June 28, 2012 by Managing Editor
by Trevor Portz
Staff Writer –
After a four-year wait between Solens Rötter and Jordpuls, the members of Vintersorg—Andreas Hedlund and Mattias Marklund—have returned to a regular, annual album release schedule. Orkan, Swedish for “hurricane,” picks up where its predecessor left off, and though still well done, it would appear quantity has won out over quality in the Vintersorg camp.
For a new listener, perhaps Orkan could be seen as a stellar piece of extreme metal art. Perhaps some long-time fans will even see it that way. But ultimately, what this album lacks is personality. Each of Vintersorg’s previous albums contained a uniqueness that set it apart from the others, yet also fit perfectly into the Vintersorg tapestry. Whether it was the uber-prog-influenced Visions from the Spiral Generator, or the folk-tinged Ödemarkens Son, one never knew exactly what to expect with each album, yet was assured it would be epic, melodic, complicated and memorable. Herein lies Orkan’s problem—the ingredients are all there, from the layered instrumentation to the alternating harsh and clean vocals, but there’s nothing to differentiate it from previous Vintersorg albums. It almost feels like a paint-by-numbers record—the type of album generally reserved for pop stars and contractual obligations.
What also helps to keep this album identity-free is the melding of all projects that Mr. V is involved in. Vintersorg, Cronian, Waterclime, Fission and Borknagar slowly seem to be turning into the same thing. The lines between the projects blur more with each release, bringing into question if there’s even a reason to give them different names. Additionally, with so many projects going on concurrently, it seems the songwriting is beginning to suffer. This isn’t to say that Mr. V is out of riffs, or that his best writing days are behind him, but perhaps it’s time to focus on just one project. Or maybe it’s time to take a break and instead work on something totally different, such as the sorely missed folk metal of Otyg.
So while Orkan is a well-executed album by one of metal’s most talented duos, it doesn’t boast a unique identity, something previous Vintersorg (and related albums) have displayed. There really aren’t any standout tracks, but there aren’t any awful tracks either. Everything is very middle-of-the road.
But hey, what band hasn’t had an album like that?
Genre: Prog, Black, Folk Metal
Andreas Hedlund (vocal, guitars, keys, programming, etc)
Mattias Marklund (guitar)
2. Ur Stjärnstoft Är Vi Komna
6. Havets Nåd
Label: Napalm Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 6/10
June 28, 2012 by Publisher
by Alissa Ordabai
Staff Writer –
The contrast of two sui generis voices – Chuck Billy’s fire-eating roar and Steve Souza’s gelastic snarl continue to stamp Dublin Death Patrol’s releases with an instantly recognisable sound. Having three guitarists proves to be not a trivial decision either, and the end result is a high-powered sophomore record full of tension and drama.
Opener “Mind Sewn Shut” is a perfect synergy of ambitious production and crafty songwriting, setting the tone for the rest of the album. Somewhere between old-school thrash a la early Testament and hypnotic, effect-laden industrial gloom, the record builds a big, sprawling soundscape while simultaneously showing muscle with its superb riffs and focused, intense composition.
As much as the proceedings are haunted by a dark, sinister mood and as much as the band likes to show off their no-nonsense chops, there is still enough room to occasionally deviate from the formula and to throw in some starkly aggressive punk numbers (see standouts “My Riot” and “Butcher Baby”) while not breaking the unified feel of the record. Charting the lineage of thrash and proving how it can still thrive in the new millennium, this release is a must both for veteran fans and newcomers to the genre.
Genre: Thrash Metal, Industrial Metal
Chuck Billy – vocals
Steve “Zetro” Souza – vocals
Willy Lange – bass
Steve Robello “Steevo” – guitar
Andy “KK” Billy – guitar
Greg Bustamante – guitar
Danny Cunningham – drums
1. Mind Sewn Shut
3. Blood Sirens
5. Welcome to Hell
6. Conquer and Divide
7. Death Toll Rising
8. My Riot
9. Macabre Candor
10. Butcher Baby
Label: Mascot Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10
June 27, 2012 by Publisher
by Craig Newman
Guest Writer –
June 22, 2012 at the Staples Center at Los Angeles, CA
For four decades the Scorpions have given us quality rock music with love, relationships, party and politics in their music and lyrics with respect. The band is currently on their two year farewell tour, Get Your Sting and Blackout, in support of their 18th studio album Sting in the Tail. Rudolph Schenker, Mathias Jabs and Klaus Meine are older but their venom is still potent. The band also features drummer James Kottak and bassist Pawel Maciwoda who are the rhythmic force driving the music.
The show opened with “Sting in the Tail” and “Make it Real.” An energized Rudolph Schenker worked the stage like a pro, running from the stage to the catwalk and back again, time has not slowed this ageless veteran. Schenker changed his guitar to his signature Flying V throughout the evening. With a 22 song set list, the crowd sang along to classic Scorpion songs like; “Blackout,” “The Zoo,” “Send Me an Angel,” and “Loving You Sunday Morning.” The band encored with “Rock You Like A Hurricane,” featuring Kottak performing a drum solo, along with “Still Loving You” and “Winds of Change.”
Opening the show was California’s North Bay area rockers Tesla. They energized the crowd performing “Cumin Atcha Live,” “Love Song,” “Modern Cowboy” and the ’70s song “Signs.” It is good to see they are still performing and will be on the Monsters of Rock cruise in 2013.
Along with the “older” generation of fans, they are now plenty of new faces in the crowd, made up of children of parents, relatives and friends, showing their support for these bands from the ‘70s and ‘80s. This in turn helps keep the music of these artists alive, regardless of the lack of radio airplay supporting this genre of rock n’ roll and heavy metal.
June 26, 2012 by Publisher
by Deb Rao
Staff Writer –
Former Rude Girl members Leather Leone and Sandy Sledge are finishing what they started with their new band Sledge Leather. The band has just released a new CD entitled Imagine Me Alive that incorporates all of the hard edge, dark tones, and driving rhythms of Rude Girl. In this Exclusive interview for Hardrock Haven Leather Leone and Sandy Sledge discuss in depth the making of the new album; pay Tribute to Ronnie James Dio, and the metal scene today.
HRH: Leather, Thank you for checking in with Hardrock Haven. Tell us how your new project Sledge Leather came into fruition. I understand that former Rude Girl drummer Sandy Sledge is also in the band.
Leather: Yes she is in a very big way. She is the foundation of the new project due to all her musical experiences during our years apart. We still have a lot to say. We went through a loss together that has changed us forever. It made me personally decide that it was time.
Sledge: Hi. I’m listening to you guys. I’m right here behind the drum set.
HRH: Sledge Leather has just released your new album Imagine Me Alive. What does the title denote to you?
Leather: Some people leave us too early. They may be asking us not to forget their contribution. They don’t want to be forgotten.
Sledge: Don’t be sad that the dead don’t appear here. Close your eyes and imagine them back into your life. Just close your eyes and you’ll find them. They know no time, they will not rust.
HRH: Tell us about the writing process for the album. How does it encompass the sound of the Rude Girl days?
Leather: The writing comes in different ways. Mostly Sledge has a basic song; sometimes we come up with lyrics while walking down the street. We may hear a guitar line. Not a set pattern, but Sledge writes like rain.
Sledge: And, as we know, Leather is the rain. She brings it. The sound started back in Rude Girl. We’d come up from rehearsing in a storefront basement, it’d be 3 in the morning and the San Francisco streets were filled with fog. Empty, but for a few vagabonds, ex-hippie panhandlers, and us just kids. We’d roam the fog filled danger. We cut our eyeteeth out there, and it shaped who we are and the songs we’re writing. That was Rude Girl, and the metal is still in our blood. The dark tones, the driving rhythms, the ghostly lyrics, the cynicism, the otherworldly respect. That place, San Francisco, is haunted. We inhaled it.
HRH: What was it like working with producer Juan Urteaga?
Leather: Juan was challenging and amazing at the same time. He is a bundle of energy, extremely honest and had some great ideas. He is a total Metal head. Sledge spent more alone time with him; she may have a different story.
Sledge: I’m pretty sure he hates me. Call and ask him. (Laughter) I have some intensely strict production practices from my days producing radio spots and promos. Deadlines are tight and I learned to work fast, and with a system, to get the level of excellence I needed. Juan has that inside of him, but he wasn’t’ used to doing it with someone else in the room. We worked it out though and he ultimately offered me a job there. We’ll do our next CD with him. It’s a match.
HRH: Also, I understand that former Dio members Scott Warren and Jimmy Bain appear on the album. Is that correct?
Leather: Yeah, we were blessed to have our paths cross. Sledge is responsible for luring them in.
Sledge: Dio is responsible for bringing them our way. It was my dream to play with Jimmy Bain way back in Rude Girl when Howie Klein and Sandy Perlman told us that we might have other musicians on the album. I had seen him around town (LA) but specifically, the night I was saying to someone that I needed to find Jimmy Bain’s phone number but that meant calling some guy that I didn’t want to call— I literally was walking into a grocery store– and Jimmy Bain passed in front of me headed to the cheese section. I freaked. It was actually a scary moment because I knew it was by design. It was Dio.
HRH: What was your goal when entering the studio to record Imagine Me Alive?
Leather: To express ourselves the best we could. To show we are worthy of stepping back in the ring. To try different things. To open up and let it happen.
Sledge: And to get some of this stuff out from inside of my notebooks! I have songs that I wrote 20 years ago for Leather to sing. Her voice is so amazing; no one else could sing them right.
HRH: Was Ronnie James Dio a huge influence in your career? Did you ever get to meet him?
Leather: Yes and yes. The privilege began in 82. Sledge as usual got us on the bus. We had a beer, listened to the “Rude Girl” demo. He was magic. I remember just listening and watching him. Ronnie was always supportive of me. He is missed.
Sledge: We had a lot of moments with him. He’d put his arms around us and look at us both intently and tell us to keep doing what we’re doing.
HRH: What is it like returning to the metal scene after two decades in Los Angeles-San Francisco bay area?
Leather: The economy sucks, so there are more limitations on playing out and touring. But as far as the people, radio, press, they have all been very welcoming. Thank you!
Sledge: Metal heads are still really cool people. It’s great seeing and playing with old friends like Geoff and Larry from Vicious Rumors, Jim from Brocas Helm. Jim was the unofficial¥official Rude Girl photographer, and there he was at the Keep It True festival with his band. Amazing!
HRH: In April 2011, you had the opportunity to perform at the Keep It True Festival in Germany? How do you feel U.S. audiences differ from European fans?
Leather: It was actually my first time playing Europe. But they were quite hungry and extremely appreciative after all this time. That audience had a lot to do with us continuing on.
Sledge: European audiences go out to more shows! But the passion is the same. Especially with metal. It’s a universal language, huh?
HRH: Who are some of your influences as a singer in metal?
Leather: Dio, Dickinson, Tate, Dio.
Sledge: Leather. (Laughter)
HRH: It is so inspiring to have you return to the metal scene. What do you hope to accomplish with your new project Sledge Leather?
Leather: To make good music that we and you are proud of.
HRH: Are there any tour plans in the works?
Leather: We have a lot of talking going on. Eventually something will come of it. Touring is a priority!!!
Sledge: And we have a local Los Angeles show at the House Of Blues on Sunset Blvd on June 15. Come out and party with us!! Thanks for your support, Hardrock Haven. Contact us at sledgeleather.com. Metal UP!!!
VISIT SLEDGE LEATHER ON THE WEB:
June 26, 2012 by Publisher
by Ron Higgins
Staff Writer –
Riot Avenue is the third release from the impressive Swedish outfit Crazy Lixx. It’s their second release on Frontiers Records, following their sophomore album New Religion in 2010 (their debut album Loud Minority was independently released in 2007). Although their sound has deviated a bit from their previous efforts, this is another top-notch album that will be sure to please lovers of classic hard rock.
Crazy Lixx formed 10 years ago in Malmö, Sweden and quickly became one of the seminal bands in what has been called The New Wave of Swedish Sleaze along with contemporaries like Crashdïet and Vains of Jenna. Although their earlier two albums had a more pop metal sound drawing comparisons to acts like Poison and Def Leppard, this one is more stripped-back with a more straight-ahead rock sound, more in the vein of AC/DC or LA Guns. Some reviewers have been somewhat critical of this change, citing among other things, the lack of big rock anthems on this new album but when considered outside the context of the other two albums, by itself, this is a very good hard rock record.
The album kicks off with one of the best songs on the album, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”. It has a raw, gritty sound with obvious AC/DC influences. It’s a great song and an excellent way to kick off a new album. And for those not familiar with the NATO phonetic alphabet, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot would be the code words for the classic texting characters, WTF. Clever, huh?
Other standout tracks include “Young Blood,” the title track “Riot Avenue” and “Be Gone.” “Young Blood” is another AC/DC inspired, slamming tune, with lustful teenage lyrics like “ripping me up with her young blood.” This song has a great melody and cool lead solo towards the end. It’s probably the best song on the whole album. The next track, “Riot Avenue” is another highlight with yet another blistering guitar lead. These first three songs are definitely the best songs on the album. “Be Gone” is the second-to-last track and is a heavy, up-tempo track with impressive rhythm and lead guitar-work.
Although the first three songs are the best, the rest of the songs are still good, just not as good. The fourth track “Fire It Up” is mostly forgettable but has great production. “Downtown” is a slower song but still rocks and has nice backing vocals. It also features some more lyrical hijinks, “There’s a party downtown, and your sister’s invited. You know I’d let you come but I know you wouldn’t like it.” “In The Night” picks the tempo back up and brings back the bluesy AC/DC sound again. “Church of Rock” is musically nice by lyrically cheesy, if not downright sacrilegious. “Heatseeker” is a much slower song but, again, features some nice guitar work with a catchy chorus. The title is interesting given the new AC/DC inspired direction of this record since, of course, Heatseeker is the name of both an AC/DC song and album. “Sweet, Bad & Beautiful” is probably the most pop-oriented song on the album with some more party-rockin’, sophomoric lyrics like, “sweet, bad and beautiful, shake your money-maker across the floor… you’re a dirty dancer I’m your stripper pole, you rock my body and you shake my soul.” Musically and lyrically, think Danger Danger for this one.
The final song is a bit of a head-scratcher. “Only the Dead Know” is a very slow ballad and a strange way to wrap up such a hard rocking release. However, it showcases Danny’s vocals as he’s not screaming throughout the song and also highlights the guitar playing again. It’s kind of “Ballad of Jayne” meets Martika’s “Toy Soldiers”. Definitely interesting though and it shows that he really can sing. Maybe it’s not such a bad closer after all.
Missing is the slick glam sound of their first two albums, which is either good or bad depending on your preference. If you like good solid hard rock, you won’t care. Although the songs themselves tend to vary a bit with respect to songwriting, one thing that comes through loud and clear is the incredible guitar work featured throughout. Another highlight with this album is the top-notch production. Overall, this release continues to show the rest of the world that the small European country of Sweden has more to offer than just hot blonde girls.
Genre: Glam, Sleaze, Hard Rock, Metal
Danny Rexon – vocals
Andy Dawson – guitar
Edd Liam – guitar
Loke Rivano – bass
Joey Cirera – drums
01. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
02. Young Blood
03. Riot Avenue
04. Fire It Up
06. In The Night
07. Church Of Rock
09. Sweet, Bad & Beautiful
10. Be Gone
11. Only The Dead Know
Label: Frontiers Records
Hardrock Haven Rating: 8/10
by Mark Allen
Staff Writer –
When none other than Blackie Lawless calls a band “kick ass” but then follows it up by calling them crazy, you can guarantee you’re not listening to music that has the Southern Baptist Convention seal of approval. Fatal Smile does indeed kick ass on this album—they say so right in the first song: “We ain’t got no limits / We’re gonna kick some ass”—and any fan of heavy-edged sleaze metal would have to be crazier than a peyote-popping chimpanzee to ignore them.
While you can lump Fatal Smile in with the current Swedish Sleaze Metal Movement exemplified by the likes of Crazy Lixx, Crashdiet, Baby Jane, etc., they bring a little more beef and balls to the game and a little less polish and melody. That does not mean Fatal Smile are raw or grungy, just a little less slick than their genre brethren. While those aforementioned bands use ‘80s hair-metal as their foundation, Fatal Smile take their inspiration from the heavier ‘80s metal; in other words, they are more Leatherwolf or WASP than Poison or Trixter.
21st Century Freaks sports some serious metal crunch, bursting out of the gate with the kind of primal intensity that causes cute little kittens to spontaneously explode and sends AOR fans running for the hills. Fatal Smile likes it hard and heavy and they bring that hardness like a horny teenager after chugging a bottle of Viagra. Sure, there is melody here and the band reins in the hard rock smack-down for a ballad or two, but even during these subdued moments, Fatal Smile manage to imbue their songs with a metallic edge. Their balladry owes more to Skid Row than Bon Jovi; this ain’t pretty boy stuff.
Attitude is what fuels Fatal Smile’s music, not to mention their writing, concerts, and, judging from eyewitness reports, their life. The sleaze-soaked songs rip and tear along on the strength of loud guitars, pounding drums, power-hooks galore, and shout-it-out choruses. And gang vocals. Tons of ‘em. Seriously, if you get off on gang vocals, you’re going to need at least two boxes of Kleenex every time you listen to this album.
The band’s closest comparison would be Lordi, albeit it with better vocals. Blade’s singing may be aggressively raspy but it is far cleaner than the gravel-guzzling approach Lordi uses. Aside from the lead vocals, their music is strikingly similar: heavy guitars cranking out hooky hard rock, catchy chorus anthems, and lots of big backing vox. There is also a lyrical difference; Lordi employs a monster/horror gimmick while Fatal Smile sticks to standard sleaze metal tropes, and is the better band for it.
While the song quality is consistently high—there are no true fillers—there are certain tracks that rise above, starting with “Raise Some Hell in Heaven” which is one of the best heavy hard rock songs of 2012 thanks to its bone-bruising rhythm, headbanging groove, and powerful chorus. “Nailed to the Wall” is a hot-blooded hard rock anthem that could have come straight out of ’88 with its Keel-meets-Accept vibe. “Scarecrow” opens with gang chants of “Hey! Hey! Hey!” before oozing into somber melodic lines that gradually escalate into heaviness until the chorus erupts like a keg of gunpowder soaked in gasoline and dropped in a bonfire. Really, every track is a winner, with any quality variances shifting between “good” and “great” rather than “good” and “bad.”
You have to wonder what’s in the water over there in Sweden. Surely someday this whole Swedish Sleaze Metal Revolution will give serve up a bad album that makes fans and critics snort in derision and mutter, “What the hell were they thinking?” But today is not that day and 21st Century Freaks is not that album.
Genre: Hard Rock, Sleaze Metal
Mr. Y (guitars)
1. Welcome to the Freakshow
2. Nailed to the Wall
3. Raising Hell in Heaven
4. Judgement Day
5. Broken Heart
6. My Private Hell
9. Break These Chains
10. Take It To the Limit
11. For the Last in Line
Label: FS Records/GMR Music Group
Hardrock Haven rating: 9/10
June 23, 2012 by Publisher
by John Kindred
While Tapestry of Souls is Chris Bickley’s first solo release he has been carving out an existence as a musician for several years now. He currently handles guitar duties in the blues-rock band Thunderhead and is the guitarist for Terri Lane’s band, working alongside Chris Slade (AC/DC, The Firm), Scott Spray, Bobby Torello and Eric Klasstad on new unreleased CD. Hardrock Haven checked in with Bickely to talk about his new CD, other projects and future studio releases.
Hardrock Haven: Thanks for taking time out for Hardrock Haven today.
Chris: Hey man thank you so much, I really appreciate your time!
Hardrock Haven: Jumping right into it. Your solo album took a couple years to bring to fruition. What drove you to write and record the material that ultimately appears on the CD?
Chris: It started out as demos and just being creative, but after getting some live drums on the stuff it really came to life. Gaetano Nicolosi was very, very supportive in making the first 3 songs come to life. I don’t think I would have actually done it if he didn’t play drums on it. It just sounded so good when it was done, I had to keep going. The music just spread like Wildfire.
Hardrock Haven: There are a lot of musicians involved in the project. Kelly Keeling and Mike Vescera are easily recognizable names in the industry. How did you corral all those people to your cause?
Chris: Most of the guys are actually my friends, a lot of them I met through the scene; but a couple of guys were brought in as I sorta stumbled on them as we went along. Mike’s a GREAT guy and a friend. He’s from CT and I met him about 6 yrs back; it’s an honor and pleasure to work with him. Kelly and I met on the rock for X-mas tour, while playing with Terri Lane. Kelly’s a talent like no other and has also become a friend of mine; one heck of a guy!! I was very lucky to have everyone involved at the same time. There were others I invited to work with me on the project, but didn’t get to work with them because of time constraints. This also was a great opportunity for me to work with notable people that I wouldn’t normally get to work with, because we don’t always coexist in the same music world.
Hardrock Haven: How did Bill Holloman end up on “Walk in the Park?” Did you envision having a brass section on that particular song?
Chris: Bill is a local player from Connecticut and a friend of the studio I work at as well; he has a huge catalog of players he’s played with like Danny Gatton and Le Chic. I was looking for something different. I had the idea for horns on that song and he can play both sax and trumpet, so we brought him in to do a little horn section. After I heard the parts he put down I decided to ask him to make a pass at a horn solo and to do a trade off at the end, because I really liked his vibe. Bill is another awesome player and a killer guy!
Hardrock Haven: Was the music in place before the vocalist laid down their tracks? Did you contribute to the lyrics?
Chris: Yes, the music was written before hand. I spent time arranging and getting just about everything the way I wanted it. I didn’t get involved in the lyrics at all. I kind of felt it wouldn’t be a co-write if I was writing the lyrics and I didn’t get the singers full heart and soul. Also to me it made more sense to allow Jimmy Kunes, Chandler Mogel, Mike Vescera, and Kelly Keeling to do what they do best and that’s be themselves!
Hardrock Haven: Tapestry of Souls strikes a nice balance between instrumental songs and vocal songs. Was it easy to set the track listing?
Chris: I spent about a week just listening; I’m all about a feel or a vibe. I pickup on what I wanted to happen right away with the track listing. It was very easy for me.
Hardrock Haven: How did you hook with Michael McDowell and Shredguy Records?
Chris: Michael and I have been talking online for years, another huge supporter of guitar music in general. I was working on this record and we got to talking about it some and Michael and I both thought it would be good for both of us to team together; I was in favor of this in my own mind for quite awhile. I always liked Michael and felt like we could both bring some good music to people. Michael works very hard to promote and support music on and even off the label. The best part about him is he’s a TRUE fan of music and what he does comes from the heart. Please visit shred guy records and check out all the talent!
Hardrock Haven: You also are part of a couple other bands. Tell about your involvement with Thunderhead and for Terri Lane’s band.
Chris: Terri Lane is a recording artist from Connecticut. I originally moved to CT after being discovered by Ron Keel (he was doing his Ironhorse thing at the time and Terri had performed all the background vocals on the debut CD (and second album as well), and even a duet with Ron called “Take Another Shot,” that later ended up on his anthology record. I was in a band that opened for Ironhorse in Charleston, SC. It was at this time that I also met Robert Marcello and Gaetano Nicolosi (both of whom were in Ironhorse). I ended up getting a copy of the CD, and finding Terri had done all this work on it (along with Mike Vescera who produced the album), and we became friends. After a quick flight up to Connecticut and a review of some material, I decided to relocate and work with Terri on some songs and get a band to back her. The sound is very Aerosmith/Bad Company with a serious female voice. As of right now we are midpoint on a her debut album. It features such players as Chris Slade (The Firm, AC/DC), Bobby T. Torello (Johnny Winter, Black Oak Arkansas, Grace Slick), and Eric Klaastad (Trouble Tribe).
Chris: Thunderhead is a 70′s southern rock band that was produced by Johnny Winter in 1975. After some recording with Bobby Torello on some of Terri’s songs, Bobby asked me if I was interested in being involved in a Thunderhead Reunion. I accepted his offer and we immediately began rehearsals for some shows in New Orleans, where the band was from originally. During this time they released for the first time ever the record that Johnny produced for them that was in a vault for 35 yrs! It was shelved when they signed a deal with ABC Records in 1975. As of right now the band is in mixing stages of a brand new album titled “Alive Again”, and will feature new songs and live cuts from the reunion shows recorded in New Orleans in the summer of 2010.
Hardrock Haven: How has the internet helped you promote your projects? What do you think about iTunes, Facebook, Spotify?
Chris: It’s been great, the fans have been very cool. We have reached a few people and are glad we are out there promoting good music and hope we are supporting the music scene in general.
Chris: I-tunes is cool and good for instant gratification; it gives artists some flexibility and lets the fans get the music immediately. Facebook is good, but it’s getting more like what myspace has become; with lots of technical problems and I sense people are just not as enchanted by it anymore. I think if the creators of facebook just left it alone there would be less issues; you can’t always reinvent the wheel.
Chris: I’m not a real fan of Spotify, because I think it hurts the artists. To me, being paid fractions of a cent per stream and being dumped into a huge catalog where no one can really find you is a problem. It’s hard to make a good record; it’s not cheap for promo and to get it out there for people to listen to. Spotify has a lot to fix before I think it can be a good working system for musicians to be able to survive on a few simple streams. Remember, if artists aren’t making money on album sales or streams then the live show is all there is. Ever wonder why concert ticket prices are so high? Just my 2 cents. What I do like about Spotify is that bands can be heard by the consumer before they buy the CD or Mp3s. This gives the band an opportunity to make new audiences based on similar style, (if the band can be found).
Chris: I’m personally a fan of physical media. I like artwork and actually holding something that I bought in my hand. I love the way Vinyl sounds and I love CDs. It’s just way more personal, and I get the credits and liner notes.
Hardrock Haven: What plans do you have in the future for your solo stuff; another CD in the works maybe?
Chris: I’m always writing, and have 7-8 songs in the works right now. I will do another CD; as to when it will be completed is the question. I have a lot of projects right now on my plate, but I will always press on.
Hardrock Haven: Anything you want to talk about that I may not have asked you about?
Chris: This year’s a big year for me with records. This fall look for an album with another band I’m in, with Dino Fiorenza, Mike Bidwell, Gaetano Nicolosi, and Luccio Nicolosi. It’s called “Intuition” and is a collection of Xmas songs that have been totally rocked out. I’m super proud of this record. I’m also on a record with the band This Time Down on Versailles Records. It’s an Iron Maiden Tribute Album called Two Minutes to Midnight: a tribute to Iron Maiden; due out this Summer.
Hardrock Haven: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. Stay in touch can’t wait to hear more music from you.
Chris: Thanks so much man, you guys ROCK!!!
Visit Chris Bickley and his other projects on the web:
June 20, 2012 by Publisher
by Mark Allen
Second album from this Christian metalcore act finds a new singer handling the microphone and also finds the band still refining their sound. To Speak of Wolves seem a little unsure whether they want to be an oldschool metalcore band, all fury and heaviness and rage and chaos, or a commercially-accepted metalcore band with melodic lines and clean vocals. With their complex arrangements, furious tempos, and brutal drum work, the band ultimately proves to be a solid force in the metalcore market, but a force still not quite locked onto a cohesive identity.
That said, the balance is definitely tipped toward the non-commercial end of the spectrum on Find Your Worth, Come Home. Melody rears its head every now and then, but it is more the exception than the norm. Much like a hardcore porn star, the band likes it fast and rough and full of screams from start to finish. The engineering plays to this approach, emphasizing the down-tuned aggression and musical ferocity to create the kind of sonic metal hell that will send Justin Bieber fans scurrying for cover with their hands clutched over their ears and make the diehard metalcore masses slam their skulls together in violent approval.
New vocalist Gage Speas is more screamer than growler and the shrill edge to his voice will not be to all tastes; at times, it seems like you can actually hear the vessels in his throat rupturing and spritzing blood all over his esophagus. Comparisons to Cory Brandan (Norma Jean) and Spencer Chamberlain (Underoath) are not out of line. Have your lyric sheet handy when listening to this; otherwise, you’ll probably be hard-pressed to understand what Speas is screaming about.
When clean vocals enter this musical maelstrom, they are used well. On “Vertigo,” for example, the screams dominate, but they are laced with clean singing to lend an atmospheric edge that is in sharp counterpoint to the raging riff that forms the song’s backbone. The clean vocals never cross over into crass commercial appeal—the metalcore integrity remains unsullied—but they do offer an appreciated melodic mitigation of the seething heaviness. The same can be said for “Dialysis Dreams,” a straight-forward metalcore juggernaut that punches up the power with some tough gang vocals and slickly-placed clean singing. To Speak of Wolves have ample devices in their toolbox and they possess the skill and wisdom to use them at the right time and in the proper place for maximum impact.
But what about listeners for who clean vocals and melody are anathema? Fear not, To Speak of Wolves serve up plenty of smash-mouth songs that are designed for no other purpose than to crush your cochlea and turn your brain-meat to gelatin. “Hivemind” hurtles by on a chaotic tsunami of noise, brutally establishing from the get-go that this will not be an album for those who like it soft and fluffy. Or you could crank up the viciousness of “Voidwalker,” which is filled to the brim with hot-blooded ferocity and a spine-snapping pace and pounding intensity.
Bottom line, metalcore fans, especially the purists who dislike the commercial aspects that have crept into the genre of late, will find this album to be well worth their while. This one is geared toward them, the diehards, the old blood, the lovers of screams and growls and untainted aggression. For those hearty souls, listening to this album might just feel like coming home.
William “Gage” Speas (vocals)
Phillip Chamberlain (drums)
Corey Doran (rhythm guitar, clean vocals)
Aaron Kisling (lead guitar)
Seth Webster (bass)
2. Stand Alone Complex
4. Broken Birds
5. A Simple Thought That Changed Everything
6. Nostalgia Seeds
7. Je Suis Fini
9. Dialysis Dreams
11. Rearview Memories
Label: Solid State Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10
June 18, 2012 by Managing Editor
by Derric Miller
“She’s cocaine pleasure but she’s all pain.” For most of society–at least the ones self-aware enough to understand the soul-sapping dynamics of “relationships”–that one simple lyric culminates in an eerie yet apropos examination of dating. If that sort of polysyllabic deconstruction of musical poetry isn’t doing it for you, try this one on–Dating really sucks. Really. It sucks. Bad. It’s twice the pain of pleasure, and twice the embarrassment of honor. And that’s the reason why we need to bow at the altar of Bombay Black every single damn time they write a song; no band in the universe can flesh out our hatred of both being alone and yet navigating with the instinctual drive to find someone to “complete us.” In fact, maybe the only complete thing in life is mixing bullets with booze … see, another reason why Bombay Black is too smart for their own damn good.
To start with, just being crafty means nothing. You need a vocalist who can sing with both snark and melody at the same time. Oh yeah, Erik Johnson is an unsung hero of vocalists, and he’s even better LIVE in concert. You need to be backed by a rhythm section that can make you pump to the sexual beat. So steps in bassist Ty Sims and bludgeoning drummer Rob McCauley. These guys are mountainous in their volume, power and precision. You also need a guitarist who pisses off all the guitar heroes in the crowd, and guess what? New guitarist Justin Velte will make you jealous and proud all at the same time. This is Bombay Black … and they are better than you.
In the end, though, it’s all about the songs. Bullets and Booze lifts off with “Queen of Denial.” You get some insight into McCauley’s sheer rabidity but also the deftness of Velte, as his licks bring a near Middle-Eastern or Egyptian vibe to them. What’s the best part of any Bombay Black song, though? It’s the huge, harmonious chorus, 100 percent of the time, wrapped around lyrics that you can’t write. “It’s hard times trying to walk a straight line and I know she’s never gonna do it for me!” The sing-along factor is immeasurable. You have to hear it to truly hear it.
There seems to be a flowing narrative song to song, and that’s “cheap sex is better than love.” And thus steps in “All the Same in the Dark.” The rhythmic grind, the sheer sexuality, the dripping testosterone is nearly indescrible, except it just was. (That’s called naming the frame.) When Johnson sings in pure earnest sexuality, “Cuz I’m not so psycho that I need your name,” you can’t help believe that THEY believe everything they write. You wanna party with these guys, in other words …
Not to veer too far off the sub-concept of Bullets and Booze, you land on “No Room for Emotion.” That best part about this song is that you get a mixup of composition; it’s not quite a verse-verse-chorus song. They mix it up somewhat, but in the end, it’s just another rut anthem. Really, if you thought Billy Squire wrote songs worthy of rutness, he lost his crown when Bombay Black wrote, “Get it in, get it on, get if off and get gone!” Perchance they forgot every kiss begins with K.
The title track is poetically the most harmless song on the release. There’s a tinge of the forlorn, the bereft, the whole “I miss you and want you vibe.” It’s got a bit of Whitesnake sexual squirm to it, musically, like someone is going to have sex merely because this song is playing. The lyrics of “All the bullets and all of the booze don’t begin to equal you,” is about as exposed as Bombay Black will become. So embrace it. It’s not romantic, of course, but it’s at least … positive?
Look, Bombay Black is one of the best American Hard Rock bands of the past decade. It’s not Modern Rock, it’s not Classic Rock, it’s not Hair Metal, but it’s all of that simultaneously. You can’t paint them into a corner (cuz they’d shoot their way out) but don’t you dare dismiss them. This is what American Hard Rock sounds like today–you start with Bombay Black, and you work your way down. Period.
1. Queen of Denial
2. Rock N Roll Pain Train
3. Helluva Time
4. All the Same in the Dark
5. Bad Boy
6. Honey Lemon Kisses
7. No Room for Emotion
8. Let Me Be
9. Love Like This
10. Dragon Tattoo
11. Bullets and Booze
12. Take Another Picture
13. The One You Love
14. That’s the Way It Is
15. One Single Drop
Genre: Hard Rock/Metal
Label: Triage Music Firm
Hardrock Haven rating: 9/10
by Craig Newman
Guest Writer –
March 23, 2012 at the Canyon Club at Agoura Hills, CA
Supporting MSG’s latest album Temple Of Rock brought about the reunion of Michael Schenker and Robin McAuley (McAuley Schenker Group) for their first U.S. tour together in almost 20 years. The show was energized from the start to the end, opening with William Shatner’s spoken introduction from Temple Of Rock, MSG launched straight into the song “Into The Arena.” They played songs from MSG and from Schenker’s time spent with UFO and Scorpions performing crowd favorites such as: UFO’s “Love to Love,” “Doctor Doctor,” “Lights Out,” “Rock Bottom,” and “Lights Out;” the Scorpions “Only A Man,” “Another Piece of Meat” and “Make it Real;” and MSG’s “Save Yourself,” “No Time For Losers” and the new song from Temple of Rock “Fallen Angel.”
The full band lineup for this tour features; Michael Schenker– guitar, Robin McAuley (Survivor, MSG) – lead vocals, Wayne Findlay – keyboards, Rev Jones- bass guitar, Pete Holmes (Black ‘N Blue) – drums.
Though the focus of the show is Michael, and he shredded, Robin McAuley vocals are still strong, he even displayed some dance moves. Rev Jones is a show just by himself with his constant jumping, spinning over the stage and drum riser, and various facial expressions. Wayne and Pete kept the rhythm to the maximum with energy from beginning to the end. Robin, Wayne, and Rev were having fun and with the audience, Michael was hand slapping the people in front of the stage during the show and took photos of the audience at the end of the show.
Into the Arena
Armed and Ready
Another Piece of Meat (Scorpions)
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Rock My Nights Away
Shoot Shoot (UFO)
Love to Love (UFO)
Too Hot to Handle (UFO)
Let It Roll (UFO)
Natural Thing (UFO)
Lights Out (UFO)
Rock Bottom (UFO)
Doctor Doctor (UFO)
Opening the show was local band Stonebreed, that have a strong southern influence yet rocked the audience. Carlos Cruz Bates the singer, interacted well with the audience. The rest of the band includes; Don Boads on bass, Chris Torrey on drums, Dave Eggers and Steve Sampson on guitars. The band is currently finishing a demo and playing many show around Southern California. This is a group and with formula to have their music heard across the U.S. and at other countries so keep an eye out for them.
by John Kindred
Staff Writer –
Reverence, metal’s latest band to emerge from the Motor City, Detroit that is, have released their debut album When Darkness Calls on Razor Ice Records. The group was founded in 2010 by Toyko Blade guitarist Bryan Holland and vocalist Todd Michael Hall, who also is the current front-man for Jack Starr’s Burning Star. Along for the ride with Holland and Hall are fellow band-mates guitarist Pete Rossi, drummer Steve Wacholz and bassist Frank Kruckel.
Branding the band name as Reverence which by definition means “the respect or devotion that others show somebody or something,” would lead one to believe that their intention was to pay their respect to the “metal” genre by delivering their own unique brand of it. With each band member having played a part in some well-respected groups during their careers; Savatage, Toyko Blade, Crimson Glory, etc., one would expect this theory to hold true.
When Darkness Calls features 11 songs and while the band describes themselves as a Power Metal outfit the music is closer to traditional heavy metal and thrash metal. Really, Reverence falls more into the New Wave of Traditional Metal genre. Holland and Hall songwriting partnership and collaboration has certainly produced some blistering metal anthems. Hall who is known for his 4 octave vocal range is operating at full throttle. For those that have heard his voice on Harlot and Burning Starr CDs, Hall’s really pushes the upper levels of his vocal range. Co-conspirators Holland and Rossi light up their fret-boards and when you throw in the rhythmic pulse provided by Wacholz and the rumbling bass of Kruckel you have white hot metal meltdown.
So with the screaming guitars and double bass fury the band rips through When Darkness Calls with calculated reckless abandonment. “After The Leaves Have Fallen” is the only song on the CD that could be considered a ballad, still it has plenty of metallic overtones. The remaining 10 songs are ferocious heavy, metal anthems. Holland and Rossi lay down some very heavy rhythmic grooves providing Hall the perfect soundboard to overlay his wicked vocals over. Their guitar solos demonstrate fluid, flashy, and speedy riffs and phrasing emphasizing their command of their instruments. The overall production gives all the instruments the space needed to heard and all blend together seamlessly.
From the opening title track to the final note struck on “Vengeance Is Mine” this is a 49-minute journey worthy of praise. Holland, Hall, Rossi, Wacholz and Kruckel reverence for metal has clearly delivered a sonic achievement that pays homage to the genres of; heavy, thrash and power, and delivers in all phases of execution.
Genre: Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Power Metal
Todd Michael Hall (v)
Bryan Holland (g)
Steve ‘Doc Killdrums’ Wacholz (d)
Pete Rossi (g)
Frank Kruckel (b)
1. When Darkness Calls
2. Bleed For Me
3. Phantom Road
4. Devil in Disguise
5. Too Late
7. The Price You Pay
9. Revolution Rising
10. After The Leaves Have Fallen
11. Vengeance Is Mine
Label: Razar Ice Records
by Alissa Ordabai
Staff Writer –
U.K. premiere Report: June 16, 2012, Sheffield, UK
Few of us can imagine what it was like to be Jason Becker back in 1989 – a 20 year-old internationally acclaimed virtuoso about to start touring with David Lee Roth as his new guitarist. Even fewer can imagine what it’s like to be Jason Becker now, after the onset of an illness which has deprived him of speech and movement.
The makers of the documentary Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet have done their best to offer a candid glimpse into how life has changed for Becker over the past 23 years, dispelling much of speculation and myth. And the biggest myth outside of the rock community was that Jason Becker has died, as was believed until recently by some of his school friends.
The film shows Becker not only very much alive, but staying creative and working on new music with the help of his father, who has devised a unique eye communication system for his son. Read more
by Nikiforos Skoumas
Staff Writer –
It has been two years since the release of Days of Defiance and Greek-based melodic-power metallers Firewind are back with their seventh studio offering entitled Few Against Many. A couple word tours and quite a few side-projects intervening, Firewind are back with a renewed record label courtesy of Century Media and a new musical direction.
Few Against Many features the established line up of band-leader and contemporary guitar hero Gus G, long serving bassist Petros Christo, keyboardist Bob Katsionis and lead singer Apollo Papathanasio plus new drummer Joe Nunez, also a full time member of Nightrage.
The new album is more about rhythm and groove than melody with emphasis on guitar riffs, hard hitting drumming, minimal amount of keyboards while the vocals carry the majority of whatever melodies found on Few Against Many. Upon first play you might find the album being very aggressive and ‘bad-ass’ so to speak; yet the truth is that Firewind are mostly known for their well crafted melodies and infectious choruses, arguably a key element separating them form the majority of Euro-Power outfits. On Few Against Many it seems that the choruses are not so well developed- you could overlook the too-predictable and bland opener “Wall of Sound” and the down-tempo atmospheric “Loosing my Mind,” still, by the time you reach track three “Few Against Many” you can definitely tell there are loose ends on the songwriting of the new album. Of course the shredding is still there, and the vocal lines still lead the compositions, yet that hardly compensates for the under-developed material.
In addition there are a couple of thrashy-tunes on this one where Nunez uncovers a great deal of his Nightrage drum style, with basic staccato drumming complemented by distorted-yet-simplistic bass lines, and truthfully that’s far from what Firewind are accustomed to. Overall, it is not the change of direction that might put one off Few Against Many just the notion that the material on offer, is not as meticulously composed as previous records, allowing the impression of a rushed-out record. You would be right to expect more from Firewind than Few Against Many because it bares very little of the musical essence of the group.
Genre: Heavy Metal, Melodic Metal
Apollo Papathanasio: Vocals
Gus G.: Guitar
Petros Christo: Bass
Bob Katsionis: Keyboards and guitar
Jo Nunez: Drums
1. Wall of Sound
2. Losing My Mind
3. Few Against Many
4. The Undying Fire
5. Another Dimension
7. Edge of a Dream
9. Long Gone Tomorrow
10. No Heroes, No Sinners
11. Battleborn (bonus)
12. No Heroes, No Sinners (acoustic, bonus)
Label: Century Media
Hardrock Haven rating: 6.5/10
by John Kindred
Staff Writer –
Chrysalis Records continues to revisit the past recorded works of UFO; this time around looking back to the “post-Schenker” albums. These five studio albums, along with live recordings, rare tracks, alternate takes, single edits comprise the five-CD set titled The Chrysalis Years Vol 2 (1980-1986). The studio albums include 1980′s No Place to Run, ‘81′s The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent, ‘82′s Mechanix, ‘83′s Making Contact and ‘86′s Misdemeanor. Vol. 2 also includes live tracks from concerts in Cleveland and at the Hammersmith Apollo in the U.K., as well as a BBC concert recorded for Radio 1 during their 1980 No Place To Run tour.
The Chrysalis Years Vol 2 (1980-1986) delivers another 70-plus song CD set, which defined the character of UFO during the ‘80s. It’s a cliché, but Schenker leaving UFO left some big shoes to fill. Without Schenker, the band worked with several guitarists and valiantly tried to recapture the magic they had during the 1970s. During this time period, original members Andy Parker and Pete Way (who left UFO after the release of Mechanix), both, stepped away from UFO, leaving Mogg as the only original member. Mogg carried on, disbanding the group in 1985, only to return again in ’86 with Paul Gray, Atomic Tommy M, Paul Raymond and Joe Simpson and released Misdemeanor. This was a short-lived affair, as UFO disbanded for a second time in 1988. Eventually, Mogg and Way teamed up for another go at it in ’91. The next year, the original lineup of Mogg, Schenker, Way, Raymond and Parker reunited for three albums; Walk on Water (1995), Covenant (2000), and Sharks (2002).
So, after the minor UFO history lesson, we are left to ponder The Chrysalis Years. Following the ’70s with inconsistent lineups and weak record sales, UFO trudged through the ’80s, finding themselves competing with MTV, NWOBHM, thrash metal and Glam. While teenagers of this time period would have leaned more toward the metallic fury of “Lights Out,” or the bombastic “Rock Bottom,” only die-hard fans who allowed themselves to follow the band after the departure of Schenker, embraced UFO and continued to show their allegiance. The are some gems on The Chrysalis Years Vol 2 (1980-1986), and you find the weaker moments are the live tracks. As the guitarists do well to performing their songs in the live setting, most often they don’t do the Schenker material justice. Often finding themselves behind the beat and not “on it” like Schenker, those songs don’t have the same pep and often lose the original magic.
UFO had some success and personnel highlights during this time period. They worked with George Martin, the legendary producer who worked with the Beatles, on ’80s No Place To Run. They also released the successful Mechanix, which peaked at No. 8 on the charts in the U.K. For UFO fans, other highlights in the package include the inclusion of 1983′s Headstone, which is a compilation of live songs released after they disbanded (the first time).
Also included from:
1980′s No Place To Run: the single edit “Young Blood” and its live B-side “Hot ‘N’ Ready”
1981′s Mechanix: features the B-side “Heel Of A Stranger”
1983′s Making Contact: features the B-side “Everybody Knows” and previously unreleased on CD – 7” edit of single “When It’s Time To Rock”
1986′s Misdemeanor: features the non-album B-side The Chase” and U.S. remix versions of “Night Run,” “Heavens Gate” and “One Heart”
With the liner notes again penned by Phil Mogg, The Chrysalis Years Vol 2 (1980-1986) is an important addition to any UFO fans CD collection. Whether you are a fan of this historical period of the band or not, it shows that they weren’t willing to lay down and die. Their tenacity led to their current incarnation that now features Vinny Moore on guitar, along with Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond and Andy Parker. Their latest studio release, Seven Deadly, was released this year and showcases a band still doing what the love to do.
Genre: Hard Rock
Phil Mogg (vocals)
Paul Chapman (guitar)
Paul Raymond (keyboards, guitar)
Andy Parker (drums)
Pete Way (bass)
Neil Carter (keyboards, guitar, sax)
Tommy McClendon (guitar)
Paul Gray (bass)
Joe Simpson (drums)
1. Alpha Centauri
2. Lettin’ Go
3. Mystery Train
4. This Fire Burns Tonight
5. Gone In The Night
6. Young Blood
7. No Place To Run
8. Take It Or Leave It
9. Money Money
11. Young Blood (7″ Edit)
12. Hot ‘n’ Ready (Live In Cleveland, Ohio)
13. Lettin’ Go (BBC In Concert)
14. Young Blood (BBC In Concert)
15. No Place To Run (BBC In Concert)
16. Out In The Street (BBC In Concert)
17. Cherry (BBC In Concert)
18. Only You Can Rock Me (BBC In Concert)
19. Love To Love (BBC In Concert)
1. Mystery Train (BBC In Concert)
2. Doctor Doctor (BBC In Concert)
3. Too Hot To Handle (BBC In Concert)
4. Lights Out (BBC In Concert)
5. Rock Bottom (BBC In Concert)
6. Chains Chains
7. Long Gone
8. The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent
9. It’s Killing Me
10. Makin’ Moves
11. Lonely Heart
12. Couldn’t Get It Right
13. Profession Of Violence
14. Lonely Heart (7″ Edit)
1. The Writer
2. Somethin’ Else
3. Back Into My Life
4. You’ll Get Love
5. Doing It All For You
6. We Belong To The Night
7. Let It Rain
9. Feel It
11. Heel Of A Stranger
1. Blinded By A Lie
2. Diesel In The Dust
3. A Fool For Love
4. You And Me
5. When It’s Time To Rock
6. The Way The Wild Wind Blows
7. Call My Name
8. All Over You
9. No Getaway
10. Push, It’s Love
11. Everybody Knows
12. When It’s Time To Rock (7″ Edit)
13. We Belong To The Night (Live At Hammersmith)
14. Let It Rain (Live At Hammersmith)
15. Couldn’t Get It Right (Live At Hammersmith)
16. Electric Phase (Live At Hammersmith)
17. Doing It All For You (Live At Hammersmith)
1. This Time
2. One Heart
3. Night Run
4. The Only Ones
5. Mean Streets
6. Name Of Love
8. Dream The Dream
9. Heavens Gate
11. The Chase
12. Night Run (US Remix)
13. Heavens Gate (US Remix)
14. One Heart (US Remix)
Label: Chrysalis Records
Hardrock Haven rating: n/a
June 17, 2012 by Publisher
by Justin Gaines
Staff Writer –
Italian power metal band Clairvoyants may have started out as an Iron Maiden cover band, but with their 2009 debut Word to the Wise they proved to the metal world just how powerful their own music was. Unfortunately, despite Word to the Wise being one of that year’s best power metal releases, it didn’t gain a lot of attention. Undaunted, the band is back with their second album, titled The Shape of Things to Come.
Just to clarify, in case you saw the words “Italian” and “power metal” and immediately thought “Rhapsody clones,” Clairvoyants is not your typical Italian power metal band. There are no overblown symphonic arrangements, no lofty narration and no lyrics about magic swords or frolicking elves. Clairvoyants has a sound that’s somewhere between Iron Maiden (obviously) and the classic melodic power metal of early Angra, Edguy and Symphony X. The Shape of Things to Come is very melodic without getting into sing-song territory, has a nice use (but not overuse) of keyboards, and even has some progressive metal elements and lyrics that are more meaningful than the average power metal album. As with the first Clairvoyants album, the musicianship is very tight, and as with the first album it’s the flashy guitar work of Luca Princiotta and the dynamic, powerful vocals of Gabriele Bernasconi that really stand out on The Shape of Things to Come.
The Shape of Things to Come is an incredibly strong album overall, and one that really doesn’t have any weak moments. It’s hard to tell which songs work the best – the heavier songs like “No Need to Surrender” and “Endure and Survive” or the more melodic (but still powerful) songs like “Prometheus.” Even the more subdued “Just the Same Story” and “The Sinner’s Tale” work really well. As the album draws to a close, the pace picks up dramatically, with the hard-charging “To Heaven and Back” and “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” getting the blood pumping (and heads banging) before the soaring 8-minute “Horizon Calling” ends things on an epic note worthy of an Avantasia album.
Once again, Clairvoyants have released what is arguably the year’s best power metal album. Hopefully more people are paying attention this time around, because this is a band that deserves a lot more attention, and The Shape of Things to Come is an album that fans of the classic melodic power metal sound really need to hear.
Genre: Power Metal, Melodic Metal, Heavy Metal
Gabriele Bernasconi (v)
Luca Princiotta (g)
Marco Demartini (g)
Paolo Turcatti (b)
Manuel Pisano (d)
1. No Need to Surrender
2. I Don’t Believe Their Lie
3. Endure and Survive
4. Just the Same Story
5. The Shape of Things to Come
7. The Only Way Out is Through
8. Sinner’s Tale
9. To Heaven and Back
10. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
11. Horizon Calling
Label: Valery Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 9/10
June 16, 2012 by Publisher
by Craig Newman
Guest Writer –
April 20, 2012 at the Canyon Club, Agoura Hills, CA.
San Francisco area based hard rock band Y&T rocked Southern California Friday night at the Canyon Club. Dave Meniketti the founder Vocalist and guitarist told the crowd that Black Tiger was released 30 years ago and this the anniversary tour and played songs from that album including, “Hell or High Water,” the ballad “I Believe in You” and “Black Tiger.” Also other fans favorites such as the anthem opening song – “Open Fire,” “Mean Streak,” “Midnight in Tokyo” and “Summer Time Girls.” Also the first new studio album in over 13 years, Face Melter was released during 2010 and Y&T played three songs from that including the first single and video, “I’m Coming Home.”
The show was high energy from beginning to end of the show. The crowd from my generation and younger also were fist pumping singing to the classic songs. The current lineup is: John Nyman- Guitars, Mike Vanderhule- Drums, and Brad Lang- Bass. There was good interaction from the band with audience particularly in venue where both can interact and not separated by barriers as at an arena and stadium setting. Y&T have headlined and opened for other artist such as: DIO, Whitesnake, Motley Crue, Aerosmith, and many more. They blend energy, love ballads, blues and jazz sounds with hard rock ‘n roll. This band has influenced musicians of great rock bands as well as up and coming rock bands for futuregenerations.
Look for Y&T on the MOR (Monsters of Rock) Cruise in 2013.
June 16, 2012 by Publisher
by Sara McCarthy
Staff Writer –
May 27, 2012 Chevy Court at the New York State Fairgrounds, Syracuse, NY
Every rocker in Central New York knows that the short but jam-packed summer concert season officially starts every year with the DFB aka Dysfunctional Family Barbeque. This one-day festival is produced by Galaxy Communication’s modern rock radio station 100.9 Krock. The phone calls and questions about when where and who will be at the show start earlier and earlier each spring. Rainman, arguably the station’s favorite DJ, makes the announcement typically on a Monday afternoon during the Ride at 5. This year was no exception, those not in their car listened either from their computers or on Radio Loyalty, an app that streams radio stations. This year’s line up was packed with an eclectic grouping of bands including The Dirty Heads, Filter and headliners Flogging Molly.
The gates opened at eleven and although the official rules state that there is no tailgating allowed, it is obvious there is no way to enforce this rule. Concert goers had beer-pong tables set up, Jello shots were being sold, every few hundred feet another vehicle had its’ windows down and sound system blasting one of the acts for the day. The fans were obviously enjoying themselves, meeting new people and catching up with old friends.
Inside the show were food and drink vendors, merchandise booths, and tents offering products of all sorts. Having such a large space makes for a very happy crowd, the lines for beers were never too long and there was room for those that just wanted to hang in the back and take it all in.
The Dreaming, out of Hollywood is fronted by Stabbing Westward’s Johnny Hall was the third band to take the stage. Playing a mix of songs off their album Puppet and Stabbing Westward hits, the crowd was very responsive. Hall’s voice was top notch and it was awesome to hear him hit those ultra high notes he is known for. The band tore up the stage and was all over the set, working the crowd up into a frenzy. Fists pumping and crowd surfing, the fans were having a blast.
The Dirty Heads were another crowd favorite. A sound that is a fun mix of reggae, rock and rap, you are unable to sit still while watching these guys perform. Their lyrics are quirky, and songs so energetic, singer Jared “Dirty J” Watson, danced all over the stage, and when he started singing their latest single “Spread Too Thin” fans intensified their singing and security had their hands full with the additional crowd surfers rolling off the front of the barriers. They closed their set out with “Lay Me Down” the single featuring Rome Ramirez from Sublime with Rome. Their new album Cabin By The Sea is set to drop on June 19, 2012.
Headliners Flogging Molly was a 360-degree change from all of the other bands. Also from Los Angeles, this Celtic punk band had their work cut out for themselves when they took the stage. The younger members in the crowd were not overly interested and had started to head for the gates. Opening with “The Wrong Company” band members grabbed a hold of the crowd and showed them there is more to rock than just guitars, bass and drums. They incorporated fiddle, mandolin, banjo, tin whistles and some more obscure instruments such as a bodhran. The resulting performance was awesome to take in. This group of seven musicians had a blast on stage, laughing, smiling, jumping all around and engaging the crowd. Fiddlist Bridget Regan was actually performing with a broken foot and that didn’t slow her down a bit. Flogging Molly, although a bit off the path for a typical Krock fan, closed out the day with a bang and all of the naysayers realized that Celtic punk rocks too!
Krock 6th Annual DFB Line Up:
Cry To The Blind – www.crytotheblind.com
Weaving The Fate- www.weavngthefate.com
The Dreaming- www.thedreamingband.com
Twelve Stones- www.12stones.com
Dirty Heads- www.dirtyheads.com
Flogging Molly- www.floggingmolly.com
Krock’s 6th Annual Dysfunctional Family Barbecue (DFB) 2012 Photo Gallery
June 14, 2012 by Publisher
by Craig Newman
Guest Writer –
New French Metal band Lilith to Kill Talks with HRH
Hardrock Haven: What age did you start singing?
Lilith: I always wanted to sing and make music! For me it’s really essential! I can’t live without! So I sing since very long time.
Hardrock Haven: Your influences as a music artist?
Lilith: I listen lot of music, in very different styles; it’s hard to choose one artist, even if I really like Amy Lee!
Hardrock Haven: Who is in the band?
Lilith: We have a new guitar player called Fred, Aqua on bass he’s created the band with me. Currently we are searching a new drummer but I think when people will read this, we have found him… or her! (laughs)
Hardrock Haven: Are you performing?
Lilith: Yes we try to play on stage the most we can, but without drummer it was difficult.
Hardrock Haven: Are the songs written by you and with others?
Lilith: I write music and lyrics with Aqua, at home we have a kind of home studio and with Fred on guitar it’s more easy now!
Hardrock Haven: Does the band name have a meaning?
Lilith: The name was an idea from Aqua (Bass), it means lots of things for us, because it’s a part of my personality and my nickname but it sounds great too, I think (laughs)
Hardrock Haven: Is the EP download only? Plans for Vinyl release?
Lilith: We have limited editions, people can get it on our online store, a Vinyl would be really cool, maybe one day, I can’t say more for now.
Hardrock Haven: What do you guys like to do when not doing music stuff?
Lilith: We play on World of War craft or recently Diablo, real Geek! Or simply be with friends.
Hardrock Haven: What are your ambitions now?
Lilith: Sign with a good label that believes in us and play more and more on stage! Currently we are working on our first album it’s exciting!
Hardrock Haven: What piece of art and/or film is important to you?
Lilith: My favorite movies are love stories, one of my favorite movie is Moulin Rouge, PS: I Love You and the best A Moment to Remember a Korean movie.
June 13, 2012 by Publisher
by Craig Newman
Guest Writer –
My first meeting with Terry was during 1990 through a friend who I was working with at a music artist management company. After meeting Terry my friend went on to becoming XYZ’s tour manager for their first U.S. tour. On that tour when XYZ came to Hollywood, CA for their show at the Palace, it was recorded for a live album and aired on national radio. I was fortunate to be able to take photos of that show. And last year after posting them on a social media site, I contacted Terry and met him at a local benefit concert. Which led to this my, first interview with Terry Ilous.
Hardrock Haven: How did you get chosen to be the new singer of Great White?
Terry Ilous: I have known Michael Lardie for 20 years. He worked and engineered part of the first XYZ album. Great White and XYZ have the same agent and when Jack got ill I got asked if I would fill in until Jack got well. And that’s what happened.
Hardrock Haven: How do the band members feel about the new album (Elation) being in #42 in the U.S. Top Hard Rock Albums and #93 on Independent Album Chart?
Terry Ilous: We are very happy about it. Is a great start! I want to thank the fans, GW family and fans to be open minded. It is hard to replace Jack, who is a great singer. We have a lot hard of work ahead of us and reaching bigger goals. I’m most excited for my team.
Hardrock Haven: With you currently being the singer of Great White are you still able to sing and write for your band XYZ?
Terry Ilous: I will always be able to write for XYZ or anybody for that matter. Right now I am focused writing for Great White and with radio and press interviews. I can’t spread myself thin. Only 24 hours in a day. I am a dad and my daughter and I are into martial arts. Also I have to live my life as well (laughing).
Hardrock Haven: Great White and XYZ were at the 2012 Monsters of Cruise Festival. Also Great White and XYZ where on the 2012 MOR cruise, how was it?
Terry Ilous: It was amazing! The ship holds 4,500 people and to talk everybody and take pictures everyday on the deck. It was casual and friendly. Things have changed now days for fans to meet their favorite singer or actor cause of the internet. It is a good a thing to make it easier to approach you like such as your favorite rock star.
Hardrock Haven: Any new info on your humanitarian work that you are involved with?
Terry Ilous: I am always looking to help more. Helping other people helps me and feels good. Helps me out, makes me feel whole inside. Very satisfy to know I help a needy person, homeless and kids. I am always open to any charity event, any kind of donation. I know what is like to have no money and to be homeless. I have been up and down in my career where I had a lot of money and then have nothing. Helping others is a big, big thing to me! I believe in giving is receiving and I go by that.
Hardrock Haven: Any benefit shows planned?
Terry Ilous: Not at the moment but if you need me I will be there. I will be doing some things this winter at Boston and Rhode Island to help kids. It’s a Foundation called Rock for Christmas founded by a friend Wayne Morrison, every year to help raise money for toys.
Hardrock Haven: Can you tell me what is cool about those shows, such as the ones last year at Harper’s Bar & Grill or at the Hard Rock café, Hollywood, CA? Is it meeting artists you were a fan of and are influence by when you were younger?
Terry Ilous: Most artists I know since 1989 are approachable such as Rudy Sarzo, all of us in Great White, Jeff Paris, Robin Mac Auley, member of RATT, and Don Dokken are willing to help when I need help. And most will help and those that won’t God bless them and I won’t mention their names.
Hardrock Haven: My last question is regarding the songs on Great White’s set list. Are earlier songs from the 80’s included? Like “Street Killer,” “Stick It,” “On Your Knees” and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and “Rock and Roll?”
Terry Ilous: It’s best that Jack sings those Zeppelin songs than I. I never studied Zeppelin like he did and dose a wonderful job doing them. As far early songs, yes we do for that generation and have not forgotten that generation and we have covered the catalog and hits. And we’ll put in obscure songs the band likes and fan requests. We don’t just focus on the hits and have to please the fans and for us can be boring. So we have to mix up. It’s important to give the fans a good show or the best show you can. They pay the money to see the show. I take care of myself by exercising, running and martial arts and no drugs or alcohol to make us the band to be good as possible.
Hardrock Haven: It was good to talk to you again my friend. Thank for your time.
Terry Ilous: You’re welcome.
by Justin Gaines
Staff Writer –
Norwegian super-vocalist Jorn Lande and company are back with a new album, titled Bring Heavy Rock to the Land. It’s Jorn’s first original studio album since 2009’s Spirit Black, but Jorn has hardly been idle these past few years. In addition to his work with Masterplan, we’ve seen a compilation, a live album/DVD and of course the Dio tribute album. Those don’t quite satisfy like a new Jorn album though, so Bring Heavy Rock to the Land was eagerly anticipated.
Unfortunately, Bring Heavy Rock to the Land is something of a letdown. Sure, it’s Jorn doing what he does best, but the album seems kind of flat, like he really didn’t have much songwriting inspiration this time around and is just going through the motions. It says something that the album doesn’t really have a standout track until the fourth song, and that one’s a cover of Christopher Cross’s “Ride Like the Wind.” Jorn seems to be taking his cues from Saxon’s version, which is a good call. Jorn also offers another take on the Masterplan song “Time to Be King,” changing the arrangement so it’s more to his style of melodic metal. Of the new material, most of the songs just don’t stand out. Well, the title track does, but that’s more for its cheesiness than anything else. There are a couple of exceptions though. The slow build and powerful heaviness of “The World I See” is a song that makes you stop what you’re doing and really take notice, and “Black Morning” has a great AOR vibe, acoustic strumming and soulful, bluesy singing that just goes right to the heart.
Bring Heavy Rock to the Land isn’t a bad album by any means. The musicianship is tight, the production is pristine and of course Jorn sounds incredible. The songwriting just isn’t at the level we’ve come to expect from Jorn, and the result is probably the singer’s weakest solo album to date. Obviously if you’re a major Jorn fan, you’ll want to check it out, and there are at least 3-4 songs that will make it worth your while. Just don’t expect the usual Jorn magic this time.
Edition Notes: The physical release of Bring Heavy Rock to the Land comes in a digipack and features the bonus track “Live and Let Fly.”
Genre: Heavy Metal, Melodic Metal
Jorn Lande (v)
Tore Moren (g)
Willy Bendiksen (d)
Nic Angileri (b)
Tor Erik Myhre (g)
1. My Road
2. Bring Heavy Rock to the Land
3. A Thousand Cuts
4. Ride Like the Wind
5. Chains Around You
6. The World I See
7. Time to Be King
8. Ride to the Guns
9. Black Morning
10. I Came to Rock
Label: Frontiers Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10
June 11, 2012 by Publisher
by Joe Mis
Staff Writer –
Sweden’s One Without is releasing a 4 track EP entitled Numbers both as a follow up to their dynamic 2011 release Sweet Release and as a teaser to keep their fans happy while working on their next full length CD. They are continuing what has become a tradition – giving away their music at no cost, so this one is a real no-brainer.
Based in Gothenburg, this Swedish quintet continues to deliver the goods. Their trademark strong melodies, solid performances and dark and moody lyrics are present, but Numbers is an evolutionary step for the band. One Without has tightened their team work and further defined their unique sound with the addition of new drummer Håkan Strind (a.k.a. H-Can), who moved over from glam metal act Debbie Ray.
Fronted by the voices of Cat Fey and Kenny Boufadene, One Without is a leading example of “beauty and the beast” vocals. Fey has stepped up her game on the EP, moving an octave or two higher than normal but remaining calm and silky smooth. She never goes “operatic,” but the high end of her range has been significantly upgraded. Her vocal counterpoint, Kenny Boufadene is a pure growler, and he has moved in the opposite direction – deeper and raspier, but still remains remarkably clear. His rough edges contrast nicely with Fey’s smoothness, giving many of their harmonies an interesting sound. Boufadene continues to provide guitars along with Joonas Niskanen, giving the band a formidable one-two punch, although numbers seems to be more about vocals than guitars. Joni Kaartinen (bass) and H-Can (drums) provide a solid backbone, and both are exceptional players and are integral to the One Without sound. Keyboard and synths are more prominent in this release, and Boufadene has stepped up his vocals and is more of a co-lead singer.
Lyrically, the band has softened their edge a bit and is a little less dark. “The Lies” features two wildly divers vocal lines, with intense high speed growls and softer sweeping clean sounds – and a longer keyboard passage where one might have expected an intense guitar solo. Keys also open “Systematic Suffering,” and the bouncy line has an almost pop-metal feel to it – in fact Fey’s high range will remind the listener of Paramore’s Hayley Williams – but the brutality of Kenny’s vocals and intensity of the guitars have nothing “pop” about them. “Numbers” is a real metal track with contrasting vocals and varying tempos. “Involuntary Suicide” features some great duet vocals, and an intense driving rhythm line, and a nice keyboard interlude.
One Without covers all the bases and a variety of styles, and there are plenty of “different” musical moments to keep the listener involved. The One Without sound features the full suite of counterpoints: male & female vocals, clean singing & growls, slow vocal lines over fast rhythms, varying tempos, so there is little reason NOT to download it. There are moments here that will appeal to everyone. Musically solid and diverse in style, One Without continues to make a major impact on the goth metal and prog metal scenes.
One Without will be releasing tracks from Numbers using the new online music promotion platform OKDJ. Each track will be released on the same day and same time each week starting on Sunday 27th May at 9 pm GMT over a 4 week period. The full EP will then be digitally released on 24th June with fans being given the option to buy it if they want to or download the tracks free from OKDJ. Check the band’s web site or Facebook page for more information and links.
Genre: Melodic Modern Metal
Kenny Boufadene (guitars, vocals)
Cat Fey (vocals)
Joni “Jupiter” Kaartinen (bass)
Joonas Niskanen (guitars)
Håkan “H-Can” Strind (drums)
1. The Lies
2. Systematic Suffering
4. Involuntary Suicide
Label: OW Records (Independent)
Hardrock Haven rating: 9/10
June 10, 2012 by Publisher
by Chris A.
Staff Writer –
He’s more than just one of the guitarists in Buckcherry. Stevie D. is also a serious photographer who’s been chronicling his travels and life on the road. It’s not what you might expect. Meet Stevie D!
June 9, 2012 by Publisher
by Sara McCarthy
Staff Writer –
May 20, 2012 at The Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, NY
On a recent Sunday night, Syracuse was treated to a night of the adventurous and unique music offerings of Primus. The Landmark Theater recently renovated and brought back to its’ original glory, was the ideal choice for the concert, considering it was built for performances and the acoustics are phenomenal.
The crowd consisted of fans of all ages, from baby-boomers on down to toddlers wearing large pink ear enveloping earplugs. Hippies, professionals and overly made up individuals of both sexes roamed both floors of the venue before the music started.
The set for the evenings show was relatively simple, numerous oriental and Persian rugs were laid out over the stage floor. There was a large projection screen in the back that had synchronized images playing across it for each song. Two inflatable astronauts that stood at least ten foot tall flanked each side of the stage. Projected onto the helmet shields was the face of an elderly gentleman with deeply etched wrinkles and very pronounced facial features.
The trio that makes up Primus took the stage and immediately the crowd was on their feet dancing and singing along to “Here Come The Bastards.” Les Claypool (bass and vocals) and Larry LaLonde (guitar) playfully battled each other in just about each song, showcasing the ease in which they play. Watching Claypool with his numerous basses leaves one amazed, it is not very often you are able to see a master at work. Seeing him tool around in his trademark strut and playing the bass at times like a guitar, he made it look so easy. This is, of course, why he is viewed as one of today’s best bassists.
At one point, Les spoke to the crowd about being in Syracuse, and how they had taken a walk through downtown earlier in the day and there was nothing going on. In fact, he ended up walking into a church, and he felt that was a strange happening, as he likened LaLonde to the devil (jokingly, of course). Playing off each other, he asked LaLonde to play the solo the way Gerry Garcia would, and after a initial attempt that was not up to The Dead’s standards, LaLonde delivered exactly what Claypool had in mind!
Each successive song played through out the night trumped the one prior; they closed out the first hour and a half long set with “Over The Electric Grapevine.” To keep us occupied during the half and hour intermission, black and white Popeye cartoons were played on the projection screen. As each episode ended, the crowd cheered and overall was quite happy with the chosen episodes.
The second set was started with “Southbound Pachyderm” much to the delight of the fans, and the computer-generated elephant jumping on a trampoline added a touch of whimsy to the piece. As the night went on, the band got tighter and tighter as a unit and each song drew more energy from the crowd. Shutting down the second set with “Tommy The Cat,” which was interspersed with different songs by other artists, the crowd wasn’t quite ready for the night to end.
For an encore “Moron TV” and “Too Many Puppies” ended the show with clapping and screaming and whistling.
If you consider yourself a true fan of any type of music, you need to see Primus at least once. Watching the way Les Claypool plays bass and uses his tinny old-fashioned microphone to capture the crowd is a magical feat that everyone should witness.
Here Come the Bastards
The Eyes of the Squirrel
Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver
Tragedy’s a’ Comin’
Over the Falls
Jerry Was A Race Car Driver
Over the Electric Grapevine
Jilly’s on Smack
Lee Van Cleef
The Toys Go Winding Down
Tommy the Cat
Too Many Puppies
- DMV tease during Over the Falls
- One Better, Master of Puppets, Glide and Voodoo Chile teases during Tommy the Cat
- Tomorrow Never Knows tease during Moron TV
Primus 2012 Photo Gallery
June 9, 2012 by Publisher
by Mark Allen
Staff Writer –
From ‘94 to ‘04, Jaded Heart, fronted by the golden voice of Michael Bormann, was a melodic hard rock band, and a great one at that. Then Bormann got kicked to the curb and the sound of his dismissal reverberated through the melodic rock community, signifying the end of an era. He was replaced by Johan Fahlberg and the change in singers was accompanied by a change in style; from 2005 onward, Jaded Heart was a heavier, more aggressive beast.
With this new album, Jaded Heart are trying to sonically splice the early years with the latter; as a result, Common Destiny still sports a harder edge than anything the band released with Bormann, but is more melodic than anything the band has released since Fahlberg stepped up to the mic. A win-win for everyone? Maybe…or maybe not.
Common Destiny is a good album, arguably the best of the Fahlberg-fronted offerings, but it still falls short of the greatness the band achieved with Bormann. Still, it’s nice to hear some melody return to their soundscape. However, the band’s metal-meets-melody merger is not without risks; instead of uniting the divided fan base, this could possibly alienate both camps. Fans of the Bormann years might still find this to be too metallic despite the melodic edge, and fans of the fiercer Fahlberg phase may resent all the lush harmonies and melodic undercurrent softening up their power metal crunch.
But when assessing the risk, it is also possible that Jaded Heart have struck the right balance. Certainly the album displays moments of greatness. The song “Saints Denied” is a balls-out anthem, full of attitude and pounding rhythms and explosive hooks and a monster chorus; if you plan on compiling a list of the best melodic metal songs of 2012, you better leave room for this one. “Run and Hide” is the closest the album comes to vintage Jaded Heart; it’s easy to imagine Bormann belting out this classy melodic rock tune, complete with endless layers of harmonies. “My Destiny” serves as a blueprint of how to mix metal and melody without giving either short shrift. The slamming riff is big enough to dwarf an elephant, wicked enough to send a priest clutching for his crucifix, and prone to spawning spontaneous headbanging, but the chorus is sweet melodic bliss.
Granted, not all songs rise to such impressive levels—tracks like “Buried Alive,” “No More Lies,” and “Higher” just sort of plod along and leave you blasé—but there really are no outright duds. The song quality varies from so-so to superb and all grades in between, but you simply cannot call this a bad album. There is nothing on Common Destiny that will make you cover your ears and cringe. It’s a solid, well-rounded effort with moments that are kind of bland and uninspired balanced by moments that will blow your skirt up over your ears. Sure, a few more up-skirt moments would have made this a superior affair, but the band hits the spot often enough to make this album worthwhile.
Bottom line, Jaded Heart have not fully re-embraced the polished melodic hard rock roots of their yesteryear, but they have taken strides to make this album more melodic than the last few releases. If you hated them in the wake of Bormann’s departure, now might be a good time to bury your jaded cynicism and give these guys another shot.
Genre: Melodic Hard Rock, Metal
Johan Fahlberg (vocals)
Peter Oestros (guitar)
Michael Muller (bass)
Axel Kruse (drums)
1. With You
2. Saints Denied
3. Into Tears
4. Buried Alive
5. I Believe
6. Run and Hide
7. Are We Mental
8. My Destiny
9. No More Lies
10. Life Is Beautiful
12. Fire and Flames
Label: Fastball Music
Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10