BABYMETAL: Debut Album Getting Official U.S. Release

BABYMETAL–the Japan-based all-girl-fronted “Kawaii Metal” band–has signed with RAL/Sony Music Entertainment for the U.S. release of their 2014 critically acclaimed self-titled debut album. The album’s re-release will feature two bonus tracks (cover art and tracklisting below) and be available digitally on Tuesday, May 12 and physically on Tuesday, June 16.

Since forming in 2010BABYMETAL–the young trio of 17-year-old Su-Metal (vocal, dance) and 15-year-olds Yuimetal (scream, dance) and Moametal (scream, dance), backed by a four-piece band packing a heavy metal arsenal–have already achieved two major debut singles: “Ijime, Dame, Zetta!” and “Megustine,” both of which ranked in the Top 10 Oricon Chart in Japan. Their first studio album BABYMETAL also earned the #1 spot on Japan’s album chart and Billboard’s World Album Chart.

2014 saw BABYMETAL headline numerous sold-out shows from New York to London, including the 20,000 capacity Saitama Super Arena in Japan. They performed at major festivals in multiple countries such as the UK’s massive Sonisphere in front of 65,000 festival-goers and supported LADY GAGA on her “Artrave: The Artpop Ball” tour. The band will gear up for an equally busy 2015 when they kick off their “The Dark Knights Begin” World Tour 2015 on May 9 in Mexico City.

MERCYFUL FATE Guitarists Michael Denner and Hank Shermann Announce New Band

Since the world should no longer wait for any form of new MERCYFUL FATE-related music, guitarists Michael Denner and Hank Shermann have announced their new name simply entitled, DENNER / SHERMANN. Additionally, former MERCYFUL FATE drummer Snowy Shaw is part of the band. Marc Grabowski (DEMONICA) and Sean Peck (CAGE and DEATH DEALER) will be on bass and vocals, respectively.

Their first release will be an EP, Satan’s Tomb. The band state, “These songs were crafted with the Mercyful Fate worldwide legion of fans at the forefront of their collective minds. From the first riff to the last wail, one cannot help but feel the magic newly recaptured once again.”

Hank Shermann comments: “We have been writing and recording with an incredible line up of musicians and the fans are in for a dark, classic, heavy metal treat for sure. We wanted to get back to the essence of what we created back in the early 80s” “The music inevitable sounds like you would hope it to be, fans of our early work should be very excited”.

Say It Isn’t So: IN SOLITUDE Breaks Up

While there seems to be subpar bands popping up every second, it only hurts when the really good ones go.  Sweden’s IN SOLITUDE announced today that they are calling it a day after 13 years.  It was an amicable break up and the band point to bigger priorities in life that have taken precedence.

Here’s the band’s announcement:

“2002 – 2015
“Dear friends. It is with great sadness that we inform you that we have chosen to end In Solitude here.

“This is something that’s been taking shape for a long time and suddenly the day came when we had to evaluate our positions in life and find a solution.

“The reasons for our departure are not hostile in any sense and our love for each other and the music is stronger than ever before. But it is with respect for that music and that love between us that we choose to end it at this point.

“Changes in our personal lives demanded that we treated this as carefully as we could and with our deepest respect and reverence for all personal feelings, and for the aim of our journey.

“This has been one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever had to make and we’ve had to investigate every inch of our beings in order to make this right. In Solitude has been the center of our lives for 13 years and we’ve invested everything we have in this and to make this decision was to rip us up by ours roots and make us re-evaluate our entire lives and our future…[read more]”

At the very least, IN SOLITUDE went out on a high note with the most excellent, Sister.

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.

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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!