive. It could have served Perpetual Reign better as a shorter instrumental interlude.
It is a dog-eat-dog world out there, and those musicians who choose to make a living recording and performing instrumental metal music find that fans of the genre comprises an isolated group of people. This should never deter the skilled, passionate musicians, as their own “mettle” can prove to make or break them. Kuzay is one of those musicians who have found a career that coincides with his passion.
Genre: Progressive Metal Instrumental
Ben Kuzay – Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Tambourine, Production, Arrangements
Joel Wanasek – Drum Programming, Guitar Solo
David Harbour – Bass Solo, Keyboard Solo
Daniel Kuzay – Keyboard Solo
1. Vortex (7:12)
2. On Top Of The World (4:29)
3. Perpetual Reign (5:07)
4. Fantasy Girl (4:18)
5. Ascension (3:01)
6. Where Dead Villains Lurk (2:24)
7. Homage To Hated Heroes (3:58)
8. Murdering Angels (Just For Fun) (9:12)
Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10
by Derric Miller
Bassist Keith Sinnott of Riot Kings (ex-Tango Down) checked in with Hardrock Haven to talk about his band’s debut self-titled release; why he left Tango Down; how the songwriting process in the band works; upcoming tour plans; specific lyrics in songs like “Holy Christian Bible Rocket;” and a whole lot more.
Riot Kings have a brand new single/video for the track “Weak and Divine,” and if you haven’t heard it, you need to. Tune in now to get t know their talented bassist, and then get ready to check out their debut release.
May 15, 2010 at Hampton Beach Casino, Hampton Beach, NH.
by Deb Rao
The summer concert series at Hampton Beach Casino is kicking into full gear featuring some of the hottest acts in music today. Gracing the stage with a near capacity crowd on May 15 was one of rock’s top acts Puddle Of Mudd. Riding high on the success of current album Volume 4:Songs In The Key Of Love And Hate, Puddle of Mudd is currently burning up the radio airwaves with their second hit single” Stoned and headlining tour.”
Part of the success of the new hit Puddle Of Mudd release is due to the return of guitarist Paul Phillips and his catchy pop riffs. Not since their release of Come Clean in 2001 has the band enjoyed the success that is now flourishing with their current release Volume 4:Songs In The Key Of Love And Hate.
Puddle Of Mudd hit the stage at 10:15 P.M. and performed a 90-minute set that featured songs that spanned their extensive career. Opening with:” Control” lead singer Wes Scantlin took full command of the stage. The band then launched into their first hit single from their current release, “Spaceship.” The all ages’ audience could not get enough of the band as Puddle Of Mudd cranked out hit after hit.
One interesting aspect of the headlining show compared to the recent tour with Shinedown is the longer set in which the band put into great use with an added acoustic portion. Wes Scantlin performed on acoustic guitar on the song “Thinking About You” and a few other songs this evening in which the band showcased their melodic side. The slower part of the set really infused the Nirvana ambiance and strong song structure that has made the band famous. It was very refreshing.
The rhythm section featuring bassist Doug Ardito and drummer Ryan Yerdon was pulverizing. One great aspect of attending a Puddle Of Mudd concert is the impromptu sing-along in which were very strong tonight including on the AC/DC cover “TNT” and “Blurry.” Highlight of the night was the medley of “She Hates Me”, and the Grease hit “Summer Lovin.” That song was perfect for the boardwalk crowd attending tonight’s show.
After the show, the band did a meet and greet and stayed into the wee hours of the morning signing autographs. It was great to see the great repoire between the band and fans. Puddle Of Mudd is all about the music and it in for the long haul. Be sure to check out the band on tour this summer and pick up a copy of Volume 4: Songs In The Key Of Love And Hate today.
Puddle Of Mudd is gearing up for an extremely busy summer. Kicking things off with an appearance at one of the most anticipated festivals of the summer Rock On The Range on May 22. Be advised the band is performing at 2:55 P.M. on the main stage at ROTR.
Also, Puddle of Mudd will be appearing on the Carnival Of Madness Tour this summer .For up to the minute news visit sites listed below. See Press Release in News Section at Hardrock Haven.
Puddle Of Mudd Set List:
Thinking About You
Livin’ On Borrowed Time
Blood on the Table
Away From Me
Out Of My Head
TNT (AC/DC cover)
She Hates Me/Summer Lovin’/The Joker (Steve Miller Band)
Puddle of Mudd on Tour:
518 S. Burlington, VT @Higher Ground
5/19 Watertown, NY @Exhibition Hall
5/21 Buffalo, NY @Town Ballroom
5/22 Columbus, OH Columbus Crew Stadium “Rock on the Range”
5/24 Aberdeen, SD @Ramkota Exhibit Hall
5/25 Minot, ND @Minot Municipal Auditorium
5/26 Sioux Falls, SD @Ramkota Exhibit Hall
5/28 Davenport, IA @Capitol Theatre
5/29 Noblesville, IN Verizon Wireless Center for “X103 Presents May Day”
5/31 Richmond, VA @The National
6/3 Atlanta, GA @The Masquerade
6/30 Milwaukee, WI @Summerfest Grounds for “Summerfest”
Puddle of Mudd on the Carnival of Madness Tour:
7/16 Jacksonville, FL @Jacksonville Arena
7/17 Simpsonville, SC @Heritage Park
7/18 Huntsville, AL @Von Braun Amphitheatre
7/20 Tampa, FL @St. Pete Times Forum
7/ 21 Estero, FL @Germain Arena
7/23 Knoxville, TN @Civic Coliseum
7/24 Charlotte, NC @Verizon Amphitheatre
7/25 Raleigh, NC @Raleigh Boutique Amphitheatre
7/26 Virginia Beach, VA @Virginia Beach Amphitheatre
7/28 Columbia, MD @Merriweather Pavillion
7/30 Philadelphia, PA @Penn’s Landing
8/1 Boston, MA @Comcast Amphitheatre
8/4 Uncasville, CT @Mohegan Sun Arena
8/5 Holmdel, NJ @PNC Amphitheatre
8/6 Canadaguiga, NY @CMAC
8/7 Detroit, MI @DTE Amphitheatre
8/9 Cleveland, OH @Time Warner Amphitheatre
8/10 Pikeville, KY @Eastern Kentucky Expo
8/11 Chicago, IL @Charter One Pavillion
8/17 Southhaven, MS @Snowden Grove Amphitheatre
8/18 Lafayette, LA @Cajun Dome
8/20 Oklahoma City, OK @Zoo Amphitheatre
8/21 Houston, TX @Woodlands Amphitheatre
8/22 Dallas, TX @Nokia Theater
8/24 Casper, WY @Casper Event Center
8/25 Billings, MT @Metropark Center
May 10, 2010 at Irving Plaza, New York, NY.
by Trevor Portz
After a lengthy recording hiatus and a slew of lineup changes that eventually resulted in the core members reconciling, Ratt are finally back in action with an excellent new album, Infestation, and a tour to back it. Still in its early days, stop number five brought the band to NYC, and though they may not have the ’80s power to fill Madison Square Garden, the tightly-packed crowd at Irving Plaza certainly let it be known that there’s no shortage of Ratt-hungry metal fans in the Big Apple.
Opening act September Mourning was a very strange choice for the event, as they are little more than a Hot Topic-swathed, pseudo metal/industrial gang of Marilyn Manson worshipers. Having recently completed a tour with the aforementioned Manson, one would expect them to be, at the very least, a bit tighter as a band, but instead their performance felt more like an outtake from a high school talent show. The only beacon of hope for the band is lead vocalist Emily Lazar, whose presence and talent save the band from being totally forgettable. It would do her well to attempt something a bit more original if she intends to reach true heights of celebrity. Regardless, whoever chose September Mourning as an opening act for Ratt needs some serious therapy.
After a reasonably fast set change, the lights went down, and the main event began. Kicking things off with back-to-back Invasion of Your Privacy tracks “You’re In Love” and “Lay It Down,” it was as if the time machine to the days of metal radio dominance had been turned on. Things continued down the flashback highway with classics from all of Ratt’s classic releases (save 1999′s self-titled error in judgment), though the set tended to stay on the main road, never really diverging into rarely heard, deep album cuts. It would have been great to hear a long unplayed gem such as “Got Me On The Line” or “One Good Lover.” But alas, it was not to be.
The biggest set changes came, unsurprisingly, in the form of tracks from Infestation. Four new songs were played, including single “Best of Me,” and the best track they’ve done in 20 years, “Eat Me Up Alive.” The tracks worked well in the live environment, and easily blended in—stylistically and quality-wise—with the rest of the set list. It was at least nice to see the guys steer clear of the Kiss idea of almost completely avoiding new material live.
Considering the slew of great songs the band chose to include, and the fact that they played them excellently (with the exception of Pearcy avoiding many of the higher vocal parts), it was quite surprising that the show had very little overall energy. The band did not seem exceedingly excited to be there, and most of the time it appeared everyone was just going through the motions rather than giving it their all. Perhaps it was the small stage, or just the band being a little older, but they definitely lacked the power that took them to the top of the charts in their heyday.
As noted, technically, most everything was top-notch. Warren Demartini did a stellar job of bouncing between shred-worthy solos and blues-heavy jamming. Shockingly, however, it was recently-recruited guitarist Carlos Cavazzo that truly stole the show. A true fretboard master, each solo seemed a perfect balance of speed and melody, and on newer tracks, such as the previously noted “Eat Me Up Alive,” it appeared that Warren took a back seat to let Carlos go wild. It was nice to see the solo limelight shared, but also seemed a bit odd for Warren allow himself to be overshadowed.
Overall, Ratt’s performance was solid, albeit little uninspired. Former Hanoi Rocks front-man Michael Monroe had performed in New York the night before, and his performance was incredibly energetic and over-the-top, a far cry from Ratt’s general lethargy. Coming from almost the exact same time period, it seems Ratt have no excuse for not turning up the energy level a few notches. But pumped-up or not, Ratt are clearly still capable of delivering the goods, even they come in a more laid-back package.
Set List (in a rough semblance of order):
You’re In Love
Lay It Down
Lack of Communication
I Want A Woman
Lovin’ You’s A Dirty Job
Slip of the Lip
Nobody Rides For Free
Back For More
Way Cool, Jr.
Take a Big Bite
Eat Me Up Alive
You Think You’re Tough
Best of Me
Round and Round
by Alissa Ordabai
You really have to love rock music to support its traditions and its methods the way Extreme have always done. But you also have to have a strong sense of self to stand out from the crowd. How Extreme have managed to balance the classic and the personal throughout their 25-year career remains somewhat of a mystery, but you suspect that it has something to do with Nuno Bettencourt’s open and unconservative approach to music, his ability to mix instinct and reflection, and his willingness to take risks.
When in the early 90s the rock guitar virtuoso genre was on its last legs, instead of kicking it to the curb, Extreme gave it a new lease of life, if only for a few more years. Again, one suspects, out of sheer love for rock. The way Bettencourt embraced the Van Halen legacy betrayed an inner fan in him, but the way he spun it and took it into a new direction proved that we were dealing with a true artist. It all came naturally to Extreme, without calculation or deceptive methods, and this naturalness and refusal to follow a routine is perhaps what turned them into one of the best bands of their generation. After all, it takes more than phenomenal chops and hooky tunes to make a band truly great.
This organic mix of the old and the new, of the familiar and the unexpected, of traditional and personal, of the complex and the austere, comes through on Extreme’s new live album Take Us Alive with surprising vividness. Being back on the gigging circuit after a 13-year break must have felt like a real escapade for the band, and the material – recorded at the last homecoming show of a mammoth 75-city tour – reflects this sense of adventure with plenty of panache.
The band’s chemistry is infections – when the audience is not singing along, it is holding its breath for Bettencourt’s phenomenal leads. Sounding like they are having a blast, the band takes the crowd on a breathtaking romp from powerhouse rockers off their latest studio album Saudades de Rock through earthy acoustic balladry to tightly wound funky vamps and then back to big gold-plated bounce of cock-strutting oldies. Extreme are firing on all cylinders and the crowd is loving every second of it – the best proof to the fact that unity of form and substance is at the root of that special live magic.
Supporting tradition is one thing, but doing so while managing to sound modern and exciting is quite another. Extreme to this day manage to do both, and the result couldn’t have been more convincing. During our telephone chat Bettencourt tells me that the band has a word for balancing punch and polish, the unexpected and the familiar. They call it “simplex” – a combination of the simple and the complex.
I also find out that being on the road with Extreme never becomes a routine for Bettencourt, and that he continues to see these things as small challenges, as “another little mountain to climb.” His current tour with Rihanna, he says, is another one of those small mountains.
This unexpected collaboration between the world of rock and the world of pop, as well as broader things such as the current state of the music industry and the nature of creative aspiration were among other things we’ve touched upon. And in the end it all became very clear – intuition and flexibility are at the centre of Bettencourt’s vision. There isn’t and has never been any dogma, or any concession to a routine, and this is one of the main reasons why Extreme after all those years still remain who they are – to this day staying relevant, fresh, and utterly inimitable.
Hardrock Haven: I’d like to start with talking about the new live album and the accompanying DVD. How did it happen that all the past experience and all the new energy are suddenly coming together at one place and time on one given evening? Is it all just down to experience, musical knowledge and skill, or is there also this factor of spontaneous magic that is also at work there?
NB: I think that with live recordings, or live DVDs, or live albums, you kind of don’t know what you gonna get. Overall, we’ve never gone on stage and punched the clock, no matter how great or how bad the audience is. The passion that we have as performers and wanting to perform is always what kicks it off. I don’t think we’ve ever lost that in the best of times and the worst of times. The thing about Extreme is that when you see a live show, you see a live show, no matter what’s going on. And really the only difference is whether it becomes great, or special, or extra special, or maybe not so great, depends on the audience. It depends on the relationship that you have that night – whether they give you that extra energy to throw you over the edge, or whether sometimes you have to work a little extra to get it. It’s hard to say which show is the best, or which show we should have recorded. They are all very different. Playing in Madrid and playing in Tokyo is two completely different cultures and you can sense the difference when you are on stage.
HRH: But how do you balance such brilliant entertainment with conveying a meaningful musical message? Is this something that has to be thought about and balanced out beforehand, or is this something that happens spontaneously with Extreme?
NB: With rock n’ roll you always want to do a kind of simple thing, but you always want a little bit of complexity of melody, and lyrics, and arrangement, and musicianship. So the word that I always come up with is “simplex” – simple and complex. “Keep it simplex”. We are still a rock band, we are not curing any major diseases. We are here for entertainment, like all the bands that we grew up with – they are all pretty straightforward rock bands. But to make it your own we are all pretty decent players, and the bands that we grew up with did great harmonies and crazy arrangements once in a while. It’s something that is definitely thought about at composition stage. It’s not like something that we think about live. By the time we are on stage, if you haven’t got it all together, you’re in trouble.
HRH: But you say a very revealing thing on this record between the songs: “Rock n’ roll is not dead, but it sure is sick.” It seems to me that this is how you have felt about rock n’ roll throughout your career, and that has been one of your creative goals – to make rock n’ roll music healthier, more diverse, more viable, more resilient.
NB: I think that’s what it is, but I think that now it is even more so because of the state of the music business and the greatness and the danger of the internet. It is a great thing making the world smaller while we communicate, while we discover things, while we find things, but in many ways it has made it very easy to download stuff which everybody does, all of us do. It’s made it more difficult for record companies to continue being a big bank. When they used to be like big banks, they could allow artists like the Beatles to take three or four albums to get to Sgt. Pepper, they could allow any band like Queen to do those records, or David Bowie to develop different things. Nowadays the danger is that it becomes very hard. What will happen to these young bands that don’t get that chance to develop, or who don’t get the funds to tour the world or to take their first record and develop it into something else? The Beatles with Sgt. Pepper had the time, and those young bands don’t get another shot. It’s become like American Idol and like those quick-fix shows that get you discovered these days. That’s the danger. I don’t think rock has always been sick, it’s just that now it’s becoming very hard to find and discover some of the more special acts who should be making music history.
HRH: We are talking more about technology here, things like MySpace and YouTube, and illegal downloading. But from a purely creative point of view, from a point of view of a musician and a composer – do you think that those challenges that you were facing 20 years ago still remain the same or are they now different?
NB: Well, here is another worry about technology and the internet. When you are a kid, like I was in the middle of Massachusetts, in a small town – not in Boston – and you are anywhere that is more further away from the city, you have your surroundings to deal with, and those are minimal. Meaning that your choice is minimal and if you see a band that inspires you, in order to get there you have to do it yourself, you have to do your own work. You have to get better as a musician, you have to get better as a songwriter. Because you don’t have much where you live. You have to have imagination, lyrical and writing imagination, and dream of what it would be like to be on stage, and dream about what it would be like to have a conversation with Eddie Van Halen, or Jimmy Page, or any of those guys.
But nowadays you can have that by hitting the space bar. You can travel to an arena, and you can see the show on YouTube ten seconds after you saw the actual show. The mystery is gone. If you are waiting for a band to come into town, and you are in Texas and they are in Europe, by the time they get to Texas, you will see crappy versions of the concert at least 30 or 40 times if not more by other people who are video-recording with their phones. It’s natural, don’t get me wrong, but it demystifies everything. To the point where people go, “Why do I need to get out of the house to see a music show? I’ll see it on YouTube.” Or, “Why do I need to go and play in a club when I can just learn how to play guitar online?” That’s the danger of it. I think people are getting complacent, I think they are getting lazy, and it’s no surprise because you can sit in front of a computer and get three thousand the amount of stuff to look at and things to listen to than we could in our generation.
HRH: And then with reality shows you can see what’s in their wardrobe – people like Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne.
NB: Yeah, the mystery is all gone! Nobody should be allowed to do that. There is some stuff that should remain sacred and you shouldn’t be able to go into people’s homes and live with Gene Simmons. I was with Gene and Paul two days ago, we talked about a lot of different things, and I understand the idea of Gene’s show and everything else, but the only issue I have is that sometimes it takes away a little bit of me wishing to be like Gene or wanting to know what he is like or wanting to know who he is. And that’s part of the mystery. I think there is too much information now.
HRH: But in terms of your craft, in terms of being a guitar player, do you think there have been any fundamental or important changes since the time when you were growing up? Do you think that now there are more expectations from the industry and from the fans when it comes to guitar technique and when it comes to skill?
NB: I think that that part of it is still somewhat OK. I think that guitar playing peaked anyway in a bad way in the early Nineties. I think it went too far. It went from usually a band that writes some great songs with some great musicians in the band, and the guitar player happens to be special at his craft in addition to being able to express himself that way, to the whole thing almost turning into an Olympics where the guitar player became more important than the band itself. With a lot of bands from mid-Eighties to the early Nineties it became this kind of guitar Olympics that became kind of ugly to me – it had no soul to it, it was about how fast you could play or how technical you were, but it became this thing that had nothing to do with music.
Even when people say to me, “Oh, man, you shred,” I say, “Look, thank you for that, but to be honest with you, if you put on any Extreme song and you hear me shredding on a song that doesn’t need shredding, then I’m doing the wrong thing.” And I think the art of it and the balance of the technical side is to play what’s right for the song. If it’s a crazy fun song and you can rip a great solo – great. If it’s a mellow song and you can play something beautiful – great. I think for me the most important thing that guitar players have to remember is that they have to play what’s right. Not to impress, not to show off, it’s something that has to do with what you’re doing. Because it ruined it for the guitar for a very long time. It became very uncool in the Nineties, you couldn’t even play a solo.
HRH: With you, of course, technique has always served a musical purpose. But have you ever thought that you wanted to be in a situation where there would be nothing left that wouldn’t be absorbed into your technique? A kind of power-trip? And that for some people this became the nature of artistic fulfillment – being able to play anything?
NB: Fulfillment is an interesting thing. You are either a type of person who is looking at a mountain to climb that you’ve been waiting to climb it for a long time, and you can’t wait to get there, and you work, and work, and work to get there. And when you get up there, you have two choices. You either go, “Oh, I did it, that’s it!” and you go back down. Or you can look across and go, “Hey, there is another mountain over there, let me try to climb that one!” (Laughs). And for me that’s what the case has always been. There are plenty of different mountains to climb, plenty of different things to do from touring with Extreme to getting a call and hearing, “Hey, are you interested in doing the Rihanna tour?” And you kind of go, “Well… Probably, but what’s the deal? There isn’t a lot of guitar there,” and they say, “That’s the interesting part of it – you get to rock it and you get to do your thing over somebody else’s song and make it more rocking.” To me those are the little challenges and the little mountains to climb that make it interesting and keep Extreme interesting. Keep what we do with Extreme fun for me.
HRH: How does Rihanna’s artistic vision or musical vision resonate with yours? Do you find you have common reference points?
NB: I see a different world from mine, but I see what the similarities are. She is young, she is only 22, but I see myself at that age when I look at her. I remember those feelings, I remember those thoughts I was having. She’s had an incredible career – she started at 15 or 16 and she’s had more number one singles than anyone in a decade, more than Beyonce or other girls. So she’s achieved a lot already. When I come to some of these arenas, when I walk in – I’m twice her age – I say to myself, “I remember this arena, I remember this arena with Extreme, I remember doing this almost at the same age.” And I go, “I know what you are feeling.” And it’s kind of cool for me, that’s the connection that we have. As far as music is concerned, a lot of the feel and the grooves, the stuff that’s underneath the songs, is very similar to Extreme to me. There is funkiness to it. Because there is a pop element to what we do, there is also a ballad element to it.
HRH: And Rihanna is not afraid to experiment and take on board different influences from different camps.
NB: She is always open to stuff. She is basically a bit of a free spirit. She’s not much of a diva, she doesn’t behave like this R’n’B kind of diva. She’s a bit of a rocker at heart, even though she is a part of a pop R’n’B world, she is as fun as what rock n’ roll is, if you know what I mean. She has the energy – let’s have a ball, let’s have fun. And she’s also very stylish and aware of the way fashion meets music which is kind of cool.
HRH: There is, of course, the DVD coming out as well to accompany your new live record – the first Extreme live DVD in the history of the band. Are you yourself a fan of live music DVDs? Are there performers who you like to watch live on your TV screen at home?
NB: You know what, I hate DVDs. (Laughs). That’s one thing that we’ve never done. I don’t mind watching somebody else’s, but when I watch any past Extreme footage, I say to myself, “This doesn’t feel like Extreme to me.” DVDs never seem to really capture the band. To me it’s that night that you have with the crowd, it’s the volume that’s missing, the sweat that’s missing, the smells, the spontaneity. When you look at the DVD, it gets very tame, it’s very controlled, and the editors are in control of how exciting it is or how exciting it isn’t. While when you are in the crowd, you look where you want to look and there is mayhem going on, there is excitement. When you do a DVD, it’s forcing the viewer to look at Nuno when it wants you to look at Nuno. It’s one of those bizarre things. I’m glad it’s there, I know it has to be there, it’s good to document it, and I’m glad that we’ve released something there. But once again, when I watch them, I bum out a little bit. I’m like, “Yeah, that’s me, but I don’t think it captured the magic of Extreme.” I think you have to be at the show to experience the relationship between the audience and the band.
HRH: And then again, these days live footage undergoes so much touching up in the studio. I’ve recently spoken to Alan Parsons about his live DVD which has recently come out, and he told me how much touching up his live footage and his live material has undergone in the studio.
NB: Yeah, that’s the choice you make really. Do you want to make a live record or do you want to make a record? (Laughs). You gotta make that choice. And there isn’t much going on with Extreme. It’s a four-piece band – guitar, bass, drums, it’s pretty straight-forward, it’s pretty rocked out – we have two background singers and a singer. If we can’t get it together by now, we have problems. (Laughs).
HRH: How do you maintain your technique these days? Does it still require everyday practice?
NB: No… It’s one of those things where I don’t really… I don’t practice a lot. Every time I try to practice, I end up writing a song instead. I’ve kind of become a more rounded person and a musician. I never really decide, “I’m gonna practice right now.” You kind of pick up the guitar and see what happens.
HRH: I have one last question and it’s a bit goofy, I hope you don’t mind.
HRH: If you were granted an answer to any question in the Universe, what would you ask?
NB: What would I ask? Wow! I would ask, “Why humans are broken? (Laughs). What is it about us that has this malfunction? In this almost great world what is it about… what breaks us to the point… what makes us human, I guess?” Sometimes they talk about animals and they say we are very different from animals and how they just live on instinct, and there is a part of me that wishes that we were a little bit more like that. Humans don’t seem to be able to handle choices. Of course, I’m talking about in the most devastating way in this world and all that, but that would be my question, “What makes us human and how can we fix it? What little part are we missing?”
by Deb Rao
As thousands of rock fans get ready to descend on Columbus, Ohio for one of the most anticipated festivals of the summer, Rock On The Range, stay tuned to Hardrock Haven for special preview interviews of artists performing at the event. Rock On The Range features established acts plus new artists on the rise. One artist catching the attention of the public eye is Richy Nix. He will be performing at ROTR on May 22 on the Kicker stage. So be sure to arrive early.
HRH: Richy, Congratulations on your upcoming appearance at Rock On The Range on May 22. Tell us what time and stage will you appear and about your set?
RICHY: 12 PM on the Kicker Stage. My Set will be energetic and in your face. There’s no gimmicks or themes. Just me being myself and spillin’ my guts out on stage. Be ready for a handful of heavy breakdowns and some crowd participation! It’s going to be a great time!
HRH: Rock On The Range has many different acts on the bill. Are you looking forward to representing the Hip-Hop sound? Actually, I listened to your music and you have quite the interesting sound. It reminds me of hip-hop meets metal.
RICHY: I’m really pumped to be the underdog for this event. It makes me want to prove something. Since I come from both worlds rock and hip-hop, I want everybody to realize that I am the real deal this is not falsely fabricated music. It’s real!
HRH: What other bands are you looking forward to checking out at Rock On The Range?
RICHY: Deftones, LimpBizkit, Papa Roach and Killswitch Engage to name a few.
HRH: You recently appeared at Bamboozle Festival. What were some of the highlights from that show?
RICHY: Hanging out with all the bands was awesome but during my performance I climbed up this light tower on stage and scared the shit out of all the security guys and stage techs. Def got the crowd hype!
HRH: Also, this will be the year of outdoor festivals for you. You will also be appearing at Rocklahoma on May 28.
RICHY: Hell yea man I’m enjoying every minute of it!
HRH: You hail from the Windsor, Canada area. How did you get involved in music?
RICHY: Being 5 minutes away from downtown Detroit I was heavy in the hip-hop scene. I started working as a hip-hop producer at the age of 14. Grew into writing rhymes and recording songs. Then joined a metal/screamo/alternative band than eventually fused all the elements together into the sound I have today.
HRH: Who are some of your influences? I can hear some Eminem?
RICHY: Most white rappers like myself hate that comparison and also avoid mentioning Eminem as a main influence. I say F*ck it! Lets be honest I probably wouldn’t even be rapping if it wasn’t for Eminem! He’s a huge influence. So is Tupac, Andre 3000 from Outkast, 50cent, Lil Wayne, Pharoah Monch, Mobb Deep. I can go on for days with rappers that influenced me.
HRH: Your new single “In Your Head” is receiving a great response. Tell us about the meaning behind that song.
RICHY: It’s about my life, things I’ve been through. Heartbreaks, cheaters, backstabbing friends, depression, anti depressant medication and getting in fights.
HRH: Do you write songs from your own personal experiences?
HRH: Any news when your new album Note To Self will be released?
RICHY: I’m working on a bunch of new material. Some of it is Heavy as hell; some of it is more pop. I’m all over the map but at the same time always remaining true to myself. Never will I do something I don’t feel is real. Sit tight will be tons of new material coming out this year!
HRH: Is there a special message behind your music?
RICHY: Life can and always will be difficult at times. Sometimes worse for others, but there’s always going to be better days as long as you continue to better yourself as a person.
HRH: I see you just performed in Hartford at the Webster. That is a great venue to see a band.
RICHY: The Webster is located in “the hood.” (Laughter) The venue is amazing and the people that come out to the shows are even more amazing love it!
HRH: Richy, Best of Luck at ROTR. Thank you for checking in with us.
RICHY: Thank you guys! Check me out www.myspace.com/richynix and Come Rock the F*CKOUT with me at ROTR!
by Trevor Portz
Helming the band since its very inception, Tracii Guns is and will always be the man behind L.A. Guns. From the early Michael Jagosz-fronted metal of Collector’s Edition No. 1, to the radio-friendly Phil Lewis years, through the heavy-as-hell Chris Van Dahl-voiced American Hardcore period and beyond, Tracii has always been there. Back in 1999, after a period of stylistic experimentation, Tracii enlisted former Love/Hate vocalist Jizzy Pearl to fill the recently vacated lead vocal spot, and the resulting album was the oft underappreciated Shrinking Violet. A powerful combination of emotional heaviness and Led Zeppelin-inspired riffs, Shrinking Violet boasted some of Tracii’s darkest and most epic writing, taken to new heights by Jizzy’s versatile and powerful vocals. Favored Nations has luckily realized that this album deserves another shot at notoriety, and has thus reissued it in a “deluxe edition” (well, sort of, more on that later).
Released on the heels of the somewhat disappointing Wasted EP, Shrinking Violet was very much a return to form for the band. Instead of taking things in another new direction (as was done on American Hardcore), Tracii instead blended all of the best bits of the previous L.A. Guns albums into one very solid record. Adding Jizzy Pearl was also a stroke of genius, as his range and gritty delivery suited the songs to a T; harsh enough to keep things heavy, but smooth enough to carry the melodies. It seemed that a perfect balance had finally been struck.
The opening bars of “Girl You Turn Me On” are chill-inducing, and the song is as classic a Guns song as has ever existed. The mellow “Dreamtime” acts almost as a musical sequel to 1991′s “I Found You,” with an extremely emotional delivery from Mr. Pearl. Conversely, “I’ll Be There” reaches American Hardcore heights of heaviness, and simply pummels the listener into submission.
“Big Lil’ Thing” and “California” are more traditional LAG fair, and “Bad Whiskey” sees the guys veering into classic blues territory. One of the most outstanding moments on the record comes at the end of the spectacular “Barbed Wire,” where Tracii lays down an inspired and beautiful acoustic solo over the final notes. Many shredders seem to have problems when it comes to acoustic soloing, but clearly this is not a problem for TG.
As noted earlier, what makes this reissue a bit strange is the omission of several songs, two of which happen to be some of the best tracks on the original album. “Decide,” though present here in a pretty spectacular live version, was perhaps the strongest, darkest song to come from these sessions. Certainly drawing from Kashmir-era Zep, the track varies from subtle, gloomy verses to powerful, epic choruses. Luckily not removed entirely, new fans need to experience the original version in order to fully appreciate the somewhat stripped-down live version.
Also missing from the reissue is the suggestively titled “It’s Hard.” A mix of slow, hardcore riffs and rough garage rock, it seems tragic that the label has left it off. Not getting to know its blazing prechorus is a tragedy for new fans. It’s a good thing original copies are plentiful on ebay…
The final track to be left behind was the cover of Zep’s “How Many More Times,” and though an excellent version and a fun way to close the original album, it makes sense that perhaps licensing was the cause of leaving it off.
To compensate for the removed tracks, Favored Nations has added five live tracks recorded in San Angelo, Texas last July. Minus the aforementioned “Decide,” the songs are rather obviously selected, as they are some of the band’s most well-known classics. While they sound great, and Jizzy arguably out-sings the originals, they don’t quite pack the punch necessary to replace the dropped songs. If anything, they will do little more than leave fans jonesing for a release of the entire show. Drummer Chad Stewart is also an excellent addition, bringing his own powerful style while still retaining the feel of the original tracks. If anything, these bonus track surely leave fans jonesing for a release of the entire show.
While it’s great to have Shrinking Violet available once again, the reissue could have used a bit more of a deluxe treatment to make it totally worthwhile. It does serve one major purpose, though, that being whetting everyone’s appetite for an album of all new Tracii/Jizzy/Jeremy/Chad songs. Judging by the quality of Tracii and Jizzy’s previous output, and the quality of the current incarnation’s live performance, it will no doubt be an instant classic. Until then, though, do yourself a favor and check out this forgotten gem.
Genre: Hard Rock
Jizzy Pearl (v)
Tracii Guns (g)
Jeremy Guns (b)
Chad Stewart (d)
1. Girl You Turn Me On
2. Shrinking Violet
4. Barbed Wire
5. I’ll Be There
8. Big Lil’ Thing
9. Bad Whiskey
10. Decide (live)
11. Rip And Tear (live)
12. Never Enough (live)
13. The Ballad Of Jayne (live)
14. One More Reason (live)
Label: Favored Nations
Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10 (reissue); 9/10 (original)
In Tribute: Ronnie James Dio Metal \m/ Forever.
Hardrock Haven would like to pass along our prayers and wishes to the family of Ronnie James Dio, who passed away Sunday, May 16 at the age of 67. On that Sunday morning, Dio finally succumbed to his battle with cancer, after fighting for the past year and undergoing seven bouts of chemotherapy. He was one of the most artful and majestic Heavy Metal singers of all time, and his musical legacy will live on through the ages.
The Hardrock Haven writers have each written their personal message to Dio’s family, friends and fans. Please join us and leave a comment as we hail and bid farewell to one of the creators of Heavy Metal as we know it today, Ronnie James Dio. Read more
by Joe Mis
The Eminent Storm is the second release from the Finnish progressive/Christian metal band Mehida, and they seem to have quite nicely avoided the sophomore jinx. Bringing forward a unique blend of progressive metal, progressive rock and modern melodic metal, Mehida offers the listener a full disc of positive (but not preachy or overly “religious”) rock. In fact, there are so few direct references to religion of any sort that it is hard to classify this release as “Christian metal” – perhaps “human metal” or “moral metal” are better terms.
The lineup of Mehida has a solid pedigree, and some of the members will be familiar to fans of Euorpean metal. Vocalist Thomas Vikström (Therion, Stormwind, Candlemass) is joined by keyboard player Mikko Harkin (Sonata Arctica), guitarist Jani Stefanovic (Essence of Sorrow, Divinefire, Miseration), plus Toni Mäki-Leppilampi (bass), Olli Tanttu (guitars) and Markus Niemispelto (drums) – all members of Wingdom. The Eminent Storm an evolutionary follow up album to their 2007 release, Blood And Water, and builds on a solid foundation. Their music continues to spans genres and defies concrete classification, consisting of heavy tracks with very melodic overtones and softer songs with a distinct rock feel. The tone of the album is moody and brooding, but the lyrics are positive and refreshingly upbeat, and the lighter atmosphere produced by the keyboards keeps the music from being oppressive in any way.
As musicians, the members of Mehida are all top notch and very good at what they do. Undoubtedly the standouts of the band are vocalist Vikström and keyboardist Harkin, and the music seems to be built mostly around their respective talents. Vikström’s vocals are generally powerful, and he has 3 distinct voices – a low register growl, a smooth and soft midrange, and an amazingly solid high end falsetto. Harkin plays the keyboards with a deft touch, providing much of the melody but never dominating the music. Stefanovic and Tanttu make a fine guitar team and handle both rhythm and lead without difficulty. Mäki-Leppilampi’s bass is solid and driving and he plays well with drummer Niemispelto, giving Mehida a very solid bottom end. The band is joined by the choir vocals of the Kilven Kuoro on one track, and the hauntingly beautiful female voices of Riina A and Rita H on 3 others.
The opening track, “Wrath Of Flesh Fellowship,” has a very Eurometal feel to it, something that Malmsteen might have done in his early days. It features a very intense drum line and classical style keyboards. “Masquerade” is a very soft piece, which opens with a great keyboard riff and features some amazing falsetto vocals. Probably the best of the album, “Until The Day Breaks” is a sweeping melodic masterpiece with great lyrics, vocals and superb performances from every band member. “Land Of Oblivion” is a dark and pounding track with classical influences and full choir backing vocals, almost a medieval sound. Mehida lightens their sound and does a great job on the almost pop metal “Dream Giver” – great guitars here. “Draw Near To My Soul” is one of the few truly religious sounding songs, based in part on parts of Psalms 50 & 51 of the Old Testament. Musically it is a very moody piece, going from dark and sad to upbeat and positive, and features some fine backing vocals and keyboards.
“Abandoned” is very influenced by alternative rock, as displays a great bouncy bass line and aggressive drums, while “A Block Of Wood” is pure Dream Theater style progressive metal. “Where Could I Flee” dials back the intensity a little, but still is a high-energy modern rock track with great drums and nicely layered vocals. “Urban Scream”’s aggressive guitar opening leads into another of the better tracks, a moody and emotional progressive rock tune with a great chugging rhythm line. “Celestial Tears” wraps the album with style, featuring nice up-tempo keyboards layered over a dark and heavy rhythm guitar.
In conclusion, Mehida’s The Eminent Storm is a very good album. Musically complex and heavily textured, the tracks run the gamut from ultra heavy to light and melodic and all feature excellent musicianship and a great sense of style. With positive and uplifting lyrics and a distinct lack of preaching, Mehida manages to get their message across without being heavy handed. The only thing that may hold Mehida back from true commercial success is the classification as “Christian” metal – it would be a shame to see this band get pigeonholed as holy rollers, as they deserve better. If you are a fan of progressive metal, The Eminent Storm is well worth the listen.
Genre: Christian Metal, Progressive Metal
Thomas Vikström (vocals)
Toni Mäki-Leppilampi (bass)
Mikko Harkin (keyboards)
Jani Stefanovic (guitars)
Olli Tanttu (guitars)
Markus Niemispelto (drums)
1. Wrath Of Flesh Fellowship
3. Until The Day Breaks
4. Land Of Oblivion
5. Dream Giver
6. Draw Near To My Soul
8. A Block Of Wood
9. Where Could I Flee
10. Urban Scream
11. Celestial Tears
Label: Bullroser Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10
by Deb Rao
The Lone Star state has been known so many years for its flourishing music scene. One band making an impact on the Austin circuit is Broken Teeth featuring Jason McMaster from Dangerous Toys. Back in the ’80′s heyday, the band Dangerous Toys was known for their catchy bluesy riffs. Broken Teeth take it a bit further and have a sound that is reminiscent of Motorhead meets AC/DC meets ZZ Top. The bands latest release is Viva La Rock, Fantastico!
Jason McMaster takes a lesson from Lemmy and kicks it up a notch and actually never slows down from start to finish on opening track, “Blackheart.” The band returns to the Sunset Strip for a moment on “Dressing Up In Flames.” The song” Break The Spell” has a riveting AC/DC “Hells Bells” groove. The ’80s were a time of knowing no boundaries and the song “Twister” gives new meaning to sex. Jason McMaster’s feverish vocals and David Beson’s guitar riffs are over the top.
“Back On The Road” is a tribute to the road and Texas. The song has a real bluesy feel and kind of reminds of ZZ Top. It would have been great if the band slowed it down just a bit more and put a ballad on the record. Hard and heavy is great but it can become redundant very quickly. Especially, given the talent of the band and Jason’s vocal range. “Viva La Rock, Fantastisco” revisits the ’80s akin to the Emerson, Lake and Palmer song ambiance of Welcome To The Show.
Overall, Broken Teeth break new ground with their potpourri of influences infuses with passionate vocals and high-reenergized Texas huge sound. Hopefully, the band will hit the road and promote the album so we can witness these songs live.
Genre: Hard Rock
Jason McMaster (vocals);
Jared Tuten (guitar, percussion, background vocals)
David Beson (guitar, background vocals)
Bruce Rivers (drums, background vocals)
Brett McCormick (background vocals).
3. Spitting Nails
4. Dressin’ Up In Flames
5. Break The Spell
7. Back On The Road
8. All Hail The Altar
9. Get Outta Here Alive
11. Viva La Rock, Fantastico!
12. Big Spender
13. Ride Upon Glory
Hardrock Rating 7/10