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.”

Video of the Day: NAPALM DEATH’s Barney Greenway Gets Animated

The first music video from NAPALM DEATH‘s new album, Apex Predator – Easy Meat, is now up. Check out “Smash a Single Digit” below:

The video is made up of 1093 unique drawings, each one hand-drawn in ink on paper by artist Lisbet Fredslund (www.facebook.com/ElfShotLameWitch) and actually 225 of the drawings are of the face of NAPALM DEATH vocalist Mark “Barney” Greenway, who provided his comments:

“Couldn’t be happier with the ‘Smash A Single Digit‘ video clip. It shows nothing of dignity or life’s fundamental pleasures – only a snapshot of those unfortunate enough to only be deemed as numbers for production quotas in this world. When a ‘digit’ has therefore been expended, it is rubbed out (or consumed leaving no trace, as in the case of this video). In my opinion, Michael Panduro and the team produced a real work of art and I think the general style holds some really nice future artistic possibilities for NAPALM DEATH.”

Apex Predator – Easy Meat is out now.

DØDHEIMSGARD Set to Return with A Umbra Omega this March

Norwegian black metal pioneers, DØDHEIMSGARD, has completed work on its fifth album, titled A Umbra Omega, which is set for release on March 17 via Peaceville Records.

The most exciting news surrounding the album is that original co-founding member, Aldrahn (THORNSTHE DEATHTRIP) has returned to the band.

A Umbra Omega is DHG‘s first album since 2007′s Supervillain Outcast, and undoubtedly marks the band’s most challenging work to date; twisted, technical, sprawling epics and an inverted outlook on existence from the depths of band mastermind/writer/producer, Vicotnik, with similarities drawn to previous classic DHG works such as 666 International and Satanic Art. A raw and organic production permeates the album courtesy of Vicotnik himself, with the album mastered at Strype Audio in Oslo by Tom Kvålsvoll.

APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2014

Unlike everyone else, we waited until 2014 was actually over to recount our favorite albums. It’s been a great year for extreme music with a healthy amount of excellent releases.  We saw the return of legends in GODFLESH and AT THE GATES as well as welcome returns from long recording breaks in BEHEMOTH and MAYHEM.  And who can deny the GHOST B.C.-like popularity explosion of Japan’s BABYMETAL?  Crazy shit.  Metal is certainly a diverse genre.

For 2014, the APESHIT goons did not have any unanimous or semi-unanimous album of the year (i.e. 2013′s CARCASSSurgical Steel).  But MAYHEM, BLOODBATH, GODFLESH, and TRYPTIKON were near consensus picks.  Sorry, ENTOMBED A.D. didn’t make it here.

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Remembering NASUM Vocalist/Guitarist Mieszko Talarczyk

It was 10 years ago that the music world lost a great talent in NASUM vocalist/guitarist Mieszko Talarczyk. He, like many others, died tragically during the great tsunami that hit South Asia. His final act was protecting his girlfriend when the tsunami first hit.

I had a chance to see NASUM once during their appearance at Milwaukee Metalfest 2001. They were awesome and I never forgot the stage presence and power that Mieszko played with.  Let’s revisit those awesome grind albums today.

Check out the memorial page that the band set up in his honor.