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!

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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APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2013

carcass.surgicalsteelOnce again, another fruitful year in extreme music draws to a close.  We saw some long awaited comebacks by legends, three quarters of the original SABBATH line up, VOIVOD and CARCASS.  The godfathers of U.S. death metal had a healthy year with strong releases by SUFFOCATION, DEICIDE, and IMMOLATION.  We also saw young superstars, GHOST B.C. and KVELERTAK, release good sophomore albums.  Perhaps the most polarizing and criticized album is SATYRICON‘s self-titled album, which was roasted by the majority of the media and fans.

Among the mountains of releases, there is one album that we’ll gush about again and again, and that’s CARCASS‘ comeback album, Surgical Steel.  There are always good and interesting albums coming out all the time, and then there are the untouchable albums that only the legendary bands could create.  Surgical Steel scorches everything in its path and clearly shows that in the pantheon of active bands, they are at the top.

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Industry Profile: Ian Christe

Ian Christie
In APESHIT‘s ongoing quest to speak with the people who work behind the scenes to make it all happen, we caught up metal renaissance man, Ian Christe. Starting out with the familiar starting point of a zine, he moved onto freelance writing for a wide variety of music publications as well as writing music.  His band DARK NOERD THE BEHOLDER appeared on the very cool soundtrack for the uber disturbing Gummo movie.  Currently, heavy music fans can catch his radio show, Bloody Roots, on Sirius XM Radio as well as read the insightful books that his publication company, Bazillion Points Publishing, is putting out.  Ian gives us the inside scoop on some of his coolest projects, including the upcoming books from Bazillion Points.
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NADER SADEK: Art Unbound

Nader Sadek

Among the legions of death metal bands that are spawned, few endeavor to do anything more than pay tribute to their influences. However, once in a while a unique band comes along and brings their own style of death metal to the table. NADER SADEK has brought together his talents as a visual artist and musician to bring forth a dark and brooding experience via his excellent debut album, In the Flesh, and his brand new live DVD/CD, Living Flesh. While it’s easy to get star struck by the live all-star line up of drummer Flo Mournier (CRYPTOPSY), guitarist Rune Eriksen (AVA INFERI, AURA NOIR, ex-MAYHEM), bassist Novy (ex-BEHEMOTH, ex-VADER), and vocalist Steve Tucker (ex-MORBID ANGEL), APESHIT caught up with the mastermind behind it all to find out more about one of the best, new extreme metal bands in the scene.

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APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2012

As another great year for heavy music comes to a close, APESHIT takes a look back at our favorite pieces of music of 2012. This year had some great comebacks in CRYPTOPSY and STRIFE. There were also some nice surprises in the new sheer quality of the new SIX FEET UNDER and brutality of the new SOULFLY.

We want to thank all our readers, friends in the industry, and all the amazing artists, big and small, that we get a chance to work with for a great 10th year of existence. As the music industry as a whole continues to take an economic hit, let us all remember: If you like a band or one of their releases, support it!

Here’s hoping for a great 2013!

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APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2011

2011 was a very productive and enjoyable year for extreme music, perhaps the best in years. Thus, it was not an easy task choosing what we enjoyed best since they were just so many. 2011 also gave us unforgettably bad albums by LOU REED and METALLICA, flops by THE HAUNTED as well as controversial ones by MORBID ANGEL.

We look forward to another strong year in 2012 in which we will celebrate our 10 years online. Cheers for all of your support in 2011! Radikult!!
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ABYSMAL DAWN: Climbing the Mountain

ABYSMAL DAWN have emerged from the Los Angeles underground in a relatively short amount of time. But like any young band, they’ve faced their share of adversity. Through tough times, the band pioneered by mainman Charles Elliot, have channeled those opposing energies through a creative and inspirational outlet resulting in the best album of the band’s career. Album number three, Leveling the Plane of Existence, has taken the band to the next level in every facet, songwriting, technicality, lyrically, and production-wise. APESHIT chatted with Charles regarding the album, his guitar playing, his new doom band, BEREFT, and more.
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Industry Profile: Oscar Martinez

Oscar Martinez (credit: Sarah Vanessa Photography)

Metal t-shirts – we all own them and likely have amassed a lot of them in our closets as the years have gone by. Behind those shirts are hardworking, dedicated people who do their best to supply this essential part of metal culture. We caught up with our good friend, Oscar Martinez, to not only learn about what’s going on with the merchandise business but also about his over 10 year journey through the music industry. In our interview, he schools us on the multidimensional aspects and considerations of being a touring band trying to make a profit in this day and age, and shares some of his surreal rock ‘n roll adventures.
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