Tool’s greatest breakthrough was to meld dark underground metal with the ambition of art rock. Although Metallica wrote their multi-sectioned, layered songs as if they were composers, they kept their musical attack ferociously at street level. Tool didn’t. They embraced the artsy, bohemian preoccupations of Jane’s Addiction while they simultaneously paid musical homage to the relentlessly bleak visions of grindcore, death metal, and thrash. Even with their post-punk influences, they executed their music with the aesthetic of prog rock, alternating between long, detailed instrumental interludes and lyrical rants in their songs.
Tool had a knack for conveying the strangled, oppressive angst that the alternative nation of the early ’90s claimed as its own. So, Tool were able to slip into the definition of alternative rock during the post-Nirvana era, landing a slot on the third Lollapalooza tour in 1993, which helped their first full-length debut album, Undertow, rocket to platinum status. By the time the band delivered its belated follow-up, Ænima, in 1996, alternative rock had lost its grip on the mainstream of America, and Tool’s audience had shaped up as essentially metal-oriented, which meant that the group and the record didn’t capture as big an audience as their first album, despite debuting at number two on the charts. After a co-headlining slot with Korn on Lollapalooza ’97 wrapped up, Tool remained on the road, supporting Ænima until well into the next year.
During the band’s usual extended hiatus between albums, Maynard James Keenan decided to use his downtime productively by forming a side project, dubbed A Perfect Circle. The band’s 2000 debut, Mer de Noms, was a surprise hit, while the ensuing tour was a sold-out success as well. With Tool breakup rumors swirling, the band put the speculation to rest by re-entering the recording studio and issuing the stopgap B-sides/DVD set Salival late the same year. Finally, May 2001 saw the release of Tool’s third full-length release, Lateralus, which debuted at the number one position on the Billboard album chart and became the band’s biggest hit. After the obligatory several-year sabbatical to pursue other projects, the group returned with another chart-topper, 10,000 Days, in 2006.
SLIPKNOT emerged at the back end of the 20th Century from America’s midwestern town of Des Moines, IA and quickly established themselves as the most enigmatic, provocative and aggressive music collective of the modern era. To date, the band have been nominated for 10 Grammy Awards (winning in 2006 for ‘Before I Forget’), as well as scoring 13 Platinum and 44 Gold record certifications around the world, and 1.7 billion YouTube views to date. SLIPKNOT’s fanbase is as unwavering as it is ubiquitous – the band’s most recent studio album, 2014’s ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’ debuted Top 5 in the Official Album Charts of 19 countries around the world, including the US (#1), UK (#2), Japan (#1), Australia (#1), Russia (#1) & Germany (#2).”
Crappy Punk Rock since 1992
Since forming in 1993, the iconic hard rock band KORN have sold nearly 40 million albums, toured the world dozens of times, and set records in the process that will likely never be surpassed. Originally from Bakersfield, CA, vocalist Jonathan Davis, guitarists James “Munky” Shaffer and Brian “Head” Welch, and Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu on bass ushered in the new wave of metal music in the ’90s with their self-titled debut in 1994 and 1996’s Life is Peachy, but have ridden that wave to even greater success and higher artistic water marks. The band have battled personal demons and addictions but have found their way through to the other side. And now, highlighted by the force of drummer Ray Luzier, a return to a dual-guitar dynamic and some of Davis’s most inspired moments of self-reflection and expression, the new album The Serenity of Suffering finds KORN harnessing all the anger, power, and trademark balance of darkness and light that made their name all those years ago.
It seems like only yesterday, but it’s been more than a decade since Staind first exploded onto the hard rock vanguard. In that time, the Massachussetts-based quartet has staked a claim as one of modern music’s most powerful and provocative outfits, combining aggressive hard rock energy with singer/songwriter Aaron Lewis’s raw, heartfelt lyricism and gift for undeniable melody resulting into a magnificent, multi-platinum career. Marked by 15 million album sales worldwide, eight top ten singles across multiple formats with three songs hitting number one, and the most-played rock song of the past decade, “It’s Been Awhile,” Staind has solidified their name as a top hard rock act with three out of seven albums—Break the Cycle, 14 Shades of Grey, and Chapter V—debuting at #1 on the Billboard Top 200.
Lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Aaron Lewis, guitarist Mike Mushok, and bassist Johnny April united as Staind in February 1995, and since then have ridden an endless wave of continual artistic growth and escalating success; all accomplished without the petty personal dramas and ego-driven power plays that traditionally mark such an incredible career. Staind’s self-released 1996 debut, “TORMENTED,” along with near-constant shows throughout the New England area, spawned the birth of the band’s fervent fan following. Word about the band spread like wildfire through the music industry, ultimately attracting the attention of Flip Records, who in 1999 unleashed Staind’s initial breakthrough, “DYSFUNCTION.” Fueled by tracks such as “Mudshovel” and “Home,” the album proved a true sensation, going on to achieve double-platinum certification for sales exceeding 2 million.
In 1999, Staind hit the road as part of the Family Values Tour, joining a line-up that included such stars as Limp Bizkit, Korn, and Primus. The band’s original set quickly became the highlight of each night’s show, due especially to a poignant new song performed by Lewis and headliner Fred Durst. “Outside,” as eventually included on “THE FAMILY VALUES TOUR 1999” companion CD, launched Staind to the head of the hard rock pack. 2001’s “BREAK THE CYCLE” sealed the deal, entering the Billboard 200 at #1 with first week sales of over 700,000.
The RIAA gold-certified “MTV UNPLUGGED” DVD was released in 2002, followed the next year by the critically-acclaimed “14 SHADES OF GREY.” The album was Staind’s second consecutive #1 debut, going on to double-platinum status via the success of the singles “Zoe Jane,” – written for Lewis’ first daughter – “Price To Play,” and “So Far Away,” which topped Billboard’s “Mainstream Rock” chart for 14 weeks.
Staind toured hard behind “14 SHADES OF GREY,” playing sold-out shows around the world into 2004. After a brief – and well-earned – break, the band hit the studio and in August 2005, unleashed “CHAPTER V,” their third consecutive release to arrive in the pole position on the Billboard 200. Their most evocative and inventive work to date, the album spawned yet another “Mainstream Rock” #1 hit in “Right Here,” along with further radio smashes in “Falling” and “Everything Changes” (a new acoustic version of which is a highlight of “THE SINGLES: 1996-2006”).
“CHAPTER V” was followed by hard touring, including headline treks and Aaron Lewis solo shows that featured a number of compelling new songs and provocative covers of artists which inspired Staind from the very beginning. With the release of “THE SINGLES: 1996-2006,” Staind closed the book on their amazing first decade.
Staind’s sixth studio album “The Illusion Of Progress,” contains an array of Staind “firsts” that earmarked the release: It’s the first album where guitarist Mike Mushok wrote and recorded on a standard guitar rather than his customary baritone. Despite the band’s heralded run of ten Top 10 hits at radio – including four No. 1 singles – it’s the first time that they have recorded a song that they almost feel can be classified as a pop song, and it is also the first time that front man Aaron Lewis has taken a political stance lyrically. On that same lyrical front, Mushok is proud to point out (with a laugh) that “Consciously, I don’t think Aaron says the word ‘pain’ once throughout the record!”
For their seventh studio album, the band decided to dive into bleaker recesses than ever before and surfaced with their heaviest and most hypnotic album to date – the self-titled, STAIND, which debuted at #5 on the Billboard Top 200 charts.
A Day To Remember
Over the course of the past several years, each of A Day To Remember’s releases have hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Rock, Indie and/or Alternative Charts. They’ve also sold more than a million units, racked up over 400 million Spotify streams and 500 million YouTube views, garnered two gold-selling albums and singles (and one silver album in the UK) and sold out entire continental tours (including their own curated Self Help Festival), amassing a global fanbase whose members number in the millions. All of which explains why Rolling Stone called them “An Artist You Need To Know.” In other words, their creative process has worked and worked well.
But for new album Bad Vibrations, the Ocala, Florida-based quintet of vocalist Jeremy McKinnon, guitarists Kevin Skaff and Neil Westfall, bassist Joshua Woodard and drummer Alex Shelnutt switched gears and headed for uncharted territory. Their path included a loose and much more collaborative songwriting process, one that also saw them recording for the first time with producers Bill Stevenson (Descendents, Black Flag) and Jason Livermore (Rise Against, NOFX). And though the album’s being released on the band’s own ADTR Records (like 2013′s Common Courtesy), this record marks their first distribution deal with Epitaph and is the first time they’ve worked with Grammy winner Andy Wallace (Foo Fighters, Slayer), who was brought in to mix.
“We completely changed the way we wrote, recorded and mixed this album,” says vocalist Jeremy McKinnon. “It was one of the most unique recording experiences we’ve ever had. We rented a cabin in the Colorado mountains and just wrote with the five of us together in a room, which was the polar opposite of the last three albums we’ve made. We just let things happen organically and in the moment. I think it forever changed the way we make music. And working with Bill was an awesome experience. He was a bit hard to read at first, so I think we subconsciously pushed ourselves harder to try to impress him. As a result, we gave this album everything we had.”
Recorded at Stevenson’s Fort Collins-based Blasting Room Studios, Bad Vibrations masterfully channels the kinetic energy that recently found A Day To Remember named “The Best Live Band Of 2015″ by Alternative Press. The band decided to forgo digitally driven production and focus on live recording. “These days it seems like a lot of heavy sounding music is heading more and more in a digital direction,” notes McKinnon. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we wanted to go the opposite way and make something that’s aggressive but has more of a natural flow and feel to it.”
By powering Bad Vibrations with so much raw passion, A Day To Remember ultimately deliver some of their most emotionally intense material to date. “I’m like a child screaming in a room when I write,” laughs McKinnon. “I’m singing about the things that are frustrating me, but at some point there’s an arc within the song. It’s almost like I’m giving advice to another person about whatever I’m struggling with, but I think I’m really just trying to give that advice to myself.”
The catharsis-inducing album sees the band tackling duplicity and deception (on the gloriously frenzied ‘Same About You’), the destructive nature of judgmental behavior (on ‘Justified,’ a track shot through with soaring harmonies and sprawling guitar work), addiction (on the darkly charged ‘Reassemble’), and friendship poisoned by unchecked ego (on ‘Bullfight,’ a track with a classic-punk chorus that brilliantly gives way to a Viking-metal-inspired bridge).
‘Paranoia,’ one of the most urgent tracks on Bad Vibrations, fuses fitful tempos and thrashing riffs in its powerful portrait of mental unraveling—an idea born from the band’s commitment to close collaboration in making the album. “Originally it was a joke song about someone being paranoid, but then Neil and Kevin and I started brainstorming lyrics together, which we’d never done before,” recalls McKinnon. “It ended up being shaped so that the verse is a person talking to a psychiatrist, the pre-chorus is the psychiatrist talking back to that person, and then the chorus is paranoia personified. The whole thing just exploded and came together in this really cool way.”
On ‘Naivety,’ the band slips into a melancholy mood that’s perfectly matched by the song’s bittersweet, pop-perfect melody. Says McKinnon, “It’s about that journey when you’re getting older and starting to view the world as a little less magical than you used to, and you’re missing that youthful enthusiasm from when you were a kid.”
Ultimately, McKinnon says that this particular album-making process breathed new life into the band. “Breaking out of our comfort zone and working in a less controlled way, we ended up making something that feels good to everyone, and we can’t wait to go out and tour on it,” he says. “I think a big part of why our music connects with people is that they’re able to get such an emotional release from our songs. And while most of the songs are me venting about whatever’s affecting me at the time, people who are going through something similar can see that it’s coming from a real, honest place. That’s really the core of what A Day To Remember has always been.”
Bad Vibrations debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Top Album Sales Chart. It was also the #1 album in Australia, #6 in the UK and #7 in Germany. After a summer / fall tour with Blink-182, A Day To Remember headlined the Bad Vibes World Tour in Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe and Russia.
2017 saw A Day To Remember play Download Festival in the UK and the X Games Minneapolis among other festival shows in the US and Europe. On March 18th, the band received the keys to the city of Ocala from Mayor Kent Guinn and performed a sold out hometown concert before supporting Avenged Sevenfold on select dates of their summer tour, playing their own headline shows with support from Moose Blood and Wage War and presenting 3 stops of their Self Help Festival. In October, Jeremy McKinnon joined Linkin Park on stage at the Hollywood Bowl to perform ‘A Place For My Head’ in honor of Chester Bennington.
The following year, A Day To Remember celebrated 15 years of being a band with a headline US tour supported by Papa Roach and Falling In Reverse that included a headline slot at Self Help Festival in San Bernardino, California. They also played North American festivals including Inkcarceration, Montebello Rockfest, Las Rageous and Buku.
Bring Me The Horizon
English rock band Bring Me the Horizon made a steady progression from their death metal-inspired grindcore debut to melodic metalcore, maturing into a pop-savvy headline act by the end of their first decade together. With each subsequent release — from 2006’s caustic Count Your Blessings to 2013 mainstream breakthrough Sempiternal — they dialed back the blood-curdling screams and injected more melody until capturing an alternative-metal balance on their 2015 international chart-topping effort, That’s the Spirit.
The group was formed in 2004 from the ashes of several Sheffield-based outfits, with the 2003 Disney film Pirates of the Caribbean serving as the inspiration for the band’s name. Singer Oliver Sykes, guitarists Lee Malia and Curtis Ward, bassist Matt Kean, and drummer Matt Nicholls initially established their own label, Thirty Days of Night, to release their debut EP, 2005’s This Is What the Edge of Your Seat Was Made For. Upon signing to the higher-profile label Visible Noise (whose roster also included Bullet for My Valentine and Lostprophets), they reissued the EP to a wider audience. Bring Me the Horizon’s full-length debut, Count Your Blessings, appeared in October 2006, with an American release following one year later courtesy of Epitaph Records.
With their second album, Suicide Season, Bring Me the Horizon moved in a more accessible direction and wound up cracking the U.K. album charts. Not everyone approved of the new sound, though, and Ward left the band in early 2009. His temporary replacement was Jona Weinhofen, formerly a member of I Killed the Prom Queen. Weinhofen ended up staying with the band as a permanent member, and the group returned to the studio with producer Fredrik Nordström in March 2010 to begin work on a third album. The resulting There Is a Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It, There Is a Heaven, Let’s Keep It a Secret was released during the latter half of 2010, several months after the band wrapped up its engagement with the Warped Tour.
A fourth album, the critically lauded Sempiternal, arrived on Epitaph in 2013, and peaked at number three on the U.K. albums chart. Released in 2015, the loosely conceptual That’s the Spirit saw the group dropping some of its metalcore tendencies in lieu of a more melodic, alt-metal approach, capturing mainstream ears with the singles “Happy Song,” “True Friends,” and “Avalanche.” The set topped charts across the globe, peaking in the Top Three in their native England and in the U.S. Backed by the Parallax Orchestra and Simon Dobson, the band set its hits to orchestral backing on 2016’s Live at the Royal Albert Hall. In the summer of 2018, Bring Me the Horizon returned with the pop-leaning single “Mantra” from their sixth full-length effort, Amo.
Lamb Of God
For all its depth, diversity and cross-pollinated ambition, modern metal needs its figureheads, its heroes and its leaders. Lamb of God have been blazing mercilessly away at the forefront of heavy music for the last 15 years, upholding metal’s intrinsic values of honesty, intensity and creativity while also daring to push boundaries and think outside the heavy box. Exploding into view with 2000’s seminal debut New American Gospel, the Virginian quintet inadvertently kick-started the so-called New Wave Of American Metal at the dawn of the 21st century; and have notched up a succession of huge commercial hit albums and remorselessly toured the globe ever since. The combination of vocalist Randy Blythe’s excoriating growls and roars, guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Morton’s precision attack and the bowel-shattering rumble of rhythm section John Campbell (bass) and Chris Adler (drums) has both refined and redefined the notion of aggressive metal in the modern era.
From the raw savagery of 2003’s As The Palaces Burn and its immaculate follow-up Ashes Of The Wake in 2004 to the widescreen pomp and melodic intricacy of Sacrament in 2006, the band’s rise to glory was steady and unstoppable. By the time they released Wrath in 2009, Lamb of God were simply one of the biggest metal bands on the planet, with a vast army of fans worldwide and a formidable reputation for delivering the goods on stage, with countless headlining tours and festival appearances contributing to their status as standard bearers for heavy music. 2012’s Resolution album marked a startling evolution in the band’s sound, displaying laudable levels of experimental fervour and sonic breadth. It built upon the successes of previous years by smashing into the US Billboard charts at number 3 and looked to usher in a new era of acclaim and achievement.
Of course, what happened next is well documented. Vocalist Randy Blythe’s trials and tribulations in the Czech Republic – wherein he stood accused of causing intentional bodily harm to a fan at an LOG show in Prague in 2010 and faced a lengthy prison sentence – momentarily threatened both his freedom and the future of his band. Eventually acquitted on all charges, Randy has spoken at length on his experiences and while it would be inaccurate to state that the new Lamb of God album – VII: Sturm und Drang – represents the story of those dark days, it undoubtedly had a huge impact on the lyrical direction that he took this time round.
“There’s no way around it, my trip to the gated community in Europe was the starting point for writing this record,” he states. “I wrote the opening track, Still Echoes, almost in its entirety. You’re familiar with the Misfits song London Dungeon, which is about when they got arrested? Well, I’m a huge Misfits fan so I thought I might as well write my own London Dungeon, except for it’s not in London. I also wrote parts of the song 512 while I was there, so I had those two things. But writing in there was an act of preservation for my morale, I suppose. Being creative, whenever I’m going through something rough and I don’t have anything else to turn to, I pick up the pen…”
With such a dramatic entry point for the writing process for Lamb of God’s seventh album, this was never going to be an upbeat affair. Inspired by those initial lyrical ideas, Randy Blythe and guitarist Mark Morton have conjured a collection of dark and menacing but ultimately inspirational lyrics for VII: Sturm und Drang, an album that deals with extreme real life circumstances and mankind’s ability to weather the most brutal storms in the ongoing quest for peace and happiness.
“It’s a record about how people handle extreme situations,” says Randy. “The literal translation is ‘Storm And Stress’ – it sums up everything on the record, it really does, perfectly. Obviously it started with me being in prison, but this isn’t my prison album. The song 512 is asking ‘How am I handling this?’ Anyone who’s been locked up will probably understand what I’m trying to say. It’s about the brutal psychic shift you undergo when you become incarcerated, because it’s not a normal situation at all. People in prison think and act 100% differently from people on the outside. It’s a different world.”
Reflecting this overall theme, VII: Sturm Und Drang features several songs that arose from Randy’s fascination with digging deeper into the horrors of history, the strength of humanity and our never-ending battle against oppressive, dishonest regimes. Closing track Torches was inspired by the story of Jan Palach, a Czech man that set himself alight in Wenceslas Square in protest against the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia. The furious Engage The Fear Machine deals with the manipulation of mass media to control the masses, using scare tactics and outright lies to spread fear and paranoia, as with the recent worldwide ebola scare and its exploitation by unscrupulous broadcasters. Meanwhile, the hair-raising brutality of Anthropoid was inspired by the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the ‘Butcher Of Prague’ and architect of the Nazis’ final solution, in 1942. His assassins were “ratted out” and found themselves holed up in a local church crypt, with 800 Nazi stormtroopers out for their blood.
“They held the Nazis off for eight hours,” Randy explains. “These guys fought ‘em until they ran out of bullets and then they killed themselves so they wouldn’t be taken prisoner. So you can go into that crypt in Prague, and I did, and you can see where these guys were trying to dig through the wall into the sewer. It’s extremely heavy. These were superior men. That’s about as high level as you can get, in terms of character and doing the right thing. Situations don’t get much more extreme than that.”
To match the jarring intensity of the lyrics, the music on Lamb of God’s seventh album had to be both powerful and emotionally shrewd. In keeping with their previous works, VII: Sturm und Drang contains all the cherished LOG trademarks, but as with its predecessor Resolution, this is not a record that sits comfortably within a cozy formula. Instead, from the flailing muscularity of Erase This to the startling melodic vocals and surging crescendos of Overlord, from the skull-rattling grooves of Still Echoes to Embers’ heart-rending mixture of fragility and grandeur, this is both a consolidation of the values that Lamb of God have long upheld /and/ a bold leap into fresh territory that once again heralds the expansion of this band’s unique vision. With guest appearances from Deftones’ frontman Chino Moreno (on Embers) and Greg Puciato from The Dillinger Escape Plan (on monumental album closer Torches), VII: Sturm und Drang is a cohesive, focused and emotionally devastating piece of work.
“The last few years were definitely a unique period for us and one that doesn’t compare to anything we’ve gone through before,” states Mark Morton. “But for me, the writing process hasn’t changed. I just play the guitar and when something cool comes up and it’s relevant and appropriate to Lamb of God, I’ll document it and get it catalogued for future use. The difference this time was that me and Willie (Adler, LOG guitarist) collaborated a lot more than ever before. It grew from bits and pieces that me and Willie both brought in and we melded them into songs, with great results.”
“We set out to try and make a 10-song record,” Randy notes. “The concept of the album is getting lost nowadays, and one reason I think is that every fucking record is 18 songs long now. Albums used to really just be moments in time and they defined where the band was at that moment. Now I think there’s a lot of overwriting… this concept of more is better, and I think that’s nonsense. So we decided on ten songs, that’s it. Josh really encouraged Mark and Willie, those two write the tunes, instead of bringing in complete compositions on their own – and we’ve done that a lot in the past on records – and he got them to work together more. That happened quite a bit with this album and I think it made it much more cohesive and a stronger record as a result.”
Having lived through times that would have stopped most bands in their tracks, Lamb of God are back in 2015 with a renewed sense of purpose and a fresh perspective. They will embark on a full European Festival tour in the Summer of 2015, and then the Summer’s Last Stand Tour across North America, as direct support for Slipknot, and also featuring Bullet For My Valentine, and Motionless In White. Lamb of God are ready to roll.
“It’ll be cool to get out and tour the world and play this new stuff for the fans”, says Randy. “As always, I’ll try to see things I haven’t seen before, get out and do some photography and writing as well.”
“I’m really lucky to still be doing this with these guys and tour around the world,” Mark concludes. “That’s an honour and it’s one I don’t take for granted. It’s great to be part of something that’s as cool as Lamb Of God.”
CHEVELLE is the understated musical powerhouse who have continually delivered rock anthems for the past 24 years. 7 number one hits, 17 songs reaching the top 10 charts, over 4 million records sold in the USA and many more world wide. Platinum and gold albums across their 8 studio records and successful live CD and two live DVD releases completes their extensive body of work to date. Its all credit to their continuing dedication to be true to their craft, the genre and their fans. Chevelle’s last two Album releases, La Gargola and The North Corridor both debuted #1 on the Billboard rock charts and #3 and #8 respectively, on the Billboard top 200 charts. With no signs of this Chicago alternative rock trio slowing down any time soon, their numerous chart topping releases have certainly earned this band a place in American rock music history.
After more than two decades together, numerous releases, and countless world wide tours, the
outfit consisting of brothers Pete Loeffler [guitars, vocals], Sam Loeffler [drums], and brother in-law, Dean Bernardini [bass, vocals] have confidently sailed through decades of uncharted waters and have emerge with a collection that’s equally intricate and intimate.
Certainly it builds upon the group’s impressive foundation, including the 2002 platinum-selling genre staple Wonder What’s Next and the 2004 gold-selling follow-up This Type of Thinking Could Do Us In which debuted #8 on the Billboard Top 200. The releases that followed held their own against the ever changing faces of popular music for the time. 2007’s Vena Sera reached #2 for Rock album on the Billboard charts. 2009’s release Sci-Fi Crimes reached #6 on the Billboard Top 200 and #1 on the alternative charts. 2011’s Hats Off to The Bull reached #5 on the Billboard Top 200, 2014’s La Gargola debuted #3 on the Billboard Top 200. Most recently, 2016’s The North Corridor album debuted #8 and soon reached #2 on the Billboard Top 200. La Gargola and The North Corridor both debuted #1 on the Billboard rock charts with The North Corridor vinyl release reaching #7 on the Billboard top 25 Vinyl charts.
“You don’t want to repeat yourself,” affirms Sam. “We want to seize something different with each song.
Every record has to take on its own identity. As an artist, you have to progress and evolve.” As they continue to master their craft, Chevelle take on the critics and prove time and time again that they a force to be reckoned with.
Self-doubt and depression clawed at the edges of Lzzy Hale’s mind when it came time to pen Halestorm’s fourth album, a follow-up to 2015’s Into The Wild Life. The musician didn’t feel like she was where she needed to be, both professionally and personally. When she and her bandmates, Arejay Hale, Joe Hottinger and Josh Smith, began writing, Lzzy wasn’t even sure who she was. “I kept thinking, ‘Can I still do this?’” she says. “I went down a lot of rabbit holes, and I’m my own worst critic. I needed to get over a lot of internal hurdles during this writing and recording process. This record was about overcoming inner demons.”
The band began writing, but the first batch of songs didn’t feel quite right, so Halestorm scrapped it and started over. And in the end, Vicious represents Halestorm’s most personal and most inventive album, a deeply lived-with collection of songs teaming with genuine heart and soul. It’s also how Lzzy got her groove back. “I don’t think there was any other way for me to get through that difficult time than to write about it,” she says. “This record was like therapy.” The album was recorded with producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains and Rush) at Nashville, TN’s Rock Falcon recording studio, and the producer, with whom the band had previously worked with on their 2017 covers EP ReAniMate 3.0: The CoVeRs eP, pushed each musician to a new place musically. Each song went through five or six versions, and ultimately carry the listener on a journey, emphasizing the band’s strengths while revealing a dynamic evolution.
“Nick pushed us from 10 to 11,” Lzzy says. “He pushed us mentally and physically. There are some things on this record that I didn’t think were physically possible for both myself and my bandmates. It was really exciting to see that happen for the first time in the studio. To be able to still surprise each other like that – and to surprise yourself – is no small feat.”
One of the main goals in the studio was to capture real, human moments within the music, the sorts of unexpected instances that occur onstage. In recent years, Halestorm has introduced improvised flashes into their live sets with the idea of creating controlled chaos between the more orchestrated songs. The music on Vicious embraces this sensibility. The musicians worked to ensure that every song had its own dynamic feeling, both overall and within each verse. “It wasn’t just about looping the same thing over and over again,” Lzzy notes. “The idea was: Where can we take this that’s not predicable?”
The resulting album, which was culled from over 20 recorded tunes, solidifies everything Halestorm stands for as a band. It’s about empowerment, an ideal that the musicians have encouraged for years, and the songs urge you to be unapologetically yourself. Ultimately, it’s not just about being strong and taking on the storm – but also about how you rise above that storm. The album’s title comes from “Vicious,” a gritty, surging rock number that was written during the last moments of studio time. The song features the line “What doesn’t kill me makes me vicious,” a rallying cry to overcome any obstacles. “It’s about being strong and fierce,” Lzzy says. “The climate of the world right now is always seeping in, so we wanted it to feel really positive and empowering.” “Uncomfortable,” one of the first songs written for the album, has a similar tone, featuring a rapid-fire verse and impressive vocal licks on the chorus. “You can’t please everybody as much as you may want to try,” Lzzy says of the song. “By being yourself you may make people uncomfortable. I saw a lot of our fans struggling with that. This song is saying that it’s okay to not make everyone happy all the time. You can be yourself and that’s okay. And, in fact, you should be proud of that.”
References to Halestorm’s fans and Lzzy’s constant interactions with them online or on Twitter thread through the album. The musician, who calls the band’s fanbase “our comrades in this crazy life,” wanted to drop Easter eggs into the lyrics, reminding longtime listeners of past conversations or instances in Lzzy’s personal life they’ll likely remember. “I feel like our fans deserve that type of openness from us at this point,” she says. “The love they’ve given us comes full circle.”
Since their inception in 1998, Halestorm have toured extensively with a diverse variety of artists, including Eric Church, Joan Jett, Avenged Sevenfold, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, ZZ Top and Evanescence. They’ve played around 2,500 dates around the world to date, and performed at festivals like Taste of Chaos and Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival. Most recently, the band scored a 2019 Grammy nomination for “Best Rock Performance” for “Uncomfortable,” marking their second after their 2013 win for “Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance.” Loudwire named Lzzy their “2018 Rock Artist of the Year,” last year, and two years prior, she was named the “Dimebag Darrell Shredder of the Year” at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards. Both Halestorm and The Strange Case of… were certified Gold, further evidencing Halestorm’s massively supportive fanbase. Halestorm have also made history: “Love Bites (So Do I),” the hit single from The Strange Case of… ascended to No. 1 at Active Rock radio in the U.S., making Halestorm the first-ever female-fronted group to earn the top spot on the format.
Today Halestorm exists as a beacon of hope and inspiration for musicians, particularly female musicians who want to brave the challenges of the music industry. Lzzy has been a pioneer in rock and proven that women have a place on the stage. Every night on tour, women – and men – in the audience can look to her and realize they too have the power to carve out their own path. Younger musicians admire her the same way she grew up admiring artists like Joan Jett and Stevie Nicks. “They helped me feel like I could do it, and I hope I’ve done the same for women today,” Lzzy says. “Trying to be my best self and not trying to be anything I’m not and being unapologetic feels like a good message. I feel a lot of responsibility to keep upholding that. I’m just trying to be the best me.”
Two decades into an accomplished career, Halestorm represents the results of true passion and hard work. The band has out-survived many of its peers and the musicians are still having fun after all this time. Vicious is evidence of a group of artists who refuse to ever plateau.
“This music chose us and we’re just hanging on,” Lzzy says. “Our greatest accomplishment is that we’ve been the same members for over 15 years and we’re continuing to make and release music. We want to always try new things. We’re still extremely hungry and open to opportunities, and we’re hungry to prove we deserve to be here. We’re so lucky to still be a band and have people care about our music. And there’s still so much more to do.”
THE POWER OF YOUR EXAMPLE IS FAR GREATER THAN WHAT YOU SAY!
Dropkick Murphys formed in 1996 in Boston, MA. The band was originally just a bunch of friends looking to play music for fun. We started playing in the basement of a friend’s barbershop and our goal was to blend the musical influences we had grown up with (Punk Rock, Irish Folk, Rock, and Hardcore) into one loud, raucous, chaotic, and often out of tune mix that we could call our own.
To our surprise people seemed to like it and we began to record music and tour constantly. To date we have released numerous singles & EP’s, a live album, a DVD and six full length albums and have had the good fortune of being able to play across a large portion of the world. We are truly grateful to the many friends and bands that have helped us out and supported us along the way in the US, Canada, Europe, U.K. Ireland, Scandinavia, and Australia as well as the many countries we look forward to playing in the next century.
The bands’ main goal is to play music that creates an all for one, one for all environment where everyone is encouraged to participate, sing along, and hopefully have a good time. In the true spirit of punk rock we view the band and the audience as one in the same; in other words our stage and our microphone are yours.
In addition to hopefully bringing people together for a good time, we hope to share some of our experiences and beliefs in working class solidarity, friendship, loyalty and self- improvement as a means to bettering society (i.e. You can preach till you’re blue in the face but if you’re lying in the gutter no one’s gonna listen. If you pick yourself up by the bootstraps and live your life to the best of your ability you may set an example that others will follow).
Thanks for the support!
Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots are no strangers to change. Unpredictably has shaped the Grammy®- winning group since it emerged as one of the best-selling bands of the 1990s. More than 25 years later, the band is reborn once again on its seventh studio album – its first with new singer Jeff Gutt, a veteran of the Detroit music scene.
STP founding members Dean DeLeo, Robert DeLeo and Eric Kretz introduced Gutt in November, moments before he joined them on stage at the Troubadour in Los Angeles for the band’s first concert together.
The path leading up to that show began in September 2016 when Gutt was invited to join the band after an extensive search to find the group’s third singer. The transition was virtually seamless, Kretz recalls. “The chemistry was there from the start, and Jeff kept coming up with one great melody after another. We ended up finishing 14 songs, which is the most that Stone Temple Pilots has ever recorded for an album.”
The group recorded over several months in Los Angeles at Robert’s home studio. One of the earliest songs to take shape was “Meadow,” a straight-ahead rocker that became the album’s lead single. “We’d written several songs before Jeff joined, and he took everything we threw at him and ran with it lyrically and melodically. What impressed all of us is how he lets the song dictate his direction instead of the other way around,” Robert says.
Gutt says the band really clicked after writing its first song together, a track called “The Art of Letting Go.” “Dean was messing around on an acoustic guitar and I started singing along. Pretty soon, everyone was in the room and all the pieces fell into place. It’s such a beautiful song and something we’re all very proud of.”
Stone Temple Pilots will return to the road for the first time in more than two years for a North American tour in 2018.
Bad Religion – Age of Unreason
Acclaimed Los Angeles punk rock band Bad Religion have released a new album entitled Age of Unreason. Since the group’s formative years innovating their iconic fast and melodic sound, the band has steadfastly advocated for humanism, reason, and individualism. Today, as these values are in decline, and nationalism and bigotry are on the rise, Bad Religion’s message has never been more essential. Age of Unreason delivers a powerful and inspired rejoinder – a political and deeply personal treatise on all they believe in.
“The band has always stood for enlightenment values,” co-songwriter and guitarist Brett Gurewitz explains. “Today, these values of truth, freedom, equality, tolerance, and science are in real danger. This record is our response.”
Global unrest apparently brings out the best in a highly cognizant punk band. The songs on Age of Unreason are both furious and meticulously crafted. There is a stylistic consistency to the band’s signature sound – hard fast beats, big hooks and rousing choruses, yet each song remains distinctive, utilizing composition, melody and lyrics to deliver a unique narrative. There are references to contemporary events; racist rallies, Trump’s election, the erosion of the middle class, Colin Kaepernick’s protest, alternative facts, conspiracy theories, and there are homages to the literary and philosophical works that have long inspired the band.
The track “End of History” is an exhilarating burst of guitar driven punk that, in true Bad Religion style, neatly wraps up dissent and a catchy chorus with a healthy dose of political philosophy. The verse – “utopia is an opiated dream / what we want is an open society / one torn and frayed at the edges / with pages of imperfect changes / and every hallmark of rationality” – offers an antidote to the nostalgia and malaise afflicting politics today in the critical rationalism of philosopher, Karl Popper. The line “sweet children, Locke’s burden” additionally references 17th century philosopher John Locke, regarded as the “Father of Liberalism.
Utilizing another historical reference, the album’s hyper charged title track “Age of Unreason” offers a timely play on Thomas Paine’s book, The Age of Reason. Mostly remembered as one of America’s founding fathers, Paine was an advocate of scientific and social progress and a persecuted critic of organized religion. Co-songwriter and lead singer, Greg Graffin, explains, “Paine’s work is highly relevant to what’s happening today. As a band, we have have always talked about the irrationality of religion and flown the banner of the enlightenment. Paine actually risked his life for those beliefs. Fast forward to today and see the man who received the presidential seal denying science and using lies to divide people. It seems more an age of unreason.”
The song “Chaos From Within” examines the current border wall controversy with the lyrics, “Threat is urgent, existential, with patience wearing thin, but the danger’s elemental, it’s chaos from within.” As Graffin says, “Throughout history, walls have been used as protection to keep the barbarians out, But it seems to me that the that the truly barbaric aspect of a civilization is the chaos that comes from within.”
Bad Religion first came together in the sprawling suburbs of Los Angeles. As intellectually minded young punks, they injected their primal sound with melodic hooks and soaring multi-part choruses as well as a philosophically critical world view. Instead of addressing customary topics of teen alienation and a generalized oppression – they wrote about evolution, religion, the natural world, science, world history and the enlightenment. Founding members Greg Graffin, Brett Gurewitz and Jay Bentley were eventually joined by guitarist Brian Baker of hardcore pioneers Minor Threat, and most recently by guitarist Mike Dimkich and drummer Jamie Miller.
Age of Unreason is Bad Religion’s 17th studio album and was co-produced by Carlos de la Garza. Since the band’s formative days in the burgeoning punk underground, they have amassed a world wide following and penned numerous hit singles including “21st Century (Digital Boy.)” But now, at a point when many artists might be content to release something merely serviceable, Bad Religion has delivered a timely work of immense power. Age of Unreason is one of their very best. Society’s step backwards has propelled the legendary band decidedly forward. There is an elevated craft in the way the song “Candidate” vividly evokes the current president, “I am your candidate, I am bloody lips and makeup. I’m your caliphate, opioids and mutilation, a celebrity and my name is competition.” Another track entitled “The Approach” pointedly addresses the possible demise of democracy with the lyrics, “There’s a moral and intellectual vacuum and you’re right to be lookin’ askance, philosophically moribund, revolution hasn’t a chance.”
Age of Unreason is an album that reveals as much about the band as their targets. Amidst the justifiable outrage, there is underlying introspection and a reaffirming of beliefs. For Gurewitz. “Lose Your Head” is an intensely personal song about surviving volatile times by focusing attention inward. It marries his passion for science with a lifetime of contemplative practice. “I ain’t superstitious but hey, do you know a good exorcist? / despite darker tendencies I’ve always had a strong bias to exist / and while recent developments seem like bad news for humanity / self-pity is always a case of mistaken identity / don’t lose your head before you lose your head” According to Gurewitz the song “grapples with today’s deeply troubling political events” in the context of two of his main interests: cognitive science and Buddhist philosophy. “Particularly the Buddhist concepts of “no self” and “mindfulness of death” which in practice can heighten one’s compassion for others and an appreciation of life.”
Age of Unreason is both a dire warning and testament to resilience. The overall message being – seek truth about the world and oneself. As Graffin, who holds a PhD in the history of science, says, “When I saw all these headlines about how terrible our world had become, I started doing a lot of reading. I read about the French revolution, the American Revolution, the Civil War, and I started to recognize that this is a pattern of history and something we should never venture into, there are ample warnings against it. Every school child should know this but it’s hard to get people to read about these things. Maybe this album can help. Because right now, with social media, we are just playing a version of kill the guy with the ball.”
BABYMETAL was formed in 2010.
In March 2014, they took the stage at Nippon Budokan for a 2-day gig, making them the youngest female act to perform there. Their 1st studio album BABYMETAL instantly made it to the US Billboard charts. In summer of the same year, they embarked on their first world tour, performing on the main stage at UK’s prodigious festival Sonisphere Festival 2014 in front of 65,000 festival goers and supporting Lady Gaga on her ArtRave: The Artpop Ball 2014 Tour.
In summer of 2015, BABYMETAL received various awards from prominent UK music magazines KERRANG! and METAL HAMMER and became the first Japanese artist to ever receive these awards. BABYMETAL also performed on the main stage at the massive Reading & Leeds. In April 2016, BABYMETAL had a simultaneous global release for their 2nd album METAL RESISTANCE. Not only did they make the charts in Japan, they also became the highest-charting Japanese band ever on UK’s Official Albums Chart, landing at no. 15th. They also reached the 39th spot on its debut on the U.S. Billboard, becoming the first album by a Japanese artist to break into the chart’s top 40 in more than 53 years. During that same month, BABYMETAL performed at the prestigious Wembley Arena in the UK, becoming the first Japanese artist to ever headline at the venue. They completed their world tour in September at the Tokyo Dome for a consecutive 2 days with over 110,000 people to witness the massive tour final. Not only have they achieved all of the above, they have performed as special guests in various international locations for the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, METALLICA, GUNS N’ ROSES, and KORN. BABYMETAL’s challenge for world domination continues and only the Fox God knows what the future will hold.
Multiplatinum rock outfit Sum 41 wrapped its final tour supporting 2011’s Screaming Bloody Murder in April 2013. It was one of the band’s longest and most attended touring cycles in its 20 year career, and they found themselves nominated for a Grammy for the first time ever. However things were not as perfect as they seemed, as vocalist, guitarist, and producer Deryck Whibley found himself on the brink of destruction.
“I can’t pin-point one exact moment that put me over the edge, it was more of an accumulation of many things when I slipped into a fog of partying and booze. I tried to detach myself from any and all responsibility whatsoever,” Whibley reflects. He spent the next year doing just that, and at the end found himself in a Los Angeles hospital fighting for his life.
Whibley spent most of April and May 2014 in and out of the ICU with his mother and fiancée by his side. When he was finally released as an outpatient he realized that his journey was just beginning, and it was then that he began to write while simultaneously going through intense physical therapy. “Being sober and out of the fog made me realize that the only things I really cared about were music, making a record, and getting better so I could get back on stage again.”
The music came together in tandem with Whibley’s health; he recalls: “Due to neuropathy, muscle atrophy and medication that caused permanent nerve damage in my legs and feet left me unable to walk and in excruciating pain for months. I had to learn how to do everything again—my motor skills, learning how to play guitar. It was really difficult, but at the same time if I didn’t have a record to make, I don’t think I would have recovered as quickly, or even at all.”
He continues, “Writing music gave me a purpose and I started from scratch with absolutely nothing to work with. I would put on movies with no sound and start writing guitar riffs and music to the images. Mostly movies from Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino like Edward Scissorhands, Sweeny Todd, Kill Bill and Inglorious Bastards. The process led me in a direction that I had never gone in before which made me feel like I was writing a theatrical score called “hard-score punk”.
Soon, he was gathering his bandmates at his home in Los Angeles to begin laying down tracks for what would become the group’s sixth full-length album, 13 Voices. The record includes a surprise return from original guitarist Dave Brownsound, who parted ways with the band a decade prior. The first song Dave played guitar on was “Goddamn I’m Dead Again” a track that proves that the fiery guitar riffs that came to define SUM 41 are back.
In addition to bassist Cone McCaslin and lead guitarist Tom Thacker, Sum 41 would also formally welcome Frank Zummo (Street Drum Corps, Krewella, Thenewno2, Dead By Sunrise) behind the kit.
Whibley produced and engineered 13 Voices entirely on his own in his house. Drums were set up in the living room, guitar amps in the bedrooms. The end result stands tall as SUM 41’s most intense, cathartic and all-around finest work in years.
The album was written from a place of optimism, and speaks to the necessity of Whibley’s drastic fall before he was able to rise again. Opener “A Murder Of Crows,” the first track written upon the frontman’s release from the hospital, is about how those closest to Whibley quickly abandoned him when things got bad. The song’s haunting refrain (“You’re all dead to me”), repeated over bombastic percussion and steadily building guitars, is Whibley’s rallying cry; he’s letting go of the past in order to salvage his future.
He touches upon the theme of letting go further in “Fake My Own Death,” the fan track being released first from the record. “I just wanted to get away from everything that I had been doing. I needed to start a new life—like faking my own death.”
With the upcoming release of this album we see SUM 41 as an impenetrable unit putting everything they’ve got out into 13 Voices. The result is a dynamic, impassioned collection of melodic, guitar wielding, rock songs. “I can’t say whether this is our best record or not, as I don’t know if it is,” states Whibley. “All I can say is I did the best I possibly could during the toughest period of my life”.
It has always been hard to put a tag on GOJIRA, one of France’s most extreme bands the country’s musical pallet has ever known. But then again, the band has never really sought out such a tag, instead letting the music do the talking, preferring introspection and intelligence over preconceived notions and preexisting tags. Ever since the 1996 formation in town of Bayonne in the southwest of France, GOJIRA has been an ever- evolving experiment in extreme metal ultimately built upon a worldly, ever-conscious outlook with roots firmly-planted both in the hippie movement and an environmentally-conscious, new age mentality. This time, with The Way of All Flesh, GOJIRA harnesses a spiritual consciousness as well, but still culminates in a sound wholly heavy.
Originally dubbed Godzilla, after the scaly, green film star with an equally huge reputation as the newfound band’s sound, the brothers Duplantier – guitarist/vocalist Joe and drummer Mario – and fellow Frenchmen Jean Michel Labadie on bass and Christian Andreu on guitar, quickly released several demos, ultimately changing the band’s name and independently releasing the first GOJIRA album, Terra Incognita, in 2001, offering up a brief glimpse into the giant GOJIRA would eventually become through persistent hard work and years of toiling in the metal underground.
After the 2003 release of the band’s follow-up, The Link, throughout Europe and the subsequent live DVD release the next year, of the aptly-titled The Link Alive, 2005 brought the release of From Mars To Sirius, the band’s breakthrough release, garnering high praise and a North American release through Prosthetic Records in 2006. Fans of not only heavy, extreme music took notice, but so did the intellectual world, thanks to Sirius’ thoughtful and expansive inner examination of the world at hand and the consequences of humanity’s struggle to coexist without harm. The metal world was amused and amazed: much of it hadn’t yet seen an equally intelligent and pummelingly heavy release that was as expansive and open as it was dense and concise.
Following the immense praise of From Mars To Sirius and recurring trips across the Atlantic for North American touring alongside the likes of Lamb of God, Children of Bodom, and Behemoth among others, GOJIRA established its stranglehold on the extreme metal spectrum with a linguist’s touch, a lyricist’s finesse, and a
crushingly heavy live show that left audiences astounded, establishing the band’s live performance as a spot-on recreation of the band’s increasingly adept and intelligent studio output.
While 2007 wrapped with GOJIRA again touring North America on the Radio Rebellion Tour alongside Behemoth to the best reaction yet, the dawn of 2008 saw a nearly 10 month wait for while the band assembled The Way of All Flesh, one of the year’s most anticipated records. This time revolving around the undeniable dilemma of a mortal demise, GOJIRA’s soundtrack to the situation seems fitting. Shifting ever-so-slightly from the eco-friendly orchestra of impending doom on From Mars To Sirius to the band’s new message of the equally uncontrollable inevitability of death, The Way of All Flesh melds the open and airy progressive passages GOJIRA has become famous for with the sonically dense sounds and bludgeoningly heavy rhythms that makes the band an equally intelligent force as it is unmatchably heavy.
Featuring a guest vocal spot on “Adoration For None” from Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe – one of GOJIRA’s most vocal supporters from their first moment making an impression in the Americas – and the now familiar Morbid Angel-isms of The Way Of All Flesh’s title track join the angular riffing more akin to Meshuggah on “Esoteric Surgery” and the epic, artful plodding of the nearly 10-minute “The Art of Dying,” showing that GOJIRA have indeed opened a new bag of tricks for The Way Of All Flesh, while not abandoning the sound that first showed a massive promise of potential on Sirius.
“It’s more inventive than From Mars To Sirius and at the same time more straight to the point,” GOJIRA frontman Joe Duplantier says of The Way of All Flesh. “The whole album is about death, death is like a step on the path of the soul. The mystery surrounding this phenomenon is just so inspiring, and death is the most common thing on earth.”
“This album is also a ‘requiem’ for our planet,” Duplantier continues. “We don’t want to be negative or cynical about the fate of humanity, but the situation on Earth is growing critical, and the way humans behave is so catastrophic that we really need to express our exasperation about it. It’s not fear, but anger. But we still believe that consciousness can make a difference and that we can change things as human beings.”
On February 3rd, 2018, Architects confirmed their ascent to the very upper echelons of British heavy music.
In front of a sold-out Alexandra Palace – one of London’s biggest and most revered live music venues – the quintet gave a performance of such resonance that it met acclaim from both the rock and wider music press, and underlined their status as a live act of such ferocity that they would later be coronated ‘Best British Live Band’ at the 2018 Kerrang! Magazine Awards.
Such an accomplishment is not, common industry perception dictates, supposed to happen to a band such as Architects, whose fiercely authentic blend of rage, emotion and unrivalled technicality has long since earmarked them as the most special of propositions to the devoted ranks of rock music fans, despite their standing staunchly in opposition to the disposable, shallow nature of popular culture in 2018.
For those reasons alone, the dizzying success of Architects in recent years makes for one of music’s most incredible stories. Placed within the context of the tragedy that befell the band in August 2016, however, and it becomes all the more remarkable.
Eighteen months prior to that evening, on the morning of August 21st, 2016, the world awoke to the news that Tom Searle – founding guitarist, principal songwriter, band leader and twin brother to drummer Dan – had the day prior passed away following a private three-year battle with skin cancer.
Architects’ critically acclaimed and commercially successful (charting at #15 in the UK) seventh album, All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, had been released just weeks before, and with touring commitments scheduled to take them into the biggest venues of their lives all around the world, the band drafted in longtime friend, guitarist Josh Middleton, to help them pay public tribute night after night, month after month, to a man described by drummer Dan as “the omnipresent heartbeat of the band”.
“In those first months after Tom’s death, I didn’t deal with it at all and I felt so unhappy and anxious,” Dan continues. “I hadn’t dealt with it our acknlowlegded it; i’d ignored it and just tried to cope. But I knew that at some point, I had to learn from it. At the time, we told people that we had no idea what would happen to the band. And that was for real. I really believed we could keep going as a band, but, in many ways, it felt like a ridiculous ambition to have.
“It’s at times like that that you ask yourself, ‘What is left?’” adds Sam Carter. “As a group of friends, we had to find something.”
“Ultimately, there were two choices,” Dan says. “Feel sorry for yourself, and believe the world to be a horrible place and let it defeat you. Or let it inspire us to live the life that Tom would have wanted us to live.”
Written in the aftermath of Tom’s passing, and recorded across a six-month span from October 2017 through to April 2018, the stunning Holy Hell – Architects’ forthcoming eighth album, released on November 9th via Epitaph Records – is the sound of the resultant grief, pain and confusion that engulfed the band during that time.
As the world has long come to expect from Architects – vocalist Sam, drummer Dan, guitarists Josh and Adam Christianson and bassist Ali Dean – it is a record masterfully executed. Few bands, of this modern era or any other, can match the quintet’s ability to blend uncompromising heaviness with razor-sharp melodic musicianship. Though to take these 11 songs at headbanging face-value would be to miss the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with the band’s most personal work ever. In turning their songwriting perspective away from the previously explored territories of impending environmental disaster, global societal suffering and political corruption, and focussing instead on the most difficult trials and tribulations human beings must all encounter in life, they have put forward their most emotionally affecting, universally accessible songs to date.
“For me, broadly speaking Holy Hell is about pain: the way we process it, cope with it, and live with it,” Dan begins. “In losing my brother, the primary thing I have taken away from the ongoing grieving process is that there are lessons in pain. There is in pain. It’s where we learn, it’s where we grow. And yet, we don’t possess the understanding to process the pain in our lives, to acknowledge it and accept it and look it in the eye.”
Certainly, Holy Hell stares suffering in the face throughout its complex lyrical journey, which opens with the the anthemic Death Is Not Defeat – “A song to Tom,” Dan reveals. “I think a bit of him felt like he was letting us down by dying, and I couldn’t have him feel that.” What follows, however, much like the grieving process that underpins its entire creation, is a narrative arch that is not an easily navigable path leading simply from dark beginning to brighter end.
While Damnation finds the band revisiting and reexamining the lyric <<’Hope is a prison>>’ – originally penned by Tom Searle on All Our Gods… track Gone With The Wind – from a more hopeful place, and Doomsday (released as a previously standalone single last September, which to date has garnered in excess of 15m views on YouTube) takes on a more positive meaning in context, the haunting refrain of <<’I don’t want to dream any more’>> in the bludgeoning The Seventh Circle is a desperate reminder of a darkness that lurks behind every false dawn.
“I desperately wanted the album to be lyrically authentic,” Dan reveals. “I originally wanted to make a sequential album that went from ‘fuck life’ to ‘life’s OK’, but that’s simply not how grief works. I wanted to express the blunt end of grief, where it can feel like there is no point in life any more, and I didn’t want to censor that.”
And yet, in closing with A Wasted Hymn, Holy Hell sees the band looking forward to a light at the end of the tunnel. The album’s most emotionally heavy moment, the track features a segment of guitar recorded by Tom prior to his death. “It’s my favourite part of the record,” Dan smiles.
“I was very worried about people taking away a despondent message from the album,” Dan admits. “I felt a level of responsibility to provide a light at the end of the tunnel for people who are going through terrible experiences. Because I would have like that when Tom first died. Hearing someone else articulate it in the way we have done here would have been something that would have really helped me.”
“I hope Holy Hell helps people going through similar to us,” Sam Carter says. “The one thing that’s come into focus throughout this journey is that it’s not just us going through grief, and I hope if it can help people in the way that it helped me process those emotions.”
“To help other people through their pain,” adds Dan, “would be an amazing thing to be able to take away from this.”
With the release of their highly anticipated 12th studio album, the gloriously titled “Book of Bad Decisions”, it would be easy to suggest that legendary Maryland rockers Clutch have made their finest record to date. This may even be true. You see, the thing about Clutch is that ever since their 1993 debut Transnational Speedway League they’ve been in the business of writing stone cold classics, and even the most rabid fan would have trouble picking just one. “Book of Bad Decisions” won’t make that task any easier. Rest assured, it’s another classic.
Recorded over three weeks at Sputnik Studios in Nashville, “Book of Bad Decisions” was produced by four-time Grammy winner Vance Powell (Seasick Steve, The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys, etc.), a man who apparently knows that a one degree angle change in microphones makes a difference to how an instrument sounds. Interestingly, his name first came to the band’s attention via country star Chris Stapleton.
“It started with my brother-in-law, who’s a huge Chris Stapleton fan,” says drummer Jean-Paul Gaster. “He and I would listen to The Traveller quite a bit, and one thing that stood out was that it didn’t sound like any other country record that I’d heard. Shortly after that I was on Spotify, and a song by The Dead Weather came up. It just blew me away and I could tell that whoever produced that record was doing things a different way. I looked it up and there was Vance Powell’s name again, so something was telling us that this is a guy we should reach out to.”
“Even though Chris Stapleton does music that’s not too much like our own, the sonics of the record are pretty great,” says frontman Neil Fallon. “He has a very different approach to recording; he comes from the school of live recording and engineering, and the songs, on tape, are not gonna sound that much different from what we do live.”
No stranger to the road, Powell spent three days on tour with the band in order to get a feel for what they do best, watching first from the front of house and then from the stage, checking out the live sound and how Clutch connect with their audience.
“I never go into a record having an idea of how it’s gonna sound,” he says. “But after hearing them live, I had an idea of how they could sound. I’m a big live recording fan, so I like when bands play together and I didn’t wanna get into that manufacturing a record concept. I wanted it to be real organic.”
Indeed, ‘organic’ is a word that comes up a lot when talking to Clutch about the new record, Powell taking great care to get guitar tones right and making sure that each song had its own identity.
“Vance is all about vintage guitar sounds,” says guitarist Tim Sult. “I probably had more amplifier options than on any other album we’ve done. It was like going back to a music store in 1960! This was the first time I’ve ever recorded with amps from the ’50s and I ended up buying a couple of ’50s amps while we were in Nashville.”
“I felt really good about the gear that I was bringing into the studio,” concurs bassist Dan Maines, “but Vance had this 1974 Ampeg and I’m so glad that he recommended that. As soon as we plugged it in, it sounded like Sabbath! We ended up using it alongside one of my amps, and I loved it so much that once we were done recording I scoured the ads for another one. What I really like is that each song has a different tone to it, and I think that’s Vance Powell’s style.”
With each band member contributing riffs to the album – including Jean-Paul who has added mandolin to his repertoire – there was no shortage of material, each song road-tested long before it reached the studio. Hell, with 15 songs, “Book of Bad Decisions” could easily pass as a double album! Always wary of repeating themselves and retreading old ground, there is even – for the first time on a Clutch album – a horn section that swings like James Brown’s pants!
“The third night I was watching the band,” says Vance, “they did this song that at that time was called Talkbox, which is now In Walks Barbarella. While Neil was singing, I was thinking to myself, “wow, there’s a horn line here!” And while he was singing, I was humming it to myself. I brought it up to them, tenuously, and they were like, “okay, let’s do it!” This is as Parliament, Funkadelic as it gets, maybe even a James Brown vibe!”
One thing, however, that is entirely as expected, is that as arguably the greatest rock lyricist of modern times, Fallon, as always, has provided some interesting subject matter, everything from poets to presidents and recipes to rock ‘n’ roll. You may have to Google some of it, because Fallon is nothing if not a clever bugger, and likes to keep his audience on their toes.
“Most of the time I have no idea what he’s talking about,” laughs Jean-Paul, “but the lyrics completely inform how I’m going to play that tune. Whether or not I understand exactly what Neil is singing about is not important. I listen to the way Neil sings those words and I think about what those words mean to me, and that, ultimately, informs how I’m gonna play drums on that song.”
“I think I probably second guess myself into doing that,” says Neil of his lyrical style. “I would rather not be able to answer all the questions, just to keep it interesting for myself. Sometimes a rhyme sounds awesome and I don’t know what it means, but I’ll go with it anyway. It’s become more difficult to write lyrics now that I have Wikipedia at my fingertips, because you can go down rabbit hole after rabbit hole and not get anything done! Not too long ago you’d have to spend months in a public library trying to find out the things you can find in a couple of keystrokes.”
Elsewhere, however, you’ll find a more straightforward approach to lyrics, A Good Fire relating the memory of hearing Black Sabbath for the first time – something that everyone can relate to – while Sonic Counselor pays homage to Clutch fans. Indeed, it’s fair to say that Clutch fans – collectively known as Gearheads – are a breed like no other.
“I’ve always loved rock songs that just celebrated rock ‘n’ roll,” grins Fallon, “but that song was a bit more about the people who come to our shows, that make it as exciting for us as hopefully it is for them. My favorite shows that I’ve seen bands do is like going to church, especially when everybody’s in sync with each other and you walk out with your jaw on the floor. I feel incredibly grateful that people have walked out of our shows and felt the same way. It’s a tip of the hat to them.”
“We’re exceptionally lucky to have the fans we have,” Jean-Paul agrees. “They’re diehard, and because of that, we take this that much more seriously. We do not take this for granted. We know that those folks could be anywhere else, and they’ve chosen to spend the evening at a Clutch show, so we’re gonna do the best we can to provide them with the best musical experience we can. I think that translates to the records, because at the end of the day, all you have is your records. When this whole thing wraps up, those are gonna be the things that go down in history.”
You may have been to that party—the one where a guy plastered in ink showed up on a motorcycle with a guitar slung around his back. You probably either rolled your eyes and raised your fists, or asked, “Who is that?”. When it comes to Brooklyn rock trio Highly Suspect, all three members–Johnny Stevens, (guitars and lead vocals) and twins, Rich, (bass/vocals) and Ryan Meyer (drums) — are that guy. The trio have played 800 shows in six years, having supported bands like My Morning Jacket and Grizzly Bear, and, as the day’s opener no less, have drawn the biggest audience to-date to the Lollapalooza BMI Stage. They’ve also raged in all of your basements.
The boys moved in together after high school in 2006 and would share a few years, a few fist fights and more than a few drug and alcohol fueled parties, before they ever even knew that they had started a band. “Playing music together was just something we did when we were fucked up, or if there were girls over, or if it was raining out. Its cold in the Northeast,” says Johnny. But it wouldn’t take long for them to realize that they had accidentally created the very foundation of what would eventually become the band. Once they noticed just how many people could identify with the energy they produced and the lyrics they were sharing, there was no other option than to take it on the road.
The second these guys get on stage, you discover that their burnt out cigarettes, leather jackets, and well traveled boots aren’t a front. You’ll hear their raspy vocals, amped-up guitar chords and ambitious rhythms blending so uniquely with cocaine-covered lyrics telling you the true story of three guys who know what it means to go hungry. Their forthcoming debut album is set to release in the summer of 2015 and was produced by Joel Hamilton, who has worked with such artists as The Black Keys, Tom Waits, and Elvis Costello. On it, you’ll find the songs that you’re always hoping to hear (but never actually do) when you push your favorite alt radio station preset button.
Just as these twenty-something guys–who were invited back to play SXSW for their second year in a row this spring–so happen to dabble in graffiti, sex, and rock & roll, so do their songs happen to feel like a page out of your own wildest life moments. Titled ‘Mister Asylum’ the album takes the listener on a deep journey exploring the beauty and pain that all of us can relate to as we navigate through the vast and uncertain universe we live in. Of the LP’s first single, “Lydia,” Johnny shares that the song is a true story about love lost. ” I met her when we moved into our Brooklyn apartment. It was literally slow-motion love at first sight. We went through so much together. I still have Pam, the cat I got her for a birthday present one year. I’ll always wish her the best but sometimes things don’t work out the way you had planned” This, and each of the other tracks work together to remind you that outlaws always have, and always will write the realest of the real. Exposing their souls on the deepest of levels, these are the songs that most bands are afraid to write.
For the many who claim that rock music is a dying breed, I Prevail is a living testament to the contrary. Formed in 2013 in Southfield, Michigan, I Prevail’s uncanny ability to bring diverse audiences en masse to their shows is a testament to their wide-ranging style. While some have made attempts to abandon rock music, I Prevail have unapologetically leaned in, outright demanding that their naysayers ‘bow down’.
Their aggressive riffs and soaring choruses have become synonymous with modern rock. I Prevail’s 2016 debut album ‘Lifelines’ was one of the most successful debut releases for a hard rock band in the last decade both in terms of sales and streams. The ‘Lifelines’ campaign took the band on a world tour that saw explosive growth, with nearly 600,000 copies sold to date.
I Prevail has persevered through adversity and a debilitating vocal injury that nearly ended the music career of co-vocalist Brian Burkheiser. Through his recovery and the accompanying anxiety that came with it, the band’s sophomore album ‘Trauma’ was born.
‘Trauma’ is an eclectic mix of musical stylings that tells the complicated story of what I Prevail went through to get to where they are today. While they continue to see an immense level of success, they still approach everything they do with an underdog mentality, depending on their loyal fanbase to rally behind them and ‘rise above it’.
Growing up in Florida, Ghostemane (Eric Whitney) was originally a guitar player for hardcore and doom metal bands. Whitney was introduced to rap music when he was the guitarist in the hardcore punk band Nemesis and a bandmate introduced him to Memphis rap.
Whitney graduated from university after studying astrophysics. In 2015, Whitney moved to Los Angeles, California due to struggles in Southern Florida, giving up his employment at the same time.
Meeting up with JGRXXN, Whitney joined his collective Schemaposse which included artists such as the now-deceased Lil Peep and Craig Xen. In April 2016, Schemaposse disbanded. Whitney began to associate with fellow Florida rapper Pouya. Their friendship resulted in “1000 Rounds,” a song that has amassed over 50 million streams across platforms.
In 2018 Whitney released his 10th album, N / O / I / S / E (No One Is Safe from Evil). The album has a very dark and aggressive style and it deals with themes of self-harm, self-mutilation, agoraphobia, and many other issues Ghostemane has dealt with personally. It is a step forward for his genre-bending sound—an energy that started in the underground and has led to hundreds of millions of streams across his catalog.
Ghostemane draws his influences from a vast array of content including psychedelics, Nine Inch Nails, Outkast, medieval magic, occultism, and Ancient Egyptian books.
FIDLAR’s third album, Almost Free, which will be released on January 25, 2019, bears a raw vitality that FIDLAR partly attributes to a certain lightning-in-a-bottle element in its construction. While the album was recorded in several different locations — including the iconic Sunset Sound and Sonic Ranch, a studio in the Texas border town of Tornillo — much of the material came straight from homemade demos. “On the last record we took the demos and re-recorded everything in the studio, but this process was more like how we worked in the beginning,” says Elvis. “I feel like it got us back to that original feeling we had when we first started making music together, instead of just pushing everything out on a deadline.
“ FIDLAR’s origins trace back to 2009, when Elvis (whose dad played in the legendary punk band T.S.O.L., and who joined his own first punk band at age 13) landed an internship at a recording studio where Zac worked as an engineer, and the two started jamming in the off-hours. “I remember one day we went out to get a Little Caesar’s pizza and Elvis put on Songs for the Deaf by Queens of the Stone Age and I was like, ‘I love this record,'” Zac recalls. “That was the moment when it just connected for me: ‘We’re gonna be in a band together.'” With Brandon and Elvis’s kid brother and lifelong bandmate Max brought into the fold, the four musicians felt an immediate chemistry but had no real direction. “There wasn’t any kind of plan to become a working band,” says Elvis. “We just all really wanted to make loud rock & roll music.
“ Throughout Almost Free, FIDLAR match their stronger sense of purpose with the ineffable magic that’s always driven them — most notably, that pure and palpable love of playing together. “We were so young when this started, we were just partying and being kids, and FIDLAR took on a life of its own,” says Zac. “I really thought I was going to be working on other people’s music for the rest of my life, and that would be it. In my wildest imagination I never would’ve thought that this all would’ve worked out the way it did — but that’s how life happens in general. That’s the classic story.”
Falling In Reverse
The fine line between genius and insanity, self-seriousness and self-deprecation, implosion and explosion: that is the phantom zone where Falling In Reverse thrives.
Falling In Reverse founder, frontman, and Machiavellian heroic supervillan / villainous superhero Ronnie Radke is the walking, talking, breathing, spitting, screaming, singing, fighting, loving, hyper-confident, sensitive, and vulnerable embodiment of a generation’s id. He’s the ego and super-ego in the classic Freudian sense, “slipping” all over the place with vicious bite and playful innuendo. With his music, art, and life, he is the living embodiment of broken homes, the frustrated contradiction of self-destruction, and everyday single-minded defiance against a world gone mad.
Coming Home is his latest reinvention, coming full-circle back to the start, reinvigorated as mad scientist conductor of soaring, transcendent, engaging alternative pop-rock with massive radio hooks and a still-beating heavy metal hardcore heart. ‘Broken,’ ‘Loser,’ ‘Hanging On,’ ‘I Don’t Mind’ and ‘Coming Home’ are shocking in their epic scope, vibrant authenticity, and unrelenting dedication to personal truth.
He shoved the world of Warped Tour kicking and screaming into the vintage decadence of the hard rock scene with the band he formed with his childhood best friend in Las Vegas. Then, even as countless bands followed in his wake, he was on the stylistic move, dominating the social media conversation and crowd sing-alongs with Falling In Reverse’s debut album, The Drug in Me is You, now based in Southern California.
As Revolver, Kerrang!, Alternative Press, and the rest of the rock and metal press anointed him the scene’s new king on the strength of playful self-examinations-turned-anthems like ‘Raised By Wolves,’ ‘Tragic Magic’ and ‘I’m Not a Vampire,’ Radke and his crew shook up conventions once again, dropping the ironically titled Fashionably Late years before the audience at large had any suspicions about what would hit ‘em.
What began as the “worst music video of all time” (according to media tastemaker VICE) turned into another 20 million YouTube views (for a band closing in on roughly 100 million views total) in ‘Alone.’ Like many parts of the eclectic album, it’s a rap-metal hybrid with a forward thinking step into modern electro beats. Like the best of Radke’s work, the song serves as both hyper masculine anthem and anxiety confessional. The press and fans followed the band’s every move, documenting each twist and turn.
Just Like You mined similar territory with even more precision, from the title track to undeniable metalcore bangers like ‘Chemical Prisoner’ and ‘Guillotine IV (The Final Chapter)’ to the poppy crowd-mover ‘Sexy Drug’ and heartbreaking ballad ‘Brother.’
Coming Home is the most focused Falling In Reverse album, thematically and artistically. Crafted once again with Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Alter Bridge, Slash, Trivium), who has worked on every one of Radke’s records going back to the now-classic debut album from Escape The Fate, the record sees the group at their most atmospheric. It’s the latest bold step for a frontman who has defined himself by a mixture of courage and vulnerability, of bravado and introspection. He’s tightened his personal inner circle and withdrawn from the antics of the past as he’s poured even more of himself into his art.
Coming Home is the album Radke dreamed about making as a kid, teaching himself to play guitar with Blink-182 and Green Day songs, rapping along to Dr. Dre and Eminem, skipping school, going to shows, and doing whatever it took to redefine his life beyond the hardscrabble circumstances of his upbringing, even when the obstacles were of his own design. Now it’s time to get Coming Home to as many people as possible.
Falling In Reverse continues to champion the outsider, the cast aside, the underestimated, making music to empower and inspire life’s underdogs.
Fight the Good Fight, the third studio album from Los Angeles ska-punk band The Interrupters, is available now via Hellcat Records. Fight the Good Fight was produced by longtime collaborator, Rancid frontman, and Grammy Award-winning producer Tim Armstrong with the band at Ship-Rec Recorders in Los Angeles. The album was mixed by Grammy-award winning mixer Tom Lord-Alge (Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, Weezer).
The follow-up to 2015’s Say It Out Loud, Fight the Good Fight finds The Interrupters delivering their two-tone-inspired, powerfully melodic, punk-fueled sound with more vitality than ever before. With Armstrong and Alge at the helm, Aimee and the Bivona brothers channeled the raw energy of their lives shows by recording almost entirely to tape. “There’s a certain feeling you get from that process that you can’t really get digitally,” says guitarist Kevin. “There’s no overthinking anything—everyone’s got to be fully present and committed. It was definitely high-pressure, but also really fun.”
Beartooth began as an emotional exorcism. Conceived, constructed, and unleashed by one man in a basement studio. Now, even as the band has grown to become a headlining festival act; cracked Billboard’s Top 25; lit up SiriusXM radio; and were crowned Breakthrough Band at both the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards and Loudwire Music Awards, Beartooth’s music and message remain intensely personal.
The fierce dedication to honesty, authenticity, and raw fury demonstrated by Caleb Shomo is at the center of everything Beartooth represents. The music he’s crafted in his darkest hours transcends, connecting with the broken hearted and isolated around the globe. Songs like “In Between,” “Hated,” “The Lines,” and “Sick of Me” have been streamed hundreds of millions of times. These are anthems for the downtrodden and disconnected, celebrated with sing-alongs on international tours; supporting Slipknot, Bring Me The Horizon, or Pierce The Veil; on the Kerrang! Tour with Don Broco in the UK; at major festivals like Download and Rock on the Range.
What began as artistic self-medication for a single multi-instrumentalist and producer, with no career aspirations or grand plans, quickly caught fire. The Sick EP (2013), Disgusting (2014), and the sophomore-slump shattering Aggressive (2016) comprise a blunt audio journal, chronicling Shomo’s battles with his own demons.
As Beartooth became a fully functioning band, bringing these intimate musings to the masses, that purity remained, via a consistently isolated creative methodology.
The stark look inward further intensified with September 28, 2018’s Disease.
The third full-length album from Beartooth is a painstaking, riff-driven examination of the unshakeable throes of depression. While there are moments of positivity, this isn’t the sound of triumph. This is music about survival.
“The album is a whirlwind of emotion,” Shomo explains. “Crazy highs, crazy lows, and lots of intensity. This record isn’t about winning anything. It’s about trying to even begin to learn how to deal with things. It’s hard to process just how dark you can get, what you can really put yourself through with expectations. It’s like starting from the beginning all over again. At the end of the day, it is a very dark album.”
Even as Shomo and his bandmates played to sold-out crowds across Europe, the battle against mental illness and childhood issues returned, and the seed for Disease was planted. The title track was the first song written for it, setting the overall tone.
As always, Shomo recorded vocals, guitars, bass, and drums, and mixed the album himself with assistance from an engineer, now with executive producer (and Grammy winner) Nick Raskulinecz, who has worked with Foo Fighters and Rush. To further enhance the emotional realism Beartooth champions, the third full-length album was tracked in a brand new environment, with an old-school urgency. After crafting the songs in his usual basement domain, Shomo made the trip from the familiar comfort of his equipment and isolation in Ohio to Blackbird in Nashville.
“When I make a record at home, I feel really safe there,” Shomo confesses. “Going into Blackbird, there was a lot of fear. Thankfully, going into that environment just brought out the best. It made the songs feel even more real. It was all worth it.”
The famous recording studio was the birthplace of pivotal work from a massive list of legends, tastemakers, and up-and-comers; like Alice In Chains, Taylor Swift, and Greta Van Fleet. Determined to challenge himself in new ways, Shomo kicked aside his drum samples and digital guitar tones in favor of rich analog vibes, banging out take after take, to capture the feel of classic favorites like AC/DC and Motörhead.
Ten to twelve hour days, six days per week, sweating and screaming through performances, resulted in gargantuan surefire Beartooth bangers like “Used and Abused,” “Manipulation,” and “Enemy,” easily among the strongest songs in the catalog. “You Never Know” was written in collaboration with producer and songwriter Drew Fulk (Fit For A King, As I Lay Dying), after several hours of conversation in a coffee shop. The album closer, “Clever,” was written in an afternoon at the studio, a fittingly sorrowful bookend to Beartooth’s darkest album.
“Depression is something that’s just ‘in your head,’ there’s no reason for it, so it ‘should’ be easy enough to just get over, but I can never do it. It’s something unshakeable. I can’t make it work,” Shomo says. “I wanted to write an album about that. Disease really encompasses everything emotionally that I wanted to convey.”
Shomo’s commitment to raw and personal truth will always define Beartooth. “It’s very important that I stay honest with every song that I write. I didn’t even mean to start this band. I wrote a couple songs and I felt way better afterward. Especially with this record, there are no compromises. It is exactly what I wanted to make.”
With Beartooth, what begins each time as the personal expression of one man is shared with his bandmates, then through the power of musical inspiration and connection, is given to the world then returns to its creator, to begin the cycle anew.
Motionless In White
Since 2006, Motionless In White has won over audiences around the globe with their aggressive music and arresting imagery, rapidly rising to the upper echelon of modern rock. Albums such as 2010’s Creatures and 2012’s Infamous would galvanize a rabid fan base around the band – currently comprised of lead singer Chris Motionless, guitarists Ryan Sitkowski and Ricky Horror, and drummer Vinny Mauro. Motionless In White’s 2014 LP, Reincarnate, reached new heights, bowing at #9 on the Billboard “Top 200” and claiming #1 on Billboard’s “Hard Rock Albums” chart. GRAVEYARD SHIFT, the band’s latest album arrived in 2017 to critical acclaim, once again topping Billboard’s “Hard Rock Albums” chart led by the Top 20 Active Rock hit “LOUD (F*ck It),” as well as the thunderous singles “Eternally Yours” and “Necessary Evil.” “Motionless In White make sure to leave no gravestone unturned as they explore the vast underworld of rock,” declared Alternative Press, while Rock Sound avowed, “Every cut brings something new to the table… tugging at the heartstrings one moment and cutting straight to the bone the next.
Andrew W. K.
It all began with a feeling.
Of being alone and wanting to belong.
Of wanting to share that feeling of belonging.
And experience the euphoria of bonding with others.
The feeling became a dream.
To make the most exciting music imaginable.
Music that embraced and celebrated life in all its facets, electrifying and uniting everyone who heard it.
The dream attained reality in major chords pounded out on piano, an unrelenting four-to-the-floor beat, a set of dirty whites, a bloody nose.
And found its voice with these words:
“When it’s time to party, we will party hard.”
It’s safe to say, nobody has partied harder, longer or more fervently than the undisputed King of Partying himself, Andrew W.K.. A one-man music machine possessed of a single-minded, monomaniacal focus to spread a singular message:
That to party is to exist.
And to exist is to party.
This mission he embarked upon in 2001, with the release of his debut single and signature tune “Party Hard,” and has never swerved from since. Released the same year, his debut album I Get Wet, an instant, ageless classic, was a full-throated declaration of that hedonistic intent. Twelve songs, no ballads, delivered at breakneck speed and with maximum intensity from beginning to end. All the bluntness, passion and classicism of rock ‘n’ roll, boiled down and purified to its base elements.
Power. Movement. Melody. Emotion. Noise.
A sound simultaneously life-affirming, enervating and overwhelming.
A sound that obliterates ego and bludgeons self.
As an artist, he seemed to have emerged out of nowhere, fully-formed right out of the box, with an image, a style, and a sense of purpose that set him far apart from his peers. If that seemed to good to be true, then maybe it was. Andrew W.K., the critics opined, was either the savior of music or its biggest fraud. Either deadly serious or an elaborate prank. None of which bothered the fans who took up the mantle of the Andrew W.K. ethos, to live every moment as if it was simultaneously their first and their last. Live shows, backed by a six-piece band of hard-driving musicians, became a collective celebration of unbridled joy that often turned entire dance floors into a giant, whirling circle pit of jostling bodies, with sweat and hair flying, and ended in a mass stage invasion that tore down the boundary between artist and audience.
Two years later came The Wolf, an album that doubled as a manual for self-realization, blending the personal with the philosophical, drawing on the past to forge a path towards the future, then folding back on itself like a Möbius strip, invoking an existence with no beginning, no end, seamless. From this point on, his fans became his friends and allies in a cause undertaken purely for its own sake; an idea explored further in a 2004 MTV series, Your Friend, Andrew W.K., where he offered himself up as cheerleader and life coach, helping others to realize themselves and their dreams.
A third album in 2006, Close Calls With Brick Walls, as ambitious in scope and sound as it was oblique in theme and tone, suggested an artist who seemed to have freed himself from all the restrictions placed upon him, by himself and by others, who had peered into a looking glass and seen… his mirror image, staring back. Everything that he was and everything that he wasn’t, merged into one. A series of reflections arching backwards into infinity. Multiple images of a face with the same forced smile. As if Andrew W.K., the performer, had been replaced by a different person entirely.
The rumors that had persisted since the very beginning of his career, began to multiply and take hold, begging the question: not who is Andrew W.K., but what is Andrew W.K.? A person, a persona, a wig. An entity, a corporation or a symbol. An enigma behind a set of initials.
That question would remain unanswered as, over the next decade, Andrew W.K. adopted a dizzying array of roles that took him into virgin territory for a rock ‘n’ roll musician, establishing a unique place for himself in popular culture, as a ubiquitous celebrity presence, while at the same time calling into question the very nature of that celebrity. Advice columnist, university lecturer, and children’s game show host. Nightclub impresario, talk radio personality and talk show guest. Motivational speaker and cultural ambassador. Performance artist and magician’s assistant. Party philosopher and weatherman. He was all these things and more.
Now, as he readies the release of a brand new album of rock music, his first in over a decade, and prepares to embark on his first full-band tour in five years, Andrew W.K. has come full circle to celebrate a party still raging strong.
A party that is now and forevermore.
Because the party never dies.
PHILIP H. ANSELMO
& The Illegals
During 2011–2012, Anselmo wrote and recorded a solo album, titled Walk Through Exits Only with his backing band The Illegals. The album was released on July 16, 2013.
In October 2017, the second album Choosing Mental Illness As a Virtue was announced, originally due in December but have officially set it for January 26, 2018. The first song, “Choosing Mental Illness”, was made available for streaming. The next song, “The Ignorant Point”, was released on December 13. Exclaim! scored the album an 8 out of 10!
With the classic early 80s lineup now firmly in place, Fishbone is on a mission to reclaim its rightful spot among the rock-n-roll elite.
2018 is proving to be the year of a major comeback for Fishbone with a full calendar of scheduled dates for the U.S. and abroad. Highlights include performances at the Back To The Beach Festival in Huntington Beach, CA, Beer X Festival in San Diego, the Palladium in Worcester, MA with The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones, the Fuji Rock Festival in Yuzawa, Japan, as well as an appearance at Punk Rock Bowling in historic downtown Las Vegas. Many U.S. club shows and a European tour have also been added.
“It’s absolutely unreal, at this stage of the game,” stated bassist and founding member, Norwood Fisher, “to be reunited as brothers and bandmates! The band feels as if it’s almost firing better than ever. We’re all equally excited to get on the grind and bring this energy to the stage for those that have supported us throughout our career, the Whirl’d Wide Familyhood.”
Founded in 1979, Fishbone quickly claimed their spot at the table with their 1983 self titled release that included fan favorites like “Party at Ground Zero” and “Ugly”, and then followed that up in 1988 with their groundbreaking, critically acclaimed full length “Truth and Soul” album which featured the track “Freddie’s Dead”, the band’s first big hit on MTV.
Since then, Fishbone has gone on to release 9 more albums garnering major radio airplay and has made multiple appearances in various movies as well as performing live on the ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’ show. In 2010, a documentary written and directed by Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler, and narrated by actor Laurence Fishburn, entitled “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone”, was released and premiered at the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival.
“I just want to say thank you to all of the Fishbone soldiers for donating their hearts and souls for the preservation of our band’s legacy in an OG Fishbone Classic Manifestation,” stated front man, Angelo Moore, “For me and for you.”
Deadland Ritual is a band that spiritually was born in the desert where legendary drummer Matt Sorum lives these days. Drawing inspiration from the “ritual symbolism of the desert badlands” paired with his love of the idea of a “ritualistic forgotten space,” the name of the group felt appropriate for the darker tone of the music he was creating with iconic bassist Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath), guitarist Steve Stevens (Billy Idol) and lead singer Franky Perez (Apocalyptica, Scars on Broadway).
Longtime friendships with Stevens and Perez helped to form the initial core of the lineup, but Sorum says that it was a pivotal moment when Butler agreed to join in. “Black Sabbath was my first band that I really fell in love with as a musician,” he says. “That was my entry point when I started coming up as a young drummer.” The bassist’s unmistakable tone is an important part of the foundation of the band’s sound.
Calling himself “semi-retired,” Butler admits that there was a lot to think about when he got the invitation to join Deadland Ritual. “I had to get used to the idea of starting from scratch again, which is good. It’s a challenge for me,” he says. “But I really liked the music that I was hearing. It’s not your typical metal stuff or hard rock stuff or whatever.”
For Stevens, it was a revelation the first time he found himself recording with Butler. “I remember the first time that I started tracking against his bass, and I went, ‘Oh my God,’ he recalls. “There’s a lot of times in the studio as a guitar player, you get a guitar sound and you’re trying to make it work, you’re tweaking it. There was none of that bullshit. It just fit against his bass sound and it was really exciting for me. It was like, ‘Wow, I get to hear my guitar against a bass guitarist that I’ve loved since I was 15 years old.”
”This happened the way it was supposed to happen. We didn’t force it. The entire process has been so enjoyable. It’s reminded me of what it was like to be in a band when it mattered,” Perez adds. “Like, before you go to sleep, you’re thinking about the music. When you wake up, you’re thinking about the music. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the excitement of being in a room with a band like I did when I was a kid”
The group worked on songs together and enlisted producer Greg Fidelman (Metallica, Slipknot, Black Sabbath) when it was time to record. They made the decision to track the material at Henson Studios in Hollywood. “We knew we wanted to make the biggest sonic rock madness that we could come up with,” Sorum explains. “Greg was the right choice for that.”
”Down In Flames” thunders through the speakers, a driving hard rocker with lush vocal harmonies that at the core, still feels like the sound of four guys in a room jamming. But there are additional flourishes, like the pedal steel that Stevens adds to the mystical midsection and Sorum’s tribal drums, which spontaneously emerged as the band was working on basic tracks. “It was one of those beautiful mistakes.” Stevens says, recalling how the drummer began playing the pattern on the fly.
But make no mistake, as the songs developed, Sorum often had a definite vision. “It’s great because Matt really knows what he wants it to sound like and he just keeps going and going and going until he’s got it right, until he’s satisfied with his drumming,” Butler says. “It’s really good to play with somebody who’s that professional. He’s so knowledgeable about different drum styles and he’s also a fan of Bill Ward, Sabbath’s original drummer so he likes that kind of swing part of it as well.”
Sorum has logged decades of time behind the kit playing with Guns N’ Roses, The Cult and Velvet Revolver, to name a few, adding his signature sound to countless rock radio hits that are played to this day. With this band, he wanted to take things to the next level. “For me it was like, ‘Man, I want to get the best drum sound I’ve ever gotten. I want to play the best I’ve played,’” Sorum says. “I think I’ve achieved that. I feel as a drummer I’ve morphed through a lot of decades of rock and roll.”
Deadland Ritual’s “secret weapon” is Perez, a versatile vocalist who shines on the songs that the band has recorded so far, and a talented voice that Sorum has long hoped to incorporate into the right project. The singer fortunately had the full support of his bandmates as he took on what could have been a difficult job. “They’ve always believed in what I did vocally and they’re like, ‘Dude, sing. Don’t hold back. Sing like it’s your last day on earth.’ And I did that. I felt that, and I went in there with something to prove. And not just for me, but for us as a whole.”
Similarly, Stevens put a lot of thought into his guitar approach. “I wanted what I brought to this band to be unique and exclusive to this project and that took a little bit of soul searching and brain power,” he explains. “I wanted my guitar to really compliment the other members and their individual styles. I truly feel that in this band that the sum is greater than the parts.
Calling Stevens “an incredible guitarist,” Butler says, “He’s got some great ideas and he’s very inspirational. He’ll come up with stuff that I’d never even dreamed of coming up with, so it inspires you and like all with good guitarists, you want to come up to their level.”
The ominously moody nature of “Broken and Bruised” and “Walking Into Walls,” two additional tracks that have recently been completed, reveal that there’s a lot of depth to the material that the group has been writing together. “Obviously we’ve all been through some stuff,” Perez says, “Life is full of ups and downs. So, if you’re being honest artistically, all of that turmoil, love, loss, happiness, and pain makes its way into the music. It’s a really cathartic experience performing these songs.”
With a stack of festival appearances and headlining dates already booked, the members promise that the shows will be something special, mixing original material with deeper cuts from their collective past, ones that are “not the typical songs you would expect,” according to Sorum.
In addition to the larger gigs, the band will also get a chance to play some intimate venues. Butler says he’s looking forward to both scenarios. “You get to do the 20,000 seaters and you put on the show and you do get audience feedback, obviously, but I don’t know, there’s just something special about smaller venues. I might hate it after a week, I don’t know,” he chuckles. “It’s going to be different for me but I’m looking forward to playing clubs as well as the festivals.”
”I’m just really excited for people to see this band live,” Perez adds. “One of the things that I want to really emphasize is that this is an honest to God, down and dirty rock and roll band. We’re energized, and we want to put on an incredible show.”
No egos, no bullshit. Deadland Ritual is ready to take the world by storm. For Sorum, that means the 2018 equivalent of his teenage years when he was handing out handmade cassettes of his first recordings. Get the music out there where the fans can hear it and the rest will come. “Just release the material, he says. “We’re ready to play.”
Originally formed in 1985 as a Black Flag-influenced hardcore punk band called Virulence, FU MANCHU has since become one of hard rock’s most celebrated names. The band released its first single “Kept Between Trees” in 1990 and in the years following, helped give rise to an iconic style of heavy music born out of the desert and tagged “stoner rock” alongside peers such as Kyuss, Monster Magnet and Sleep.
Since the band’s inception, the quartet has built itself a fanatical army of loyal enthusiasts all drawn to the group’s guitar-driven sound and carefree lyrics centered on “old muscle cars, choppers, vans, skateboarding and science fiction.” Over their career, the band has released 11 albums and has performed to sold out audiences all over the world.
2018 marks a new chapter for the “fuzz rock” pioneers with the release of their 12th album, Clone of the Universe. The band returns with a roaring mix of straight ahead blistering rock and unexpected time shifts, featuring tracks like the roaring cuts “Don’t Panic” and “(I’ve Been) Hexed” and the dynamically complex “Clone of the Universe” and “Slower Than Light.” The centerpiece of the album is “IL Mostro Atomico,” an 18 minute 8 second, side long epic featuring a special guest performance by Alex Lifeson, guitarist and songwriter of the legendary band RUSH. Heavier than anything they’ve ever done and broken into 4 distinct sections, it’s new ground for a band that’s been pushing the boundaries of “fuzz and wah” since its formation in 1990.
The Crystal Method
For more than two decades, The Crystal Method has remained at the forefront of the worldwide dance music industry as pioneers of the big beat genre, innovators of the ‘90s electronica movement and current-day global ambassadors of the American electronic sound. Originally formed as a duo—alongside founding member Ken Jordan, who retired from the music business in 2016—The Crystal Method today lives and breathes as a solo act, with co-founder Scott Kirkland at the helm. And with the artistic reboot comes the next chapter in The Crystal Method timeline: The Trip Home, out September 28 on the band’s own Tiny E Records.
As the sixth full-length The Crystal Method album and Kirkland’s first as a newfound solo act, The Trip Home serves as the creative rebirth of the brand. An artistic manifesto and love letter to the electronic world, The Trip Home welcomes Kirkland at the driver’s seat with full control of the reins.
For the new album, which he co-produced with Glen Nicholls, Kirkland dove deep into the decades-spanning discography of The Crystal Method. The result is a sound that revisits the roots of the classic Crystal Method aesthetic, while pushing its possibilities into the future. Equal parts throwback and dynamic futurism, The Trip Home expands Kirkland’s unrestrained curiosity into new realms and new sounds.
To perfect this fine balance, Kirkland took a back-to-basics approach, which saw him firing up his arsenal of analog synths and reconnecting with his collection of vintage gear. The lead single “Holy Arp” captures this calculated formula perfectly: A brooding intro of darkly tinged bleeps and bloops slowly builds the song’s tension before it pours into a bed of chunky synths, distorted reverb and alien sounds.
It was “Holy Arp” that gave Kirkland the first flashes of the cohesive sound that would shape The Trip Home.
“As soon as I got that track going, I knew I had found the direction for the new album,” Kirkland says. “It reverberates with the sound of Crystal Method classics like ‘Name of the Game’ and has some of the gnarliness of ‘Vapor Trail.’ It’s an angry, ballsy, bombastic trip down the inner workings of the vintage ARP 2600 synth.”
Elsewhere, the emotional ballad “Ghost in the City”—co-produced with electronic artist/producer Le Castle Vania—is a narrative-driven electronic dream that floats through dark clouds and shredding guitars, while singer-songwriter Amy Kirkpatrick delivers an angelic and touching vocal performance. “
“There’s a Difference,” a reimagining of the track “Difference” off The Crystal Method’s 2014 self-titled album, is a full-on alt rock hybrid that mixes melodic electronics, pulsing bass, punching live drums and riveting vocals from singer Franky Perez.
Collectively, The Trip Home pieces together the fundamentals of The Crystal Method’s storied past while adding new, unexplored elements for a cohesive, unique sonic experience that’s as diverse in sound and style as it is anthemic and driving.
“I wanted to create a concept album of sorts,” Kirkland says, “a project that speaks to what’s going on in my life right now and a vision that also brings The Crystal Method sound forward and shapes it in a new way. I’ve been enjoying the idea of making an album like our debut album Vegas, where every song is different. Every song has a different BPM, every song has different emotions, every song has different elements.”
The Trip Home also serves as Kirkland’s message and reaction to the grandiose excess of today’s EDM scene. Where the genre constantly offers tired and recycled noise, Kirkland answers with an album built on organic sounds, a wide emotional range and, ultimately, real music.
Forged from analog synths, recorded through vintage Moog and Electro-Harmonix pedals and mixed through Sound City’s Neve console—not the same one used on Nevermind; Dave Grohl has that one—The Trip Home is a warm embrace of organic electronic music. The natural noise of analog gear is part of the sound. “I’m always looking for just the right amount of wrong,” Kirkland says. “I’m really proud of all the collaborations and incredibly talented artists who contributed to The Trip Home. I wanted to make a timeless album that sounded great and that conveyed an emotional narrative and a strong appreciation of the album format.”
The Trip Home will be released as The Crystal Method celebrates two massive milestones in 2018: 25 years on the music scene and the 21st anniversary of Vegas, the band’s debut studio album. It is the latest installment in The Crystal Method’s lauded discography, which includes the platinum-selling Vegas; Tweekend (2001); Legion of Boom (2004) and Divided by Night (2009), both of which received Grammy nominations in the Best Electronic/Dance Album category; and The Crystal Method (2014).
Most recently, Kirkland wrote his first-ever film score for the 2017 documentary Hired Gun and wrote the theme song for 3 Below, the upcoming TV series from Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro, which debuts on Netflix this fall.
“The Trip Home refers to my long journey: all these places where I’ve been able to go, the experiences that come with it, the distances I’ve traveled,” Kirkland reflects. “It’s the journey back to all the things that got me here—the touring, the music, the fans—and keep me here. But there’s always home. At the end of it, I go home to my family, I go home to my studio, and then I go back out. It’s a circle. I tried to capture all this in an album.”
Badflower don’t care what you think about them. They don’t care whether you get what they’re doing, because their thoroughly modern rock is more ahead of the curve than anyone else you might try and pigeonhole them with. And they really don’t care whether you like the messages in their songs, because what they sing about is important, if uncomfortable.
That attitude might seem misguided for a band who have yet to release their debut album. In this age where music’s money comes largely from touring, fans are more important than ever – they’re the ones who buy the tickets to shows and ultimately give artists the opportunity to keep playing and progressing. But the LA four-piece aren’t complete beginners – since forming in 2013, frontman Josh Katz, guitarist Joey Morrow, drummer Anthony Sonetti, and bassist Alex Espiritu have toured relentlessly across the US and beyond, building up a reputation as a formidable live force as well as an ever-growing mass of loyal followers and praise from the likes of Billboard, Forbes, and Consequence Of Sound.
Though the band credit their years of gigging with giving them the life experience to write their debut album, ‘OK, I’M SICK’, it’s also had its downsides, especially for Katz. The singer and guitarist suffers from anxiety and panic disorder – something that he’s had to learn how to cope with on the road. “I once ran off stage mid-song and just had to take a beat and was very confused,” he says, offering an example of how the problem can affect him. “I wasn’t sure if I should be throwing up or sitting down. Typically, it’s just clenching every muscle in my body until it hopefully goes away. I can barely stand up, barely get notes out. It’s all of these feelings at once.”
It’s that problem that inspired ‘Ghost’, the band’s big breakthrough single. After coming home from tour, Katz was so fed up with what he had to go through to get on stage every night, he was in two minds whether to carry on with music. “If I’m miserable every night, why am I doing it?” he asked himself. It was that song, which reached the top of the US charts, that saved Badflower.
Despite its success, the group was initially sceptical about it being more than an album track. In its often graphic lyrics, Katz plays out a dark, suicidal fantasy – “This life is overwhelming and I’m ready for the next one,” he sighs resignedly at one point. They worried listeners would think they were glorifying suicide, cynically using a very real and serious problem for their own gain. “But people got it immediately and we realised how many people are affected by depression, panic disorder, and anxiety issues,” Katz explains. “You hear about it all the time, you see it on every commercial – there’s some anti-depressant being sold to you because everybody has these issues – but people don’t like to talk about it that much.”
While ‘Ghost’ is a somewhat harrowing take on mental health issues, not all of ‘OK, I’M SICK’ is as serious. Opener ‘x ANA x’ (inspired in part by Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre documentary The Defiant Ones) tackles a similar topic but with a far more sardonic tone. An ode to the helpful qualities of Xanax, it’s eyebrow-raising, incredibly self-aware and rife with meta moments (in one breakdown Katz cheerily asks: “Hey, wanna see what happens when I mix Xanax, blow, and a MacBook Pro?”). Along with the constantly changing music – be it speeding up, stuttering almost to the brink of collapse, or weaving even more claustrophobic layers together – it adds up to something completely manic.
“The whole song is meant to feel like a panic attack – unexplained chaos happening within you,” Katz says. “We wrote that song together and then I took what we had to our house in the desert and stayed awake all night and, like a mad scientist, destroyed everything and chopped it up. I didn’t feel like it was manic enough. It’s making fun of anxiety but it’s also making fun of itself.”
As a band with plenty to say, mental health isn’t the only message Badflower share on their debut. ‘Murder Games’ is the album’s most intense and urgent sounding cut, metallic, guillotine-esque swishes entwined with a punishing guitar line that sets you on edge. Its lyrics speak about veganism (Katz has been vegan for four years) in uncompromising terms. “That’s gonna alienate our band like crazy,” the frontman shrugs, unbothered. “We think it’s something important that needs to be talked about so we’re gonna talk about it. It’s about getting the conversation started. It’s about getting people to look at it in a different way and not be so passive about the idea that something in society that you grew up hearing was right might not be as right as you think.”
‘Die’ also has the potential to cause controversy. Partly a damning assessment of Trump’s position on the environment (Morrow is keen to point out the President is not the only target of the song), it features Katz screaming the title as if his own life depends on it. But his sentiment is not what you might immediately assume. “It doesn’t mean, ‘Hey, go get murdered’ or ‘I’m gonna kill you’,” he clarifies. “It’s more all of those people who are so stuck in their ways, who are afraid of change and afraid of evolution, need to get old and die off so the next generation can come up and make some change and do something good.” Despite first appearances, it’s intended as a statement of progression. “We’re meant to move forward, not stagnate,” Espiritu notes.
Elsewhere, the album navigates subjects like abuse (‘Daddy’), depression in the face of success (’24’), and social media stalking (‘Girlfriend’). The latter merges old and new, layering lyrics about Instagram filters and the internet over a big blues-rock jam. “We’ve always wanted to write about that anyway,” says Katz, “and it was the perfect, wacky blues riff to write that over. I think we came up with something very special.”
Badflower’s focus might be on big conversations but that doesn’t mean they aren’t happy to turn their attention to less weighty subjects too. ‘Promise Me’ is the only traditional love song on the record but not even it can escape the band’s entrenched darkness. “That’s my proudest moment on the album,” Espiritu says. “We talk about doing what we want and what the spirit of rock and roll is, and then we have ‘Promise Me’, which is this leftfield, beautiful, romantic love song, and we’re able to spin it and make it our own.” The making it their own, Katz explains, involves one of the song’s characters meeting their maker.
Produced with Noah Shain (Atreyu, Dead Sara), ‘OK, I’M SICK’ represents a band full of ideas and submerged in the most modern of sounds. The band’s intention was to make the most 2018 album they possibly could, unfazed by the idea it could sound dated a few years down the line. “Timeless music is amazing but everybody’s trying so hard to make timeless music that they’re making vague, cookie-cutter shit,” Katz says. “It sounds like everything else and I don’t think there’s really many rock bands who are trying to write anything current. We wanted to make something for this generation.”
You might have realised by now this band isn’t one to limit themselves. “We don’t even consider ourselves a rock band,” Katz says defiantly. “If we decide to put out a rap album next week, we’re gonna do it. Watch us. We don’t fucking care. We do what we want. Rock and roll used to be about that spirit and that got lost somewhere.” You can count on Badflower to put it right back in the heart of things, whether anyone else likes it or not.
The first spores of Ho99o9 were identified by the CDC’s infectious disease unit in the outsourced offices of purgatory that are peppered all throughout New Jersey in places like Linden, Elizabeth and Newark.
There was only legend until cultures were collected. Once told as a cautionary tale of two neighborhood kids, their story mutated into a reflection on the horrors of the society that produced them. What happened between those early days in the neighborhood and the present day is often debated.
theOGM (Jean) & Yeti Bones (Eaddy) are certainly a product of their early environment. There weren’t any fields or even much grass for a kid to play on. Gardens were made of concrete and a reality sustained only by dreams of places where the train tracks went.
Eaddy’s Pops brought Motown and the militancy of the armed forces into Eaddy’s sometimes rigid and uncompromising basic training for life. Pops was hard because hard makes leaders in the human chain of command. And Jean was always there in the street level offices of Chris Christie’s “small government” purgatory in the defunded, decommissioned and deconstructed district of Linden New Jersey. Jean knew when Trump’s future fuc boi and every other neo-con said “small government” what they really meant was “Fuck you nigg…”
Style was lacking but what Jean’s Pops was packing into his ear speakers stayed embedded in Jean’s mind – The sounds of Haitian Kompa sung by Sweet Micky (Michael Martely). The bizarre behavior and non-conformist styles of a Haitian icon caught Jean’s eyes and ears back then and once again now with Micky recently rising to become president of Haiti. Thieves and liars giving way to an influential artist elected to rebuild a crumbling nation? Noted.
Jean and Eaddy kept lampin in overlapping circles of connected streets, bordering cities and shuffled between under funded public schools. The sounds on Hot 97 filled blank tapes with Bone Thugs, Busta, Onyx, Lil Jon and Missy Elliott. Mental hard-drive uploads with flow served to drive them to finally jump on that train to see what else was out there and what they found changed them irrevocably.
Eaddy began branching out, bringing hardcore like Bad Brains back home with him. The pair didn’t know it at the time but the resulting amalgamation they brought back was the Deathkult. They were armed only with a pawn shop sampler and the power to influence.
Born to lose in Jersey, reborn in NYC and subsequently reimagined 999. Rewired to spread a promise for the next emancipation from time. The gospel, the vibration, hardcore punk, rage and rhyme – theOGM and Yeti Bones emerge transformed into weapons of mass expression and the spectacle known today only as Ho99o9 (horror).
Then just like that, Ho99o9 vanished from the east coast, allegedly recruited into a beat laboratory in Los Angeles. They baptized in blood and emerged wrapped in a sound that had not yet been heard.
A congregation gathered in a scene of like-minded mutants and L.A. quickly became the HQ of Ho99o9. More minions manifest with Horror spores started spreading all throughout North America and the European Union – a pandemic of fools gettin’ woke as the fringe becomes the majority and we recall the prophecy of Sweet Micky.
And Today – a new nation rises to smash the guise of the god-head. A deity-less religion of our collective humanity, neither divine, nor wicked, led only by the march of the Deathkult and delivered by its soldiers – theOGM and Yeti Bones in their United States of Horror*.
& The Rattlesnakes
Forget everything you know about Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. Cast aside the savage brilliance of 2015 debut Blossom and Top Ten follow up Modern Ruin.
Erase from your mind a live show which remains the most thrillingly visceral experience in contemporary rock.
Because everything they’ve done up until now has been leading to their jaw-dropping third album, End Of Suffering.
“It was always about album three, from when we first started out,” says Frank, sitting alongside the band’s guitarist and co-songwriter Dean Richardson in their Mile End creative space.
“We knew we had to get to a stage quite quickly where people realised we’re not just a hardcore punk band. We’ve got much bigger ideas than that.”
Just six months in the making, End Of Suffering – named after the Buddhist term for enlightenment- is the sound of a band entering an entirely new realm of the senses. A forty minute rock’n’rollercoaster of molten-hot bangers, scorched-soul ballads and grunge lullabies laced through with a lacerating lyrical honesty, it’s both a stadium sized declaration of intent and a deeply personal cri-de-coeur.
“This is the most honest record I’ve ever written,” explains Frank.
“Blossom was all about loss, Modern Ruin was about crumbling foundations -whether that’s relationships or society. End Of Suffering is a lot more personal. It’s about how fucking hard you can make things for yourself.”
As with all great records, the journey to get here has been one of passion, perseverance and more than a few long dark nights of the soul.
With touring duties for Modern Ruin completed with a triumphant sell-out show at Brixton Academy in December 2017, Frank and Dean band found themselves crash- landed back in London, still reeling from what they’d been through.
“Modern Ruin was doing so well, it was hard to know when to stop pushing it,” says Dean, “We probably carried on for six months longer than we should.”
“Touring is like Valhalla,” adds Frank.
“You are at the pinnacle of your achievement every night. Or that’s where you should be, because that’s what the people who have paid to see you deserve. The trouble is, it’s so chaotic, and so involved psychologically, physically spiritually and emotionally, it becomes an absolute tax on your person.”
The singer’s sense of disorientation wasn’t helped by the fact that that he was also battling his own personal demons.
“I was in the middle of going through a divorce, and I was coming to terms with the way my relationships were going to change, in terms of co-parenting, so it wasn’t easy to write a lot of these songs,” says Frank with typical candour.
“Everyone says you’ve got to ride the wave, well that’s easy if you’ve got a surfboard. I can’t even fuckin’ swim.”
During the summer of 2018, Frank and Dean met up regularly at their Mile End space, swapping ideas armed only with an electric guitar and an iphone.
As a counterpoint to the intensely personal nature of Frank’s words, the pair worked on tunes which reflected their on-tour Spotify list – a liquid, groove-centric mash-up of everything from Prince to Post Malone; The Bad Seeds to Childish Gambino.
“When I was in Gallows, I had severe imposter syndrome because people expected me to only like Black Flag,” explains Frank with a grin.
“But even then I really liked Bjork, I loved Madness and classical music. I’m into all sorts of stuff and this album reflects that.”
This determination to break free from the punk rock strait-jacket saw them recruit producer Cam Blackwood (George Ezra/Jack Savoretti) to give their raw demos widescreen appeal.
“We arranged a trial session and ended up writing two songs and I gave the best vocal performance of my life on ‘Love Games’”, explains Frank. “He’s a proper pop producer but he loves rock music the same way we do. He knows it’s an attitude, rather than a sound. You need to break the rules to keep it fresh.”
Recording in Blackwood’s ‘shoebox-sized’ studio in Clapham, the band tapped into this kinetic energy, laying tracks down quickly rather than trying to recapture the feel of the demos. Following additional sessions at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire, a final layer of sonic stardust came via mixing legend Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails/QOTSA).
“It’s so easy for rock records to sound to like tribute records” says Dean. “He knows what each song needs. He elevated them to another level.”
The result is End Of Suffering. it pulsates with ideas, energy and –crucially- cracking tunes. ‘Kitty Sucker’ – where Frank leers “I’m a punk rock renegade/ A tattooed motherfucker dripping lust for decade” is designed to create mosh pit mayhem, while Tyrant Lizard King is more vicious still- the musical equivalent of a bloodthirsty knife- fight between Muse and Kasabian on the set of Peaky Blinders.
It’s when the fury is dialled-down, however, that End Of Suffering is at its most compelling. ‘Anxiety’ is a paranoic festival anthem in waiting, while ‘Love Games’ is an absolute beauty; a distortion-heavy nod to Amy Winehouse’s finest moment destined to soundtrack the summer. Which brings us to the title track. An acoustic ballad concluding with a recording of Frank’s daughter, Mercy, it’s an emotionally wracked reminder that the darkest hour is always just before the dawn.
“An album is a weapon,” says Frank in conclusion.
“It can be really therapeutic for people but it can also do a lot of damage if you create a journey which leaves people in too much of fragile place, so we want to end it on a positive note.”
Indeed. In an age of say-nothing pop and codified corporate rock, End Of Suffering does what all great music should- lift the spirits and stir the soul.
There won’t be a better album released this year.
Bruised and bloodied, Knocked Loose opens up the pit with a brutal sound that falls between hardcore punk and metalcore. Led by screaming frontman Bryan Garris, the Oldham County, Kentucky quintet is also composed of guitarists Isaac Hale and Cole Crutchfield, bassist Kevin Otten, and drummer Dylan Isaacs. In 2011, Garris, Otten, and Hale joined with drummer Jared Barron (Concealer, Greyhaven) for an early incarnation of the band (a teenaged Garris honed his early vocal skills by practicing in various area bands with Barron). Later, they enlisted Isaacs as permanent drummer. Their first EP, Pop Culture, was released on Little Heart in 2014, quickly followed by a split EP with Louisville quintet Damaged Goods. Knocked Loose’s debut LP arrived in 2016. Laugh Tracks (Pure Noise) debuted on the Billboard 200 and in the Top 50 on six separate side charts.
NOVEMBER 12, 2018 – Baltimore, Maryland’s Angel Du$t have announced their signing to Roadrunner Records and shared two new singles – “Big Ass Love” and “Take Away The Pain” – which are streaming now via The FADER. The surprise singles mark the first new music from Angel Du$t since the release of their celebrated 2016 LP, Rock The Fuck On Forever.
Angel Du$t vocalist Justice Tripp commented, “We recorded these two hot tracks with the king, William Yip. The songs are very much Angel Du$t, while the production is some whole other shit. Feels good to complete our team with a label that fucks with our vision,” adding that “’Big Ass Love’ is about the healing power of rock.”
Tonight, November 12th, Angel Du$t will begin a month-long U.S. tour with Every Time I Die, Turnstile, and Vein (full itinerary attached). Tickets are on sale now.
Comprised of Justice Tripp (Vocals), Daniel Fang (Drums), Pat McCrory (Guitars/Vocals), Brendan Yates (Guitars/Vocals), and Jeff Caffey (Bass), Angel Du$t is band averse to boundaries. Stacking hooks and harmonies over unorthodox acoustic guitars, beds of hand percussion, and the occasional saxophone, Angel Du$t are leaders for the shifting zeitgeist into punk circles. That is their rebellion.
HEALTH formed in Los Angeles in 2006, playing their first shows at The Smell, L.A.’s legendary DIY venue, which also hosts some of the earliest performances of No Age, Mika Mika and Abe Vigoda. “We just sat in a dark room with no windows and tried to figure out how to write a song,” HEALTH’s singer and guitarist Jake Duzsik says of the band’s early days. “Through a process of tug-of-war and cooperation, we started building these weird songs together.”
HEALTH released their self-titled debut album in 2007, recorded by the band themselves during a sweltering summer locked in the smell; Pitchfork raved that the self mixed, self produced record “mixes the bombastic pound of Boredoms, the skewed structures of Deerhoof, the tribal thump of Liars, and even the synth squirts of Black Dice and Excepter.” This is followed by HEALTH//DISCO (2008) & ::DISCO2 (2010), both projects where HEALTH curated artists & producers to remix their songs to construct two complete albums – featuring Crystal Castles, Pictureplane, Nosaj Thing, Azari & III, Javelin, Tobacco, etc.
HEALTH released their second full-length, Get Color, in 2009. The NY Times said of the album, “HEALTH are high-impact minimalists, building patterns from barbed and brutal sounds…re-examining the art-punk legacy of the 1980s with fresh ambitions and youthful impatience.”
The latest album, DEATH MAGIC, was released in 2015 on Loma Vista Recordings. Co-producer and multi-instrumentalist John Famigietti described it as “bigger than anything we’ve done before but still uniquely our sound.” The album received critical praise from The New Yorker, Pitchfork (BEST NEW TRACK) and The FADER, while The Los Angeles Times heralded the band as “”One of the city’s best live acts and inventive arrangers of raw noise and eerie vocal melodies… the first hints of DEATH MAGIC suggest a new fidelity, heaviness and precision, along with a marked clarity in singer Jake Duzsik’s vocals.”
HEALTH has played sold out shows and festivals around the world ranging from Coachella to Primavera to Austin Psychfest, and toured with Nine Inch Nails and Gary Numan.
The Parlor Mob is an alternative rock band from Asbury Park, NJ.
“[The HU] are not just taking elements from Western music… Instead, they’re using some of these elements and making their own authentic music. So it’s not rock music performed by Mongolians. It’s Mongolian rock music.”
The HU is a band from Mongolia that blends heavy metal and traditional Mongolian throat singing. Their first two videos (“Yuve Yuve Yu” and “Wolf Totem”) immediately went viral garnering the band over 13 million views. The explosive reaction to The HU resulted in a number of features about the band in international media such as NPR, ET India Times, Playboy Mexico, Jack Canal+Fr, Hong Kong 01, DW News Germany and others.
The band’s name The HU, is the Mongolian root word for human being. They call their style “Hunnu Rock”…inspired by the Hunnu, an ancient Mongolian empire, known as The Huns in western culture. Some of the band’s lyrics include old Mongolian war cries and poetry.
Founded in 2016 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia by their producer Dashka, along with the members Gala, Jaya, Temka, and Enkush. The HU combines Rock Music with traditional Mongolian instrumentation like the Morin Khuur (horsehead fiddle), Tovshuur (Mongolian guitar), Tumur Khuur (jaw harp), guttural throating singing and the bombastic bass and drums of rock. All four members have earned Bachelor’s or higher degrees in music and have several years of touring experience throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim.
Since the formation of the band, they’ve been working on their first album, The Gereg. The word Gereg was used as the first diplomatic “password” by the Mongol empire during the time of Genghis Khan. The album contains nine songs including the recently released “Yuve Yuve Yu” and “Wolf Totem”, and is slated for release in 2019 on Eleven Seven Music.
The HU will embark on a world-wide tour in support of their debut album. All live performance bookings are handled by WME, and their show is not to be missed.
While She Sleeps
“We’ve let our hair down and we’ve got our bollocks out. I’m not fucking about. I’m not cutting corners. I’ve been writing like this will be my last album.”
Some bands play it safe when it comes to taking their next steps. But then, While She Sleeps have never been “some band”. The Sheffield quintet have made a career out of confounding expectations, be it through their dizzying blend of crushing metal, guttural hardcore and arena-worthy hooks, or the way they’ve carried themselves over an explosive, 13-year career. Their last album, 2017’s ‘You Are We,’ was a testament to the power of self-belief and determination; crowdfunded and released on the band’s own Sleeps Brothers label, it earned them award nominations from the likes of Metal Hammer and a Best Album win at the Heavy Music Awards, as well as landing them in the top ten of the UK album charts. Now, they look to build on that success with the release of fourth studio album: ‘SO WHAT?’
“You Are We got us to this special position, and it’s given us a platform,” continues guitarist Sean Long. “For us, it’s like, ‘What can we do to really stick this in people’s faces? What can we put out there that we’re buzzing off?’ I don’t want to be following everyone else; I want people to follow us.”
“You Are We was us learning how to really listen to ourselves,” adds fellow axeman Mat Welsh. “This record is us knowing how to exercise that. You Are We was basically a demo for this record.”
With the ‘You Are We’ cycle wrapped up, the band decamped to their self-built Sleeps Audio studio complex in Sheffield, where they’d spend five months recording their next chapter. Putting all their energy into making the best album they could, Sleeps decided that when it came to naming album four, typically, they weren’t going to play along with the usual music stereotypes.
“‘SO WHAT?’ is about how easily we all judge everything before we actually know anything about it,” explains Mat. “If we put a really elaborate title on a record with a really elaborate cover, that could give you the option of deciding what you think of it before you’ve listened to anything on it. The one thing we’re putting every bit of our creative juice into is the music.”
Recorded with producer Carl Bown, ‘SO WHAT?’ promises to be another defiant step forwards. “It’s going to blow your mind!” promises Mat, and if first single ‘Anti-Social’ is anything to go by, he isn’t kidding. An explosive, relentless four-minute anthem, it takes everything you know and love about While She Sleeps – clattering riffs, bruising breakdowns, snarling lyrics and big-ass singalongs – and sticks them in a blender. It’s punk, it’s heavy metal, it couldn’t be any other band but them, and yet it sounds unlike anything you’ve heard from them before. It’s the sound of While She Sleeps reborn. “It’s still very different – as much as it still sounds like While She Sleeps,” agrees Sean. “You get a taste of this new area that we’re flowing into. Even though it’s still really heavy, you get this twinge of what’s to come.”
“We felt excited about Anti-Social,” notes Mat. “It’s such a heavy tune, but it’s a different way of heavy than we’ve been before. It feels like you want to be out and drunk, throwing beer over your mates while it’s on. In a world where everyone expects you to be softening up or getting more generic, I think it’s fun to just throw out a song that’s just, like, ‘Nope! We’re not doing that!’”
Set for release on Sleeps Brothers in collaboration with metal mega-label Spinefarm, ‘SO WHAT?’ sees While She Sleeps working with a major label again for the first time since 2015’s ‘Brainwashed’, and the band are at pains to point out that this won’t mean there’ll be any compromise in their vision. “We got approached immediately by a bunch of labels, but we turned around to all of them and said, ‘The only way we’re going to do anything is if you let us release it on Sleeps Brothers, but you house that on your train, and we make the decisions behind everything,” Mat explains. “I fucking loved releasing You Are We ourselves, but at the same time, I played more on my laptop than I did on my guitar for the whole campaign. This release is a partnership between Sleeps Brothers and Spinefarm, but no one is breathing down our necks about the record we’re making or the singles we’re putting out.”
With a bigger platform to get their music into the world and a firestorm of a first single released, 2019 is shaping up to be the year of While She Sleeps. For a band that have spent over a decade redefining modern metal, it seems the best is yet to come.
You hear it again and again.
When one door closes, another one opens. However, it‟s true – especially in the case of Sick Puppies. Weathering and persevering through potentially life-changing events, the gold-selling, chart-topping Los Angeles-based and Australian-bred hard rock outfit knew one thing.
They were going to make more music as Sick Puppies.
“There was no question” affirms Emma. “We had no doubt that we wanted to continue. Mark and I got together and basically said, „first and foremost, we love music. We love this band and our fans, and we have put so much into it, and we are not done and want to take it further.‟ In order to do that, we needed to find the right member.”
Instead, the “right member” found them. With stints in several bands under his belt, Texas-born singer and guitarist Bryan Scott reached out to Emma via Facebook within days of the announcement. He sent her a video of himself performing, and she swiftly replied.
“Both Mark and I knew he was the guy right away – he was cool and he sounded great. It was a natural progression. We were totally on to something” said Emma “Something just overwhelmed me,” admits Bryan. “I had a feeling that I needed to reach out. They needed a singer and guitarist and that‟s what I am. I had always loved their music and as soon as I saw the post, I went home and immediately sent Emma a message. We clicked right off the bat. Music is in their blood – it‟s who they are. They live and breathe it every day. I‟m the same way.”
Following a first dinner together at a Los Angeles burger spot, they hit the rehearsal studio together and began jamming. After nailing numerous favorites from the Sick Puppies catalog, they started writing new material over the next several months.
2013‟s Connect saw the band embrace a more experimental side.
“On the last album, a lot of ideas came from many different places, but our core is rock and that is what we love!” Mark says on this new album, we‟re giving fans what they want, that classic Sick Puppies sound.”
“I think fans will enjoy the resurgence of the heaviness,” smiles Emma. “We love that, so we went all the way with it.”
The group teamed up with producer and songwriter Mark Holman [Three Days Grace, Red, Shinedown, Halestorm, The Struts], to start working on their fourth full-length album. Recorded in Nashville and Los Angeles during 2015, the new music reflects the group‟s, incendiary interplay between Emma, Bryan & Mark.
“We were actually supposed to work with Mark Holman before, but it never materialized for whatever reason,” Emma continues. “It was the right moment in time, and he was the perfect producer to bring out the emotion in these songs.”
Locked and loaded with a muscular riff and booming percussion, “Stick To Your Guns” the band‟s first single announces the band‟s return with a literal bang. Bryan‟s vocals careen from hypnotic to heavy as an arena-size refrain takes hold.
“You have to push regardless of what anyone tells you,” he says. “This was a big thing for us. You can pray, hope, or wish for something to happen, but at the end of the day, you have to “stick to your guns”, go out there, and believe. The song is meant to em- power.”
Then, there‟s the epic “Where Do I Begin,” which spotlights Emma and Bryan‟s impressive harmonies in the chorus. For lyrical inspiration, the musicians actually turned to the diehard collective Sick Puppies World Crew.
“We looked on their Facebook and read everything,” Emma recalls. “We saw that everyone shared a lot in common, and it was quite touching. We grabbed a few descriptive words and came across this theme. A lot of people out there feel like they‟re missing out. They hear things like, „You can do it when you‟re ready.‟ I think, „What‟s ready?‟ If someone‟s going to wait to be ready, they might wait their whole lives. It‟s about struggling with that and making a move.”
With its gnashing chant and pummeling groove “Let Me Live” introduced the album during the first teaser video—which arrived to palpable audience fervor. Meanwhile, “Walls” sees Emma‟s vocals take center stage with gorgeously haunting delivery.
“It describes the painful feelings that come when a friend, family member, or someone you‟re very close to changes, disappoints, disappears, or drifts away,” she sighs. “It‟s just a snapshot of what I was feeling at that point in time.”
That kind of honesty has solidified a bond between the Sick Puppies and their fans since day one. To date, their breakout second full-length Tri-Polar has sold more than 500K albums, yielding 2 million single sales including the gold-certified “You‟re Going Down” as well as rock smashes “Maybe” “Riptide,” and “Odd One.”
“All The Same” the band‟s first hit single from their debut album, “Dressed Up As Life” became the soundtrack for the viral video “Free Hugs” campaign racking up tens of mil- lions of online views and saw them appear on Oprah, 60 Minutes, CNN, Good Morning America, and The Tonight Show.
2013‟s Connect earned the band its highest Billboard Top 200 debut at #17 and yielded two top 10 singles at rock radio peaking at #2. Along the way, the trio played alongside the world‟s biggest bands from Muse, The Killers, Deftones, Evanescence, Breaking Benjamin, Papa Roach, Incubus to Tool.
Now, their message is more powerful than ever.
“When people hear this, I want them to take away a feeling of new life, new passion, and new excitement from this band,” Emma leaves off. “Mark and I love what we do. We were going to forge ahead no matter what. We found the perfect guy, and we‟re excited about this next chapter.”
If you’re not pissed off, then you’re not paying attention. Ded thrives on the aggressive spirit that is authentic to the heavy music genre. “There is an honesty and attitude about heavy music that I don’t feel as often anymore” says lead singer Joe Cotela – “and we want to bring that back”. Ded is loud and aggressive – but it serves as a positive outlet: the band produces an unapologetic sound that draws from the art of fantasy and expressive screams. Their debut album “Mis-An-thrope” has made an impact across the Rock world.
Ded was born in the music scene of Phoenix, Arizona and has been together for almost 3 years. Band members Joe Cotela (Vocals), David Ludlow (Guitar), Kyle Koelsch (Bass), and Matt Reinhard (Drums) developed a friendship and ultimately a musical partnership that mixes horror and dark imagery to develop a familiar, yet unique sound that sets them apart from other bands. Cotela says “With our music – we want to make the listener feel like how you feel after you’ve watched a really good horror movie – on edge, jittery… And very much alive”. They incorporate these volatile elements into their lyrics – with the hopes that it will breathe new life into the hard-core genre. Imagine an inspired take on outward thinking that transcends screaming, and low tuned riffs. Their sound is meant to “be in your face and tell it like it is”, while paying homage to Korn and Pantera, who served as early inspirations. Ded are also influenced by more recent bands like Slipknot and Bring Me The Horizon. This is modern hard rock & alternative metal that goes beyond anger – including themes like existentialism and ego in everyday life. The lyrics are timely and resonate with an audience navigating the chaotic world we live in.
The band’s work ethic, drive, and dedication led them to record an EP that quickly made the rounds of the music industry, and started a buzz that opened doors. Using that as a springboard, the band hit the road and toured with Beartooth, Asking Alexandria, Atreyu, Every Time I Die, Upon a Burning Body, The Acacia Strain, John 5, Powerman 5000, and Insane Clown Posse among others.
Their touring helped grow awareness in the business and brought them to the attention of producer John Feldmann (Disturbed, Blink-182, Beartooth). Their collaboration with Feldmann culminated in the band signing with Jordan Schur @ Suretone Records – who discovered and grew the careers of platinum rock acts Staind and Limp Bizkit, among others. Suretone released their first song and video for “FMFY” in December 2016.
2017 was very busy year for Ded – they played all Major Rock U.S. festivals, played more than 150 live shows and toured 25 + dates with KORN and Stone Sour. Both of their 1st two singles “Anti-Everything” and “Remember The Enemy” reached the Top 20 on the Active Rock Radio charts. “Anti-Everything” was #8 on SiriusXM Octane’s Top 10 for 2017 and they named the band “Artist Discovery of the Year”. They won the Kilpop/Rock Radio Award for Metal Debut of the Year”. “Anti-Everything” & “Remember The Enemy” were featured on high profile curated Hard Rock & Metal playlists at all major streaming services including Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon Music, Youtube, and Google Play Music. The video for “Anti-Everything” has more than 1.4 million views on Youtube. The band is repped by CAA for booking.
Their 3rd single “Hate Me” recently peaked at #28 on the Active Rock Radio charts and has been featured on key playlists including Spotify’s “Rock Hard”, Apple Music’s “Breaking Hard Rock”, Amazon Music’s “Fresh Rock” and “Introducing Rock”, Pandora “New Rock”, Youtube and Google Play Music’s “Hard Rock Hotlist”.
Fire From The Gods
Heavy music deserves a heavier message.
That’s what Fire From The Gods deliver on their Rise Records debut, Narrative.
Speaking from a platform cast in heavy metal power, hip-hop consciousness, and even a little reggae spirit, the Austin, TX quintet—AJ Channer [vocals], Jameson Teat [guitar], Drew Walker [guitar], Bonner Baker [bass], and Richard Wicander [drums]—urge for change through conveying a story that’s both personal and universal.
That story stems directly from AJ’s life. Born in the Bronx to a single mother of Jamaican descent, he spent his childhood moving between London, New York City, Los Angeles, Norfolk, and even Ghana where he attended middle school. Drawing from this diverse experience, he speaks with unmitigated honesty about the state of the world.
A gritty howl opens Joyous Wolf’s upcoming debut LP, Enigma, and it’s the perfect introduction since the band plays rock & roll at its most primal and passionate. Guitarist Blake Allard’s bluesy riffs harken back to the classic hard rock of AC/DC, Cream and Deep Purple while still packing a thoroughly modern wallop, while front man Nick Reese’s voice seems to come from deep in his gut as he sings about everything from warring kingdoms to a tribute to a fallen friend. Together, with bassist Greg Braccio and drummer Robert Sodaro, Joyous Wolf’s members work together to create some of the most exciting, promising and unwieldy back-to-basics rock to come out of Southern California in recent years.
. Whether nimbly navigating the swaggering, powerful groove of their go-to concert opener, “Mountain Man,” or digging into their instruments for a jammy, funky guitar solo “Major Headthrob,” the group has an unpredictable quality – a sort of unique freedom within rock & roll – that makes Enigma compelling. Part of the credit for this goes to producer Val Garay (Santana, Neil Diamond, Reel Big Fish) who came aboard at the last minute to help them achieve the record’s raw sound, whi
aptures how Joyous Wolf sound live. But mostly, the electric feeling that defines Enigma is just something in the band’s DNA.
“When I’m playing rock & roll, it’s the only time where I feel indestructible,” Reese says. “When I heard Elvis sing ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ for the first time, I knew exactly what my heart wanted and what I wanted.”
“I think people are starting to realize the overproduction and fakeness of pop music, which is why rock is coming back,” Allard says. “We love being a rock band.” Joyous Wolf formed in November 2014, but their roots stretch back to sixth grade when Reese first crossed paths with Sodaro by fate – they had to assemble next to each other because their names were alphabetically side-by-side. Reese recalls a middle-school battle of the bands where neither he nor Sodaro were playing, but Reese declared that one day he was going to be “the best singer ever” and that Sodaro would play drums. It would take a few years, but after stints where both musicians duked it out playing in punk and alternative bands (“all of that crap,” Reese adds) they fulfilled Reese’s prophecy. The singer drafted Allard, whom he’d met randomly in the acoustic room at a Guitar Center when the two jammed on CCR’s “Born on the Bayou,” and Sodaro brought in his high-school friend Braccio to play bass.
Before long, the quartet was jamming in Sodaro’s folks’ garage, annoying the neighbors and entertaining the local authorities. “Once on Halloween, we were rehearsing at 11 p.m. writing songs, and we faced Nick’s monitors out the window toward a canyon full of houses,” Allard recalls. “Then we saw this car at the front gate, and it’s the sheriff. He comes into the practice room and goes, ‘Hey guys, I hate to shut you down because it sounds really good, but we got a complaint from across the canyon that it was too loud.’ We still practice but not like that anymore.”
One of the first songs they played together was “Sleep Weep Stomp,” Enigma’s slow-burning, sludgy blues burner. It’s the style of music that Reese feels closest to. “I’m a blues singer, 100 percent,” he says. “That’s my everything.” The singer grew up on blues, jazz and Fifties rock & roll. “When my dad showed me Elvis, that was the end of it,” he says. “I needed to hear every artist that inspired Elvis and then the people who inspired them. Suddenly I had a record collection. It all felt natural: B.B. King made me want to scream my pains away. You hear all these people and you want to express all the things you love. I don’t care if people think it’s old or not current. It doesn’t matter to me.” By his own estimation, he didn’t hear anything “current” until he was 13 and borrowed his sister’s Discman only to hear the Strokes’ “Is This It”. Similarly, Allard was raised on classic rock. “My dad taught me my first song ever, ‘Sunshine of Your Love,’ by Cream,” he says. “I always went back to that kind of old blues-rock music. Even if I was into metal or hard rock, I always went back to the classics like B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.”
These influences shine through on Enigma. “Killing the Messenger” begins with some crushing classic heavy-metal riffs before giving way to a boogieing verse riff where Sodaro and Braccio can bash out their rhythms freely while Reese yowls a tale about two warring kingdoms, and how an evil monarch tricks one of his most popular subjects into delivering a nasty message to the other kingdom only so he would be executed. Reese says the moral Is “life isn’t fair and it isn’t always a happy ending.” The beat-heavy “Mountain Man,” whose lyrics lambaste one of Reese’s former less-than-refined coworkers at a coffee shop, whom the singer says claimed he could “carve a knife out of the tree,” began with a guitar riff that was so forceful that the band couldn’t deny its power. “He had this little riff and we were laughing because it was so stupid-simple,” Reese says. “And it is. It’s our quote-unquote ‘dumbest song,’ but when we used it to open at the Viper Room, the audience response became one of our staple songs.”
The band is also able to channel more somber tones. The acoustic “Remember By” showcases thoughtful performances by both Allard and Reese, who wrote the song in tribute to a friend of his who had taken his own life. It came from a moment of pure inspiration. “I recorded us when we were fooling around, and it was perfect,” Reese says. “I pushed for us to record that song so hard. I said, ‘Please do it exactly like you did it. Please.’ That was me saying goodbye.”After they put out their Daisy EP in late 2015, it took the band about two years total to fine-tune and perfect Enigma. And while songwriting was a big chunk of that (the ominous riff for “Turning Blue” took them six months to perfect), they went through several passes of mixing and mastering it to get it to sound like it does. When Garay finally came aboard, they were able to establish the right mixture of nuance and directness. “It’s so much more animal,” Reese says, using the perfect adjective, to describe the way Enigma turned out. That “animal” sound has earned Joyous Wolf some notable gigs, including performances at L.A.’s famed Whisky a Go Go, the Viper Room and the Regent Theater, where they recently opened for Eagles of Death Metal. Now they’re ready to move on to even bigger stages. “When we play a show, we go out and we kick ass,” Reese says, sounding confident. “We’re headhunters”. Head hunting on the road will now be even easier, with their upcoming record Enigma, an album that demonstrates what Reese calls Joyous Wolf’s “mojo.” – Kory Grow
Flashback to 2017: Spirit Adrift dropped its 2nd LP ‘Curse Of Conception’ via 20 Buck Spin, a huge step forward following the debut, landing at #2 in Decibel Magazine’s best albums of the year and carving out a sound now patently its own. Lazily labelled Doom by some, the band is in fact the true representation of what modern Heavy Metal should be, a direct descendent of the widely-appealing arena-filling superstars of the ‘80s and ‘90s without a whiff of anachronistic cosplay fantasies.
Spirit Adrift’s third album ‘Divided By Darkness’ delivers on the promise first revealed on ‘Curse Of Conception’ and then advances far beyond it in every way achieving a timeless album for the ages. First single ‘Hear Her’ pummels with the concise urgency and unforgettable chorus of a vital radio hit while ‘Angel & Abyss’ has the classic progression that leads from reflective ballad to rapturous anthemic triumph. The continued evolution of Nathan Garrett as a top vocal talent in modern Heavy Metal shines through amidst the masterful musicianship and huge production value engineered by Sanford Parker.
Among the many stylistic divergences within rock and metal, Spirit Adrift’s ‘Divided By Darkness’ understands that there is no substitute for huge ambition, soul-bearing lyricism and most importantly the ability of a pristinely penned riff and impassioned chorus to alter hearts and minds. Astonishingly ‘Divided By Darkness’ is Spirit Adrift’s heaviest and most accessible album to date and will stand as the apex of Heavy Metal songcraft in 2019.
Evan Konrad sonically architected an alternative world all by hand. Born and raised in Abbotsford, BC Canada, the singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist devoted his entire life to crafting music. Growing up in a house where creativity would be encouraged at every turn, he spent countless hours writing songs and producing. Following stints recording and on the road with other artists, he locked himself away in the studio and commenced work on what would become his forthcoming debut. With nothing more than a few songs on his private SoundCloud link shared by his manager, he caught the attention of LAVA founder Jason Flom who signed him on the spot—because of the downright mind-blowing songcraft. Now, that songcraft comes to life on his first single “Long Way Out” with its airy beat, haunting vocals, and seesawing chant. The best way to describe the music would be Thom Yorke translating Christopher Nolan’s Memento into songs, and even that only scratches the surface.
Lines still stretch around the block at clubs, warehouses, and theaters on a nightly basis worldwide. Amplifiers still blare out of suburban garages everywhere. Guitars, drums, and bass still translate the emotion and energy of a generation better than anything. No matter what prevailing opinion may be, rock music still maintains its foothold just behind the pop culture curtain—as if in the wings waiting to return.
BRKN LOVE carry on this tradition, while evolving it. Toronto singer and guitarist Justin Benlolo envisions a fresh future for the genre on the band’s 2019 full-length debut for Spinefarm Records produced by Joel Hamilton [Highly Suspect, Pretty Lights].
“When I first thought about starting a band, it needed all of the elements of rock ‘n’ roll that I respond to—big guitars, big drums, and big vocals,” he explains. “I didn’t want it to be too complex. It had to be something everybody could digest in a short and sweet format. It’s alternative, but it’s also heavy. I try to get right to the point. There are so many of these kids still showing up to shows and moshing to real rock music. That’s refreshing. There’s still a place for something authentic. That’s what I want to provide.”
Born and raised in Canada, Justin cut his teeth by obsessing over the likes of Soundgarden and Led Zeppelin in his youth, while learning how to write music. With the advent of bands such as Royal Blood and Highly Suspect, he recognized the potential for a “different kind of band—that’s not too macho and slick, but edgy enough for the punks.” Justin started tracking demos for BRKN LOVE and shortly after determined that Joel Hamilton was the perfect producer. Joel responded to the tracks by inviting him to Brooklyn to record at Studio G. Together, they cut the 13 tracks that would comprise the album as the band landed a deal with Spinefarm Records after a New York showcase.
Recorded live to tape in the studio, the sound preserves “a raw, real, and alive” feeling in the riffing tempered by “relatable and emotional lyrics.”
Now, the first single “Shot Down” hinges on thick guitars before Justin’s howling takes hold. It seesaws between dirty blues verses and a skyscraping refrain as he chants, “Landslide, shaking the crowd…Shot down in the bottom of a valley!”
Written at the infamous Mate’s Studio in North Hollywood, CA, it captures all of the seedy, glorious grit of the San Fernando Valley.
“It’s got a lot of sexual innuendos,” he goes on. “On the contrary, it can be interpreted as a massive disaster song. There’s a landslide shaking the ground, and we’re in the middle of the valley. The world’s ending as we’re playing away. You could also interpret as about a girl.”
The airy harmonies and syncopated riffs of “I Can’t Lie” take dead aim at West Coast fakery and “friends who stabbed me in the back for no reason” with a hypnotic and heartfelt chorus. Everything culminates on “In Your Hands,” which slides from a clean intro towards a wall of fuzz and his most impressive vocal performance. The latter serves as “an ode to life that we’re going to ride the universe’s wave without worrying.”
In the end, BRKN LOVE represent a new era for rock music that’s as powerful as it is emotional.
“The name represents who I am,” Justin leaves off. “You can honestly be a hopeless romantic and play tough music. Most of the lyrics deal with love and loss. That’s the vibe. You can share your feelings and still rock your face off at the end of the day. It’s what I’m going to do.”
Music elicits physical and psychological reactions. Your body moves, and your mood changes in response to the ebb and flow of a song. It’s one of the few singular forces that can seamlessly speak to both our tangible and intangible nature.
Canterbury, UK band Broken Hands stimulate both halves with a two-prong style fueled by half-time gutter groove rock ‘n’ roll and ethereal flights of cerebral sonic exploration. This duality initially powered the group’s 2015 full-length debut, Turbulence. Produced by Tom Dalgety [Royal Blood, Pixies, Ghost], it walked a fine line between arena ambition and alternative adventurousness. Moreover, the record announced the boys—brothers Dale [lead vocals] and Callum Norton [drums, backing vocals], Jamie Darby [lead guitar], Thomas Ford [bass], and David Hardstone [rhythm guitar, keys]—as a critical favorite with acclaim from NME, The Independent, BBC Music Introducing, and more. Simultaneously, they developed a reputation for raucous live shows, performing alongside the likes of The Kills, Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Cult and Deaf Havana in addition to gracing the stage of the world-famous Reading & Leeds festivals.
Along the way, they landed a deal with Atlantic Records stateside and plotted their sophomore effort. Just prior to entering the studio, the pace slowed when Dale endured the sort of nightmare most musicians don’t dare dream about: intensive ear surgery that left him unable to sing or play music for nearly two months.
“I had to have this dissection to basically open up the pathways,” he explains. “I couldn’t do anything after for what felt like forever. I’m probably hearing music completely different from how I did. The upside was I came into this record with a fresh palette.”
Embracing this fresh palette, the band opted to work with producer Julian Emery [Nothing But Thieves, Lower Than Atlantic] on new music with long-term collaborator Dalgety moving to the mixer’s chair. Nodding to American influences as diverse as Nine Inch Nails, Big Brother and The Holding Company, and My Morning Jacket, Broken Hands adopted a “half-time” rhythm. As a result, the guitars, drums, bass, and vocals hit harder as they seesaw back and forth.
“For a British rock guitar band, it’s all about fast, four-to-the-floor singles,” says Dale. “We went slower and heavier. We loved doing the slow vibe. It was a big lightbulb moment.”
Case in point, hulking distortion and sinewy riffing propel the 2018 single “Split In Two” forward at a confident strut before giving way to Dale’s hypnotic hook.
“We literally felt split in two,” says the frontman. “Touring as much as we have, you’re divided from the ones you love and spend the rest of your life. In a psychological sense, you can also feel divided between two things. You’re stuck in a corridor. The idea extends to the sonics. One minute, I want to write a screaming heavy record. In the next, I want to write something tranquil. It’s a push-and-pull.”
Another standout “Friends House” tempers moments of introspection with a bombastic sense of dread siphoned through sparse percussion and a paranoid wail. It draws on a moment when Dale found himself threatened at gunpoint in the midst of the band’s first U.S. tour.
“It’s quite a dark song,” he admits. “You think you’re happy and you think you’re safe, but actually you couldn’t be any further from safety. When you get very intoxicated, you’re happy and comfortable, but it’s actually the most dangerous position to be in. When we first went to the States, I got held up at a bar at 4AM. I was drunk, British, and not familiar with this sort of situation. That could happen anywhere. It’s the illusion of safety.”
In the end, Broken Hands translate duality into definitive anthems. “It’s okay to be divided,” Dale leaves off. “You don’t have to feel like you’ve got to be one thing all of the time physically, psychologically, or musically. Too often in life, people try to tell you to be one thing. We reached a new level by clinging to both sides.”
It could double as the soundtrack for the witching hour.
A brew of rough-and-tumble guitars, swamp soul rhythms, and femme fatale vocal invocations, Dead Posey cast a sonic spell that seduces as it scorches. The Los Angeles-based band—vocalist Danyell Souza and producer/co-writer/multi-instrumentalist Tony F [formerly of Eve 6]—immediately enchant on their five-song debut “Freak Show” EP [Sumerian Records].
While forming Dead Posey, the two tapped into an intense creative chemistry and a newfound vision for a rough, blues-y yet modern sound. They quietly worked in the studio for nearly a year and honed their songwriting skills, rather than diving into live shows and the club circuit. Through 2017 Dead Posey (joined by one-time member Kyle Foster) released one song at a time online, culminating in the “Freak Show” EP and stirring up a palpable buzz. Beyond early acclaim from Huffington Post, Glide Magazine, PureVolume, and more, they landed high-profile syncs everywhere from Fox’s Lucifer, MTV’s Teen Wolf, Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger, and Netflix’s Jack Whitehall – Travels With My Father to Macy’s, Sony PlayStation, and League of Legends. Dead Posey inked a deal with Sumerian Records in 2018.
The band will be releasing new music and touring throughout 2019 and beyond.
The Pink Slips
“Pink Slips define their sound as a fusion of ‘synth-pop, punk, dance, and vintage rock n’ roll,’ and are fronted by a genuine star in the making: GRAVE.” – Team Rock
THE PINK SLIPS arrive with wondrously dark and gorgeous synth-pop, swirling in punk playfulness and danger. It’s a wall of sound, behind bare-naked confessionals, infused with biting social satire and calls to self-empowerment.
Led by Grace McKagan’s clever and powerful alter-ego, Grave, The Pink Slips are armed with all of the glamour and weapons of the past, ready to smash through the disillusionment of the future, while ensuring it’s a revolution we can dance to. It’s Ziggy Stardust, Alice Cooper, and CBGBs in spirit, while altogether modern in sound.
The Pink Slips cut their teeth in legendary Hollywood venues like The Troubadour and the Viper Room, well before the band’s members could legally drink at the bar.
Grave is carving a rapidly coalescing identity as a fierce provocateur, crafting new music together with collaborator and producer Isaac Carpenter (AWOLNATION). Beats, guitars, and synths enthrall and tantalize behind Grave’s voice.
As Glideobserved, “The way McKagan turns her phrases purrs more venom than syrup.”
Invoking the pin-up appeal of ‘50s American rock, the sleek shimmer of ‘60s French pop, the unrelenting energy of ‘70s punk, and the dark romanticism of ‘80s new wave in equal measure, The Pink Slips have arrived at something uniquely modern, shining a timeless creative light through a prism of youthful immediacy and potency.
The Pink Slips are unafraid to embrace the poppy sheen of the solo Paul McCartney, the big choruses of Lady Gaga, and the boundary pushing energy of Marilyn Manson, all underscored with the urgent feminism of Bikini Kill. Songs like “Gimme,”“I’m Ready,” “Hello Heaven,” and “Danger” are an exciting mix of Blondie, Nico, The Kills, with a reverence for the primal fury of Iggy Pop and the transcendent harmony of David Bowie.
The music and stage show of The Pink Slips is a siren call to the outcasts, a celebration and glorification of the underdogs and the disenfranchised everywhere. Grit, authenticity, electricity – The Pink Slips is for anyone who thirsts for freedom of expression, freedom to love, and the true unity to be found in vibrant diversity.
Punk, hard rock, and high-minded fashion courses through Grave’s blood, an energy she summons and releases with every performance, sharing encouragement and catharsis with the audience. The music of The Pink Slips is where confidence, love, and unapologetic individuality converge.
Santa Cruz is a Finnish hard rock band formed in 2007 in Helsinki by Archie Cruz and Johnny Parkkonen. The songs of the band have appeared in a TV commercial of Mercedes-Benz and in sports compilation clips of U.S. ESPN television network.
Blue Midnight is a Dream Metal band based out of Los Angeles founded by lead singer and songwriter Justine. Justine has always loved traditional rock music but when she formed Blue Midnight she wanted to create a band that featured both heavy elements and light classical orchestral elements She wanted to combine the two sounds in a new way that was fresh different and emotional. She describes Blue Midnight’s style as Dream Metal because the music includes heavy distorted guitar, intense bass, and hard-hitting drums while also featuring the contrasting sounds of light, ethereal and operatic vocals with a dramatic string section. The band seeks to transport its live audience to a dream-like state of mind as fans enjoy this unique blend of sound.