PARKWAY DRIVE Vocalist Speaks To HYSTERIA MAG (Video) Hysteria Mag conducted an interview with vocalist Winston McCall of Australian metallers PARKWAY DRIVE during Vans Warped Tour Australia. You can now watch the chat below.PARKWAY DRIVE's fourth album, "Atlas", was released on October 30, 2012 via Epitaph Records. The deluxe package included the "Home Is For The Heartless" DVD, a unique travelogue that follows the band's adventures touring to many obscure destinations including Colombia, China and India.
Yet another creative leap forward for the chart-topping Australian band, "Atlas" boasts some of the most up front and confrontational material PARKWAY DRIVE has ever released, while at the same time taking several unexpected turns into lush sonic terrain, redefining their trademark sound while reinforcing their position as leaders in their field.
Recorded in Los Angeles with esteemed producer Matt Hyde (SLAYER, HATEBREED), "Atlas" sets the standard in musical progression by pushing musical boundaries and drawing from a wider scope of influence. From heavy, technically advanced riffs and rapid fire blast beats, to haunting death growls combined with fervent vocals and symphonic melodies, "Atlas"' ferocious mix of metal and hardcore reaches new horizons with songs such as "Dark Days", "Old Ghost / New Regrets" and "The River", all of which will have fans careening straight for the circle pit.
"Everything has been enhanced," said McCall. "People don't have to kiss the old parts goodbye. When you think of change, you think of things being taken away, but there's not a case here where anything has been taken away. This is just more on top."
STEEL PANTHER: Part One Of THE AU REVIEW Interview (Video)
Australia's The AU Review recently conducted an interview with guitarist Satchel and bassist Lexxi Foxx of Los Angeles glam-metal jokesters STEEL PANTHER. You can now watch the first part of the chat below.STEEL PANTHER released "Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World", the first single/video from the band's third album, "All You Can Eat", which is due in early 2014.
Regarding the new CD title, singer Michael Starr said: "We feel like STEEL PANTHER is like a buffet. You know what I mean?! There's a little bit of everything for everybody. And you can have as much of us as you want."STEEL PANTHER's new album was recorded in part in Sherman Oaks, California with producer Jay Ruston (ANTHRAX, STONE SOUR, MEATLOAF).
The not-safe-for-work version of the official "Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World" video can be seen below. (Warning: The video includes partial female nudity.) The clip includes celebrity cameos by "Jackass" star Steve-O, porn icon Ron Jeremy, "Breaking Bad" actor RJ Mitte and MMA fighter Chuck Liddell.
Speaking to the South Bend Tribune, STEEL PANTHER drummer Stix Zadinia (real name: Darren Leader) stated about the band's new CD: "If you liked [2009's] 'Feel The Steel' and [2011's] 'Balls Out', you will love this record. It is more heavy metal songs that are hooky and great and fun and make you want to rock and make you want to have a good time and party. Also, there is a lot of riffage on this album that I think anybody who has ever questioned this band — 'Oh, those guys wear spandex and it is 2000-whatever' — these songs are going to put all of that to rest."
"Balls Out" sold nearly 12,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 40 on The Billboard 200 chart.
Interview - Part 1:
"Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World" video:
New VISIONS OF ATLANTIS Singer CLÉMENTINE DELAUNEY Says She Is Not Leaving SERENITY
Former WHYZDOM and current SERENITY vocalist Clémentine Delauney last week officially joined Austrian metallers VISIONS OF ATLANTIS as the band's new female singer. She has released the following statement regarding the matter:
"I am now free to say that it is with great pleasure that I can officially announce that I am joining VISIONS OF ATLANTIS' history and universe.
"The band got in touch with me as they are willing to make a new start by going back to their musical origins and I am delighted to take part of this journey, offering me this unique chance to use my voice in a way I have never done within a band before.
"When I started to take classic singing lessons ten years ago, I discovered symphonic metal with female vocals on and I realized this was exactly the style of music I wanted to explore and to evolve in.
"VISIONS OF ATLANTIS wants to go back to the style of their two first releases, which will enable me to show other aspects of my voice and personality.
"I couldn't resist the call to realize such an old dream of mine to sing like this and to offer it to those of you who still love this genre!
"Shall the SERENITY fans not worry; I absolutely do not drop the band! But I have to say that I am very happy to join a band I've been following for years and which, no matter what came to happen, always managed to stand as a reference in the symphonic metal scene for over a decade.
"Since SERENITY and VISIONS OF ATLANTIS are good friends, it also makes me happy to tighten the links between these two Austrian bands.
"I am honored to join the raw of singers I got to meet and became close friends with: Melissa Ferlaak and especially Maxi Nil— thank you, girl, for your invaluable support and outstandingly pure friendship.
"I am deeply moved by the trust I'm being shown once again.
"I wish to not disappoint anyone and I promise to offer my best to honor VISIONS OF ATLANTIS' name, music and heritage as I'll be part of this last crew sailing the seas under the VISIONS OF ATLANTIS Pavillon….
"To the band's fans, I hope you share my excitement about this new adventure and I wish to meet you on the road soon!"
THE SANITY DAYS To Enter Studio Next Month THE SANITY DAYS— the project featuring four former members of legendary Bristol thrash metallers ONSLAUGHT— will enter the studio on January 11 to begin recording its debut album for a late spring release via Candlelight Records. The band states: "The album will feature nine original songs which have been written over the past 15 months and promises to be a mixture of dark, metallic, interweaving, spine-chilling riffs topped with melodic haunting vocals thunderous drums and a driving bass sound. Perhaps not what a lot of people are going to expect it to sound!
"The title track has been demoed and mixed and we are very pleased with what we are hearing.
"The final mix is being completed in London by a producer that we have selected to get this sounding exactly how we need it to sound. We don't intend this to be a Pro Tools classic as much of the stuff you hear today is, but will have a more retro-sounding vibe with a more natural feel."
Multi-camera video footage of THE SANITY DAYS performing a new song, "My Demon Mind", on December 7, 2012 at Riffs Bar in Swindon, England can be seen below.THE SANITY DAYS is intended as a bit of fun for the musicians and an opportunity for fans to hear music that no longer features in ONSLAUGHT's live repertoire.THE SANITY DAYS was launched by Steve Grice, former drummer and founding member of the ONSLAUGHT, who played on all ONSLAUGHT albums thus far. He is joined in the new project by former ONSLAUGHT guitarist Alan Jordan (2007's "Killing Peace"), bassist Jase Stallard (1985's "Power From Hell" and 1986's "The Force"), and ex-GRIM REAPER singer Steve Grimmett, who fronted ONSLAUGHT for the 1989 album "In Search Of Sanity".
Released on London Records in 1989, "In Search Of Sanity" was the last album ONSLAUGHT recorded before it disbanded. Despite reaching the U.K. Top 50, its mainstream production proved controversial among bandmembers and fans alike. "We were always pleased with the songs, though," states Grice. "Over the past few years, people have nagged me to play tracks from the 'Sanity' album, but we always struggled to get them sounding right without Steve Grimmett's involvement."
Former GRIM REAPER frontman Grimmett lent his powerful voice to ONSLAUGHT for just this one album and now returns as a member of THE SANITY DAYS. "It's been a long time since I sang any songs from 'In Search of Sanity', but this was an opportunity I couldn't turn down," he said. "I have also been asked to play these songs, but it never seemed the right thing to do after ONSLAUGHT got back together."
As the Palaces Burn 10th Anniversary Edition - LAMB OF GOD
Holy blood junkies, one of the first masterworks of the American metal revival turns ten years old already! LAMB OF GOD's "As the Palaces Burn" may not have settled all that agreeably to the band's ears upon its release a decade ago, yet there's no denying this album triggered a frenzy in the metal underground alongside MASTODON's "Remission", re-released the same year.
However silly the colloquial tag of the "New Wave of American Heavy Metal" that chased LAMB OF GOD may be, the arrival of "As the Palaces Burn" introduced to U.S. audiences a Dixie-fried interpretation of the dizzying Swedish extreme metal of AT THE GATES and MESHUGGAH, plus Canadian tech hounds STRAPPING YOUNG LAD. Decimating air spaces like the metallic soundtrack to Sherman's pillaging of the South and his torching of its Confederate bastions, "As the Palaces Burn" remains one of the most furious albums conjured in any era of heavy metal music.
Now celebrating the pivotal album's tenth anniversary, "As the Palaces Burn" returns with a sparkling remix courtesy of Josh Wilbur, producer of future LAMB OF GOD records, "Wrath" and "Resolution". Included in this package are three demo tracks for "Ruin", the title track and "Blood Junkie", plus a 70-minute accompanying documentary, "The Making of As the Palaces Burn".
As the band themselves convey in the DVD film, the original cut of "As the Palaces Burn" hardly came out to their vision, almost unfathomable to conceive with Devin Townsend helming the original recording sessions. Yet, this spit-shined redux brings forth a richer tone all-around, the biggest beneficiary being drummer Chris Adler, whose floor tom licks and clattering cymbal rides come raging to the front of the new mix. Adler all but dominates "Blood Junkie" now, those spots not occupied by Randy Blythe's scat-woofs. His throbbing double hammers shoved here to the fore of "A Devil in God's Country" changes the dynamic of the song dramatically, serving as the primary march in front of the huffing riffs that set up the dizzying solo section and outro. If there's ever been any doubt Chris Adler is one of the masters of his trade, then listen to all of his kit stations ring at once on "In Defense of Our Good Name".
The titanic riffs summoned by Mark Morton, Willie Adler and John Campbell sound crisper, while the guest guitar solo from Chris Poland on "Purified" and Devin Townsend's luminous shreds on "A Devil in God's Country" carry much more vivacity. The haunting guitar chimes opening the classic "Vigil" ring even more ominously, while the broiling, guitar-slashed breakdowns on the tempo-mad "11th Hour" prove a second time around to be the absolute finest wielded by any contemporary metal band. Every single breakdown segment in today's metal scene pales shamefully in comparison to "11th Hour"'s and "A Devil in God's Country"'s, for that matter.
The terrorizing agitation of "Purified"'s intro is even more gruesome now, while Randy Blythe's concentrated ralphs come scorching with perfect pentameter as the song rumbles along. More than ever, the static whirlwinds summoned on "For Your Malice" ring like the tumultuous inferno implied by the album's title. Also more enhanced are the spectacular guitar solos and writhing outro to "Ruin", plus the bee-buzzing guitar squelches on the title track.
Assuming you've already heard "As the Palaces Burn" (and woe be to your sorry carcass if you haven't), there's no more elaboration needed to gush over the album's thrash-hungry tenacity and jaw-busting brutality. The main story to this package is the lush do-over to the original masters and the fascinating behind-the-scenes DVD that reveals a song-by-song breakdown with varying opinions from each band member. Randy Blythe's insight ranges from modest to peculiarly standoffish on a few tracks, while the consensus of his band mates believe this album to be their finest effort, save for an internally-perceived lackluster finish. With Devin Townsend himself chiming in on the documentary, the conclusion he leaves is that "As the Palaces Burn" was, at the time, considered a mere job, a side dish to quell the ravenous appetite stoked by his own prolific endeavors.
It seems even Townsend himself was surprised by the runaway success of "As the Palaces Burn" after the video for "Ruin" put LAMB OF GOD on the map. In the end, it's the fans who helped make this album a modern-day legend. LAMB OF GOD set out to raise the bar on themselves following their lone BURN THE PRIEST album and "New American Gospel" thereafter. "As the Palaces Burn" subsequently found LAMB OF GOD playing at their highest level. Still a reliable metal act today, "As the Palaces Burn" is nonetheless a precedent LAMB OF GOD will always be held accountable to, now even more so with this gleaming anniversary edition.
Unplugged and Strung Up - SAXON SAXON are one of the immortals of heavy metal. That's a fact. Their latest LP "Sacrifice" coasted through from last year into this one and now comes "Unplugged and Strung Up", a back catalog visit featuring interpretations of SAXON tracks through orchestral accompaniment, acoustic revisions and re-recordings. If you buy the double disc digipak, you'll get "Heavy Metal Thunder", not the fantastic recent docufilm, but a CD bearing re-recordings of the band's classics.
Unfortunately, what's wrong about "Unplugged and Strung Up" is that a considerable number of the main program's tracks have already been released before, i.e. the orchestrated version of "Call to Arms", plus five songs that were featured on the bonus disc of the "Sacrifice" special edition: "Crusader (Orchestrated Version)", re-recorded versions of "Just Let Me Rock" and "Forever Free", plus acoustic takes of "Requiem" and "Frozen Rainbow".
If you missed out on these previously, then "Unplugged and Strung Up" is your chance to hear SAXON do some pretty killer overhauls on most of those previously-mentioned tunes plus orchestral versions of "Red Star Falling" and "Broken Heroes" along with acoustic treatments of "Coming Home" and "Iron Wheels". Of the orchestral songs, the most impressive is "The Eagle Has Landed" with its dense layers of metal, synths and strings, all superbly mixed. Of the acoustic songs, "Frozen Rainbow" from "Saxon" is the most remarkable, stripped down to a gentle ballad with its twelve string textures and sensuous solo. The live acoustic version of "Iron Wheels" is one of the most poignant tracks on "Unplugged and Strung Up", served as a biographical account of Biff Byford's father. Then the swampy moonshine slides of "Coming Home" from "Killing Ground" is a knee-pumping bit of fun as SAXON's tribute to Robert Johnson and American delta blues.
There are new takes of "Battle Cry" from "Rock the Nations" and "Militia Guard", plus a remix of "Stallions of the Highway", the latter two coming from the first album. These songs have been tweaked and re-recorded with extra layers. In the case of "Militia Guard", there are traces of acoustic guitars filtering behind the main drive of the song, accenting it more than the original cut. To SAXON's credit, this new version of "Militia Guard" is very strong.
In all honesty, the re-recording of "Just Let Me Rock" is throwaway since the "Crusader" version is plenty hefty and the new version doesn't have the same drag-lurch-stomp feel of the original. The update of "Forever Free" is agreeable enough, but hardly necessary, which leads to an argument of weakness in this project, especially the "Heavy Metal Thunder" bonus CD. The re-recordings on that disc are fine, that's not the issue. Everything is delivered faithfully and professionally from Biff Byford, Paul Quinn, Nibbs Carter, Nigel Glockler and Doug Scarratt. "Wheels of Steel", "Princess of the Night", "Motorcycle Man", "Dallas 1pm", "747 (Strangers in the Night)" and "Denim & Leather", they're all there as a plausible overview of the band's best songs.
If you're a newcomer to SAXON and want to save some scratch instead of digging up the band's esteemed first six albums, that's your prerogative and the "Heavy Metal Thunder" disc will suit you fine. Yet, as competent and proficient as SAXON's current lineup is, you're still short-changing yourself by not owning the original records that included Graham Oliver, Steve Dawson and Pete Gill. If you're a longtime fan, "Unplugged and Strung Up" is thus either mandatory or not, depending upon how deep your SAXON section runs on your shelf.
Frankly, the recent trend of hard rock and heavy metal legacy acts re-recording their best-known catalog as bonus albums is irksome, as annoying as the rock 'n roll and doo-wop heroes of the fifties re-recording their songs in piss-poor fashion during the seventies and early Eighties. Thankfully,"Heavy Metal Thunder" in this package is hardly piss-poor, but it is by all means, annoying. SAXON has been riding tall for numerous albums straight now. "Unplugged and Strung Up" is a gimmick, let's face the facts. Those who have yet to dig into its material are hardly going to cry foul but nevertheless, this package was hardly needed.
Aftershock - MOTÖRHEAD
God bless MOTÖRHEAD.
At age 68, Lemmy Kilmister, of all the genuine rock 'n roll bad boys left to us, is monitoring his health. Having had to postpone numerous live dates including a European leg that just would've gotten started, the unstoppable Lem was recently sidelined after doctors discovered a hematoma that had been affecting his muscles. Kilmister has also been battling Type 2 diabetes for more than a decade and currently uses a defibrillator to treat "uneven bumps" in his heart.
Hell if you'd be able to tell any of this by MOTÖRHEAD's feisty new album, "Aftershock". If you don't know what to expect from a MOTÖRHEAD record after 21 of them now, you just don't know, period. However, there are heaps of variations and change-ups on "Aftershock" that marks it as a justly motivated effort. Few bands get a free pass for issuing the same album ad nauseum throughout their careers, but "Aftershock" should not only get a pass, it should get well-deserved horns-up from each able-bodied MOTÖRHEAD fan in the land. It's not just token respect and sentimentalism. "Aftershock" kicks serious ass.
It's a marvel Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee still have so much throttle to shove into their eminent blues and grit rock. As always, MOTÖRHEAD is everything louder than everyone else and "Aftershock" rumbles like there's no quitting until The Reaper says so. The fact MOTÖRHEAD can still rocket like the days of "Iron Fist" and "Overkill" on "End of Time", "Queen of the Damned", "Paralyzed" and "Going to Mexico", geez, it surpasses expectation. Mikkey Dee decimates these songs with mashing fills while spanking the tar out of his skins on trad MOTÖRHEAD rock 'n rollers like "Do You Believe", "Coup de Grace", "Death Machine", "Silence When You Speak to Me", "Knife" and "Keep Your Powder Dry". After all this time between his stints in KING DIAMOND and MOTÖRHEAD, if you don't think Mikkey Dee is one of the absolute finest drummers in heavy music, you're mad.
Sure, much of "Aftershock"'s songs ring like old hats, yet there are crafty chord diversities and a slick breakdown on "Death Machine", a dirty snarl to Lemmy and Phil Campbell's riffs on "Silence When You Speak to Me" and a jiving shuck providing a groovy groundwork beneath a staple set of top chords on "Knife".
One of the other deviations from the norm on "Aftershock" comes with "Dust and Glass", which rings like "One Track Mind" for a moment before assuming a slow boogie drawl in the vein of early ZZ TOP. "Lost Woman Blues" is one of the standout songs with its John Lee Hooker drag that allows Phil Campbell to show off more of his blues repertoire than usual. Lemmy's choky sighs serve the droopy grafts of "Lost Woman Blues" before the song about-faces with a stepped-up overhaul of Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" psych-blues descant. "Aftershock" contains many more surpluses spread over MOTÖRHEAD's tried and true schemes including Phil Campbell's awesome fret note taps dotting in tandem to the blunt speed of "End of Time". Plus, there's such intensity to "Heartbreaker" and "Paralyzed" it's hard not to be moved by the enduring power of these guys. Checking in and checking out with maximum decibels and showy precision, MOTÖRHEAD serves up another clinic at ages that find others long put out to pasture.MOTÖRHEAD is no mere rock 'n' roll band; they're a freaking inspiration.
Serpents Unleashed - SKELETONWITCH
Quickly turning into ol' reliables of the neo-thrash circuit, SKELETONWITCH make next to no modifications to their turbulent speed routine for their fifth album, "Serpents Unleashed". If you've heard their 2007 breakout "Beyond the Permafrost" or their previous recording, "Forever Abomination", then you'll find little, if any, surprises to "Serpents Unleashed". Consider this one more of the same restless intensity and spiraling precision that decorate the band's customary blends of black, death and power metal methods.
Because SKELETONWITCH plays at such a demanding pace, they've historically had the good grace to relegate their albums to thirty to thirty-six minutes' running time. At thirty-one minutes for this round, "Serpents Unleashed" somehow manages to throttle SKELETONWITCH's listeners with zero mercy and still leave an inescapable wanting by the end. Same as they've ever done. Eleven songs banging away at top flight with modified-mosh recesses that hardly rob the album's blazing integrity. Only the dominantly mid-tempo, power-meets-black metal march of "The Evil Embrace" avoids thrashing things up, and still, the song manages to dish out gratuitous double kicks from former DEMIRICOUS and FOREVER ABOMINATION drummer Dustin Boltjes.
Within seconds of play, the title track socks audiences in the puss with fierce velocity that grows even more tenacious with random blast patterns. How SKELETONWITCH continues to efficiently squeeze in moshing slowdowns between the unholy speed here and on the subsequent tracks, "Beneath Dead Leaves" and "I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)" is remarkable. Considering the constant reeling effects SKELETONWITCH dishes up from their uncompromising thrash modes, the fluid changeovers hardly feel like impediments. "From a Cloudless Sky" and "Burned from Bone" go to the next level and stay nearly at full thrust as Chance Garnette spools his best Stygian hisses, while Scott "Scunty D". Hedrick and Nate "N8 Feet Under" Garnette shred gleefully along. Bassist Evan "Loosh" Linger plucks away in equally rapid measures behind his front line. On the guitar solo sections of each song, Linger's back notes dance up and down in response to the scaled-back tempos.
The striking intro march to "Unending, Everliving" may fool newer listeners into thinking this one's keeping itself hung upon a straightforward power groove. That becomes an afterthought once the song quickly rockets away, decelerating only enough on the bridge to give a momentary chance for listeners to breathe before scampering once again. The guitars are stellar and gusty, stopping abruptly on the edge of a chord cascade that's hoisted right back into action with "Blade on the Flesh, Blood on My Hands". Finally, the tranquil intro to "More Cruel than Weak" is an appealing, sprawled set-up to the jettisoning chaos that ensues thereafter.
Once again, SKELETONWITCH shows how to justly carry the old-school banner forward with their surmounted mastery of prevalent metal techniques, old and new. "Serpents Unleashed" is cast with a whipping cadence that uses interchange as a furtherance instead of a disadvantage.
Darkness in a Different Light - FATES WARNING
One name synonymous with class in heavy music has always been FATES WARNING. The Connecticut power proggers have laid dormant the past nine years since last releasing "FWX". In that time, bassist Joey Vera took another ride with ARMORED SAINT while Jim Matheos and Ray Alder spent time in their side ventures, OSI and REDEMPTION respectively. Now coming back together to reignite FATES WARNING for their eleventh studio album, "Darkness in a Different Light", they do what they do better than most calling themselves prog metal.
The sound is retro FATES WARNING circa the nineties when they were frequently packaged with QUEENSRŸCHE and DREAM THEATER for mega tours, but there's also an amplified toughness hinting of at least the attitude of "No Exit", if not the same hustle. "Darkness in a Different Light" moves primarily at a mid-tempo or slinking groove, but heaviness prevails all over this album, and that's heartening. FATES WARNING maintains their customary traces of RUSH (particularly on "Firefly", "Desire" and "O Chloroform") while stepping forward to recognize what's hip in contemporary prog rock via PORCUPINE TREE (courtesy of the delightful "I Am" and the mesmerizing "Into the Black") to keep themselves honest and better yet, relevant.
Joining Vera, Alder and Matheos are Frank Aresti and Bobby Jarzombek, the latter recording for the first time with FATES WARNING after serving as the band's touring drummer on numerous occasions. Jarzombek's rapid bass drum thwacks and impeccable fills give FATES WARNING an added dynamic to the point "One Thousand Fires", "Firefly" and "Desire" ring as some of the heaviest-driven tunes written by this band in quite some time. Even at seven minutes, the spellbinding and often bombastic "One Thousand Fires" is a stellar opening number that puts the seasoned FATES WARNING fan into a happy place. The vibrating Alex Lifeson-esque guitar twangs hovering over the jagged riff daggers of "Firefly"'s verses is so enchanting you'll get audibly high on them.
Having worked on this album for nearly two years, the extra care going into "Darkness in a Different Light" shines on all levels, whether you're talking about Bobby Jarzombek's expansive rolls and trip hammers or Ray Alder's sooty yet smooth croons that (as always) present a welcoming ambiance no matter how soft or aggressive the composition may be. He soars on "Firefly", "O Chloroform", "Into the Black" and "Kneel and Obey" while he breathlessly pants and coaxes on the opulent "Lighthouse". Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti are explosive as ever, putting on a tremendous exhibition of splintering solos and intertwining melodies that sweep through the bridges of eventful songs like "Into the Black". "Kneel and Obey", "One Thousand Fires", "O Chloroform" and "Desire" boast some of Matheos and Aresti's (and Joey Vera's, for that matter) thickest riffs summoned in this band. The pervasive slow grind of "Kneel and Obey" is laced with a hypnotic back melody that offsets its moodiness and erects a set of diverse (and a bit peculiar, honestly) solos, all before taking a banging strut home to the finish.
Of course, what would FATES WARNING be without a fourteen-minute closing epic, "And Yet it Moves?" Beginning with a medieval-kissed acoustic duet from Matheos and Aresti with Joey Vera slowly peeking in, the song bursts with some of the briskest pacing on the album, increasing and decelerating with Bobby Jarzombek forcing the song to stay on the cusp of agitation. "And Yet it Moves" jams for four minutes solid until Ray Alder finally sneaks in and the song takes a more melodic spring forward while maintaining the winding rock grooves in-between the verses. Joey Vera almost steals the limelight behind Alder, plunking up and down for a few measures before the song drops the hammer with Vera, Matheos and Aresti chuffing along to Jarzombek's rolling tides. Then back to the jamming modes and reverberating guitar tweaks that segue into another acoustic-led section redirecting "And Yet it Moves" into the first of at least ten different signatures. FATES WARNING has hardly missed a step in their downtime. "Darkness in a Different Light" may have needed longer to be laid down versus FATES WARNING's other albums, but the effort pays off with their trademark sophistication and bonus heaviness. If they're trying to prove anything with this album, it's the fact they remain one of the most important prog artists of their time.
Generation Nothing - METAL CHURCH
I recently caught up with METAL CHURCH vocalist Ronny Munroe at the Rock Harvest II benefit festival on the outskirts of Baltimore. Munroe was in town as a special guest of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania's GHOST OF WAR where they banded together for a mini-set of METAL CHURCH classics and "Pierced by the Maiden" from Ronny's second solo album, "Lords of the Edge". I found Munroe to be congenial and excited to have another run with METAL CHURCH, as he discussed the reformation of the band following their four-year pause.
"We both knew that one day was going to be the right time and that was for Kurdt (Vanderhoof) to decide. He called me one day and said 'I think it's time. What do you think?' So I said 'I'm in, let's do it.' Now we have a second shot at this, especially for me, coming back. This is unfinished business with METAL CHURCH. When we do end, we need to end on a better note than we did (before)...because how we put it out there was that it was the industry (prompting the band's hiatus), but we really disappointed the fans. So this time around, we waited until we felt the time was right. It's a blessing, I'll say that, just to be able to come back and do this again and to have a chance for the fans to want this again. That's always a blessing".
For a band that's suffered more than its fair share of adversities, Ronny Munroe has endured as one of METAL CHURCH's constants since he joined up for 2004's "The Weight of the World". Having to live under the shadow of the late David Wayne and to lesser degrees, former vocalist Mike Howe, Munroe has handled the mike for METAL CHURCH with grace.
Meanwhile, the relentless Kurdt Vanderhoof (who spent downtime from METAL CHURCH with Munroe in the power prog unit PRESTO BALLET before Munroe was called over to TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA) has been bleeding his skull to restore honor to this band. Though he cites "Generation Nothing" as a return to the band's eighties roots (namely "The Dark"), that's a slight misnomer. "Generation Nothing", like its predecessors "The Weight of the World", "A Light in the Dark" and "This Present Wasteland", is reflective of the band's new order that came with Ronny Munroe. Frankly, there's not a damned thing wrong with that as long as you're not expecting "Beyond the Black" or even "Psycho".
As a lyrical contributor to METAL CHURCH's next-gen, power-modified style of songwriting, Munroe is credited as a co-lyricist on "Jump the Gun" and "Suiciety" from "Generation Nothing" while singlehandedly penning "Hits Keep Comin'" and "The Media Horse". Otherwise, the new album is a riff monster courtesy of Vanderhoof, Rick Van Zandt and Steve Unger, while Ronny Munroe toughens up his pipes in most spots, letting them loose with broader ranges on "Suiciety" and the nine-minute epic "Noises in the Wall". Munroe pulled off a convincing David Wayne impersonation at Rock Harvest II with a ripping cover of "Ton of Bricks" and on "Generation Nothing", Munroe mirrors just enough fragments of his predecessor throughout the brisk "Scream" (one of the fastest METAL CHURCH cuts they've recorded under Munroe's tenure) and "Dead City" to bring longtime listeners to a comfy place. On the steady opening number "Bulletproof", Munroe rings closer to what he's done in the past for METAL CHURCH, yet there's a bit more fang between him and the band here, which is likely where Kurdt Vanderhoof lays his claim to rekindling the old days. Nevertheless, the spotlight remains upon Munroe doing what he does, only he carries more of an edge this time.
The scoffing title track "Generation Nothing" may pine for the days of rad, but it's still a headstrong beast of a cut with chuffing chords and clambering kick drums from Jeff Plate. Much of "Generation Nothing", however, sticks to a straightforward power metal drive with heaps of resounding guitar intros and dense plods, using "Close to the Bone", "Jump the Gun" and "Hits Keep Comin'" as examples. Vanderhoof and Van Zandt are stellar in the solo sections of "Dead City", "Suiciety" and "The Media Horse". As extensive as "Noises in the Wall" is, veteran listeners will hang in there just fine, particularly as Vanderhoof, Van Zandt and Unger plow through a terrific homage to the NWOBHM at the end, leading to the final clangs of Jeff Plate's crash cymbals. "Generation Nothing" is a product of its time separate of the fiercer "Metal Church", "The Dark" and especially "Blessing in Disguise", the latter of which Kurdt Vanderhoof was only a contributing guitarist and is otherwise relegated to long-past members. This album, like its immediate precursors, carries a distinction pocked outside of METAL CHURCH's best-known period, but it does so with respectable pride and polish. "Generation Nothing" boasts a personal best METAL CHURCH outing for Ronny Munroe, while the band as a whole plays tight lines all the way through. Thus this album is an agreeable career extension for METAL CHURCH, even if we're unlikely to hear anything new as frantic as "Merciless Onslaught" and "Battalions" or as volatile as "Gods of Wrath".
At least Munroe can peel the paint whipping up "Gods of Wrath" onstage, as the Rock Harvest II attendees learned.
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Danny Glover feted in Bahamas, recalls Mandela
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