Axl Rose Is Back On AC/DC Duty

After a grueling but exciting Not In This Lifetime Tour launch in North America with Guns N’ Roses, Axl Rose is now switching back to singing lead for AC/DC, as he did earlier this spring.

One of the coolest parts about their first show on this leg of the Rock Or Bust tour, is that Greensboro, North Carolina was treated to “Live Wire” during the set.

Plus, they didn’t forget the classics!

I’ve got give Axl major props! He’s been on fire this year, singing just as well as he did in 1987. Everyone assumed delays would plague both tours, but we have yet to hear about a single one. In fact, when I attended the Guns N’ Roses show in Pittsburgh, they were onstage early, at around 8:45pm!

Guns N’ Roses, and Axl, have a bright future ahead. The possibilities are endless for them! AC/DC however, might be slowing their train. Angus Young explains, “At this point, I don’t know. We were committed to finishing the [Rock Or Bust] tour. Who knows what I’ll feel after? When you sign on and say, ‘I’m gonna do this and that,’ it’s always good to say at the end of it, ‘I’ve done all I said I would do.'” Bassist Cliff Williams has already announced his retirement, Phil Rudd is swimming in legal issues, and Malcolm Young is now retired as well. Brian Johnson is currently treating his hearing loss, but who knows if he’s up for another round of touring.

This Tie Between OITNB and Meshuggah Is Awesome

We know Jessica Pimentel from the Netflix hit Orange Is The New Black, right?

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Yeah, that’s what I thought. She’s the amazing Maria Ruiz! Here’s another cool fact about her that no one knew since 2012…. she’s dating Tomas Haake of Meshuggah! They’re so in sync that it’s scary.

This story get better too! She has some metal cred to her own right. She fronts her own band, Alekhine’s Gun. They call themselves an extreme metal/hardcore band. I’m just saying, look at this intensity… I wouldn’t wanna mess with her.

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Keep a look out for more of Jessica and Thomas. Meshuggah’s eighth album, The Violent Sleep of Reason, is out Oct. 7, and can be pre-ordered here. Season 4 of #OITNB is available to watch on Netflix right now!

To Valhalla: Flawed By Design

It’s a #FreyFriday! That’s means we’re bringing a new band to reach your awareness, and sending them to Valhalla!

Fresh from North Carolina, it’s clear that Flawed By Design will one day be taking the metal world by storm. They formed in 2012, and have released a few tunes already.

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Their bio explains, “guitarist Tony Greer and percussionist Shane Atkinson, Flawed by Design was finalized by the addition of bassist Davie Huffman. Even after Huffman’s entrance to the group and subsequent release of a four track EP, Flawed by Design struggled incessantly to find a frontman who truly fit the band – that is, until the band was united with vocalist Dillon Reynolds in early 2013.”

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I
n my eyes, Dillon has proven to be vocally reminiscent of both James Hetfield and Layne Staley. The crunching, unforgiving, guitar work is a bonus too.
Last year, they released A New Creation, which offers a solid piece of pure, gritty metal. You
can find it for sale on iTunes and at www.rottweilerrecords.bigcartel.com.

You won’t be disappointed when looking into these guys further! Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and their website, for more.

Opeth announce new album and new deal

Opeth fans rejoice! \m/

Not only did they announce that they signed a new record deal with Nuclear Blast, they’ve also announced a new album is on the way later this year! Mikael Åkerfeldt said the deal was the result of a meeting in a Porsche!

“We’re happy to confirm that we have indeed signed a deal with Nuclear Blast Entertainment and will be putting out our 12th studio album Sorceress via our own imprint, Moderbolaget Records.

The decision was made in Markus Staiger’s (Nuclear Blast kingpin) ridiculously potent Porsche going at 150 mph somewhere in the south of Germany. We’re happy to be part of the NB team and look forward to a fruitful relationship.”

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Contract photo credit: Ben Lodwick

As a bonus; a few details about the next Opeth album, Sorceress, were also announced. According to their website

“OPETH are currently in the studio with Tom Dalgety putting the finishing touches on Sorceress. A release for the album is tentatively scheduled for the fall via Moderbolaget Records / Nuclear Blast Entertainment.”

Sorceress will be Opeth‘s twelfth album. Their last album, Pale Communion, was released in late 2014.

Joey Jordison unveils reason for Slipknot departure

Seriously, no one saw this coming…

Yesterday, as he accepted the coveted Golden God Award at the Metal Hammer Golden God Awards, Joey Jordison made an announcement that surprised metal fans everywhere. A disease had impacted his drumming ability, thus his departure from Slipknot was imminent.

“Towards [the] end of my career in SLIPKNOT — and I want you all to give praise to them as well. We accomplished a lot in life, every one of them, and I wish them nothing but luck and the best of praises. Cause what we created in the basements of Des Moines, Iowa will never be matched. It’s one thing that is f-ing absolutely f-ing unbeatable. I love those guys very much… Towards the end of my career in SLIPKNOT, I got really, really sick with a horrible disease called transverse myelitis. I lost my legs. I couldn’t play anymore. It was a form of multiple sclerosis, which I don’t wish on my worst enemy. I got myself back up, and I got myself in the gym, and I got myself back in f-ing therapy to f-ing beat this s-t. And if I could do it, you could do it. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, more than f-ing anything.”

I had questions after hearing this too… firstly, what is transverse myelitis? According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s, “an inflammation of the spinal cord, which often targets insulating material covering nerve cell fibers (myelin). Transverse myelitis may result in injury across the spinal cord, affecting sensation below the injury.” This explains the loss of feeling in his legs.

Secondly, since he “got himself back,” is there a chance he’ll return to Slipknot? We still don’t know the real story. Was he fired? Or, did he quit? Does he even care to rejoin them? He seems pretty happy with Sinsaenum right now.

Death Angel talks bullying

How metal is this!? I’m applauding Rob Cavestany of Death Angel and his son Aiden for having a conversation about bullying publicly. It’s a subject touched on frequently, but not necessarily by the metal world in such open terms.

Let’s face it, the music gets you through. You almost don’t have to talk about it as a metal fan. It’s no secret that metal fans who are bullied use the music as fuel to stand up for themselves, or comfort themselves later.

Rob and his son had a conversation about bullying, and we found out that they’ve had vastly different experiences with it.

Can we just get this out of the way – HOW AWESOME IS AIDEN!!? Such a strong kid, at such a young age! Props to Rob as a parent. It’s awesome to see these kinds of conversations being had, especially in the metal community.

You’re probably asking, why did they have the sit down in the first place? If you’ve checked out Death Angel‘s newest release The Evil Divide, you’ll notice a song called “Lost”  which touches on the subject. The video makes it even more obvious.

What do you think about Death Angel opening up a conversation about bullying? I think it’s very metal! Check out The Evil Divide here.

 

Should “older bands” perform “new music” ?

If it’s up to Jay Jay French of Twisted Sister, the answer to that question is no. He doesn’t believe classic rock and metal acts from the 70’s and 80’s should invest time in new music. That includes: making new music, and touring it. He says,

“I mean, they can justify it all they want but no one cares. Let me tell you, you’re a bunch of stupid fools if you think that anyone gives a s–t. They don’t. They say they do but they don’t. Which is why most of these classic bands make a new album, go out on a tour, start out with five songs from the new record, after a few weeks there are two songs and then they just want to play that one new song and get it over with. Because no one knows it and no one gives a s–t about it, and they’re delusional to think they do.”

This is a long held debate in the rock community. While musicians themselves are divided on the subject, the fans are too – even more so. Some love seeing what their favorite band is “up to now,” and others are purely interested in older catalogues.

MegadethDystopia.pngIn recent years, we’ve seen examples of “older” bands finding new success with new
material, and, some flops. One of the most recent examples of “new material success” is Megadeth‘s Dystopia. Though they’re “older,” their brand new album was still selling a record 10,000 copies in the US, fourteen weeks after its release. Furthermore, the success was highlighted by Dystopia earning the number three spot on the Billboard 200 charts at its debut.

Aerosmith‘s Music From Another Dimension is another “new material from an older band” release that comes to mind. Though it debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 charts in 2012, it quickly slid. It sold just 63,000 copies in its first week, and less and less as time went on. aerosmith-music-from-another-dimension-1350682128.jpegBy Aerosmith standards, it was a bummer.

Perhaps the question we should be asking is, “who do we want new music from?” Sure, bands love playing new material to keep things exciting – but given my previous examples, there is an obvious divide in opinion on the subject when you look at it from a “band by band” basis. It just might be that Megadeth fans were “ready” for new stuff, and Aerosmith ones prefer older hits.

Regardless, we, the fans, shouldn’t limit bands to doing solely one or the other. We might be putting them in the “novelty act” file too soon.

It should be a band decision to create new material or not. Let’s be open to whatever they give us, then decide.

Interview: Björn Strid of Soilwork

It’s easy to recognize Björn Strid of Soilwork. You can’t miss his tall frame. On this chilly Chicago day (like a true Scandinavian) he’s wearing basketball shorts, seemingly unbothered, while some Chicagoans are still bundled up in winter attire. When I mention my observation to him, he laughs and says, “Yeah… I was hoping to workout. That’s the only reason. But it is pretty damn cold! We just had nice weather the other day!”

Soilwork and Fear Factory have been touring together for the past month. It’s the second time I’ll be seeing Soilwork in the Chicago area within the last six months. They’re promoting The Ride Majestic heavily, and rightfully so. It’s fantastic! Björn also tells me that it comes from a place of healing. Working on this project has helped him (and other band members) cope with recent loss.

Soilwork continues to elevate their sound. Björn and I revisit their writing process, discuss the story behind “The Pittsburgh Syndrome” (hey – I’m from Pittsburgh, I had to ask!), and talk about their recent gain – bassist Markus Wibom, who Björn tells me is a longtime friend (and former tech) to the band. Some of you know that he’s a hockey fan, and he tells us who his team is…

Let’s take a ride! Watch my interview with Björn Strid (who I nominate for “The Nicest Guy In Metal” by the way!) below. The full interview (an audio version) can be found below that too.

To Valhalla: The Raven Age

As promised, I’m featuring The Raven Age for this Friday’s edition of “To Valhalla!” If you don’t know them, you’ll want to.

Currently, they’re Iron Maiden‘s tour mates on The Book of Souls World Tour, and that’s where my awareness of The Raven Age begins.

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The Raven Age; Chicago, IL on 4/6/16

You can’t get much newer than these guys. They formed in London in 2009 (maybe that’s how they hopped on the Iron Maiden tour?), but didn’t finalize their current lineup until 2013 (Michael Burroughs – Vocals | Matt Cox – Bass Guitar | Dan Wright – Guitar | George Harris – Guitar | Jai Patel – Drums). They describe themselves as a “melodic metal band” but I believe they sound a lot like In Flames (if In Flames had clean vocals), if you’re looking for a comparison.

They released their first self titled EP in 2014, and played it in its entirety before Iron Maiden took the stage. On Wednesday, April 6th, 2016, The Raven Age played the United Center in Chicago to a lukewarm crowd – at first.

They decided to let the music speak for itself (and rightfully so – it’s solid!), and dove right into their set with Michael Burroughs addressing the crowd only occasionally – until their set was close to being done. That’s when he ramped up the crowd by saying, “you better be ready, IRON MAIDEN IS COMING NEXT!!”  My personal favorites were “Eye Among The Blind” and “The Death March”.

@theravenage at @unitedcenter last night! #chicago #metal #latergram

A post shared by Val on ZROCK 107.7 (@valthezrockvalkyrie) on

 

Check out The Raven Age on Facebook, and at their website. They also released a heavy  music video (their first ever) for “Angel In Disgrace” which you can watch below.

 

 

Review: Amon Amarth – Jomsviking

The tenth studio effort from Amon AmarthJomsviking, was released today to the delight of vikings everywhere.

This album is different from what Amon Amarth fans will expect. No tracks on the album are like “Guardians of Asgaard” or “Cry Of The Blackbirds.”Be prepared for the expansions of their sound, because that’s exactly what Jomsviking delivers.

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Jomsviking is a concept album, which is new for Amon Amarth. It tells the story of a viking desperate to win back the love of his crush, after he is sent away for committing murder. Unfortunately, his lady has been promised to someone else – and she seems to want nothing to do with the viking any longer. “First Kill” sets the scene for the story.

“The first man I killed was the earl’s right-hand man
When he came to take her away
I ran his own sword straight through his throat
And then I stood there, watching him fade”

Obviously, Amon Amarth‘s trademark brutal lyrics are still present in Jomsviking, so fans won’t be disappointed. When we hear the female side of the story in “A Dream That Cannot Be” we’re treated to a guest appearance from Doro.

“I feel him near
The boy estranged has now returned
A full grown man, but still I fear that nothing’s changed
He simply does not understand”

How does the saga end? Well, you’ll have to find out!

Overall, this album is a different Amon Amarth, but that shouldn’t scare hardcore fans. They’re still just as brutal. They are expanding their sound with more melodic guitar bits (see the solo in “The Wanderer”), a concept/story, and by adding female vocals. All of that contributes to the perfect cocktail of a modern viking saga.

See the tracklist here:

1. First Kill
2. Wanderer
3. On A Sea Of Blood
4. One Against All
5. Raise Your Horns
6. The Way Of Vikings
7. At Dawn’s First Light
8. One Thousand Burning Arrows
9. Vengeance Is My Name
10. A Dream That Cannot Be
11. Back On Northern Shores

More details on Amon Amarth‘s album, and their tour can be found on Facebook and their website. \m/