by Derric Miller
Guitarist Dave Henzerling — aka David Michael Philips — of King Kobra checked in with Hardrock Haven to talk about the band’s brand new self-titled release; how the band got back together with mastermind Carmine Appice; how the band hooked up with Frontiers Records; new singer Paul Shortino; his other projects Tunnel and Big Cock; upcoming tour plans; and a whole lot more.
If you are a fan of guitar-based bluesy rock and roll, King Kobra is as good as it gets. Tune in now to get to know Henzerling, and pick up the new King Kobra release now, if not sooner …
(If the embedded player doesn’t populate, click here to stream the interview in a stand alone player.)
by Erik Tweedy
Germany is known for many things: Volkswagens, BMWs, warm beer and that one guy named Adolf all come to mind. But blues rock? The German music scene is filled with many great hard rock and metal bands. Accept, Primal Fear, Rammstein, Grave Digger, Warlock and Blind Guardian all hail from the land of lederhosen. In 2009, lead vocalist and guitarist Marc Terry dropped the day job as a producer and song writer for Paul Dianno and went in search of some gritty, drunk and dirty musicians. Fortunately for him, two area bands, Darkseed and Lacrimas Profundere, both had recently gone down in flames, and Terry was there to pick up the scraps in the form of drummer Willi Wurm and bassist Rico Galvagno. Guitarist Darius Dee was added to the mix, and Skip Rock was born.
Combining whiskey-soaked vocals and a guitar sound reminiscent of early L.A. Guns, Skip Rock churns out 11 solid blues-tinged rockers on their first full-length studio release, Hit and Run. While not groundbreaking in any way, Hit and Run is a fun romp through motorcycle bar band territory. The title track opener, “Hit and Run” is a full-throttle rocker that immediately showcases the raunchy vocals of Terry. Sounding like a younger Blackie Lawless, mixed with some Marc Storace, Terry does his best to own the mic. At times, it’s a bit rough, especially on the track “It’s You My Friend.” The guitars are straight ahead hard bluesy-rock with a fist-in-your-face attitude.
If you like your rock edgy and dirty sounding, there is plenty to like here. “Stinky, Filthy, Rich and Nazty,” “Motorcycle Man,” “We Rock” and “Little Nazty” all are tasty treats. Fans of bands like Faster Pussycat, L.A. Guns and Hardcore Superstar should enjoy Skip Rock. Blues Rock definitely is alive and well in Germany.
Label: Streetdog Records
Mark Terry – Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar
Darius Dee – Lead Guitar
Rico Galvagno – Bass
Willi Wurm – Drums
1. Motorcycle Man
2. We Rock
3. Hit and Run
5. Little Nazty
6. Stinky, Filthy, Rich and Nazty
7. Nutbush City Limits
8. World is Hell
9. Rough and Ready
10. Time Will Tell
11. It’s You My Friend
Hardrock Haven rating: 7.6/10
by Alex Barbieri
Remember King Kobra, that ‘80s L.A. hair metal band with the bleached blond hair? They were pretty good. Better than a lot of bands back then, actually. In fact, their 1985 debut Ready To Strike is considered a hard rock classic in the melodic rock subculture.
Well, King Kobra—the “other snake”—is back with a new album featuring the almost-original lineup of founding member and drumming legend Carmine Appice, David Michael-Philips and Mick Sweda on guitars and Johnny Rod on bass. Original singer Marcie Michelle Free—who released a stellar album last year with Unruly Child—has been replaced in KK by gravelly-voiced former Rough Cutt vocalist Paul Shortino, aka Duke Fame in “Spinal Tap.”
Frontiers Records delivers another high quality release to feed the ravenous appetites of hard rockers around the world. Word on the street is that Frontiers’ label owner Serafino Perugino is a perfectionist who expects nothing less than excellence from his bands—and King Kobra maintains the high standards of its Italy-based record label.
The stark album cover depicting the classic King Kobra logo on a black background is simple but sends a clear message: King Kobra has returned to its classic sound and is ready to rock. The first song is the barnstormer, “Rock This House.” Shortino’s signature vocals fit the new KK’s style well, but it’s hard not to compare the sound to earlier Rough Cutt and even Shortino-era Quiet Riot. His vocals are so recognizable that new KK lacks some of the identity it had with Free. That can happen when a band replaces their signature singer with one associated with another band. Still, this album recorded by hard rock vets sounds absolutely stellar both writing- and production-wise.
“Turn Up the Good Times” sounds just like the title reads. A killer riff leads into a great hook about Saturday night happy hour. With all the f***ed up s**t going on in the world today, a little rock song like this can mean so much—fun, life-affirming and able to bring a smile to the most jaded rocker.
A standout track is “Live Forever.” The mid-tempo groove recalls “Red Skies At Night” by The Fixx—not a bad thing. This song about hitting the open road is one of the finest and most emotionally sincere moments on the album— the heartfelt vocals, big chorus and keyboards are utter ear candy.
The album opened with a hurricane and closes with a gentle breeze in the acoustic “Fade Away.” On this in-the-pocket, emotional power ballad, Shortino sings, “Just let your love show before we fade away.” A mature sentiment from a man that’s been around a time or two.
Like many hard rock and metal bands from the ‘80s that are still at it today, the musicians in King Kobra are all seasoned professionals. They are experts at their respective instruments, and more importantly, know what their fans want to hear. This is an album that was done for the fans. Is it anything you haven’t heard before? No. But it is a new batch of songs designed to make you rock out and feel better. And for that, it’s worthy of praise and the price of the CD. Buy it … you know you’ll love it.
Genre: Hard Rock
Carmine Appice – Drums
David Michael Philips – Guitar
Johnny Rod – Bass
Paul Shortino – Lead Vocals
Mick Sweda – Guitar
1. Rock This House
2. Turn Up The Good Times
3. Live Forever
4. Tear Down The Walls
5. This Is How We Roll
6. Midnight Woman
7. We Got A Fever
8. Top of the World
9. You Make It Easy
10. Cryin’ Turns To Rain
11. Screamin’ For More
12. Fade Away
Label: Frontiers Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 7.5/10
by John Kindred
Classic Albums Revisited: Blue Murder
John Sykes (Tygers of Pan Tang, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Blue Murder, Sykes), the man behind the successful Whitesnake self-titled CD, which was an enormous international success, selling more than six million copies in the U.S. alone, never tasted the success of his accomplishment. David Coverdale fired the entire band that was involved in the recording process and replaced it with a new entourage of band members and took them out on tour in support of the album.
On the heels of the success of the Whitesnake self-titled album, Sykes took the reins of his destiny in his hands. He returned home to England, where his mother and stepfather have a studio in Blackpool. After numerous jam sessions, Sykes made the demo for Blue Murder, which led him to signing with Geffen. Sykes formed the legendary band Blue Murder, featuring Carmon Appice (Vanilla Fudge, King Kobra) and Tony Franklin (The Firm, Whitesnake).
Sykes’ search for a vocalist led him to Ray Gillian (Badlands, Black Sabbath). The consensus from the band and those involved with Sykes was that no one they auditioned could match the guide vocals he had recorded on his demos. Sykes decided to scrap his search for a vocalist and handle the vocal duties himself.
The album that Sykes, Appice and Franklin recorded was nothing less than spectacular. Taking his guitar playing a step beyond his work with Whitesnake, Sykes produced edgy, fluid and explosive guitar rhythms. His solo work on the album is awe inspiring. No one can miss the legato phrasing and vibrato of John Sykes.
The surprise to us all was the voice. No one expected Sykes to be able to stand out as a lead vocalist. Citing Coverdale, Glenn Hughes and Phil Lynott as influences, Sykes found himself learning the trade from two of rock’s greatest vocalist. His thick British accent gives his vocals a smooth, sensual vibe. No longer standing in the shadow of Phil Lynott or David Coverdale, Sykes stood on his own as lead vocalist in his own right.
The fret-less bass playing of Tony Franklin highlighted the bass guitar as an instrument. Gone was the straight ahead playing of bassists of the genre to be replaced by fluid, rolling sounds that were unfamiliar to the listeners. The opening track is a prime example of the unique sound and style of Franklin.
With a resume that dates back to the late ‘60s, Appice set the foundation for heavy drumming. His unique style provided the back bone the music Blue Murder. His fills and rolls are bone crushing. Appice’s playing lays the foundation for Franklin’s bass grooves and Sykes’ guitar mastery.
The lyrical content of the CD bought forth images of swashbuckling, gypsies, pirates, high seas adventures, romantic interludes, pharaohs and the mystical hunt for treasure. The energy of the songs and overall sound carried the listener on a 52-minute journey of adventure, love and heroism.
Bottom Line: Every track rocks! It is such a shame that the current mainstream music industry feeds (those who listen to mainstream music) unoriginal, untalented and uninspired music. John Sykes deserves credit as a talented musician. His releases with Whitesnake, Blue Murder, Sykes, Thin Lizzy and Tygers of Pang more than show him to be in a class all his own.
Genre: Melodic Hard Rock
Produced By: Bob Rock
Running Time: 52:05
Release Date: 1989
Website: John Sykes
1. “Riot” – 6:22
2. “Sex Child” – 5:51
3. “Valley of the Kings” (Sykes, Tony Martin) – 7:51
4. “Jelly Roll” – 4:44
5. “Blue Murder” (Carmine Appice, Sykes, Tony Franklin) – 4:54
6. “Out of Love” – 6:44
7. “Billy” – 4:12
8. “Ptolemy” – 6:30
9. “Black-Hearted Woman” (Appice, Franklin, Sykes) – 4:48
by Justin Gaines
What I’ve Become is the second full-length album from New Jersey-based metal band Core Device. Now signed to Heaven and Hell Records, the band, which has been active since the late ‘90s, has a powerful sound that draws influence from bands like Nevermore and Iced Earth while maintaining their own unique style.
Beneath the haunting cover artwork by Travis Smith, What I’ve Become is a very impressive album that incorporates elements of traditional, power, thrash and progressive metal. The guitar riffs are both blisteringly fast and surgically precise, and are paired with rhythms that are almost doom-like in their heaviness. Even with the speed and heaviness on display, there is a measure of both melody and technicality that brings to mind the best Nevermore albums as well as later Sanctuary. Daniel Dunphy’s vocals are a major asset to Core Device’s sound, bringing the kind of vocal power that matches the songs’ crushing rhythms. He has a great death growl as well, which is employed for emphasis on certain songs (like the neck-snapping “I’m Not Sleeping” but never overused.
Highlights include the thrashing, snarling menace of “Confront the Serpent,” the haunting “Remembered as a Name” (which recalls Nevermore’s “Believe In Nothing”) and the the epic title track, but What I’ve Become is a very impressive album from start to finish, and doesn’t really have a weak moment aside from the odd interlude track “Why I Am.”
Fans of the Sanctuary/Nevermore sound in particular will find a lot to love in Core Device’s sound, but What I’ve Become should appeal to anyone looking for high caliber, intelligent and inspired metal. This is one of the stronger releases seen so far in 2011, and with luck What I’ve Become will bring the band the wider attention their music deserves.
Genre: Heavy Metal
Daniel Dunphy (v) (k)
Tony Nocera (g)
Pat Kehoe (g)
Marty Walsh (b)
Jason Chonko (d)
3. King of Broken Hopes
4. I’m Not Sleeping
6. Blackened Heart
7. Confront the Serpent
8. Trail the Vein
9. Sixth Sense
11. Remembered as a Name
12. Human Holocaust
13. Why I Am
14. What I’ve Become
Label: Heaven and Hell
Hardrock Haven rating: 8.75/10
by Franco Cerchiari
Norway, long known for the black metal sounds of Immortal, Kampfar, Enslaved, Old Man’s Child and others, also have to give to the fans of the power metal genre, such bands as Age of Silence, Beautiful Sin, the excellent Winds and this, with hints of power, progressive and death metal, Pagan’s Mind, Heavenly Ecstasy. While some may assume so many styles would only offer a detracting stance to the overall sound, when hearing such tracks as “Revelation to the End,” the outstanding “Follow Your Way,” the fist-pumping, “The Master’s Voice,” and “Never Walk Alone,” these delusional thoughts are quickly silenced.
But, guttural vocals, keyboards and sweeping choruses do not necessarily a progressive power metal band make. Granted, each of these components are an integral part of the overall sound of such a genre, but what must be included – and felt – are the lyrics, the musicianship, the sound coming from each of these tracks, and how the individual tracks sound as a completed CD. So, in that light, it must be said, thank the Lord for such bands as Pagan’s Mind, in that what they do, they do well. Very well.
The sound is heavy, yet melodic, theatrical but not pretentious, and in the times when such death vocals are heard, they make sense and only add to the feel. Which is what makes Pagan’s Mind so good at what they do. Rather than have guttural vocals for little more than the sake of having guttural vocals, here they add an emotion, a punch to the gut effect. Listen to the dramatic, moody (albeit short) CD intro, “Contact,“ the downtrodden guitars of “Eyes of Love,” the screams of “Into the Aftermath,” the incredible drums and piano of “Live Your Life Like A Dream,” and the beautiful, soothing sounds of the ballad “When Angels Unite.”
It is truly ideal when a band, upon gathering together for the sake of creating a new release, that the overall vision is taken into consideration. One can surmise that Pagan’s Mind came to the studio with the question: what do we want the feel of this CD to be? What do we want the audience to take away from this music? And what is it we, and most important of all — what direction do we have to take so that at first listen, the audience will “get” what we are trying to do? And the end result is that this is a CD that answers all those questions. It’s is rich and tuneful, with all the instruments coming together perfectly, and never at any time do they compete for space. The sound is excellently mixed, the melodic vocals outstanding and as the various sounds of progressive, metal and rock come together it plays out wonderfully. The vision of the CD is evident, and each track was written carefully, taking into consideration “the direction” that needed to be taken, so we feel of the songwriter’s emotions.
Although it has been a long four years since their last studio release, 2007’s God’s Equation, Pagan’s Mind has been on tour appearing in some of the world’s biggest progressive and metal festivals, and sharing a stage with such metal dignitaries as Fate’s Warning, Sonata Arctica, Brainstorm and Stratovarius. So while the time away from the studio has been too lengthy, what we have here has indeed made up for such an absence of new material. So it is a good thing when it can be said “the wait has certainly been worth it.”
Genre – Progressive Power Metal
Eyes Of Fire
Into The Aftermath
Walk Away In Silence
Revelation To The End
Follow Your Way
Live Your Life Like A Dream
The Master’s Voice
Never Walk Alone
When Angels Unite
Nils K. Rue – vocals
Jorn Viggo Lofstad – guitars
Steinar Krokmo – bass
Stian Kristoggersen – drums
Ronny Tegner – keyboards
Label – SPV/Steamhammer
Hardrock Haven Rating: 8.8/10
by Mark Allen
Skillet, who began their career in the Christian rock niche before crossing over, have always been trend-chasers rather than trendsetters. They groped at grunge, infused their sound with industrial, nibbled on nu-metal, and most recently have moved very comfortably into the modern melodic hard rock market where they have been embraced by millions thanks to their anthemic hook-drenched approach to the genre. Their last studio album, Awake, was also their most successful, so what’s a trend-savvy band to do? What so many others have done before them: release a remix album.
Well, not an album, exactly, merely an EP featuring four popular songs off Awake. Contrary to what we have come to expect when we hear the term “remix,” this is not a bunch of techno beats hammered over some song snippets that have been chopped up worse than nubile young teens in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel. No, these are full-fledged tweaks and alternative takes on well-known tracks. But rather than breathe fresh, energizing life into the songs, they merely sound…different. Not necessarily bad, but nothing that’s going to make you jump around like bullfrog on a hot griddle.
“Awake and Alive (The Quickening)” opens the EP and despite what the parenthetical subtitle says, there is nothing quick about it. The song has been slowed way down compared to the original, now driven by piano rather than guitar, with an echoic vocal effect that lends them a moody, experimental aura. While the memorable melody remains unmolested, it now slouches along at a pace that is borderline lethargic until seeing salvation in the final minute when the guitars come crashing in and whip the track furiously toward the finish line.
Skillet cooks things just right on “Hero (The Legion of Doom Remix)” and the result is the best concoction of the EP. The band nostalgically indulges in their early industrial days, sifting the song through that Nine Inch Nails/White Zombie filter, retaining the heaviness of the original while simultaneously serving up a cool new dark-edged spin. Old-school Skillet fans should love this one and in this digital age when you can download only the songs you desire, don’t be surprised if this one receives the most purchase clicks while the others are ignored like the ugly girl on prom night.
Skillet have always harbored a soft spot for a good power ballad and even on a four-track EP feel obligated to provide one. “Don’t Wake Me (Pull Remix)” fulfills that obligation and while it won’t make anyone forget the original, it does offer a moodier, more haunting feel thanks to the electronic beats and sinister synthesizers that swell during the chorus, accentuated by a sultry guitar riff.
Skillet seriously errs by slapping the worst song, “Monster (Unleash the Beast)” at the end of the EP instead of exiting on a high note. The original is a head-banging hard rocker, but here it is twisted into a boring mess. While there are distorted vocal clips from Cooper and Ledger sprinkled throughout this droning disaster, this borders on being an instrumental, with those vocals buried deep in the mix like a mangled, Auto-Tuned corpse nobody wants you to find. This leaves the electronic overload to carry the track and unfortunately it carries it right into the realm of, “I never want to hear that song again.”
As remix projects go, this is not a total loss. You get one great remix, two okay ones, and one total turd. Diehard Skillet enthusiasts will most likely experience some limited enjoyment, but if you choose to ignore this novelty project and just go back to sleep until the band’s next studio album, you’ll probably still respect yourself when you wake up.
Genre: Christian/modern hard rock
John Cooper (lead vocals, bass)
Korey Cooper (Keys, synthesizers, rhythm guitar, vocals)
Jen Ledger (drums, vocals)
Jonathan Salas (lead guitar)
1. Awake and Alive (The Quickening)
2. Hero (The Legion of Doom Remix)
3. Don’t Wake Me (Pull Remix)
4. Monster (Unleash the Beast)
Label: Atlantic Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 6.7/10
by Joe Mis
Classic rock with a modern edge – that about sums up the music of the veteran British trio Firebird. Together for more than a decade, Double Diamond is the band’s sixth release, and a reminder that smooth and soulful rock isn’t a thing of the past.
If ever there was a release that was driven by the drums, this is it. Ludwig Witt is an incredible rock drummer who has the uncanny ability to lead the band to wherever they are going without overshadowing anyone. Not flashy like Cozy Powell, Witt’s rhythms are perfectly arranged and supply the true backbone of almost every track, and he really steps to the front during the guitar solos when the rhythm guitar goes away in typical trio fashion. He works hand in hand with bassist Greyum May, who also knows every trick in the blues rock bass rulebook. May’s driving bass also steps up during the breaks and plays very well with Bill Steer’s hooky guitar lines. Steer (Carcass, Napalm Death) is a very solid guitarist and a decent vocalist. His voice is clear, clean and intense but limited in range – well suited to the classic rock style of the album, and he lays down some very complex riffs.
“Soul Savior” kicks of the album with an amazingly heavy groove (and a touch of cowbell) that will immediately hook the listener. “Ruined” follows up with a very intricate rhythm line super slick almost late-70s groove – the bridge into the lead break is filled with awesome drum and bass work. “Bright Lights” has an early Motley Crue feel to it and features a great guitar solo. Kicky bass and drums put “For Crying Out Loud” over the top and make it a real toe-tapper. “Farewell” opens with a simple bluesy guitar riff before settling into a simple but catchy rock groove and a great blues solo.
Fine rapid-fire guitar work in “A Wing And A Prayer” starts off the second half of the disc in style, while “Pound Of Flesh” settles into a nice cowbell-laden blues-rock, almost funk groove. Witt’s drumming is at its most intricate here, while May’s bass talent really shines during the guitar solo. Fine vocals make this arguably the strongest track on the album. “Arabesque” has a bit of exotic flavor in it, with an almost middle-eastern tone to it – and some finely controlled but intense performances by the whole band. “Lose Your Delusions” kicks the energy level back up with some solid rhythms and a simple but effective chorus. Soft acoustic guitars open “Pantomime,” which builds in power into an almost Dokken-esque tone – Steer’s guitar is at its best.
Overall, Double Diamond will be a hit with any fan of late ’70s or early ’80s rock. Fans of old Crue, Dokken, Winger, Warrant or even Cream will be right at home. Nicely mixed and engineered with minimal electronic gimmicks, Firebird’s music is warm and real, and the album comes across as almost live. Well structured songs and solid performances are the heart of Double Diamond. Intense and smoky but always melodic, Firebird proves that there is life in the old power-trio format yet.
Double Diamond is an enjoyable listen, filled with infectious grooves and toe-tapping rhythms – definitely recommended!
Genre: Classic Rock
Bill Steer (vocals, guitars)
Greyum May (bass)
Ludwig Witt (drums)
1. Soul Saviour
3. Bright Lights
4. For Crying Out Loud
6. A Wing & Prayer
7. Pound Of Flesh
9. Lose Your Delusions
Label: Rise Above Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10
by John Kindred
Glen Drover’s return to music follows a career spent with the power metal band Eidolon, a stint with progressive metal’s King Diamond, and, most recently, he spent four years in the thrash metal band Megedeth. Leaving Megadeth in ’08 for personal reasons, Drover set into motion writing and recording what would become his first solo instrumental studio album, Metalusion. To be released in early April, Metalusion is a 10-song studio album that delves into elements of metal, jazz fusion, progressive and hard rock genres.
Drover is joined by Jim Gilmour (keyboards), Paul Yee (bass) and Chris Sutherland (drums). The album also features Jeff Loomis (Nevermore), Frederik Akesson (Opeth), Chris Poland (OHM, Megadeth) and Vinnie Moore (UFO).
Metalusion comprises of five new, original compositions and five cover songs that venture into territory originally discovered in the works of Frank Zappa (“The Purple Lagoon,” “Filthy Habits); Jean-Luc Ponty (“Don’t Let the World Pass You By,” “Mirage”); and Al DiMeola (“Egyptian Danza”). Drover weaves his original compositions with the cover songs without loss of cohesion for the duration of Metalusion. In fact, if you didn’t know that five songs were covers of other artists or if you never heard the original songs, you never would know they aren’t Drover’s creations.
Metalusion is a vehicle for Drover to showcase his virtuoso skills on the guitar. Throughout the album he incorporates the use of clean tonal guitar passages and the distorted fury of blistering solos. Utilizing exotic scales and fills makes the music unique and compelling. Rounding out his compositions with his rock solid rhythm playing which lays over the top of the underlying rhythmic groove, held together by Yee and Sutherland. Gilmour’s keyboard melodies and sonic textures are layered into the arrangements on a majority of the album. These additional textures help to set the mood and temperament of the music.
The album reveals the deeper intellect of Drover’s musical knowledge, and it provides the platform for Drover to unveil his art. It also demonstrates why bands like King Diamond and Megadeth featured him as a player in their perspective bands. Metalusion plays out as a symphonic journey best taken with your eyes closed and headphones on.
Glen Drover – Guitars
Jim Gilmour – Keyboards
Paul Yee – Bass
Chris Sutherland – Drums
Genre: Progressive Instrumental
Label: Magna Carta
1. Ground Zero (Chris Poland and Vinnie Moore)
2. Frozen Dream (Steve Smyth)
3. Egyptian Danza [Al DiMeola Cover]
4. Colors of Infinity
5. Illusions of Starlight
6. Don’t Let The World Pass You By [Jean-Luc Ponty Cover] (Fredrik Akesson)
7. Mirage [Jean-Luc Ponty Cover] ( Jeff Loomis)
9. The Purple Lagoon [Frank Zappa Cover]
10. Filthy Habits [Frank Zappa Cover]
Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10
March 27, 2011 by Publisher
by Cameron Edney
Guest Staff Writer
Forming in 1999 Finnish Goth metallers Before the Dawn, it would be four years before the world started to sit up and take notice of the band. Heading out on a very successful Scandinavian tour with Katatonia certainly opened up a lot of doors for the band, but the cracks within the band started to show and line-up changes were inevitable. In 2005 founding member Tuomas Saukkonen fired all his band members stating that they’re poorly motivated, hiring long-time musician and producer Lars Eikind, Juho Räihä, and Dani Miettinen in the hope of a new start. Within two years with a new solid line-up Before the Dawn released two studio albums and had one of their singles peak at #2 on the Finnish Top 20 charts.
Soon after the band recorded their fifth studio album Soundscape of Silence’ drummer Dani Miettinen left the band. Following Miettinen’s departure Soundscape of Silence’ cracked the Finnish Top 20 charts and the band hit the road with Atte Palokangas behind the kit, who officially became a member in 2009. Fast forward 18 months and Before the Dawn are going stronger than ever. Releasing their sixth studio album Deathstar Rising in February, the band has received praise from Metal fans around the world and critics have been very kind. Just last week the album smashed its way into the Finnish Top 10 reaching #8 on the charts and creating a massive buzz surrounding what is arguably the bands finest work to date!
I had the pleasure of catching up with the bands bassist last week to discuss Deathstar Rising, life on the road and what he thought of Tuomas Saukkonen prior to joining the band. Sit back as we find ‘Sanctuary’ with Before the Dawn’s Lars Eikind.
HRH: Hey Lars thanks so much for taking the time out to answer these questions for our readers. How’s everything been going?
Lars Eikind: Life’s been good. We’ve had some months off the road now, so it’s been nice doing other things than touring for a while. But it’ll be nice getting back on the road as well, of course.
HRH: Let’s talk firstly about the new album Deathstar Rising which was released in late Feb. How does ‘eathstar Rising differ from the bands previous releases?
Lars Eikind: First and foremost we have Atte playing the drums on this release, which gives the whole album a different feel than the previous ones. We also know each other much better musically in the band now, so it’s been easier coming to mutual creative decisions about certain details, arrangements and ideas.
HRH: All up, how many songs were written and demoed for the new album?
Lars Eikind: I’m not sure how many songs were written in the process, since Tuomas is such a machine when he sits down with a guitar. Let’s just say that there was plenty of material.
HRH: How has the response been from those friends and family that have heard the finished material?
Lars Eikind: This time around I’ve decided not to play the album to anybody before the release date, so I can’t really answer that. But the expectations are high, of course, and I don’t think anybody will be disappointed.
HRH: Let’s talk a little about the writing and recording processes. How much time did you spend in the studio laying down the bass and vocals for the new album?
Lars Eikind: The bass is usually done very quickly in my own studio. After I’ve gotten the drums and some guitar recordings from Juho, I just sit down and play through the songs once. And then I record the first thing that comes to my mind, since that’s usually what works best. Then I send the recordings from my studio back to Juho’s studio. So I usually do the bass alone in my own studio when I have the time and the peace of mind needed. The vocals are a different issue altogether, though. This time around we got together in the studio and improvised a lot. Tuomas usually has a clear idea when there should be clean vocals and when there should be growling vocals. So I just tried out different kinds of melodies for the riffs, and then we put words to them when we felt that it sounded right.
HRH: How did you push each other musically and creatively to get the best results possible for the new album?
Lars Eikind: Since we’ve been playing together for quite many years now, we know each other well musically, and we trust each other’s musical abilities and styles. So it’s a joint effort more than pushing our own ideas. We all have an idea of how we want the end result to sound, and then we just follow our hearts.
HRH: What different factors surrounded writing the material that’s been recorded for Deathstar Rising?
Lars Eikind: As always, the ideas of the songs are created by Tuomas. He’s writing about things the way he sees them, and, of course, the lyrics are always open for interpretation.
HRH: Tell us about the writing process for the new album … every band has their way of collaborating, how did the process work for you? Did you guys hold writing sessions; was it as easy as a few jam sessions etc?
Lars Eikind: The process of making a Before the Dawn album might differ a bit from other bands and albums. Usually Tuomas comes up with a bunch of songs that he records for himself, and then the rest of us put our ideas onto them. We hardly ever get together as a band for band practices and such, since we live in different parts of the country, but we did go through at least most of the songs once or twice before recording this album, just to see how the material works out with the whole band. But we’re seldom together as a group during the composing stage or the earlier stages of recording.
HRH: What are you hoping the Before the Dawn fans will take away from the new album?
Lars Eikind: I hope the fans will see Before the Dawn as a band that can deliver high quality music both on albums and on stage.
HRH: Lars I wanted to talk to you also about touring and life on the road … looking back over your career, can you recall the hardest time you’ve ever had as an opening act?
Lars Eikind: Oh, that’s a tough one. I’ve really never had a hard time on the road. I did get fired from a band mid tour many years ago, but I stayed on the bus as a part of the crew when the rest of my band went home. And I got a really bad flu when we were touring with Amorphis in 2009/2010, but we never cancelled any shows. I sounded a bit hoarse for a couple of shows, but we got through it. So I can’t really say that I’ve ever had any hard times on the road yet. I’m sure they’ll come eventually. But I’m a quite mellow guy, so I don’t let a bumpy ride ruin my day.
HRH: When it comes time to go out on tour… how many guitars do you usually take along with you?
Lars Eikind: I usually bring two basses. I’ve only needed my backup bass once in my life, though. We were playing a festival in Finland, and the nut of my bass broke off. But otherwise I hardly ever even unpack my backup bass.
HRH: Besides the obvious of course… what’s the one item you always take on tour with you?
Lars Eikind: My travel pharmacy. I always keep a stash of painkillers, flu medicines, stomach medicines, caffeine pills and that kind of stuff with me. It’s very easy to get sick on tour when there’s a bunch of guys living on top of each other in a bus. And you never know where or when you’ll find a pharmacy. Somehow I always seem to be the only guy who actually brings medicines, so I’ve been the “hero” quite many times by now.
HRH: As a bass player and vocalist, before a show do you do anything specific to warm up and prepare?
Lars Eikind: I usually just walk around a bit, getting the feeling of the venue and the work in front of me, and then I have a couple of beers and a few cigarettes before I go on stage. I don’t do anything else to warm up, unless I really have to.
HRH: Mate, over the years you’ve shared the stage with many great artists. Whilst on the road who has given you the best advice and what was it?
Lars Eikind: I don’t remember who said it, but the best advice I’ve been given is to know your place and your role on the tour. If you’re a supporting band, don’t act like you’re the headliners. And be nice to the crew. They’re the reason why you’re able to do your work, and they deserve to be treated with utmost respect.
HRH: What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you whilst performing?
Lars Eikind: Apart from the normal “fan related craziness” there hasn’t really been many crazy incidents. There was one time, though; in the early 90’s when my pants ripped open in the crotch while I was playing. The audience might have gotten a bit more than they paid for that night. And I think I learned to lower my bass a bit after that show.
HRH: With the new album out soon, are there any plans in the pipeline for a possible Australian tour?
Lars Eikind: As I always say to people asking if we’re coming here and there on tour, it’s of course possible. Touring is expensive, though, and Australia is far away from Finland, but never say never.
HRH: Lars we’ve hit the part of the interview where our readers get to find out more about the real you… what was the first concert you ever attended and how much of an impact did that have on you musically?
Lars Eikind: I grew up in a musical family, so I’ve seen a lot of gigs in my life. But I think the first big venue concert I went to see by myself was Prince in 1988. He was doing the Love Sexy tour, and I got a ticket from a classmate of mine. It was a pretty good gig. The sound was good, the lights were extraordinarily well done and the stage performance was really well choreographed. I’d say the impact of that gig on me was basically that it made me want to pursue music as a career. I just loved the professionalism of the show. But, of course, purely musically I don’t know if that gig made such an impact, since I play a very different style of music myself.
HRH: Growing up did you always want to be a bass player or were your goals different?
Lars Eikind: I’ve always been a bass player at heart. I started playing piano when I was two, and picked up my first guitar when I was six. But I always wanted to be a bass player. I think my parents didn’t like the idea, though, since they felt that bass guitar isn’t the kind of instrument you can just pick up and entertain your friends with at a party. Which again; makes me wonder why it was totally okay for them when my brother wanted to be a drummer?
HRH: Do you come from a musical family?
Lars Eikind: Yes, my father was a guitar player and my mother was a concert pianist. They both stopped playing actively when us kids were born, though, which was a shame. My father was still very supportive when us kids wanted to start playing, though, so I owe a lot to him.
HRH: You joined Before the Dawn back in 2005, looking back now what were your first impressions of the bands founding member Tuomas Saukkonen?
Lars Eikind: The first time I met Tuomas was when he was recording some demo material for The Ghost, I think. He had eaten something bad, so he was pretty much just lying flat on a sofa in Juho’s makeshift studio. So I didn’t really get an impression of him at all then. But when I was asked to do some clean vocals on the album, and we met in the studio, I thought he was a nice guy to work with. He knew what he wanted from the music, and he also gave me the freedom to do the clean vocals as I saw them best. So the first impressions were good.
HRH: Before the Dawn aside… what else would you like to achieve musically?
Lars Eikind: I haven’t really set any goals when it comes to my music. But it would be nice if people would remember me after I’m gone, of course. I’d also like to work on movie soundtracks, game music and stuff like that. But it’s a tough business with way too many big dogs fighting over just a few bones.
HRH: There’s no doubt that recently many rock and metal artists have been releasing some very impressive albums.. are you currently listening to any new albums if so what ones?
Lars Eikind: Actually no. I’m working so much with my own projects that I never really want to listen to anything when I have a few hours off from work. I do listen through albums if I’m requested to do so, of course, but I never put on any music at all myself when I’m at home. Silence is sometimes the sweetest form of music.
HRH: If you could put a band together consisting of musicians passed and/or present who would they be and what would you call the band?
Lars Eikind: That’s yet another very difficult question. But to ease my way out of it, I’d put Led Zeppelin back together in its original form. Those guys did magic, and they all filled each other out musically in a way that was truly amazing.
HRH: Just before we wrap it up… the new album is due to hit shelves soon and no doubt you will be doing quite a bit of touring in conjunction with that! What other immediate plans are in place for the band?
Lars Eikind: We’re just going to make the best out of everything that comes our way. We want to play in countries and at venues we haven’t played yet, and when the time is right we’ll start working on the next album. It would of course be nice to headline a tour at some point, but I don’t know if the time is right for that just yet. So the plans are just to play as much as possible, sell albums, have a good time and make our mark on the musical map.
HRH: Lars thanks again for your time today, it’s been a pleasure. Do you have any last words for our readers?
Lars Eikind: My last words are, as always, come to our shows, buy our albums and support your local bands. Music is a tough industry, especially these days with all the downloading and freeloading going on, so support the bands you like so that they can afford to keep on entertaining you for years to come.
March 27, 2011 by Publisher
by Cameron Edney
Guest Staff Writer
American rockers Unwritten Law are about to embark on an Australian tour to coincide with the release of their sixth studio album ‘Swan’. The first single ‘Starships and Apocalypse’ was released in January and has been met with positive reviews only exciting the fans more, anxious to hear the complete album which is set to be released on March 29. Forming in 1990 the band have built up a reputation as one of America’s finest and hardest working touring bands, billed on many different festivals including the Vans Warped Tour.
The band made their first of many treks to Australia in 1997 starting a love affair with Aussie rock fans that have grown stronger and more dedicated with every visit. With the band heading back here later this month, there is no doubt they will once again be playing to sold-out audiences around Australia. I had the pleasure of catching up with the band’s long-time bassist last week to discuss the upcoming Australian tour, the bands previous visits and heading into the studio to work on the bands forthcoming release ‘Swan’.
Settle back as we discuss the ‘Dark Dayz’ in the studio with Unwritten Law’s Pat “PK” Kim.
HRH: Hey Pat thanks so much for putting some time aside to answer these questions for our readers. How’s everything going mate?
Pat Kim: All good here, just chasing my little rug-rats around and getting as much time with them and my family as possible before the whole Unwritten Law touring cycle begins.
HRH: Let’s start with the fantastic news that you will be in Australia later this month for some shows… you guys must be thrilled to be heading back here?
Pat Kim: Always, it’s a good way to ease us back into the touring cycle. Oz has always been a second home to us so it will be great to reacquaint ourselves with our fans and to catch up with old friends. Oh yeah, meat pies and cooper green is always a plus as well!
HRH: [Laughs] I’m sure it is mate! It’s been a while since your last Australian visit, what fond memories do you have from that tour?
Pat Kim: Well the memories that I can actually remember [laughs]! Probably for me, it was visiting where Bon Scott is buried in Perth and paying my respects to the most badass singer known to man. Honestly, who else on the planet could have sang “TNT, I’m dynamite” and actually make it sound cool? No other man could pull that shit off! Also getting to see the finished Bon Scott memorial statue and meeting the artist Greg James who made it, that was the shit.
HRH: Pat that is certainly one awesome Aussie memory man! For a band that has been together for a little over twenty years now, does it ever get any easier to leave the comforts of home and hit the road for weeks at a time, especially when you’re traveling to the other side of the world?
Pat Kim: Well, we haven’t really toured in quite awhile so can’t really say at this moment. I know for sure it will be harder for me because I haven’t really been away from my kids for a long period of time before. It’s weird, my days are going by so fast now as it gets closer to having to leave for tour. The seconds seem to tick like a time bomb … I can honestly say I’m kind of dreading leaving my kids and it will be very tough but I am looking forward to playing with the boys and reintroducing ourselves to the world again.
HRH: Whilst in Australia will you guys have a lot of time between shows to get around the cities and check out various sites?
Pat Kim: I noticed we do have few days off in between shows so, I will definitely take advantage this time around and try and see more things than I have before. In previous tours, we were usually nursing over hangovers and trying to recover so we ended up missing out on seeing and doing so much stuff.
HRH: What can the fans expect when you guys hit Australia; do you have anything special planned for these upcoming shows?
Pat Kim: You can expect for sure a rockin’ good time and energetic show. Shit ain’t rocket science, its rock n’ roll! We are just gonna come out play some new songs, old songs and just have a good ol’ time.
HRH: Pat, whilst we’re on the subject of touring I wanted to discuss the set-lists. No doubt as time goes on it gets harder and harder to put together a set list that keep fans of all eras of the band happy as well as yourselves, how do you guys tackle that problem these days?
Pat Kim: Yeah, it really gets tougher as the catalog of songs get bigger. You know for us, we’re so excited with the new album and songs that we just want to play all the new stuff but alas we have to make everyone happy. I know if I went and saw a band like Slayer and they didn’t play anything off Hell Awaits, Reign In Blood or South Of Heaven … I would be pissed, [laughs]! So with that, we try not to be selfish and keep the fans in mind at all times and try to keep a healthy cocktail of songs to make everyone happy.
HRH: Over the years you’ve had the pleasure of sharing the stage with many other amazing artists. Whilst on the road who has given you the best advice and what was it?
Pat Kim: Probably Mike Clark from Suicidal Tendencies … he told me not to give him hard liquor, may make him crazy. We still swigged a little crown together though, [laughs]!
HRH: I wanted to talk to you also about the new album Swan. The album is due to hit shelves very soon… what are you hoping the fans will take away from this one?
Pat Kim: Everyone interprets music and song differently. Some songs are therapy for some and a big party for others. Really, we are just happy to finally get this thing out. We went through a lot to get this thing done so we just want our fans to enjoy the ride with us.
HRH: The first single ‘Starships and Apocalypse’ was released in January and has had a fantastic response. How has the response been thus far from family and friends who have heard the whole album?
Pat Kim: Everyone I’ve played it to really seem to enjoy it. Not sure if they are being biased and too afraid to say otherwise to my face but the general response has been really positive. My wife would tell me straight out for sure if it sucked … plus I have the best critics of all, my children … you know it’s good when they are singing all the words (at least the words they are allowed to say) and dancing around to it.
HRH: It’s been six years since you entered the studio [with the exception of The Hit-List] to record a full length album, having such a long break from the process did you find it hard to get motivated and coordinated to put Swan together?
Pat Kim: Yeah, it was really hard. We had spent so much time on the road prior and relations within the band were not at an all time high. Steve and I started having kids and we were all just pretty burnt out on the band and each other. For me and I’m sure the other boys, our hearts were just not into it. We were also without a label, manager, booking agent so we had a lot of things going against us. Luckily we pulled out of it though.
HRH: Every band certainly has their own way of tackling the writing process, how does it work with you guys… do you hold writing sessions, send files online after so many years together what process have you found to be the less painless when it comes to the writing process?
Pat Kim: We are all songwriters in this band plus Dylan and I live in Los Angeles whereas Scott and Steve live in San Diego so getting together is not so easy. There was a lot of swapping of demos done between us all. When we finally did get into the same room together to start writing, we took the best elements of everyone’s songs and built off them. As far as the music, this has been the most group effort I feel. Still it is never painless to write in this band, there are too many strong wills and characters in this band. However at the end of the day I feel that brings out the best in each other…and worst of course! Once the music was all done, Scott and Steve took to the horizon with all the vocals and production on that end. We were lucky enough for Scott to be able to do all his vocals at his home so he was able to just get out of bed and walk into his music room and do vocals at anytime.
HRH: Take us through the writing process for the new album, six years since the last album certainly leaves plenty of time to find inspiration, what inspired you this time around?
Pat Kim: Well, once break silence/suburban noize gave us a home we attempted to write Swan. Shit was still not great internally, so really our only motivation was the pay check honestly. We wrote half assed and even recorded the album twice. However listening back we realized that there was actually a diamond in the rough within the nonsense, so we went back to the drawing table and really started writing and hashing things out properly. That is when we started to get kind of excited and found the inspiration. ‘Swan’ was initially supposed to be our last album. We all went into it saying let’s call it a day after this but it slowly unfolded into something really nice and pure after starting off so toxic. We started to get along better and hence it reflected in the songs as well.
HRH: As I said, the new album is due out soon… now that it’s completed and you’ve had time to listen back to the final mixes is there anything you would have changed or wish you’d done differently?
Pat Kim: As an artist always! Nothing is truly ever finished to an artist I believe. You always strive for perfection and there is no such thing except maybe a newborn baby and of course my hair!
HRH: [Laughs] Mate we’ve hit the part of the interview where our readers get to find out more about the real you… what was the first concert you ever attended and how much of an impact did that have on you musically?
Pat Kim: For me, I believe it was U2’s Unforgettable Fire tour that I actually went and bought tickets with my own money. It was a huge impact because up to that point, I hadn’t experienced anything that grand. It was massive to see a band play in front of an audience like that. However on the other side of the coin, my first punk rock show gave me the same emotion as well. I remember my first punk show was seeing The Cramps with Social Distortion opening up and remembering how petrified I was. It was such an equal rush for those two totally different shows for me and obviously put me on the path that I still walk to this day.
HRH: Growing up did you always envision yourself as someone who would end up in the music industry or were your goals different?
Pat Kim: Initially I was on a not so different path; I wanted to be a visual artist. I studied art in school and originally wanted to do that. I got a little sidetracked with the whole music thing though. I have been getting back into art more as of lately and I’m really lucky to have Unwritten Law open the doors to get my stuff seen to a wider audience.
HRH: Unwritten law have been rocking out now for over twenty years, an amazing achievement in itself, looking back over the bands career what do you consider to be your biggest achievements to date?
Pat Kim: When you start out in a band, you never really expect to be able to travel the world and be able to make a living at it. To be able to make music for a living is equivalent to winning the lottery. When I started playing music, I thought I made it when I made a demo tape. Playing with these guys, travelling the world, making lifelong friends and playing and meeting fans…shit holmes… that is the achievement. How many people are able to say that?
HRH: That’s true man, not too many! Who have you been surprised to learn is a fan of the bands work?
Pat Kim: Always a surprise when you see fellow colleagues from bigger bands being fans, however for me…I was floored first few times Venus Williams came backstage to a few of our shows…that was a trip!
HRH: How about rumors … what’s the craziest rumor you’ve heard about yourself and or the band?
Pat Kim: Rumors… what rumors? All that shit you hear and read about us is absolutely true!
HRH: [Laughs] Over the past few years the music scene has changed quite a bit and we have seen an explosion of punk, rock and metal bands. What new bands / albums are currently blasting in your home?
Pat Kim: I gotta be honest with you, haven’t really been up to date with the new bands. You know; much respect to any bands out there doing their thing but I haven’t really been too keen on anything out there right now. Been going back to the roots and listening to the classics.
HRH: Pat, I want to thank you again for your time today, Just before we wrap it up, the new album hits the shelves next month; you will be hitting Australia next month also, what other immediate plans are in place for Unwritten Law?
Pat Kim: Well, like I said Australia will be the start of this whole touring cycle. We will be putting in our work and promoting and touring for ‘Swan’. This well oiled machine is about to go.
March 26, 2011 by Managing Editor
by Justin Gaines
Unravelling Travesties is the debut full-length album from Los Angeles-based (by way of Athens and London) progressive metal band Tears. Tears first caught our attention last year with their EP Memories of Things Unnecessary. It was immediately evident that this was a band that was progressive in every sense of the word, pushing at the boundaries and exploring just what was capable in the genre, and not just adding keys to the basic power metal formula or aping Dream Theater. Tears has a unique sound that is at times reminiscent of Voyager, Borknagar, Age of Silence, Pain of Salvation and even Porcupine Tree to some extent.
Unravelling Travesties is not an album that’s easy to get into. There is so much going on that you need multiple listens – preferably with a good set of noise-cancelling headphones and time to really digest the lyrics – to really appreciate it. It’s so worth the effort though. The album can go from the abrasive, aggressive (vocally and lyrically) opener “Lame” to the moving and melodic “I’ll Change It All,” with its gorgeous piano elements and lush vocals or “”I Promise You,” which features flute, violin, cello and some absolutely beautiful female vocals by Jaylee Small.
The rest of the album is largely devoted to a trio of multi-part “suites.” Two of them – “Time Master” and “Things Imaginary” – were featured, at least in part, on Memories of Things Unnecessary, and hearing them in the larger context of the album is a real eye-opener. These suites, as well as the closing “Self Destruction” trilogy really showcase what Tears is capable of. The technicality of the musicianship, the way these songs are arranged, the thought-provoking or highly emotional lyrical content, and of course the vocals.
Singer/guitarist/bassist/keyboardist/songwriter/producer Gouaime Divanis sounds a lot like Vintersorg, with a deep and harmonious voice and a terrific range, even pulling off a capable death metal growl when necessary.
Beyond the music, Unravelling Travesties boasts well-placed and very compelling voice acting on the already dramatic “I Can’t Forgive What You Both Have Done,” a first rate mastering and production job courtesy of Jens Bogren (Opeth, James LaBrie, Katatonia) and Divanis, respectively, and stunning cover and interior artwork by Seth Siro Anton that’s worthy of Travis Smith or Dave McKean.
Unravelling Travesties is an absolute delight for fans of truly progressive music and an early contender for the year’s best progressive metal album. If you’re a fan of forward-thinking, emotionally-stimulating and intellectually-challenging music, you owe it to yourself to experience Tears.
Genre: Progressive Metal
Gouaime Divanis (v) (g) (b) (k)
Tassos Deligiannis (d)
2. I’ll Change It All
3. Time Master – Memories
4. Time Master – I Just Want to Forget
5. I Promise You
6. I Can’t Forgive What You Have Both Done
8. Things Imaginary – A Childhood Dream
9. Things Imaginary – My Hurtful Reality
10. Self Destruction – Part I
11. Self Destruction – Part II
12. Self Destruction – Part III
13. When Fingers Fail It’s All From the Heart (bonus)
Hardrock Haven rating: 9.25/10
by Mark Allen
After achieving multi-platinum success in the late ‘80s by injecting their blues-based roots with a healthy helping of hair-metal sheen, Whitesnake began to slowly shrivel up and ride off into the sunset of irrelevance, partly due to the grunge invasion, partly due to a lack of noteworthy activity. People began to wonder if there was any bite left in the band or if the fangs had been forever plucked. Then Whitesnake struck back with 2008’s Good to be Bad and all naysayers were immediately silenced and many a jaw was dropped in surprise.
The new album, Forevermore, wrapped in an aura of high expectations, is now upon us and faithfully follows the same pattern as Good to be Bad, meaning it wisely and effortlessly meshes together the various eras of Whitesnake’s history. There are plenty of blues-rock tracks; for example, the opening song, “Steal Your Heart Away,” features a slinky slide guitar and happy harmonica riff to go along with the blistering double punch guitar salvo. There are also multiple nods to the band’s commercial metal glory days, with songs like “Love and Treat Me Right” captivating the ears with catchy hooks, “My Evil Ways” slamming out the sugar-coated heaviness, and “Dogs in the Street” serving up the street-rock swagger.
David Coverdale’s vocals, though a long way from ruined as some critics have claimed, are certainly not what they once were and anyone who says otherwise was either born without eardrums, suffers from delusional tendencies, or has been smoking substances that will get you 5 to 10. That said, he sounds perfectly acceptable. But then, that is the problem; Coverdale was once a vocal god, a metal maestro with a golden voice, and to hear him reduced to the level of merely “acceptable” is as off-putting to some fans as finding a pubic hair in your pepperoni pizza. Coverdale pulls a Don Dokken here, singing in a lower register since he can no longer hit the notes of old, and your expectations for this album should be filtered through that fact.
More than compensating for the standard issue vocals is some stupendously strong guitar work. There is simply nothing negative that can be written about the twin axe attack launched by Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach. These two rock legends play with such scorching energy that it’s a wonder they don’t melt the strings. The production caters to this fiery fret fusillade, engineering the guitars so they sound crisp and clean and backing them up with some very punchy drumming from Brian Tichy. The whole feel of the album is warm and organic without crossing the line into artificial gloss and glitz, allowing the melodic edges to really shine.
At thirteen songs, the album flirts dangerously with overstaying its welcome, a fact not helped by the inclusion of one or two ballads too many. Change those ballads to rockers and fans would be more apt to forgive the extended running time. Still, the album is good, and maybe good enough that those fans will forgive the band anyway. As far as quibbles go, this is a minor one, and Whitesnake deserves praise for giving their listeners too much music as opposed to not enough.
When you gaze back through the mists of metal history, it feels like Whitesnake has been around forever. Actually, in the hard rock world, three decades is forever. So now that they have unleashed a new album, who should pick it up? Well, Whitesnake fans should pick this up. ‘80s metal fans should pick this up. Hard rock fans should pick this up. Guitar rock fans should pick this up. In other words, the answer to who should pick this up is pretty simple: everyone.
Genre: Hard rock
David Coverdale (vocals)
Doug Aldrich (guitars)
Reb Beach (guitars)
Michael Devin (bass)
Brian Tichy (drums)
Timothy Drury (keyboards)
1. Steal Your Heart Away
2. All Out of Luck
3. Love Will Set You Free
4. Easier Said Than Done
5. Tell Me How
6. I Need You (Shine a Light)
7. One of These Days
8. Love and Treat Me Right
9. Dogs in the Street
10. Fare Thee Well
11. Whipping Boy Blues
12. My Evil Ways
Label: Frontiers Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10
by Trevor Portz
After a rather lengthy stay in the “styles of old” category, thrash metal has been making a major reappearance in the last couple of years. Perhaps the gathering of the Big 4 for a handful of shows has released some sort of mosh energy that has helped resurrect the style. Or maybe metalheads just really miss jean vests and high tops. But whatever the reason, thrash is undoubtedly back. At the forefront of neothrash bands worth checking out is Denver-based Havok, who are set to release their brain-scrambling new album, Time Is Up.
Produced by legendary guitarist James Murphy, Time Is Up is both a total flashback and modern masterpiece. The band hasn’t reinvented the wheel, instead keeping their take on thrash fairly pure and traditional. But coupled with the technical prowess of the members, and the sleek, modern production, the result is an album tailor made for new and old fans alike. Rarely darlings of the money-loaded major record labels, thrash bands of yore often suffered from thin and spotty production. Havok gives us a glimpse at what things may have sounded like had a metal subgenre other than hair metal ruled the airwaves in the ‘80s.
Standout tracks include the super-tight and intense opener, “Prepare for Attack,” the less speedy, yet no less effective track “The Cleric,” and the constantly changing “No Amnesty.” The latter track also features an epic scream that would even have Roger Daltrey taking notice.
Stylistically, this is about as pure as thrash gets. There are no acoustic breaks, rap interludes, or sing-along choruses. This is all about speed, aggression, screaming, and soloing. If ever a style were designed specifically to induce headbanging, this would be it. Of all the classic bands that have surely had some influence on Havok, Testament seems to cut through the most. The tempo changes, melodic riffs, and loads of guitar harmonies all scream classic Skolnik/Peterson. This is not to accuse Havok of being a clone, far from it, in fact. Time Is Up feels more like a celebration of a great, yet relatively underappreciated band than a re-creation of one.
So for those who feel Metallica wussed out, Megadeth got too corporate, Anthrax too modern and Slayer too, well, the same as always, Havok should be a great reminder as to what made thrash so damn cool in the first place. So dig out the Reeboks and tight jeans, loosen up your neck muscles, and get ready to mosh.
David Sanchez (v,g)
Jesse De Los Santos (b,v)
Pete Webber (d)
Reece Scruggs (g)
1. Prepare For Attack
2. Fatal Intervention
3. No Amnesty
5. Covering Fire
6. Killing Tendencies
7. Scumbag In Disguise
8. The Cleric
9. Out Of My Way
10. Time Is Up
Label: Candlelight Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 9.3/10
by Derric Miller
Eden’s Curse bassist Paul Logue and singer Michael Eden checked in with Hardrock Haven to talk about one of the best releases this year, Trinity; how they ended up working with vocal giants James LaBrie and Andi Deris; the narrative that flows throughout Trinity; tour plans; and a whole lot more.
If you haven’t heard Trinity yet, this is Eden’s Curse best effort to date. Tune in now to hear Logue and Eden fill you in on everything you need to know about the new album, and pick it up immediately.
(If the embedded player doesn’t populate, click here to stream the interview in a stand alone player.)
by Cyndi Jo
March 11, 2011 at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, CA.
Club Nokia is relatively a new venue. With only 4 young years of existence, it doesn’t have the controversial past that most rock n‘ roll venues like those on the Sunset Strip have. What it does have, it can be credited to host the most dynamic and heaviest tours to date that The Roxy can’t be accounted for.
If, on the evening of March 11th, you weren’t hopping from club to club your ass better have been at the best tour to come across LA this year so far: “The World Is Yours” North American tour with Valient Thorr, Clutch, and the all mighty Motorhead.
As the lights deemed, opener, Valient Thorr, had no problem getting the crowd pumped with their sci-fi themed, British blues metal, and riff-based anthems. Valient Thorr’s lead man, Valient had the crowd very much engaged, which is rare for the usual opener. In this case, many fans proved to feel the energy and dexterity Valient had through songs such as “Double Cross,” “Infinite Lives,” and “Mask Of Sanity.” As Valient took off his shirt the music wasn’t the only thing heavy. It sure turned on fans, though– they started crowd surfing towards him and just made the whole show all that entertaining. Valient Thorr have been around for about a decade, still to many is a band to look forward to seeing again. Unfortunately, their set was only six songs long, and before they began the last song “Sleeper Awakes” they sure reminded the crowd to be excited for the next two bands on the bill.
Next up was Maryland natives, Clutch. Since forming about 21 years ago, Clutch has been a band to not disappoint live. If the crowd was all hyped for the opener, fans were clearly and fiercely awaiting for them. As soon as the opening chords of “La Curandera“ began, there was no hesitation to sing along. Front-man, Neil Fallon was at his best, especially in “Struck Down” and “50,000 Unstoppable Watts.” Fallon’s vigor and stage presence intrigued and connected with the audience as they responded in “The Dragonfly.” The definite highlight of the evening was their rendition of Cream’s “Politician” with Phil Campbell. The unexpected song drove the crowd to their limitless insanity. For those who had never seen Clutch before this set was absolutely gold.
Last to steal the night was the band that mostly everyone waited in line for hours for: Motorhead. It’s rare to see a huge line hours before a show starts these days when it comes to a rock show, but it’s Motorhead, so that is obvious to happen. Quietly positioning themselves behind their instruments, Lemmy, Phil Campbell, and Mikkey Dee, began their set with “We Are Motorhead” as kids moshed on a slippery floor. Keeping their energy levels at a max, the crowd climaxed at “Rock Out,” “Ace of Spades,” and “Overkill.” Since it was the last show of the tour surprises were in stored from left to right. One of those surprises was the appearance of ex-Runaways singer, Cherie Curie. Her vocals joined forces with Kemmy’s son, Paul Inder’s guitar in “Killed By Death.” If the crowd was hyped before that extra bonus took them to nirvana. Motorhead have always delivered the loudest and heaviest of shows and when one goes to see a Motorhead concert, the force these three men deliver, is intense. Not only does Lemmy bring it, but Dee’s drum solo during “In the Name of Tragedy” was so unbelievable that even he has the same power Lemmy contributes to the metal masses.
The bottom line is that even though it’s too early to determine the best tours of 2011, this is clearly a top ten contender, mainly because it’s Motorhead, but all three bands were prolific and consistent. It’d be hard to believe if anyone left disappointed.
by Deb Rao
March 12, 2011 at The Joint in Las Vegas, NM.
One of the hottest concert bills this year, Music As A Weapon Tour featuring Disturbed, Korn, and Sevendust made a special stop at The Joint in Las Vegas on March 12. Performing to a sold out crowd of metal fans, this tour did not disappoint.
Sevendust, who have been on the road touring relentlessly over the past year in support of their latest release Cold Day Memory. Opening with “Splinter”, Sevendust hit the stage like a sledgehammer. Let the moshing begin! I have seen Sevendust perform many times over the past year, and Vegas warmly embraced the hardcore rock band.
One of the greatest aspects of Sevendust is featured on their latest release, Cold Day Memory the band returns to the hard driving melodic rock riffs combining melody and heaviness wrapped around Lajon Witherspoon’s striking musical vocal style. Morgan Rose did an outstanding job of pummeling the heavier drum riffs around the song,” Black” and recent hit ‘Forever.” Sevendust’s heavy set crushed the Vegas crowd ending on a high note with “Face To Face.”
I recently had the opportunity to see Korn on the Mayhem tour last summer and was excited to see the band at one of the top music venues in Vegas The Joint. Anticipation filled the air, as Korn hit the stage with a vengeance. Opening with “Blind” the momentum of the audience kicked into full metal assault. Jonathan Davis ran around the stage like a lightning bolt, unleashing his unique vocal style amidst the razor sharp guitar riffs of James”Munky” Shaffer. Dressed in a suit and usual white make-up mask, James was mesmerizing to watch onstage. His guitar riffs cover a wide spectrum of musical genres.
Korn have a really unique sound that combines rap-metal-rock and nu-age. You just can’t help but become intrigued by their catchy riffs. Highlights of their set included, “Alone I Break”, and the very catchy “Falling Away From Me.” Saving the best for last, Korn did a medley of hits including “Coming Undone”, a great rendition of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, “Twisted Transistor”, “Make Me Bad”, “Clown”, and Ya’ll Want A Single.” Korn also did a short meet and greet at the Monster Energy Booth before their set.
One of the top music acts in the industry today, Disturbed destroyed The Joint. Hitting the stage with a loud explosion and great stage show featuring a huge video screen with videos that coincided with each song. Disturbed rocked the house. Singer David Draiman commanded the audience with his powerful vocals. Opening with Asylum, their latest release on Reprise Records, Disturbed pulverized the audience with a sea of hits including “Liberated”, “Stupify”, “Ten Thousand Fists” Indestructible”, and ended the set with “Down With The Sickness.” Last time I saw the band was on The Jagermeister Tour in Boston. It was great to see the band in full command at the top of their game. A Saturday metal night in Vegas doesn’t get better than this. Check out the Music As A Weapon Tour when it hits your city.
Disturbed, Korn & Sevendust Photo Gallery
by Alex Barbieri
Outside of Chicago, tucked away in a suburban Illinois neighborhood, is a husband and wife creative team who are two of the most sought after photographers and designers in rock ‘n roll. Give two horns up to Stephen and Sylvia Jensen of F3 Studios and Wornstar Clothing, as they share what it’s like to dress and photograph rock stars, then sit down to a nice family dinner. You are now entering Planet Jensen …
HRH: Stephen and Sylvia, thank you for answering some questions for us! This is a little different from a traditional band interview, but should be very interesting for the Hardrock Haven audience. Tell us some of the bands and artists you have photographed and designed clothing for.
STEPHEN JENSEN: Thanks for having us Alex. I’ve been designing and shooting in the music industry since the early ‘90s. I’ve designed artwork, guitars or photography for Megadeth, Dimebag Darrell, Dope, Leslie West, Nonpoint, Hellyeah, 311, Five Finger Death Punch, Alice Cooper, Ronnie James Dio, Anthrax, Whitesnake, Shinedown, Sevendust, Zakk Wylde, Kerry King, George Lynch, Static-X, Soil, Powerman 5000, Dirge Within, Slipknot, Stone Sour, Heart, Saliva, Survivor and the list goes on. I’m proud to be working in this industry with such a diverse group of artists.
SYLVIA JENSEN: We officially started Wornstar Clothing in late 2009, but I had been styling artists for Stephen’s photo shoots for years before that. I started doing custom clothing at the request of a few artists that we’d been working with. Between that and some of the graphic design that Stephen created for printed shirts, we decided to start our own clothing company. Since then I’ve designed clothing worn by Megadeth, Nonpoint, 12 Stones, Dirge Within, Alice Cooper band, Saliva, Uriah Heep, Soil, Dope, Five Finger Death Punch, Danger Danger, Tango Down, Kevin Chalfant, Dimmu Borgir, Bombay Black, Enuff Z’Nuff, Warrant and Panic Cell among many others.
HRH: Stephen, you’ve taken some incredible pictures of Dimebag Darrell. What was it like working with him? Any cool stories you can share for fans?
STEPHEN JENSEN: Working with Darrell was surreal. He was such a larger than life personality but the most down to earth, genuine person that I’ve ever met … bar none. I only photographed him one night live in Chicago, but worked extensively with him designing guitars and guitar graphics for his return to Dean Guitars in the latter half of 2004. I had always wanted to design guitars and had been working for Dean Guitars for about 6 months when I got asked to have a go at designing some artwork for Dimebag’s new Razorback guitar that Dean Guitars was going to release.
The first thing that I came up with was the Rust design that became the first Razorback to be released. I sent several options for a rust guitar. The next day, I was on a conference call with Dimebag with him telling me how much he loved the design. I spent the next two weeks designing more ideas for the release. I then spent a day with Darrell in a hotel room in the Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee designing dozens of ideas together and fine tuning some existing designs. I was just getting back into photography when I photographed his band Damage Plan the next night in Chicago. He raved about my work, both design and photography. He was my inspiration to start focusing again on photography. Unfortunately, Darrell was killed just days before we were to present him with the first Razorback Rust. It was a tragedy. He was a beautiful soul that loved what he did and had an unconditional love of music and artwork. I’ll never forget the late night phone calls that I’d get from him. He was a real inspiration.
HRH: Sylvia, you’ve been assisting Stephen in the studio for many years, but officially launched Wornstar Clothing last year to rave reviews. What inspires your designs?
SYLVIA JENSEN: Stephen’s talent, creativity, and motivation encouraged me to start down the path of designing clothing for some of the artists that we had been working with. But when the artists would rave about the work that I had been doing for them it pushed me to keep going and eventually start Wornstar. I draw inspiration from the artists that I work with who have such a passion for music and for putting together a great image for their fans. I was a big fan of bands like KISS growing up where image was so important. I love checking out designs from other fashion designers even if they do not fit into the design direction that I create for my artists. I also love getting ideas from costuming and art direction in movies. I enjoy checking out the elegance of designs in period movies like “Titanic,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “Time Machine” and “Gone with the Wind;” the fantastic designs in movies like “Alice in Wonderland” and “Edward Scissorhands” and the decadent designs in movies like “Matrix,” “Dark Knight” and the “Alien” series.
HRH: You’re a happily married couple who works closely together, yet seem to be very much in love. How do you work together — in rock ‘n roll, no less — and keep the fun, passion and commitment alive in your relationship?
STEPHEN JENSEN: Sylvia and I both have similar tastes in music and love discovering new music together. We also, I think, share a brain creatively so bouncing ideas off of one another can come up with some great results. We’ve been together so long, that Sylvia can often tell what I’m thinking without me having to get into a lot of detail. She very much knows the way that I think. We get along so well when we work, and just as well when we are not working. The commitment part is easy … I’m just so in love with Sylvia and we don’t really partake in the excesses of the rock ‘n roll industry. We’re a couple of homebodies just satisfied to be with one another.
SYLVIA JENSEN: We’re a very grounded couple and I’m married to my best friend. Even though we work in the rock ‘n roll industry, we’re not into the whole partying and excess side of it. Don’t get me wrong, working in the rock ‘n roll industry is very fun and exciting. Working together in the industry is easy because we understand each other very well. We’re both big fans of music and the artists that we work with.
HRH: That’s awesome. What photo shoots stand out as some of the craziest or most interesting?
STEPHEN JENSEN: They’re all kind of crazy in their own little way. I really love that every shoot is different. It’s a challenge because you never really know what to expect. One of my favorite shoots was when I had to shoot Damon Johnson and Keri Kelli of Alice Cooper’s band on stage after sound check in New York City. I wanted to have that exciting live feel but wanted to control the lighting with artificial lights. So I had my lights on stage shooting both artists individually, while the rest of the band and road crew heckled Damon and Keri during their shoots. It was quite a challenge to get the right shot.
SYLVIA JENSEN: I have a blast working with artists that are not afraid to flaunt it in front of the camera. That’s when we’re able to get the most out of the clothing and showing off the artist’s personality in the image. Had a blast working with you Alex in the Tango Down shoot, creating all of their clothing and making sure that it fits the vibe that they were going for and seeing your personality come out in front of the camera.
HRH: Thank you, Sylvia. I had a blast working with you both too. That Tango Down Damage Control shoot was one of the coolest experiences of my life—trying on and wearing the clothes custom designed by you and then Stephen shooting us all—truly a very rare and cool experience and one of my favorite memories of that band.
Stephen, do you prefer studio or live photography, and why?
STEPHEN: I really like doing both, but I’d have to say that I prefer studio photography, or artificially lit location photography (basically studio photography, but on location). I really like capturing a scene or an artist in their environment, but I like the control that studio lighting gives me.
HRH: Sylvia, besides the band’s wardrobes, what else do you do behind the scenes at F3 Studios photo shoots?
SYLVIA: I also help with designing props and sets for photo shoots, sometimes as simple as painting a background to as elaborate as designing a “Last Supper” style tablescape and scene for an album cover. I also help our hair and make-up artist Karen Koenig prepare the models and artists for their photo shoots. But styling and wardrobe are my main responsibility and concern on the photo set.
HRH: Stephen, you are also a very talented and in-demand graphic designer. What inspires the album art you create? What is your favorite Dean Guitar design and why?
STEPHEN: Inspiration for my album art comes from all around me. I like listening to all kinds of music and watching all kinds of movies. I really enjoy drama and sci-fi movies. I also love the artwork of other album cover artists like Hugh Syme, Glen Wexler, Storm Thorgerson, P.R. Brown and many others.
When I get asked to create an album cover, I usually am given a title or asked to come up with one. I then try to come up with a strange idea based on that title and try and fit it to the band. I also like taking a lyric out of context and putting a visual to that lyric piece, even if it has nothing to do with that the song is about. The key is to come up with an idea totally out of left field with a clever twist, but not to be so far out there that it’s not accessible or impossible to pull off.
HRH: What is your favorite Dean Guitar design and why?
STEPHEN: I really love the Dimebag Razorback guitar because it was my first and what it meant to Darrell. It really helped to introduce me to the guitar industry. I also love the Angel of Deth that I created for Dave Mustaine, the Xenocide for Rusty Cooley and the Armorflame for Michael Angelo Batio.
HRH: Are there any artists or bands that you would like to photograph or design clothes for, and haven’t yet? Who are some of your dream clients?
STEPHEN: I like working with artists that bring something creative and different to the table or artists that are not afraid with me bringing something different to the table. I think Mudvayne would be a great shoot. Although I’ve shot them live and have shot Chad and Greg with Hellyeah several times, I really like how different and brave the image of Mudvayne is. They are completely unpredictable and artistic. Motley Crue would be awesome as well because I love how they’re always reinventing themselves, but the image is always Motley Crue.
SYLVIA: I enjoy working with the artists that want me to push the envelope a bit and trust me to explore my own vision. I work with men all the time, so I’d like to change it up and design some more for women. I think Pink has a great sense of style, Nancy Wilson of Heart has a great classic rock style, and Joan Jett has a killer image—I’d love to work with all of them.
HRH: What creative projects outside of rock ‘n roll have you both worked on?
STEPHEN: In the music industry, I’ve done plenty outside of rock ‘n roll including blues, jazz, rap, country and pop. Outside of the music industry, I’ve worked with companies like Stern Pinball, Sears, Sara Lee and Kraft Foods. I like the diversity of projects because it keeps my style from getting stale. No one likes to look at the same kind of images all the time.
SYLVIA: I’ve designed clothing for several country and blues artists. I’ve designed some edgy clothing for a roller derby team, radio personalities, and music store staff uniforms. I’ve also created costumes for some local stage productions and countless Halloween costumes for my kids.
HRH: Please give us your first thought that comes to mind on the following words:
Stephen: Captured moments in time
Stephen: Endless possibilities
Sylvia: Can change the way you feel and what you project
Stephen: The key to keeping life interesting
Sylvia: Making something from nothing
Stephen: Trust and love
Sylvia: Keeping promises
Stephen: Unfocused or overfocused
Sylvia: Paul Stanley
Sylvia: My kids
HRH: On the F3 Studios website, you donated special edition photo prints for an auction benefiting the Ronnie James Dio “Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund.” Tell us about those prints and the fundraiser. Have you ever met Ronnie and have a story to share?
STEPHEN: My good friend Keri Kelli of the Alice Cooper Band owns a bar in Las Vegas called Aces N Ales. He was hosting a fundraiser event for the Ronnie James Dio “Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund.” Keri had asked me if I’d donate some of my photo prints to auction for the fundraiser. I always try to help out my friends whenever I can and it was an honor for Keri to ask to be involved with this great cause. I donated a print of Ronnie, Alice Cooper and Dimebag Darrell. I never had the chance to meet Ronnie personally, but the show in Chicago that I shot with Heaven and Hell was amazing. I listened to Dio growing up and it was great to see him on a big stage again up close. He looked so happy like he was having the time of his life grinning from ear to ear. It was clear to me that he just loved what he did and what he was doing.
HRH: Tell us something we don’t know about Stephen and Sylvia Jensen. What would you like to say to the world, or at least to the Hardrock Haven audience?
STEPHEN AND SYLVIA: Keep supporting the music industry, buy albums and go to concerts. Without an audience to buy a band’s products there is no music industry. I’ve seen many bands that simply cannot continue on because they cannot afford to. Artists love to create new art and want their audience to see and hear it, but without support they are nothing.
HRH: Are there other charities, F3 Studios books or Wornstar Clothing you would like to promote?
STEPHEN AND SYLVIA: We have our own charity for our daughter Olivia Jensen who was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease several years ago. She’s doing well, but has to undergo regular medical visits. You can read more about it and donate at www.oliviajensen.com.
You can purchase photo prints of my work at www.f3studios.com. You can also find my photography book of some of my favorite music photos there.
Wornstar Clothing is growing in leaps and bounds. You can purchase clothing items at www.wornstar.com and we’re always looking for new stores that are looking to carry Wornstar Clothing.
HRH: Thank you both very much for your time and openness. This has been a real pleasure. Please keep us posted on what’s going on on Planet Jensen!
STEPHEN: Thanks Alex, it was great talking with you again.
SYLVIA: Thanks for your support, Alex.
View Stephen’s photography and artwork at http://www.f3studios.com/
View and buy Wornstar Clothing at http://www.wornstar.com/
Friend F3 Studios on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/f3studios
Friend Wornstar Clothing on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/wornstar
by Cameron Edney
Guest Staff Writer
American hardcore punk rockers Terror take no prisoners, especially when it comes to the bands unpredictable high energy live set. Last year the band released Keepers of the Faith a hardcore onslaught which to date is still receiving high praise from both fans and media around the world. Produced by New Found Glory’s Chad Gilbert,Keepers of the Faith is certainly Terror’s finest album to date.
Currently on tour across Australia as part of the Soundwave festival I had the pleasure of catching up with the bands main-man to discuss the bands love of Australia, their most recent album and the bands future plans.
Kick back as it gets a little crazy with Terror’s Scott Vogel!
HRH: Hey Scott, thanks so much for kicking back with us today, welcome to back to Australia. You must be thrilled to be back here for the Soundwave Festivals?
Scott Vogel: Life is wonderful my friend, we really like Australia and this tours a lot of fun!
HRH: Tell us how you became involved with the festival, was it as easy as a phone call asking you guys to join the bill or was there more to it?
Scott Vogel: We were actually in Los Angeles recording and AJ who is in charge of the festival was out there. Chad [Gilbert] from New Found Glory was producing our record and Chad hit AJ up and said “you should stop by the studio,” which he did. He heard some of the new songs and asked us to do the festival, and we said we’re there my friend!
HRH: As you’re aware this festival line up is incredible this year, will you be checking out many of the other bands playing?
Scott Vogel: Absolutely, everyone has different bands that they want to see. H20 is one of my favorites, so I’m going to try and see them every chance I get. Iron Maiden, Slayer of course and Social Distortion, who is probably the one band that really got me into underground music so I’m definitely going to be checking them out! I will be walking around and checking everybody out.
HRH: Scott looking back on your last Australian visit what fond memories come to mind?
Scott Vogel: The last Australian trip we were with Stick To Your Guns who we always have a lot of fun with. What memories come to mind… every time we come to Australia everyone in my band wants to go to the beach, all the time and I hate the beach, so it’s always a struggle to stay away from the beach. Just stuff like that my friend, I’m sorry my memory is so not good, I wish I could give you a cool story but I can’t.
HRH: [Laughs] For the punters heading to Soundwave that are interested in checking Terror out live this week, how would you describe the live show?
Scott Vogel: [Laughs] I don’t know, that’s a hard question to answer. I don’t know, just come and check it out and let me know!
HRH: Whilst we’re on the subject of touring … you’ve been fortunate to share the stage with many great artists, who’s given you the best touring advice and what was it?
Scott Vogel: Uh that’s a good question… I can tell you who gave me the worst touring advice… our old guitarist Frank who now plays in Hatebreed. We’d get drunk for a couple of nights in a row and id say “I’m just going to have a couple of beers tonight” and he’d say “that’s just dumb”, that was the worst [laughs]. People don’t give me touring advice they just say why do you tour so much, so maybe the best advice would be for somebody to slap me in the face and tell me to stop touring so much [laughs]
HRH: [Laughs] Looking back over your career, what’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you whilst onstage performing?
Scott Vogel: I don’t know if it’s the craziest onstage but just before Australia there was a girl onstage with both of her boobs out dancing, then I looked back and she had her legs up against the wall and her vagina was spread. All I could see was spread vagina behind the drum set that was very strange [laughs]
HRH: [Laughs] It’s certainly not something that happens at every show [laughs]. How about looking out into the crowds, no doubt you’ve witnessed some insane shit going on whilst you’ve been playing?
Scott Vogel: The first thing that comes to mind is when we played a festival in Germany called With Full Force… it was one of the biggest shows we’d played. There were about ten thousand people in this tent. People started climbing up these light posts that were in the middle of the crowd and started jumping from, I’m gonna guess about twenty five feet and it looked really cool. People were freaking out and couldn’t believe it was happening. Afterwards you’re thinking… thank god nobody broke their necks. I don’t think the promoters and security were too happy but it looked really cool!
HRH: Tell us, as a vocalist no doubt you have to keep your voice in the best possible shape on the road, less interviews, less partying etc. Do you do anything specific to warm up and prepare for shows or would you much rather hit the stage running?
Scott Vogel: It’s really always the same; at the beginning of the tour after two or three shows I usually blow it out a little bit. It takes a couple of days to heal then it’s usually good for the rest of the tour. It’s always the same, luckily on this tour we’re going for two months straight, so the first week it was a little weak but now its strong as fucking steel!
HRH: Scott, I wanted to talk a little to you about writing and recording also… last year you released ‘Keepers of the Faith’ a kick ass hardcore onslaught which is still getting great reviews all these months on! Looking back over the whole writing and recording process is there anything you would have changed?
Scott Vogel: Actually no, if you were to ask me about our old records, I would have wished they were more like this record. This is the first time that everyone’s sat in the room together as a band. We had Chad from New Found Glory producing the record, the six of us sat in a room for five days and everyone gave their opinions and everyone had their ideas. We left the room with thirteen songs that we were all one hundred percent happy with!
HRH: Obviously this was a different way of approaching an album to ones you guys have done in the past. Tell us how intense it was during those five or so days locked in a room together. I would imagine at times you would’ve wanted to kill each other, did you find it more difficult to agree on various ideas and directions for the album?
Scott Vogel: There was a few times when two different people thought they were both right but for the most part it was more exchanging ideas. Everyone in Terror has the same vibe of what the band should be about, so when somebody had an idea and we played it and it was right, it was right. When someone had an idea and it felt wrong we’d all look at each other and say it doesn’t really work, let’s try something else. There were a few moments when people really wanted their way and didn’t get their way, but for the most part it was really smooth.
HRH: No doubt you’re still riding on the wave of the latest album and rightfully so, but I was curious to know, have you guys started penning ideas for the next Terror album?
Scott Vogel: Yeah, we haven’t even started that shit [laughs] we’re still on this one!
HRH: Mate we’ve hit the part of the interview where our readers get to find out more about the real you… what was the first concert you ever attended and how much of an impact did that have on you musically?
Scott Vogel: The first concert I attended was Bon Jovi opening up for Y & T, I was into hair metal. I actually think I saw Blue Oyster Cult and Bob Seager with my dad before that, but that was the first actual real concert that I went to without parental guidance. How much did that impact me? Not too much [laughs] I didn’t really take that rock stadium type route but it let me know that music was important to me and it was an introduction into loud, aggressive music I guess.
HRH: As many fans would be aware before Terror you were in bands such as Despair and Buried Alive, growing up did you always envision yourself as someone that would end up in this industry or were your goals different?
Scott Vogel: When I was younger all I really cared about was sports, I played sports all the time. I would go to school and literally I’d go play sports until the sun went down or I had to be home, that’s all I really focused on. When I got into the eighth grade I moved in with my dad and my step brother was into punk stuff which I checked out and I thought that was really cool but I couldn’t really get into the anarchy vibe I guess you’d call it and from there I found hardcore and from there I didn’t give a shit about sports, I didn’t care about anything anymore. I just wanted to go to shows and buy records, twenty three years later I’m still doing the same thing!
HRH: Let’s talk new music for a moment… are you currently listening to any new albums or new bands that are really exciting you?
Scott Vogel: On the Hardcore scene I think the new Bitter End album is really good. I listen to the new Hatebreed record a lot. Back Track and Dead End Pascale both put out seven inches this year that I really like. I’m really looking forward to the new Title Fight record. Other than that, I think the new Alpha Omega record is really good. I could keep going but I don’t want to name a million bands. On this tour we’ve been listening to a lot of nineties one hit wonder ballads, and Coldplay a lot shit like that!
HRH: There is no doubt that Terror has made a massive impact on the hardcore & punk scenes, who have you been surprised to learn is a fan of your work?
Scott Vogel: I’ve heard that Wattie Buchan from The Exploited talks about Terror and wears Terror shirts a lot which is really weird to me and really cool. Back in the day if someone had told me that… that would’ve happened; it would have blown my mind.
HRH: How about rumors … what’s the craziest rumor you’ve heard about yourself and or the band?
Scott Vogel: I think it was a show we’d done in Scotland once and people came up to us and said they’d heard that we wouldn’t play unless we got cocaine and strippers backstage before we played.
HRH: Just before we wrap it up… as we mentioned you’re in Australia of course for the Soundwave Festivals… What other immediate plans are in place for Terror, no doubt more tourings in the works… what do you have going on?
Scott Vogel: Soundwave of course then we head to South East Asia, then we do a U.S. tour and then back to Europe, then I’m gonna jump off a bridge.
HRH: [Laughs] Scott, thanks again for your time today, it’s been a pleasure, and enjoy the rest of the Australian tour. Do you have any last words for our readers?
Scott Vogel: Yeah check out the new Suburban Scum record!
by Justin Gaines
Fresh from a world tour celebrating their 40th anniversary, and now signed to Frontiers Records, UK rock legends Uriah Heep are back with a new studio album. Into the Wild is the band’s 23rd studio album, and it finds the band in very good form, picking up right where 2008’s Wake the Sleeper left off.
There’s an almost funky vibe about Into the Wild, at least in the beginning, with the grooving “Nail On the Head.” “I’m Ready” has that same energy, like the band was just jamming and having a good time and these songs were the natural result. Fans of the old school Uriah Heep sound probably won’t be thrilled with those tracks, but the organ-heavy, classic sounding “Southern Star” “and “Money Talk” and the epic “Trail of Diamonds” (a haunting number that may be Into the Wild’s best track) should make up for it. The rest of the album seems to tread somewhere in the middle, with some very melodic, catchy rock songs that are just a lot fun to hear. The band has been around the block enough times that they could probably knock out an album in their sleep, but it sounds like they had some fun with this one. The perennially underrated Mick Box delivers some first-rate guitar work here, and with each new album Bernie Shaw is becoming the definitive voice of Uriah Heep.
If you’re already a Uriah Heep fan, you know you’ll want to hear this one. Uriah Heep rarely disappoints, and Into the Wild is definitely no disappointment. This is what a modern album from a classic rock band should sound like. Plus, it’s just great to see a band that’s been around as long as Uriah Heep still making great rock n’ roll albums and having some fun doing it.
PS – Uriah Heep is touring the US in support of Into the Wild this spring. Their live shows are not to be missed, so if you’re within driving distance, you owe it to yourself to see the legends in person.
Mick Box (g) (v)
Trevor Bolder (b) (v)
Russell Gilbrook (d) (v)
Phil Lanzon (k) (v)
Bernie Shaw (v)
1. Nail On the Head
2. I Can See You
3. Into the Wild
4. Money Talk
5. I’m Ready
6. Trail of Diamonds
7. Southern Star
10. T-Bird Angel
11. Kiss of Freedom
Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10
March 19, 2011 by Managing Editor
by Joe Mis
If anyone ever creates a power metal sub-genre called “Combat Metal” Belgium’s Fireforce will be leading the charge. Until that happens, the debut full-length release from the band will have to be considered pure unadulterated power metal, with the emphasis on power. Intense, at times brutal and 100% in-your-face, March On rocks.
Fireforce was founded in late 2008 by members of Double Diamond, Self Inflicted and Grinning Ghoul. Earning an excellent reputation as a live act, Fireforce was quickly signed to a record deal after putting together their first EP. The then band went through the usual new group teething pains and personnel changes before settling into their current lineup. Writing songs with a military/war theme seems to be the band’s specialty, obviously influenced by the mighty Iron Maiden’s love of historical subjects and references.
Fronted by ex-Double Diamond vocalist Flype, Fireforce pulls no punches. Flype’s powerful growl and decent range are ideal for the band’s martial style – he sings turned up to 11 throughout the album and his enthusiasm easily overcomes any negatives in his performance. The guitar duo of Erwin Suetens (Double Diamond) and Steve Deleu (ex-Gwyllion) is a fine one, dishing out intricate and well-constructed rhythm lines with tons of energy. The bottom end is ably dished out by Metalpat on bass and Tom Heijnenon (Judas Rising, Conquistador) drums. Both are solid metal musicians and work well together as the backbone of the music. Guest guitar soloist Constantine (Mystic Prophecy) provides some amazing solos – the icing on the cake (or the gunpowder in the barrel).
The booming World War II inspired “Coastal Battery” opens the CD with true power metal brutal intensity that sets the tone for the remaining tracks. Heavy guitar riffs and big drums open “The Only Way,” carrying the energy forward. This track features some nice guitar harmonies during the main break. A moody guitar line opens “Firestorm,” which quickly becomes a true power metal guitar showcase with a brilliant solo. The band borrows a page from Iron Maiden’s Powerslave and goes back to ancient Egypt to tell the tale of “Horus (Bringer Of Order).” The historical theme continues on with the band’s account of the Flemish vs. French Battle of Courtrai (aka The Battle Of The Golden Spurs) in “1302 – Battle For Freedom.” Great drum and bass work carry this one forward. “Moonlight Lady” wraps the first half of the album with an almost early Metallica speed feel, but the vocals seem forced and the song does not really fit with the rest of the album.
Amazing guitar work opens “Annihilation,” while the vocal and drum lines of the song conjure images of old Anthrax-style speed metal. “Fly Arrow Fly (Crécy 1346)” recounts the battle-changing impact of the English longbow at the Battle of Crécy during the Hundred Years’ War, while “Mona Lisa” exposes the life and times of Leonardo da Vinci (Leo would have enjoyed the precision of the guitars). The next 2 songs are solid kick-ass pro-heavy metal anthems in varying styles – each different enough to let the band’s true talents shine. The album is wrapped up in grand style by the powerful instrumental “Metal Rages On.”
Nicely recorded and neatly engineered to bring out the best of the band, March On runs the gamut from explosive power metal to the obligatory semi-ballad. The band performs with intensity and teamwork, and sounds like they have a great time while doing so. With a strong sense of melody and structure, Fireforce rips out one solid track after the other, each one different enough to keep the listener engaged without allowing the band to fall into a rut. The only track that seems a bit out of place is “Moonlight Lady.”
March On is a truly powerful release and another strong debut in a year that has seen a number of excellent first releases. Fans of power metal or old school heavy metal (especially if they are closet history buffs) will enjoy this album, and March On will put Fireforce on the metal map to stay. These guys were truly “Born To Play Metal.”
March On will be released by 7hard Records on 25 March 2011.
Genre: Power Metal
Flype – Vocals
Erwin Suetens – Guitars
Steve Deleu – Guitars
Metalpat – Bass
Tom Heijnen – Drums
Guest musician: Constantine (guitars)
1. Coastal Battery
2. The Only Way
4. Horus (Bringer Of Order)
5. 1302 – Battle For Freedom
6. Moonlight Lady
8. Fly Arrow Fly (Crécy 1346)
9. Mona Lisa
10. Hold Your Ground
11. Born To Play Metal
12. Metal Rages On
Hardrock Haven rating: 8.5/10
by John Kindred
In 2004 Hardrock Haven had the oppurtunity to interview Kevin DuBrow. Quiet Riot had recently disbanded and DuBrow had just released his first studio solo album In For The Kill. Hardrock Haven’s first and only interview with DuBrow covered the late Randy Rhoads, the beginnings of Quiet Riot as well as the “Metal Health” era and DuBrow’s activities as of ’04.
John: Kevin thanks for taking the time talk with Hardrock Haven. What inspired you to be singer in a rock n’ roll band? Who are your main influences?
Kevin: “Steve Marriott, Paul Rodgers, Rodger Daltry, Rod Stewert, Michael Des Barres and of course Glenn Hughes.”
John: The beginnings for Quiet Riot involved the late Randy Rhoads. That period of time must have been magical for you and the band. What was the atmosphere like with bands such as Quiet Riot and Van Halen slowly on the rise?
Kevin: “I wouldn’t say it was magical, it was more frustrating! We had one of the best guitar players ever in our band and we couldn’t get arrested!”
John: You obviously had the chance to see Randy and Eddie Van Halen play live early on. Did Randy or Eddie steal ideas from each other?
Kevin: “Not that I saw. Later on Randy started doing some hammer-on things because his guitar students wanted him to teach it to them.”
John: What was your experience with Randy in the studio like?
Kevin: “He was great in the studio. He could double or triple track solos with ease. He wasn’t that fond of the way our records were recorded but he was always up for a practical joke.”
John: Did Randy leaving Quiet Riot and joining Ozzy derail the band for the short term? Did you take his leaving personally?
Kevin: “I was very unhappy about him leaving. At the time I felt that he deserted me. Of course in retrospect he did what he needed to do. It didn’t derail the band, it ended it. I started over at that point.”
John: With the reformation of QR after Randy left, did his tragic death affect you immediately or did it take several years for it to sink in?
Kevin: “It was immediate. It had nothing to do with the band, it was a personal loss as when anyone close to you dies.”
John: Are still in contact with Drew Forsyth and Kelly Garni?
Kevin: “Kelly Garni is a very successful photographer here in Las Vegas and is doing the pictures for my first solo album. Drew I haven’t heard from in years.”
John: How did drummer Frankie Banali and guitarist Carlos Cavazo enter the picture?
Kevin: “I wanted to try a different direction on the drums and the bass player I had at the time suggested Frankie Banali. Frankie was and is an amazing drummer and a wonderful human being. Getting Carlos was Frankie’s idea.”
John: In your opinion what are the major differences in Carlos and Randy’s playing?
Kevin: “Everything. Carlos is good at what he does but a Randy Rhoads comes along only once in a lifetime.”
John: Metal Health was big not only for QR but also in legitimizing the genre. Do you take a lot of pride in opening the door for other acts to get airplay in the 80s?
Kevin: “I never think about it.”
John: Had Randy stayed in QR would QR still have been that one step away from Metal Health?
Kevin: “Again it’s a what if. I just can’t say.”
John: Metal Health was your hottest selling CD, was there one CD done by the band you felt didn’t get the credit it deserved?
Kevin: “I really like the “Terrified” CD.”
John: With all that was good and all that was bad with QR what have you learned and taken away from those experiences personally?
Kevin: “Enjoy it while you can because nothing lasts forever.”
John: Is Quiet Riot done for good?
Kevin: “I hope not. I’d be ready to do it again tomorrow but only if there was one change made. I love the band and Frankie Banali is my best friend. Maybe someday. Who knows?”
John: Your upcoming CD release in 2004 features cover tunes from the 1970’s, what bands are represented?
Kevin: “Deep Purple, Humble Pie, The Faces, T Rex, Mott The Hopple just to name a few.”
John: The lineup on the CD features Kevin Curry (g), Gunter Nezhoda (b), Jeff Martin (d) and Micheal Lardie (engineer, co-producer). How did these guys get involved in the project?
Kevin: “Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records brought them aboard. They are all really talented, enthusiastic and ready to rock!”
John: Is Kevin Curry and Gunter Nexhoda from any known bands?
Kevin: “They have both played on a number of Shrapnel CD’s but I think that their work here is exceptional.”
John: Is there an expected release date set? How about CD title?
Kevin: “Early 2004 for a release. We’re still deciding on a title.”
John: If you could front an all-star band, who would be in it?
Kevin: “Frankie Banali Drums, John Entwisle Bass and Randy Rhoads Guitar.”
John: How does it feel for your songs to be played at major sporting events?
Kevin: “It’s funny! I don’t know anything about sports so I find it amusing.”
John: What is your opinion on the status of rock today?
Kevin: “I don’t care for it.”
John: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. We would love to hear more from you in the future. Keep in touch…
Kevin: “Thanks. For your support!”
In my everyday life, I work in a hospital in order to keep our two teenage daughters in makeup and hairspray as well as supply our small zoo of two Rottweilers and four cats with plenty of toys! My husband and I also are very involved in our local girls’ softball league; my hubby coaches, and I am the photographer for the league.
I listen to a wide range of music, but I love rock. I was raised on Led Zeppelin and have done my best to pass the torch on to our girls. So far, I am 1 for 2. I haven’t given up though; I am convinced I will one day bring her back to rock side. Read more
by Trevor Portz
While he may be known for his seemingly endless string of projects, ranging from the all-out folk metal of Otyg, to the pure prog of Waterclime, or his well-known position as frontman for Borknagar, Andreas Hedlund has finally returned to the band that gave him his stage name, Vintersorg. Joining up with longtime co-conspirator Mattias Marklund, the duo are set to release their seventh full-length, Jordpuls (Pulse of the Earth).
Picking up where 2007’s Solens Rötter left off, Jordpuls sees the band continuing to meld their earlier, folk-inspired metal with the complicated progressive sounds of Visions From the Spiral Generator and The Focusing Blur. The result is a diverse, technical piece of extreme prog perhaps best considered “thinking man’s metal.” This is essentially extreme metal for the Jethro Tull crowd, and were Ian Anderson to become infatuated with black metal, it is likely the result would be quite similar to Jordpuls.
As is his MO, Vintersorg (the man) flows seamlessly between harsh shrieks and layered clean vocals. Hard-hitting opener “Världsalltets Fanfar” is as aggressive a black metal opus as Vintersorg has ever done, but with its uber-catchy chorus and 70s-inspired acoustic break, it instantly differentiates the band from any of its compatriots. Even the similarly minded Borknagar tends to stay in slightly less divergent progressive waters.
As “Världsalltets Fanfar” illustrates, Jordpuls is unquestionably full of variety. While it never veers too far from its extreme roots, there are so many changes, layers of instrumentation, and intricate passages that it’s unlikely anyone will get the full picture after only one listen. From the massive harmonies and 70s vibe of “Skogen Sover” to the excellent, yet completely unmetal sounding solo on “Eld Och Lågor,” Jordpuls constantly challenges the listener while also ensuring they stay completely enthralled.
Like many of the albums in Vintersorg’s backcatalog, Jordpuls is sung completely in Swedish, but it can be assumed that the lyrical content follows that of earlier albums, dealing with nature and its complexities, as well as science and the cosmos. Of course, it could just as well deal with bread making and chair making, and based on the strength of the music, that wouldn’t necessarily deter from the album’s greatness.
As they have several times before, Vintersorg continue to create metal that is both intense and heavy, while also being beautiful and complicated. This is not easy listening for the metal fan that likes simple riffing and endless aggression. However, for those that enjoy brains and brawn all rolled together, Jordpuls is well worth a series of listens.
Genre: Progressive Black Metal
Andreas Hedlund (vocal, guitars, keys, programming, etc)
Mattias Marklund (guitar)
1. Världsalltets Fanfar
2. Klippor Och Skär
3. Till Dånet Av Forsar Och Fall
4. Mörk Nebulosa
6. Skogen Sover
9. Eld Och Lågor
Label: Napalm Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 9.3/10