Thursday, December 31, 2009

Netherbird Releases Cover Album

Death/black metal band Netherbird, which is based in Jönköping, Sweden, recently released a cover album entitled Covered in Darkness. The compilation is a tribute to the various bands and sound that brought them to "discover some aspect of music and it has partly become part of the sound of Netherbird." In an official press release, the band stated: "We have intentionally chosen to cover tunes that sound a little (and some even more) different from Netherbird and the music we do. The reason is simple; if we would have covered something akin to our own sound we would only make a copy and we prefer to create something new, to try some new angle and perhaps also make more people discover some songs they might have otherwise missed out on. With this said, it is also natural for me to say that these recordings were done almost three years ago but we have waited for the right moment to send them out. Our next CD will not sound like this at all so take these recordings for what they are: music.

"We hope you will be able to enjoy them and that it also shows you a little about the broad spectra of sounds that really make up Netherbird and that our influences go deep and broad. So be prepared for some surprises both in these tracks, we will always do the things we find interesting and as long as it is dark it is Netherbird, and so are these tunes."

The band’s current lineup is as follows:

Nephente - Vocals
Bizmark - Guitars, bass, keyboards
David Preissel - Drums
Artur Vladinovskij - Lead guitar (on track two)
Tinitus - Lead guitar (on track four)

The full release (four tracks) of Covered in Darkness has been made available for download. (To download the material to your computer, right-click and chose "Save target as...".)

* Download MP3s + PDF (zip 41mb)
* Download wave files + PDF (zip 194mb)

The above zip files also include album artwork in PDF format.

Individual tracks:

* "As I Die" (Paradise Lost) ---> MP3
* "Nepenthe" (Sentenced) ---> MP3
* "Alison Hell" (Annihilator) ---> MP3
* "Firmament Vacation" (T.S.O.O.L) ---> MP3

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Matt Szlachta Releases Solo Demos

Matt Szlachta, guitarist for Chicago-based Dirge Within, recently posted a number of solo instrumental demos on his MySpace page.

Dirge Within – formerly known as simply Dirge – is a new metal quintet featuring vocalist Jeremy “Jerms” Genske, guitarist Shaun Glass (formerly of SOiL), bassist Brian Paz, and Szlachta.

Force Fed Lies, the group’s debut album, was released on September 1, 2009 via E1 Music (the former Koch Records). The album was mixed by Martin “Ginge” Ford (of Nott-In-Pill) and Jeff Rose in Newport, Wales, UK. It was produced by Edsel Dope (Dope) with Chris Djuricic (Studio One). Force Fed Lies features guest appearances by Michael Angelo Batio of Nitro and Corey Beaulieu of Trivium. Stephen Jensen of F3 Studios designed the cover art.

The video for the track “Forever the Martyr” (featured below) was filmed in Charlotte, North Carolina by director Ramon Boutviseth (Incubus, Trivium).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hour of Penance Put the Finishing Touches on New Album

Hour of Penance recently entered Rome’s 16th Cellar Studio along with engineer Stefano Morabito. The event marked the start of recording for the Italian death metallers untitled fourth album. The new album is expected to get an early 2010 release through Unique Leader Records.

Guitarist Giulio Moschini made the following comment:

"We've finally finished tracking all the instruments for the new album and we will start mixing it at the end of this week with Stefano Morabito at the mixing desk. Production-wise, this album is already beyond what we have done with The Vile Conception, so we're definitely satisfied with the results we're achieving so far and I'm sure you will be with me once you'll hear it! Once we have finished with the mixing, we will send the new album to the Hertz Studios in Poland, where legendary bands like Behemoth, Decapitated, Vader, and Hate have worked, for the mastering... Easy to say that we're thrilled to work with the guys of Hertz studios, and we're sure that this will help the album to sound even better. Expect a killer Hour of Penance album to be released in 2010!"

The band’s current lineup includes:

Francesco Paoli – Vocals
Enrico Schettino – Guitar
Giulio Moschini - Guitar
Silvano Leone - Bass
Mauro Mercurio – Drums

The Vile Conception, the latest album from Hour of Penance, was released on February 23, 2008 by Unique Leader Records. The album was recorded at 16th Cellar Studio and was produced by Stefano Saul Morabito. According to the press release, it contains ten songs of "insanely fast and twisted death metal.” Pär Olofsson was responsible for the album artwork.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Written in Blood Releases Video Preview

Up-and-coming Florida metal quintet Written in Blood has released a one-minute preview of the video for "This Purpose Driven Life." The video was filmed in Charlotte, North Carolina and was directed by Ramon Boutviseth (Trivium, Dream Theatre, Incubus, Bo Bice). The tune also marks the first song writing contribution by guitarist Bill Hudson (ex-Cellador, Circle II Circle).

"The Purpose Driven Life" is taken from Written in Blood's debut EP, We Are Divinity, which is slated for release in early 2010 via Revenge Recordings. The five-song CD was recorded in August 2009 at Audio Hammer Studios in Sanford, Florida with Mark Lewis (The Black Dahlia Murder, Decide, Trivium, All That Remains) and also features a guest appearance by vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens (Iced Earth, Judas Priest, Yngwie Malmsteen) on "Alone We Walk."

Written in Blood initially formed in 2005 and was the brainchild of guitarist Justin Stamper. The band was created for the purpose of "breathing new life into today's metal scene." Written in Blood features three guitarists which, according to an official band bio, "helps [it] stand out from their peers."

Hudson stated: "Although other bands have had three guitars, I don't think many of them use that quite the way we do it. We have freedom to have three-part harmonies or play harmonized solos live without losing the aggression of a rhythm guitarist underneath it. The approach we're using to song writing differs because of this as well."

When asked to sum up the band in several words, Hudson says Written in Blood are "catchy, fast, straight-to-the-point, in-your-face American melodic heavy metal."

"This Purpose Driven Life" sees singer J.D. Blood speaking to himself about that oftentimes seemingly unattainable dream. He says, "I tell myself no matter what happens in life, you can always believe that things will get better if you work hard to achieve your goals." He derives this inspiration from the difficult ordeals he faced whilst growing up. The frontman continues, "This song is about growing up in a broken home or growing up having nothing, trying your best to believe in the most unimaginable thing: a dream. It is pretty much about me and every other kid out there who had a struggle growing up and the road to success or road to conquering depression. It is just my message to myself and every kid that with a little pain, heartbreak, blood, sweat and tears, dreams can be achieved. If I can conquer the past of a depressing childhood, anyone can." Blood insists that he might have never conquered his demons if not for metal. Now he wants to give back to the music that helped him. "I just want to give kids some music that will make them believe in themselves and show them with hard work you can conquer anything," he says.

Written in Blood currently lacks a drummer. That being said, they've enlisted Kevin Talley (who has played with the likes of Chimaira, Dying Fetus, and Hate Eternal, to name a few) to lay drum tracks on the band’s debut.

For more info, visit

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guitar Lesson with Vinnie Moore is currently featuring video footage of Vinnie Moore talking about his influences and offering various forms of guitar instruction. The UFO guitarist shows viewers how to play "Too Hot to Handle" as well as "Fly," a track from his new solo album, To the Core. Moore gives instruction on hybrid picking, open-string licks, wide-stretch diminished-seven arpeggio licks, and Jeff Beck-style bending and vibrato. The lesson can be found here.

To the Core
was released in North America on May 26 via Holland's Mascot Records. The album's recording lineup consisted of:

Vinnie Moore - Guitar
John "JD" DeServio - Bass
Tim Lehner - Keyboards
Van Romaine - Drums

For the past several years, Moore was on the road with UFO. Following this touring stint, he meticulously laid down the tracks for his newest guitar instrumental album.

Moore said, "The only plan I had when making this record was to do some things I have never done before," explained Moore. "I am into many types of music and wanted to make a record where I could just let it all pour out without limitations. I am basically a rock guy but all these other influences that filter into my music. You can hear many styles from an R&B/hip hop vibe to one that is heavy but has an Indian vibe with lots of exotic percussion. I even have a couple tunes with techno elements, some funk, some blues and some bebop. Hell, there is even some motorcycles on it and I even played slide guitar on 'Jigsaw', which is fairly new for me. The common thread that ties it all together is probably the fact that it's me playing guitar through it all."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Live Debut for New Fear Factory Lineup

On December 4, a revamped Fear Factory made its live debut at Espaço Lux in São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo, Brazil. The "new" Fear Factory features original members Burton C. Bell (vocals), Dino Cazares (guitar) alongside bassist Byron Stroud (who, in addition to being credited on the last two Fear Factory albums, toured and recorded with Zimmers Hole and Strapping Young Lad) and the legendary drummer Gene Hoglan (Death, Dark Angel, Dethklok, Testament, Strapping Young Lad).

The band will play a handful of dates in Chile, Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico later in the month. In addition, they will embark on a four-date U.K. tour in February. The dates are as follows:

Feb. 16 - Manchester, UK @ Academy 2
Feb. 17 - Wolverhampton, UK @ Wulfrun Hall
Feb. 18 - Glasgow, UK @ Garage
Feb. 19 - London, UK @ Camden Electric Ballroom

Fear Factory's new album, Mechanize, is scheduled to be released in Europe on February 5, 2010 and on February 9, 2010 in the U.S. via Candlelight Records. The album was co-produced by the band with Rhys Fulber (Paradise Lost, Front Line Assembly) and was mixed by Greg Reely (Paradise Lost, Front Line Assembly, Skinny Puppy).

The following is the track listing for Mechanize:

01. Mechanize
02. Industrial Discipline
03. Fear Campaign
04. Powershifter
05. Christploitation
06. Oxidizer
07. Controlled Demolition
08. Designing The Enemy
09. Metallic Division
10. Final Exit

Referencing the album's lyrical approach, Burton C. Bell stated, "In the past, the lyrical concept was of a futuristic, 'sci-fi' nature. An attempt to protect the ideas and logic of those involved in Fear Factory; because those who incite progressive thought are always chastised and persecuted. By placing the 'story' into a futuristic, fictional narrative, the words and ideas may not have seemed threatening. Not so for Mechanize. These are the words of a reality that once seemed distant, that are now apparently, and evidently real. These are the words of the world in which we live; for what once seemed like a story of another time, has come to be our reality today. Welcome to the world of Mechanize."

Regarding the musical direction of Mechanize, Bell told Sergio Alvite (of Mexico's Search and Destroy, "It has the raw aggression of what Soul of a New Machine [1992] was but it has- I would say it has the maturity of Obsolete [1998]. When I say 'maturity,' I mean that it has the songwriting skills that Soul of a New Machine did not have whereas Obsolete did."

Below is a video from the live performance in Brazil on December 4:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cradle of Filth: “Faster and Heavier” Album in the Works

Paul Allender, guitarist for the British extreme metal band, Cradle of Filth, recently issued the following statement:

"I'm about half way through writing the material [for the new Cradle of Filth album] and it's turning out just the way I wanted it. I've mentioned to a few people that it's a lot faster and heavier [than 2008's Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder]. Well, to be honest, the new material has been taken up quite a few gears."

Upon release, Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder entered the German Media Control chart at the 37th position. It sold just over 11,000 copies in the U.S., and debuted at No. 48 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Prior to Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder, Thornography sold roughly 13,000 copies in the U.S. during the first week released and entered the Billboard chart at No. 66. The success of Thornography paralleled that of its predecessor, Nymphetamine, which sold 14,000 during its initial release in October 2004.

Mainly a conceptual album, Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder was based on the fall from grace of the historical (albeit shadowy) figure named Gilles de Rais. De Rais, a wealthy French nobleman, was one of Joan of Arc’s brothers-in-arms. However, he is most recognized as an aspiring alchemist who moonlighted as a prayer-driven, prolific serial killer. His numerous criminal accusations include kidnapping, heresy, and demonology. To this day, some historians question de Rais’ guilt and speculate his being framed.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Audio Samples of Yngwie Malmsteen’s High Impact Album Available

Swedish guitar legend Yngwie Malmsteen is set to release his new album, High Impact, on December 8 (one day earlier internationally). The new release has been described as “a mind-boggling, high-paced compilation record” that features a “surprise” bonus track: a previously unreleased interpretation of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” The cover features Malmsteen’s magical touch as well as the vocals of ex-Judas Priest/Iced Earth frontman Tim “Ripper” Owens.

The track listing for High Impact is as follows:

01. Caprici Di Dablo
02. Brothers
03. Blitzkrieg
04. Trilogy Suite
05. Red House
06. Finale
07. Magic City
08. Arpeggios from Hell
09. Far Beyond the Sun
10. Cantabile
11. Blue
12. Overture 1622
13. Fugue
14. Beat It

Audio samples of all songs on the album can be streamed at Malmsteen’s official website.

Malmsteen enthusiasts will be pleased to learn that Rising Force Records has started releasing rare archival footage of the guitarist. The first release was made available on October 13, 2009 and features Malmsteen in Korea. The raw footage was originally shot by the Korean media.

Last March, Malmsteen released Angels of Love – an instrumental acoustic album that contained rearrangements of his ballads performed on an acoustic guitar and featuring string and choir arrangements. That same month, Malmsteen also released two DVDs via Rising Force Records: Live Animal and Live in Budokan.

Malmsteen’s previous full-length studio album, 2008’s Perpetual Flame, was the first of the guitarist’s efforts to be issued via Rising Force Records. The album also marked the debut of his new vocalist, Tim “Ripper” Owens.

Friday, December 4, 2009

White Wizzard Confirmed for Hammerfest II

Los Angeles metallers White Wizzard have been confirmed for next year’s Hammerfest II festival on March 11-13, 2010 at Pontins, Prestatyn Sands, North Wales, UK.

As of now, the festival bill is as follows:

Attica Rage
Cars on Fire
Conquest of Steel
Dark Funeral
Iced Earth
Man Must Die
Marshall Law
Napalm Death
No Made Sense
Orange Goblin
Panic Cell
Rise to Remain
The More I See
White Wizzard
Zico Chain

Some of the biggest names in metal were brought together for the original Hammerfest, which also took place at Pontins, Prestatyn Sands, North Wales. Headliners Sepultura, Opeth, and Saxon were joined by names such as Skindred, Hammerfall, Cathedral, Architects, and Paradise Lost.

Hammerfall II will feature the usual Friday and Saturday night lineup. However, this year’s festival will also feature an additional night of entertainment on Thursday, March 11. Concertgoers can attend the extra night if they have VIP packages or if they purchase Gold or Silver packages.

Hammerfest II will be made possible by Hard Rock Hell and Metal Hammer magazine. Hard Rock Hell is responsible for 2007’s Hard Rock Hell, Hard Rock Hell II in 2008, and the forthcoming Hard Rock Hell II in December 2009.

Hammerfest II will be open to anyone aged sixteen and up.

For more information and ticket sales, go to

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mike Keneally Interviewed in San Jose

On Novemeber 21, ACtv interviewed guitarist Mike Keneally. Keneally is part of the touring version of Dethklok – the band of interest in the animated series Metalocalypse. The interview was conducted at Event Center in San Jose, California and can be streamed below.

Photos of the concert in San Jose can be viewed at

Leading music product providers Alfred Music Publishing have teamed up with Cartoon Network Enterprises (the licensing/merchandising arm of Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, which showcases Metalocalypse) to present an album-matching guitar tab songbook of Dethklok’s sophomore album, Dethklok: The Dethalbum II.

Metalocalypse was created by Tommy Blacha (Da Ali G Show) and Brendon Small (Home Movies) and debuted on Adult Swim in 2006. The series is currently in its third season. Among the most popular series on the network, Metalocalypse features Dethklok – a band with unheard of popularity (they are even ranked as the seventh largest economy on earth). In 2007, the band released its first album, The Dethalbum. It debuted at No. 21 on the Billboard 200 and has since sold more than 300,000 copies. The album-matching songbook for The Dethalbum became one of the bestselling songbooks of the year. With Dethklok: The Dethalbum II, the band has topped the first-week success of The Dethalbum. The sophomore release debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard 200 and sold nearly 45,000 copies in its first week alone.

The guitar tab songbook for Dethklok: The Dethalbum II is available at most music retail stores. It can also be purchased online at It has a list price of $22.95 USD.

Titles in the new songbook include:

* Black Fire Upon Us
* Bloodlines
* Burn the Earth
* Comet Song
* The Cyborg Slayers
* Dethsupport
* The Gears
* I Tamper with the Evidence at the Murder Site of Odin
* Laser Cannon Deth Sentence
* Murmaider II: The Water God
* Symmetry
* Volcano

Regarding the chart debut of Dethklok: The Dethalbum II, Metalocalypse creator Brendon Small said the following:

"I'm both happy and humiliated that Dethalbum II reached No. 15. Happy because we beat the first Dethalbum numbers and humiliated to have been beaten by our second album numbers by ourselves. Either way we're still not as good as The Archies, and I never want to forget that. Having said all of that, dear god I am fantastic and talented."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Skolnick Says Hetfield is "An Unsung Virtuoso"

On November 17, Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick posted some thoughts concerning Metallica guitarist/frontman James Hetfield on his official blog:

"Recently a writer from The Quietus, Mark Eglinton, asked for my thoughts on Metallica's James Hetfield.

"While it's no secret that the fans, myself included, haven't always agreed with every decision Metallica has made as a band, I've chosen to look at a subject which seems to have gotten lost in the chaos of Metallica's superstardom: James, the musician.

"James Hetfield is a an unsung virtuoso. His guitar and vocal sound, along with his song ideas, has enabled Metallica to go from being classified alongside Motörhead and Venom to being aligned with Bruce Springsteen and U2. Much of hard music today has been changed by his guitar tone, rhythm playing and vocal technique, making him arguably the most influential musician of his generation.

"James has had more of an influence than most 'lead' guitarists and is a great lead guitarist himself. His occasional solos are among Metallica's most memorable, proving that speed and chops are secondary to melody. He is also a terrific acoustic guitarist, playing intricate parts with a lot of depth, consistency and dynamics.

"I'm convinced that had he chosen to play drums, bass or lead guitar in his band, James Hetfield would have been just as influential and virtuosic."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Marty Friedman: New Tour, New Album

Marty Friedman, former guitarist for Megadeth, will be teaming up with Taiwanese superstar A-Mei for a tour of Asia and Australia. The tour is set to start in late November. A-Mei, an ever evolving pop diva, will project a bold new image through her collaboration with Friedman in an attempt to show her yet-to-be-seen aggressive side. The tour features an elaborate stage production and exact dates and more specific details are set to be released in the days to come.

Friedman made his first appearance on Fuji Television’s Hey!Hey!Hey! on November 23.

Set to follow the A-Mei tour is Friedman’s Tokyo Jukebox solo tour. The tour is currently in the planning stages. Tokyo Jukebox is scheduled for a January 2010 release in Europe via Mascot Records. Exclusive to the European version are extensive liner notes.

Friedman contributed the song “Meguriai” to Sony’s Gundam Unplugged. Also featuring Danita (Siam Shade) and Sugizo (Luna Sea, X-Japan), the album offers a rare chance to hear Friedman’s acoustic interpretation of one of the most Gundam-related songs. Sony Music Japan has announced December 9 as the official release date.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ronnie James Dio Diagnosed with Stomach Cancer

Wendy Dio, wife and manager of renowned metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio (Dio, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Heaven & Hell), has released the following statement:

"Ronnie has been diagnosed with the early stages of stomach cancer. We are starting treatment immediately at the Mayo Clinic. After he kills this dragon, Ronnie will be back on stage, where he belongs, doing what he loves best, performing for his fans.

"Long live rock and roll, long live Ronnie James Dio.

"Thanks to all the friends and fans from all over the world that have sent well wishes. This has really helped to keep his spirit up."

Ronnie James Dio, now 67, is famous for his affiliations with his own band, Dio, as well as Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and Elf. He also worked on other projects, including Hear ‘n Aid, a fundraising effort for famine relief in Africa. Dio is widely hailed as being among the most powerful singers in metal. He is also credited for popularizing the “devil’s horns” gesture, which became a prominent part of metal culture. As of late, Dio has been involved with Heaven & Hell, an endeavour that includes former Black Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi, Vinny Appice, and Geezer Butler. On April 28, 2009, the group released their first studio album entitled The Devil You Know.

Just last week, Dio cancelled its European tour after Ronnie had reportedly taken ill. The band line-up was slated to include Whitesnake/ex-Dio guitarist Doug Aldrich (due to regular guitarist Craig Goldy having prior touring commitments with Budgie in Australia).

Dio’s most recent release was the Holy Diver Live album which featured the classic album performed in its entirely, from beginning to end, for the very first time. The album was recorded in 2005 in London.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Astral Doors: Album Artwork and Track Listing Revealed

Swedish metallers Astral Doors are scheduled to release their fifth studio album, Requiem of Time, in early 2010. The album will be released in Europe on January 15 and in North America on February 16 via Metalville.

The following is the official CD track listing:

01. Testament of Rock
02. Power and the Glory
03. Rainbow Warrior
04. Call of the Wild
05. St. Peter's Cross
06. So Many Day So Many Nights
07. Blood River
08. Anthem of the Dark
09. Metal DJ
10. Fire and Flame
11. Greenfield of Life
12. The Healer
13. Evil Spirits Fly
14. When Darkness Comes

The band commented that "All the previous releases from Astral Doors have been mixed by the master Peter Tägtgren (Pain, Hypocrisy). He has done a great job for us and we love and respect him very much. This time around, however, we decided to give our very own guitar player, Martin Haglund, the chance to be in control of the mixing process.

"Martin has really improved as a sound engineer and technician the last couple of years, and we felt that he could do as great job as his best friend Tägtgren.

Martin's mix is just incredible and we can't wait to share it with the entire world."

The band has described Requiem of Time as "a mixture of classic hard rock, like on the debut, Of The Son & The Father, and more modern metal like on the previous disc, New Revelation. Call it what you want; it contains the best songs the band has ever written."

Astral Doors recently parted ways with bassist Mika Itaranta. He was replaced by Ulf Lagerström (Barfly, Lunatic Parade).

The band’s last album, New Revelation, was released in September 2007 through Locomotive Music. The album was recorded at both Big Turn Studio and The Darkside in Borlänge, Sweden. It was mixed at Abyss Studios in Sweden by Astral Doors and Peter Tägtgren.

Album artwork:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Buz McGrath Interviewed by German Media

Buz McGrath, guitarist for the Massachusetts metal band Unearth, was recently interviewed by Germany’s Bunch TV. The interview was conducted during the band’s European tour with Throwdown and Chimaira in September. The interview can be streamed below.

On Novemeber 10, Unearth’s latest album, The March, was released as a deluxe edition CD. It includes a bonus DVD entitled The Three Day March. The DVD is a tour documentary which features footage captured by director Doug Spangenberg (Every Time I Die, Lamb of God, Job for a Cowboy) during the band’s recent tour of the northeastern U.S. The bonus DVD also features studio footage from Unearth’s recording sessions for The March as well as party footage (entitled Gig Life) from the band’s tour with Testament. The deluxue edition CD also includes live footage of four songs from the Wacken Open Air festival in 2008. In addition, three music videos are included, all of which were shot for The March: “Grave of Opportunity,” “Crow Killer,” and “My Will Be Done.”

An Unearth press release stated that “fans who have got their hands on the band's DVD, Alive From The Apocalypse, know that Unearth are a near-perpetual party machine while on the road, so this bonus footage and the new videos are not to be missed!"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Review – Fight Juice: Crack One Open

Kris Kelly is the guitar coach at Kelly FretWorks and is the guitarist for the fusion group Fight Juice. Fight Juice recently released their debut CD “Crack One Open”. Outside of Fight Juice, Kris has performed with a number of bands including; Deadly Blessing, Ben Vega & the Believers and Heist. Kris also appeared on the IRS/MCA Heist album “High Heel Heaven”, alongside rock icons Ronnie Montrose, and Night Ranger’s Jeff Watson and Kelly Keagy. Kris continues to teach, record, produce and collaborate in northern California.

On to the review of “Crack One Open”:
Fight Juice is a rock-metal-blues fusion of instrumental tunes “for driving, loving, drinking, working and living!” according to the band.
Speaking of the band, the members include Kris Kelly (Guitar), Rick O'Connell (Drums), Dave "Mr. Pie" Riegert (Bass) and Ben Vega (Keyboards).

Album opener, Corporate Casual, is a rock ‘n rollish number, with distinct elements of Jazz/Rock fusion. Kelly’s overdriven tone is right there with the usual big name fusioneers, and his chops don’t let him down either.

Track 2, Roscoe’s Shuffle, has a great organ tone from Vega and a fantastic erm…shuffle rhythm to it, but the vibe stays quite dark, helping the Kelly’s awesome clean(ish) solo to stand out. The main solo has a great climax, all the while staying true to the blues genre.

The 3rd track is way down instrumental rock avenue. With a wah being used on the head, tapping, wammy stunts and a driving rock rhythm, most would recognize the Satch influence here. Very fun.

Missing You, the 4th track is a laid back, loungey piece. Great fusion sensibility from every member of the band, a real pleasure to listen to. Kelly pulls out a biting tone for the main solo and drops some scary legato licks.

Track 5 mysteriously named, 3rd I, is back into the Jazz/Rock Fusion arena, complete with a fast waltz feel, storming bass solo from Riegert and another mind bender from Vega.

Rainy Day At The Sunglass Hut features a wonderful guest solo by Jim Harrison at 3:13-3:37. Sadly, Jim has passed on to the big stage in the sky. A great fusion track, perhaps with a nod to genre pioneers.

The slowest track on the record, Blueberries In My Kibble, has at least one foot in the blues, with emotive solos from Vega and Kelly

The 7/8 feel of the 8th track, Orbit, is loads of fun. I heard some Caribbean influence, as well as a definite throwback to prog and fusion inventors from the 70’s.

The closing track, Goodbye (Reprise) starts off with some atmospheric synth sounds and a clean lead guitar, and heads into another big rocker. This is probably my favorite track as a result of both Kelly’s tone and playing. An excellent track to end on.

If you’re at all into Return to Forever, Vital Information and Tribal Tech, check these guys out for sure.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cinderella Guitarist to Appear on Hard Rock Nights

Guitarist Jeff LaBar (Cinderella, Freakshow) is scheduled to be the special guest on the next edition of Hard Rock Nights. LaBar’s appearance on the internationally syndicated radio program is slated to air during the week of November 20-26. The guitarist will recount the early days of Cinderella, how he came to join the band, and the future of the group. He will also talk about his role in Freakshow, the rock super group featuring Markus Allen Christopher (M!ss Crazy), Frankie Banali (W.A.S.P., Quiet Riot), and Tony Franklin (The Firm).

Hard Rock Nights can be heard on numerous rock and metal radio stations.

Cinderella’s latest album, Live at the Mohegan Sun, was released through Frontiers Records and hit the shelves in Europe on November 6. The CD features the band’s original line-up, which consists of Tom Keifer (vocals, guitar), Jeff LaBar (guitar), Eric Brittingham (bass), and Fred Coury (drums). The album is a recording of the band’s concert in Uncasville, Connecticut on July 21, 2005 which was part of the VH-1-sponsored package tour entitled Rock Never Stops. The tour also featured Firehouse, Ratt, and Quiet Riot. An LP edition of the live album is being released in Europe as a primer for the band’s European tour in 2010.

The track listing for Live at the Mohegan Sun is as follows:

01. Intro
02. Night Songs
03. The Last Mile
04. Somebody Save Me
05. Heartbreak Station
06. Coming Home
07. Shelter Me
08. Nobody's Fool
09. Gypsy Road
10. Don't Know What You Got ('Till it's Gone)
11. Shake Me
12. Fallin' Apart at the Seams *
13. Push Push *
14. Still Climbing *

* Denotes bonus tracks available on the first pressing in digipack

On March 31, Cinderella released their Authorized Bootleg: Live at the Tokyo Dome – Tokyo, Japan Dec. 31 1990. The album was distributed by Island/Mercury.

In the summer of 2008, the band was forced to cancel its tour with Lynch Mob, Warrant, and Lynam after Tom Keifer’s left vocal cord haemorrhaged during rehearsal, rendering him unable to sing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

John Petrucci Interviewed by The Crooked Step

Spain’s The Crooked Step interviewed Dream Theatre guitarist John Petrucci on October 24, 2009, before a concert in Barcelona. The interview can be streamed below.

On November 18, Dream Theatre’s promotional video for “Wither” made its online debut. Footage for the video was shot during five different shows on the band’s recently completed European tour:

• Oct. 04 - Zenith - Paris, France
• Oct. 06 - Zenith - Lille, France
• Oct. 07 - Ahoy - Rotterdam, Netherlands
• Oct. 09 - Apollo - Manchester, UK
• Oct. 10 - Wembley - London, UK

The Wither EP was released via online retailers. The track listing is as follows:

01. Wither [Album Version] (5:25)
02. Wither [Piano Version] (5:07)
03. Wither [John Petrucci Vocal Demo] (5:24)
04. The Best of Times [Mike Portnoy Vocal Demo] (13:04)

Track 1 was taken from the album Black Clouds & Silver Linings, while tracks 2-4 were previously unreleased.

Black Clouds & Silver Linings, Dream Theatre’s tenth studio album, sold 40,000 copies in the U.S. in its first week of release, landing a position at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 chart. Dream Theatre’s last album, 2007’s Systematic Chaos, sold 36,000 opening units and entered the Billboard 200 at No. 19. In 2005, Octavarium launched with 27.000 copies and debuted at No. 36.

In addition to a standard-version CD, Black Clouds & Silver Lining was released as a vinyl LP as well as a three-disc, special edition CD that includes the full album and two bonus CDs: one of instrumental mixes of the album, another of six cover songs.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Michael Schenker DVD to Be Released

A web posting on the Michael Schenker News and Tour Information site recently announced that MVD has slated January 26, 2010 as the North American release date for the DVD of Michael Schenker’s 2001 performance at the Castle Donington Rock & Blues Festival. The DVD, entitled Doctor, Doctor – Live in Donington, will be released in Europe on Novemeber 20, 2009.

Schenker’s band as featured on the DVD includes:

• Uli Jon Roth (Scorpions) – Guitar
• Barry Sparks (Yngwie Malmsteen, Dokken) – Bass
• Don Airey (Deep Purple, Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne) – Keyboards
• Clive Bunker (Jethro Tull) – Drums

The DVD contains the full show as well as backstage footage and five live, audio-only tracks featuring Schenker and Gary Barden.

DVD track listing:

01. Doctor, Doctor
02. Let It Roll
03. Midnight Train
04. Rock Bottom
05. White Room
06. Nemo
07. Assault Attack
08. Attack of the Mad Axeman
09. Lights Out
10. Natural Thing
11. History I
12. History II
13. Photogallery
14. Discography

Bonus material:

• Bonus audio (five songs with Schenker and Gary Barden)
• Biography/discography
• Fully animated menu

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dio Cancels European Dates

Dio has seemingly cancelled its previously announced European tour due to the recent illness of the band's frontman, legendary heavy metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio. An official announcement has yet to be made, but word has been circulating that the entire U.K. leg of the tour (which was set to start on November 21 in Glasgow) has been called off and several other dates in central Europe have been eliminated as well. It has been speculated that the remainder of the tour will follow suit.

Dio's European tour lineup had been set to include Whitesnake/ex-Dio guitarist Doug Aldrich. This was attributed to regular guitarist Craig Goldy having prior touring commitments with Budgie in Australia.

In June 2002, Dio released Killing the Dragon on limited-edition vinyl. Only 500 copies, all hand-numbered, were made available
In March of this year, The Very Best of Dio was certified gold by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). This was for shipments in the U.S. which exceeded 500,000 copies. The album, which was originally released in October 2000, is the band's second collection of greatest hits and the first to be given a U.S. release.

The last CD release from Dio was Holy Diver Live, which featured the Holy Diver album in its entirety. The performance marked the first time the classic album had been recorded live and was performed in London in 2005. The track list includes songs from Ronnie James Dio's days with Black Sabbath ("Mob Rules," "Heaven and Hell," "Sign of the Southern Cross"), as well as those from the Rainbow era ("Man on the Silver Mountain," "Tarot Woman," "Long Live Rock 'N' Roll") and "We Rock" from his solo venture.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Interview - Adrian "The Mad Scientist of Shred" English

After hearing Eddie Van Halen at age 10, Adrian English decided that "this is how a guitar should sound!" The Mad Scientist of Shred has featured on Shred Guy Records compilation albums, Shredding Across The World Volume 2 and 3, and has released a full length album called A.D.D. Here he is to talk about his music and his path to success.

What steps have you taken to forge a career in the music industry?
I have been playing every day since i was 10 years old, ...being based from Hawaii I was exposed to Marty Friedman and all the staple shred gods from a very young age, and learned from a master by the name of FRANK PAULINO who taught with MARTY, as with us being local boys, Shawn Lane was also a regular to HOT LICKS guitars HAWAII back in the early an end 80's,and actually there is a large list of known shredders that treaded ground through that little shred shop like the likes of GLENNY TELFORD from SKINLAB a seasoned touring grind metal band, from the old school days MARK KALAWEHEA (SACRED RITE),and of course MARTY FRIEDMAN (MEGADETH,CACOPHONY,HAWAII) years ago during the beginnings of "REAL" shred which today’s kids don’t understand is the true definition of "TEXT BOOK SHRED!" i started playing clubs here in Las Vegas at the age of 15 and shortly there after got with a few good musicians by the name of Tony Lopez (who just happens to be my best friend of 20+ yrs. and the guy that hand drew every single note inside and CD art work on (A.D.D.) , JAMIE BORDEN (drummer)who has toured with Neil Peart. Tony and I submitted our first demo with JAMIE to MIKE VARNEY(SHRAPNEL),mike responded with putting me in GUITAR WORLD spot light column alongside Mike Romeo (SYMPHONY X),at the same time I was submitting guitar lesson columns all over the globe. At one point besides being in a top qualifier for the OZZY audition back in 94 to replace ZAKK, I always kept shredding though the "DARK AGES". I never gave up. Because it’s my truest of true passions. I always go back to a joke with my best friend and true math metal freak friend Tony Lopez and say...."YEEEUP ....HUHHHH I WILL BE SHREDDIN THE SAME HYPER LICKS WHEN IM 80 YRS. OLD LEANING ON MY WALKER RIGGED WITH NITROUS!!! and A PORTABLE GUITAR STAND ". At current point i have been given a sick opportunity thanks to Mike McDowell and SHRED GUY RECORDS for giving me a well needed BOOST, so people can hear me!

What advice do you have for people looking to get into the music industry?
NEVER EVER QUIT!!!!!!! The only people that make it in music are THE most stubborn and truly driven people with a voice or instrument in hand! DONT GIVE UP!! I figured with all the recognition as a killer shredder I was getting by the time I was 19 I would be soooo signed and following my MANY hero's footsteps. One of which namely dime bag!!! There is no excuse here but when you have the epic of all epic family tragedy's occur and loose you're mom at 22 yrs. old. Music and everything below becomes second, I almost quit playing! But that’s not what my mom wanted to end up happening ,I realized it and ....after waking up played and recorded even more ,harder....break the writer’s block…force the passion into your fingers...and....."BLEEEEED!!!! Send demo's left and right which for the longest time I did. It sucks when the more, the more people you know in the biz over rides every stinking effort you have on your own actions busted your ass to achieve results gets you to your destination ten times faster. DONT QUIT!

What are the pressures in the industry and how do you cope with them?
The music industry IS A JOB! When you sign a deal with a major label you are basically signing onto an unpredictable MAJOR CREDIT CARD plan. I have never been signed to a MAJOR but have known and played with many, many people that have and are! Every story pans out! Plus it helps when you know someone that wrote just one song back in 62' that was awarded a Grammy, because the BEATLES and to follow now 1700 artists world wide have used. I was schooled from a very young age. Treat it as one of the funnest jobs you will ever "HAVE TO" be responsible to and for. I’m in the beginning stages with shred guy, and I am working every free second to live out my dream, so I basically live eat and *&^t shred.

How did you get involved in the Shredding Across the World compilations?
I’ve known about the starts of shred guy through a fellow shred bro by the name of RUSTY COOLEY. but primary connection came through inner workings with another shred freak named PETE PACHIO, I re-did a song that I wrote back in 93' called "FLIGHT OF THE BLUE PHEONIX" which was one of my highlight songs to Mike Varney which landed me in GUITAR WORLD JUNE 93 featured with MIKE ROMEO of SYMPHONY X when I was 18. I redid the song, Pete guest appeared on a number of harmonies and solo's, sent it to shred guy, and Mike Mcdowell was into it! From there it was all about opening a new can of my shred history. Mike released "flight" on S.A.T.W. VOL 2, and as a result I sent him some other demo work which was pre-cursor to " A.D.D. "as well as another more straight forward technical song called "G-THEORY", which again he was way into, and released on vol.3.

During your formative years, what sort of practice regime did you have?
I never set myself to a forced practice. if I wasn’t in the mood I wouldn’t play, however ....I found myself obsessed to the point.....that it wasn’t about impressing my friends(mind you I was like 10,11 yrs. old) I could care a less what they thought of my obsession. I knew that I wanted to smoke every player on earth ...yet at the same time keep myself in check and never stop learning and knowing where I was as a player. be it told at 10 yrs. old I saw the solo for "lay it down"(Ratt/De Martini), and "in my dreams"(Lynch/Dokken) in 86' on MTV and was so screwed up over that, that I had to play "FORE EVER!!!" to this day LYNCH has been an inspiration for picking up the guitar and just feeling the tech feel! I used to practice I guess about 3 to 6 or more hours spread out in a day, every day. but the key is ....not forcing you're self, I’m now in 25 yrs. of shredding, and admittedly I will go a couple weeks without playing, you gotta take a break refresh and re-approach, or you will achieve "0"!! Only frustration! And stop worrying about what other people think of you're playing. They will either dig or hate it! Don’t ignore criticism though, if you take it to mind and not to heart and rechannel it to better you're self or just know that you are at the level you always wanted to be, then you will never stop kicking ass.

What advice do you have for beginner and intermediate players who are trying to achieve a highly advanced level of playing?
Mix it up, don’t drone on one style of music. Diversity is one of the key elements to breaking out with your own "STYLE". At the same token if you only love one kind of music be prepared that, that’s the carbon copy sound that will rub off on you, that’s great and all but...guess what!? Even fans of your genre will never be able to pick "you" out, like a sinister shining star that demands attention!! It either comes from within or not!! Listen to CDs, Ipods etc. and play with your favorite artists, jam with the CDs even if it is freestyle, as long as by ear you are hitting the proper notes in key and resonance. Always make sure you are tuned up so when you actually hit that right note ...blam! will know it!!
Then noodle around with the existing notes in the scale around the fret board. Look into getting lessons, that’s a hard one cause trying to find the right teacher for "you" can be a lifelong path in some cases.

What gear do you use and (more importantly) why?
Currently I am a mesa boogie triple guy, I had to tweak it for direct recording cause it was never designed for that sorta thing, although I hammer this 150 watt beast through 2 MARSHALL 1960 LEAD 4X12'S and live it’s like driving a tank through a wall every time you do a muted dropped A 7string chord. I have always played on IBANEZ axes! They just fit me to a tune. I’m currently using a 7-string universe, as well as my rg-7 back up, I have my classic rg-570 6'r, and a limited Steve Vai EUPHORIA electric acoustic. I am in the works of putting together a packet for IBANEZ and hopefully something would arise from that. They just seem to be the biggest bang for the buck, reliable and solid. I personally am more of an aggressive player, I’m not much into the finesse aspect. So having a guitar that is trick able that way, shape-able is what I’ve found in the universe7. I have a few other racks and goodies that I use but to speak of those are my babies!!! I am down the road going to look into the Fractal Audio Axe-FX Ultra. From all the demoing I’ve heard this thing is the last piece of the puzzle I need to forge a "real world class tone"!

What parts of your playing reflects your personality and self expression most accurately?
Much like the title A.D.D. I have an ever scattering attention span only at times. At the same time i have a very flowing a emotional side as well! My growing fan base will come to see that with my follow up to A.D.D.! One massive extreme to the other. Then maybe follow that up with a 2000 lbs hammer of computers going friggen hay wire! just never know! I write what I want to write because it makes me happy and it just so happens that shred guy supports that confidence to the fullest, and I will always appreciate that about mike McDowell and his cause.

What are you trying to achieve compositionally?
What I am trying to achieve only comes from my moods,...."outlets ...expressions of what’s killing you, stoking you...pissing you off, or just plain closed eyed visions of nothing!...just "white"! Depression, love, hatred....etc.!!! Are for me what determine how my music sounds for the days sessions! in general I’m an aggressive when you listen to A.D.D. you're gonna sit there and go ....."damn what’s wrong with this guy!!?" as far as influences...EDDIE VAN HALEN was the prime kicker when I was like 9 and 10 yrs. old, GEORGE LYNCH became probably the most influential player to me because he naturally shredded a bluesy feel with occasional ridiculously hard to copy improv and vibrato signature riffs that would just send a shiver up your spine. To this day one of the sickest "METAL LEAD GUITAR PLAYERS" to ever walk this earth definitely MR.SCARY, SHAWN LANE also if not at a higher level to this day...will never be challenged, had been a big influence for me with the "space invader licks" the whole tone and atonal freestyle warp speed space odyssey runs. because I’m able to play them with one hand like he was it just gives me another reason to throw in the second and third hand lol, and god rest his soul SHAWN in my opinion was pretty much THE most untouchable player on this earth, I would *&^% myself if he still being alive wanted to "cut heads" for my soul.. MARTY AND JASON ....very much an influence on my composition for writing instrumentals, McAlpine and Lynch again by far masters of the vibrato, the list goes on. but as far as really punching me over and over in the head to a heavier breed ...hands down DIME BAG!!! the guy was f*&king natural and wicked!!!
My best friend Tony Lopez a.k.a. reality hoax/tl once said… in response to a statement of mine…"man I know.... it’s like he has a way of making the guitar not even sound like one!!!" "REST IN PIECE DIME BAG!!!" I’ve always tried to mix it up as far as technique. I like the two hand switch over with tap slides. I like just a burst of speed picking a complicated 20 to 45 note scalar, always loved two note per string sweep skip sequences, and doing (I guess my signature riff) the 12 to 24 3 note atonal licks. hahaha what can I say I got big hands!

Talk about the process of recording your album.
I’ve been recording a long time. What’s funny is that I found myself getting my practice through recording, a form of intentional forced rehearsal. As a result I got better at recording, learning little tricks with multi stacking overdubs and as well as getting a basic understanding of some industry standards, that would make my demos sound better. As far as instrumental is concerned that’s always been my number one passion, I recorded A.D.D. in about 7 months, mind you sometimes 5 to 7 hr. days 7 days a week because I would get so over kill O.C.D. about certain riffs, harmonies etc, I would sometimes nail a lead or harmony on the first take, then the next harmony sequences would take me weeks because I just hated everything that I would do, i.e. "WRITERS BLOCK" and since I was 15yrs old recording demos that has always been how I’ve come up with new riffs, licks, lead movements, and also just the basis of an ever growing formula for a solid practice regimen, I have always kept every single second of my recordings since the early 90's, and once and a while .."now” like once a year or two I will reflect back randomly on my long walk up the broken shred escalator and really it’s to keep tabs on if I’ve improved or not, its safe to say that many people I’ve known for yrs have all said one thing. "YEEEUP!" I know to a lot of people "A.D.D." in general sounds deep seedy and garagish....but guess what people...that was the actual intent....listen to the playing...I’m expressing everyday life that could be construed a train wreck one moment then a total chaos party the next. THE POINT IS....I DIDNT GIVE A F*CK WHAT ANYONE THOUGHT OR WOULD THINK! I spear headed note for note down on digital what made me feel "spent"! Then fallows relaxed and then accomplished! I don’t know too many players out there that actually use their music for shaped and refined therapy. lol and it helps when you have a finished warp minded Frankenstein that people will actually buy and enjoy.

What is your take on your nickname of “the mad scientist of shred”?
Lol...hmmmm...well....I AGREE!!! There are a lot of players out there that demolish me when it comes to "over kill shred!" But this is my story....! If you like the story line then continue to read, if not put the book down and give it a minute! A.D.D. is a chapter in my life of real events over a short span of time that I happened to be able to splatter onto digital from my heart mind and spirit, and you either love it or you hate it.

What does the future hold for Adrian English?
I am in the works of an unpredictable follow up with a twist compared to the likes of A.D.D.! A lot more demographically appeal able. Appealing to fans of Satch and Vai, not cloning though, at times a bit heavier and still always throwing down the shred, but with a real drummer and budget, as well as a lot more refined writing, focusing on a spring release date next year with SHREDGUY. And pushing forward with bettering my playing to a world class standard.

Any last words?
TO ALL fans of underground shred, I know there is an ever re-growing fan base to this genre. It’s easier said than done in this current system of things but…if you want to hear more and better music you gotta put into it! We as shred guitarists live, eat, drink and %*&^ this stuff because it makes us happy, and i am a fan as well, that’s what gives me room to talk. SHRED GUY records is the beginnings of a channel for all of us, a fresh soon to be ever growing and evolving source, so always go to SHRED GUYS site for updates, there will always be something new around the horizon.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Michael Amott Schedules Australian Appearances

Michael Amott, guitarist for the Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy, has scheduled two personal appearances during the band's Australian tour:

• November 5 - Melbourne, AUS - KC's Rock Shop (1 p.m.)
• November 7 - Sydney, AUS - Mall Music, Warringah Mall (10 a.m.)

Arch Enemy's latest album, The Root of All Evil, has registered in the following first-week chart positions:

• Germany: #84
• Sweden: #69
• Japan: #21 [combined chart]
• Japan: #7 [international artist chart]

According to Nielsen SoundScan, The Root of All Evil sold approximately 1,500 copies in the U.S. during its first week of release. Officially released on September 28, 2009, the album features re-recorded versions of songs from Arch Enemy's first three LPs: Black Earth (1996), Stigmata (1998), and Burning Bridges (1999). The album was mixed and mastered by acclaimed British producer Andy Sneap (Testament, Exodus, Megadeth) and was recorded at a number of different locations in Sweden. It was produced by the band and all engineering was handled by Rickard Bengtsson and Daniel Erlandsson.

On September 30, the Japanese edition of The Root of All Evil was made available. This edition featured five bonus tracks, including cover versions of "Walk in the Shadows" (Queensrÿche) and "Wings of Tomorrow" (Europe).

Arch Enemy is scheduled to begin a European tour in December and will be accompanied by Abigail Williams, Triosphere, and Destruction.

Hallows Eve Parts Ways with Abbamonte and Welcomes Bartelson

Chris Abbamonte has bid farewell to Hallows Eve. The guitarist left the Atlanta-based thrashers "for personal reasons." He was quickly replaced by Evan Bartelson (Las Tregas Nosferatu, The Despised, Black Daniels) who, according to a press release, "brings not only over 25 years in the Atlanta music scene but, more importantly, his unique playing, writing and live performance skills."

The Neverending Sleep,Hallows Eve's latest album, featured original members Stacy Andersen (vocals) and Tommy Stewart (bass) along with Jim Gorman (drums), Doyle Bright (guitar) and Abbamonte. The album was produced by Bright (formerly of Rigor Mortis) and has been cited as being "a conscious effort to achieve the feel and sound of Tales of Terror (1985) and Death and Insanity (1986)."

On April 28, 2007, Anderson and Stewart appeared together on stage for the first time 1989. The reunion occurred during a performance at the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival and was meant to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Metal Blade Records. The pair were joined by drummer Dane Jensen and Doyle Bright (who is also Anderson's bandmate in two other bands: Soulzero and Two Pronged Death).

A deluxe edition box set of Hallows Eve material has been released by Metal Blade Records. The set includes the group's three Metal Blade albums (all of which have been remastered) as well as ample bonus material (including a bonus DVD that clocks over 200 minutes in length) and liner notes.

Audio samples can be found on the band's MySpace page.

Friday, October 30, 2009

"Life is good and I am happy and healthy!" says Eddie Van Halen

Guitarist Eddie Van Halen recently updated his MySpace page with the following statement:

"Took a short break and went to Vegas with Janie [Liszewski, Eddie's new wife], Wolfie [Eddie's son and Van Halen bassist, Wolfgang] and Olivia.

"Hung out and relaxed, saw three Cirque shows, shopped, checked out the town and had a good time all around.

"Back home now and busy planning Janie's birthday and working on some stuff in the studio.

"Life is good and I am happy and healthy!"

Eddie Van Halen told Rolling Stone that he underwent surgery on his hand to correct a twisted tendon, a bone spur, and a cyst in the joint of his left thumb. He noted that the hand problems began during Van Halen's last tour: "During the last leg of our tour, I started developing pain in my thumb and my pinky. I didn't think much of it at the time. It got progressively worse to the point that about three months ago I wasn't able to play at all. My pinky and my thumb were totally locked up and felt like there was something broken."

He also explained that he turned to hand specialists in Dusseldorf, Germany for help. At first, said specialists were treating him for arthritis. However, further examinations revealed the extent of the problem: "They said the only way to fix it was surgery, which of course scared the shit out of me, but I was told it was the only way to fix it. Surgery was a success, now I just have to let it heal. I am totally jazzed that they found the problem, fixed it and in about four months my hand will feel like I am 18 again. Thank God."

Van Halen, whose current lineup features brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen, Wolfgang Van Halen (Eddie's son), and David Lee Roth, are expected to record a new album and launch a subsequent tour in 2010.

Slayer's Halloween Hijacking

Thanks to Slayer, this Halloween weekend will be a scary one (at least at MySpace Music).

When the clock strikes midnight tonight, Slayer will officially hijack the site's Music homepage as well as the new Music Video homepage. The band will dominate for the entirety of the Halloween weekend.

Visitors to MySpace Music will be treated to the exclusive premiere of Slayer's new album, World Painted Blood. Samples from the album, which is scheduled to hit stores on November 3, have already been made public (including "Hate Worldwide," "Psychopathy Red," and the title track), but this weekend the band will let fans hear "Public Display of Dismemberment," "Not of This God," "Snuff," and "Beauty Through Order."

Slayer's total seizure of MySpace Music will be achieved by filling every slot of the Music Video homepage with Slayer videos, behind the scenes clips, shout-outs, and other tidbits.

Fans can get even more creepy goodies by checking out the video graphic novel Playing with Dolls, which will be available for viewing only through MySpace Music and only through the weekend. It will be released on November 3 as part of the World Painted Blood deluxe edition.

Playing with Dolls was created and directed by Mark Brooks (Metalocalypse) and isn't simply a twenty-minute music video. Presented in twelve parts, Playing with Dolls is a stark nightmare that breathes life into Slayer's cryptic creations: serial killers, stalkers, and psychopaths. It merges all of these psyches into that of a single, merciless malcontent. The film follows the nameless protagonist as his methodical, lethal frenzy brings outbursts that can only be described as gruesome. Rather than being an indiscriminate murderer, the nameless man is portrayed as an artist with a sense of purpose. For him, murder is the only way forward. He chooses his victims carefully and his methods of murder are as varied and grisly as they are poetic.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Comedic Stylings of Alex Lifeson

Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson made an appearance on the latest edition of The Rick Mercer Report this week. The show aired on October 27. (The segment can be streamed below.)

The Rick Mercer Report is a Canadian comedy series that airs weekly on CBC. Since 2004, the half-hour show has been hosted by comedian Rick Mercer and features news parody, sketch comedy, satirical editorials, and special guests that range from politicians to musicians.

Earlier this month, Mercer and Lifeson were in Niagara Falls (on the Canadian side, that is) to film the segment for the show. The pair donned flight gear and made an attempt at skydiving by visiting the Niagara Freefall Indoor Skydiving facility on Stanley Avenue. They floated atop 225 km/hr (140 m/hr) winds which were generated by a jet engine.

"All we've been told is that it's harder than it looks," said the 56-year-old Lifeson, who co-founded Rush with bassist Geddy Lee some 40 years ago. "It's the string that's over the jet engine that's disconcerting." Mercer quickly added, "I just find standing over a jet engine disconcerting."

The television segment follows Mercer and Lifeson as they go on a "man-date." Mercer had previously heard about the indoor skydiving attraction from a co-worker and decided it would be the perfect venue. Mercer said: "Alex is apparently up for anything...or crazy, I haven't determined yet."

Gus Drax Reveals Solo Album Details

Greek guitarist Gus Drax (Biomechanical) recently revealed the cover art and track listing for his upcoming solo album, In Search of Perfection. The album is set to feature guest appearances by guitarist Steve Smyth (Forbidden, formerly Testament and Nevermore) and keyboardist Bob Katsionis (Firewind).

The track listing for In Search of Perfection is as follows:

01. Kiss of Life
02. The End of Innocence
03. Cerebral Chaos
04. In Loving Memory
05. Hourglass
06. 1000 Nights
07. In Presence of the Dead
08. Abnormal Sequence
09. Vitality [bonus track]

The album's cover art, which was designed by Anestis Goudas, can be seen below.

Gus Drax was born on September 21, 1987 in Larissa, Greece. He began playing guitar at age 14 and is now considered to be among the most talented guitarists in Greece.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Interview with Testament’s Alex Skolnick

Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick recently sat down for an interview conducted by Mama's Fallen Angels. The chat is available in two parts and can be streamed below.

On August 10, Testament performed at the Sirius XM studio in New York City. The performance was part of the satellite radio service's Artist Confidential series.

Artist Confidential showcases some of the most important artists in the music industry and features candid interviews, live performances, and conversations with fans. The show began its run on October 5 on Sirius XM's Liquid Metal.

Although Testament had previously announced a string of South American tour dates in September, the San Francisco Bay Area metallers recently cancelled those dates. The reason for the cancellations has been cited as a need to focus on recording a follow-up to the band's 2008 album, The Formation of Damnation. Until recently, Testament had been continuously touring in support of the album. They also did the Priest Feast tour in Europe with Judas Priest as well as the Metal Masters tour with Heaven and Hell and Motörhead.

2009 has seen the reissuing of two classic Testament albums on gatefold double vinyl: 1997's Demonic and 1999's The Gathering. Both reissues were released by Prosthetic Records. Each record is limited to 1,000 copies worldwide and features etched artwork on Side D. In addition, 100 copies of Demonic feature red vinyl and 100 copies of The Gathering feature gold vinyl.

Part 1:

Part 2: