IMMORTAL: Band Put on Ice (Again); Abbath Announces Solo Band

IMMORTAL vocalist/guitarist Abbath has announced that IMMORTAL will once again go on hiatus because the band members could not come to an agreement regarding their dispute over ownership of the band’s name.  Abbath will move forward with a solo band with new music, and performances, which will include IMMORTAL songs.

Check out the official statement here.

It should be cool to hear what Abbath as well as the other members of IMMORTAL cook up in terms of new music.

ENSLAVED – In Times

enslaved.intimesENSLAVED get straight to the point with their most straight forward and catchy album in years.  Incorporating a strong influence of their early era, In Times is the band’s most direct and blackest work since Isa and Ruun, or even Blodhemn.  Don’t worry, their trademark prog stylings, instrumental interludes, and ice cool guitars remain intact.

What also stands out about In Times is the lack of meandering song sections or weak material.  It’s all lean and optimized.  Six flawless and dynamic songs, each clocking in at a minimum of 8+ minutes, are all that is necessary to make their statement.  The great part is that ENSLAVED glide through each song with ease.

If you wanted to introduce someone to ENSLAVED, “Building With Fire” might be the first song you play for them.  It showcases their dynamic range and songwriting strengths.  The transitions and hooks are excellent.   The group chants in “One Thousand Years of Rain” conjures up nostalgia for the early sword-wielding ENSLAVED.  The title track has a great building and release of tension in epic fashion.  Album closer, “Daylight,” has sweet nods to PINK FLOYD.

It should be noted that vocalist/bassist Grutle Kjellson‘s bass lines are wonderfully audible and find a great place in the mix.  Also, drummer Cato Bekkevold‘s performance here (as well as previous ENSLAVED records) should never be taken for granted.  His great sense of feel, tasty fills, and Mikkey Dee-like power help make In Times special.

Most bands are a shell of themselves by a 13th album…not ENSLAVED. (Nuclear Blast Records)

 

BEASTMILK: Co-Founding Guitarist Leaves; New Band Name Announced

Finland’s BEASTMILK have been extremely busy these days. First, they have parted ways with co-founding guitarist Johan “goatspeed” Snell. Thus, the remaining members felt the need to change the band’s name to GRAVE PLEASURES moving forward.

ORANSSI PAZUZU guitarist Juho Vanhanen also joins the ranks for live/studio purposes. The band will have two guitarists now, including Linnea Olsson (THE OATH, SONIC RITUAL).

Additionally, GRAVE PLEASURES are working on their major label deal debut.

Read the rest of the details at the band’s Facebook page.

SÓLSTAFIR: Icelandic Soul Music

SolstafirThe APESHIT goons have raved about the post-apocalytic cowboys from Reykjavík, Iceland for a few years now. Their last two studio albums, Svartir Sandar (2011) and Ótta (2014), are epic pieces of atmospheric soul. If there was ever a band to rightfully take on the mantle of FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM while also leading the Icelandic metal scene, SÓLSTAFIR are the chosen ones.

We finally got in touch with vocalist/guitarist Aðalbjörn Tryggvason during their recent (mostly sold out) European tour to talk about their volcanic rise in the scene.

Continue reading

ARCTURUS Sign to Prophecy Productions

Prophecy Productions feel honoured and are excited to welcome ARCTURUS to its artist roster. The first mutual work will be ARCTURUS‘ fifth full-length studio album, Arcturian, which is scheduled for release on May 8th, 2015. Pre-order for all physical products (ltd. 2CD hardcover book, ltd. Gatefold LP, ltd. box sets, Digipak CD) is available now at en.prophecy.de/shop/arcturus-arcturian.html.

ICS Vortex on behalf of ARCTURUS says: “A new chapter, and a new prophetic partner…We are star tripping psyched to be releasing ‘Arcturian‘ soon!”

ARCTURUS line-up 2015:

Simen “ICS Vortex” Hestnæs – vocals

Steinar “Sverd” Johnsen – keyboards

Knut Magne Valle – guitar

Hugh “Skoll” Mingay – bass

Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg – drums

ARCTURUS plan to make a short tour of European venues between 2nd – 10th May 2015. All dates will be announced next week.

Further European club shows and festivals will be announced later in the year and the band will also perform at Maryland Deathfest, Maryland, USA on 23rd of May 2015 , with extra South American dates to be announced shortly.

National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2015 Show Report

NAMM amped up (pun intended) everything in 2015 – from the delicious lunch trucks outside to the amazing performances at the end of each day by GEORGE CLINTON & PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC and other artists.  Oh yeah, did we mention that there are also the amazing new products on display?  As always, there’s too much to talk about so let’s highlight a few items that caught our eye.

For the drummers, a few great items were released.  Tama announced the Tama Star hardware consisting of snare stand, tom mount and straight and boom cymbal stands.  The Star line has been a hit with drummers of all genres already, and the new hardware will compliment their kit nicely.  Another great item is Tama’s SLP or Sound Lab Project snare line, which will offer optimum configurations for every type of drumming style, including extreme metal.  Add this with the new line of colors, such as the walnut kit, Tama has once again proved why their brand is so coveted by professional drummers.

Since we’re discussing legendary drummers, Paiste has launched the signature Dave Lombardo 22” Rude Power Ride cymbal, aptly called The Reign.  Inspired by the original cymbal which Lombardo used on Reign in Blood, this heavy ride features not only a piercing, metallic ping, but stays clear in extreme conditions – note to extreme metal drummers, as this ride would surely cut through the downtuned guitars on featured album recordings.

Speaking of ride cymbals, Sabian introduced the Big and Ugly cymbals which produce a dry and organic sound, which cuts through more than the typical run-of-the mill cymbals, especially since we’re living in a 100% digital recording world now.  Check out the following models from this line: King, Nova, PandoraPhoenix, Apollo, and Monarch Rides.

One of the coolest drum kits that we have seen must have been from Schlagwerk – a German percussion company.  At first glance, these Cajon drums looked like cardboard boxes, but they packed quite a punch and looked crazy and awesome (see our pics for more detail).  Innovative and awesome!

Most of our readers are interested in the new guitars, so let’s talk about the some of the new guitar products!

Since THE HAUNTED’s last album Exit Wounds was my favorite album of 2014, I had to check out guitarist Ola Englund’s signature Washburn line, and the Swedish flag model was my favorite one.  A beauty to see in person, and I’m sure it plays just as beautifully.

ESP recently acquired a new endorser, none other than EXODUS/SLAYER axeman Gary Holt!  Holt was previously with Schecter, but has ditched them for ESP, and they belted out a new signature axe for him.  The new GARY HOLT EC is a pretty sweet axe I must say, with crisp and clean highs to produce amazing solos, and nice action for that thrash attack.  The blood red finish and red pickups are definitely a nice touch to the signature model, and retails for a cool $9,118.40.  There are more affordable models as well, the GH-600 and GH-200, so check them all out!

Shredder Gus G. (OZZY OZBOURNE/FIREWIND) also debuted a few new signature models, most notably the ESP Gus G.  As always, ESP had some amazing and gorgeous custom models for display.  Most were not for sale, but the few that were went up to a dizzying $70,000.

Jackson introduced a few Dinky models in various finishes, and one new model that stood out was the signature Scott Ian (ANTHRAX) Thraxagram Soloist model, full with pentagram and U.S. flag.  Of course a few new colors for Jackson Randy Rhodes V’s and David Ellefson (MEGADETH) models were available as well.  Phil Demmel’s (MACHINE HEAD) signature guitars had some cool black/gray and black/red combo finishes on the body, and they looked pretty damn sweet.

Since announcing the famous Dave Mustaine line a few years ago, Dean had a few new models on display, such as the In Deth We Trust, United Abominations, and Rust in Peace axes.  I loved the original Dimebag Dean design, but unfortunately, it seems like Dean has been milking any and all new Dimebag designs to death – new color schemes and the many Razorback designs just seems in bad taste just to generate some extra interest in what was already a great designed guitar.  Anyway, at least Dean was gracious enough to have Dime’s original Dean from Hell on display.

Last but not least, Ibanez of course, had sick new models to show off to the world.  New Steve Vai Jem models were beautiful, and guitar virtuoso counterpart Joe Satriani also was rockin’ his new line as well.  KISS fanatics definitely appreciate the brand new Paul Stanley models, like the PS120, with chrome hardware, black finish, and sweet inlays.  There was even a RG Iron Label 8 string Prototype on display too…craziness!

One last honorable mention was the limited edition MÖTLEY CRÜE “Final Tour” Marshall fridge.  With authentic Marshall parts, genuine MÖTLEY CRÜE logos, this thing would be a conversation starter for sure, and there’s even a limited run of hand signed versions of the fridge as well.  Killer!

The convention keeps getting better every year and we are extremely grateful to the NAMM folks for the opportunity to cover these sick products!  Stay heavy!

Bruce Dickinson Undergoes Cancer Treatment

IRON MAIDEN have announced that Bruce Dickinson recently completed cancer treatment.  It was thankfully caught in the early stages.  Here is the official word from the band:

“Just before Christmas, MAIDEN vocalist Bruce Dickinson visited his doctor for a routine check-up. This led to tests and biopsies which revealed a small cancerous tumour at the back of his tongue. A seven week course of chemotherapy and radiology treatment was completed yesterday. As the tumour was caught in the early stages, the prognosis thankfully is extremely good. Bruce’s medical team fully expect him to make a complete recovery with the all clear envisaged by late May. It will then take a further few months for Bruce to get back to full fitness. In the meantime we would ask for your patience, understanding and respect for Bruce and his family’s privacy until we update everyone by the end of May. Bruce is doing very well considering the circumstances and the whole team are very positive.”

VOIVOD: New Song “We are Connected” Now Online

VOIVOD have recently recorded a new song for a split 7″ vinyl release with label-mates AT THE GATES. The collectors item will be available in stores April 7th, 2015. Check out the song, “We Are Connected“:

Pure VOIVOD!  Also, catch the band on their current tour with NAPALM DEATH, IRON REAGAN, EXHUMED and BLACK CROWN INITIATE.

Official BEHEMOTH Biography Coming February 2015

The 490-page hardcover bookBehemoth: Devil’s Conquistadors, by Lukasz Dunaj is the definitive and official BEHEMOTH biography. It includes quotes and anecdotes from current and former members that provide context and details in addition to the author’s narrative, plus interviews with Tomas Krajewski, Rob Darken, Graal, Havok, and more. The artistically presented pages are filled with old photos of the band, flyers, lyric sheets etc.

Preorders are available now at metalblade.com/behemoth, and include a bundle with an exclusive shirt available ONLY with this preorder.  Behemoth: Devil’s Conquistadors is available February 24, 2015.

In the book, Nergal discusses the acquisition of his first electric guitar: “The first communion was a very important moment for me. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Of course, not as a religion experience – I didn’t understand anything and couldn’t care less. Same as all the other kids. We all stood there with our votive candles and waited for one thing. Cash. The first communion must be one moment when you get the most money you’re ever going to get as a child. And for this money, I bought myself my first electric guitar. Not a bike, no Legos – a guitar.”