National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2020 Show Report

Hails to all you APESHIT goons, has it been a year already?  How time flies when you’re blasting underground metal on a daily basis.  We hit up the Winter NAMM show, and here are a few things we found interesting in 2020!

Sabian’s new printed graphic cymbals made their debut, and they are quite a delight to enhance your kit’s visual appeal.  These printed cymbals are available at their custom shop, as the tops are printed with a color graphic, and the bottom is left untreated.   Another notable new Sabian product is the crisp Complex 21” and 22” ride that ensures to cut through your run-of-the-mill grind riffs.

Drum god Nicko McBrain (IRON MAIDEN) has switched over to the British Drum Co. with his custom Icarus kit.  The Icarus features a signature snare series that has an Oak shell with Black Fishtail Oak outer veneer and the Icarus logo badge on the side.  The kit can be ordered as a replica or in any size configuration, which should please drummers who are huge Nicko McBrain/IRON MAIDEN fans.

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National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2019 Show Report

Greetings and salutations from sunny California!  Once again, another amazing National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) convention has come and gone!  There were a few surprises along the way, they also had the Free Music Lesson, and as always, we had a great time checking out all the gear!

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APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2018

What a glorious year in metal we just experienced.  After the sheer amount of quality albums that were released in 2018, there is no question that the genre is as healthy and full of life as ever.  Thus, making our top albums lists harder than usual.

For the APESHIT goons, 2018 was the year where the legends all shined.  JUDAS PRIEST led the charge with their best album since 1990’s Painkiller.  DIMMU BORGIR finally emerged from a long slumber and did not disappoint. VOIVOD remain the gods that the mass metal media won’t acknowledge as such.  We can’t really think of any letdowns.  Can you?

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National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2018 Show Report

Greetings from the 2018 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Convention AKA the NAMM Show, where things have been changed up a bit from years past. For starters, all the booths were in different locations, including some booths that were outside the normal convention center area. While there was still an insane amount of people, it felt a bit less crowded due to the new format and wider areas between booths. Let’s not delay any further and get to some of the products we particularly enjoyed!

Sonor displayed the beast of a kit, the SQ2 “The Book of Souls,” made specifically for Nicko McBrain (IRON MAIDEN). Witnessing it up close and personal was truly astonishing. Crafted in Germany, the shells were made to Nicko’s specific specifications, complete with Eddie inlays. Beautiful stuff.

Paiste had a 90” giant gong on display. Yes, a 90” gong. Not sure how practical that would be, but that’s a whole lot of gong going on.

While not exactly metal related, some of you may remember the old Roland TR-808 or TR-909 drum machines, and now they have been officially reintroduced as virtual plug-ins. Note that you’ll have to use the Roland cloud, however, this is extremely cool and a great throwback for those nostalgic drum sounds.
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APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2017

Dependability is crucial to any band’s fanbase and 2017 did not disappoint.  All of the bands that we’ve come to depend on for great music more or less delivered the goods.  One band stood out to us all were the death metal gods from Yonkers, New York, IMMOLATION.  They continue to stand as a pillar for metal with their unending well of creativity and longevity.  Atonement blew us away with its complexity, ominous atmosphere, and inventive brutality.

Enjoy our lists of our favorite albums of 2017. And remember: Buy or die!

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National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2017 Show Report

Engl Marty Friedman ampThe 2017 edition of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Convention has concluded, and it was mostly filled with updates/improvements on past products, but there were a few items of interest to the metal community!  Let’s gear up (pun intended) and see what 2017 had to offer!

First and foremost for heavy metal fans, Paiste introduced its limited edition Nicko McBrain (IRON MAIDEN) “Treasures” set – impressive looking cymbals with the artwork of the sun god, Tonatiuh, and of course with the Paiste logos in the classic IRON MAIDEN font.  When the company says this set is limited edition, it truly is limited, as there were only 83 sets produced worldwide!  For all you OCD freaks out there, Paiste also announced the Color Sound 900 series, with a variety of new colors to match the color of your kit.  I saw purple, blue, black, and red on display, and the color scheme was a delight for the eyes.

Honorable mentions included the Soultone booth, where they showed a picture of the late Nick Menza (OHM, ex-MEGADETH), which was a very touching and cool thing for them to do.  Yamaha drums celebrated their 50th anniversary, and were displaying a few of those solid kits on display.

NAMM is always top-heavy on guitars, and the APESHIT crowd loves to hear about new guitars on hand.
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APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2016

VirusAnother strong year is in the books for heavy music, so strong that making a year end list seemed unfair to every release that we did not include in our lists.  The underground continues to thrive with releases from legendary bands such as DARK FUNERAL, VADER, and NEUROSIS that will stand the test of time. Actually, most of the long running bands did not fail to meet or exceed expectations.  Thrash metal pioneers, MEGADETH, VOIVOD, and TESTAMENT, certainly released excellent records.  What is more important is that 2016 saw a lot of great releases from less trendy, more obscure bands.

Trees of EternityThis past year is personally notable as lost a dear friend and contributor, Brandon Stratton AKA rocknro11chef13.  As a small tribute, we’ve included albums that he would’ve likely picked for his year end list.  Life is short, my friends.  Embrace it.

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National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2016 Show Report

namm shirtThis year at NAMM 2016, (an industry-only global music product trade show) everything seemed to be scaled down a bit, but the show still had plenty of new items on hand that were related to the Metal genre and community.  Let’s dive into some of the exciting products that were on display!

On the drumming front, Tama had the new Iron Cobra (HP900PN) and Speed Cobra (HP910LWN) pedals with new features such as a new Super Stabilizer Design and Para-Clamp II Pro, which in essence, the lighter weight allows you to increase velocity with minimal work to pound on those bass drums.

yamaha drumsAs always, Yamaha had a myriad of new drums on display, but as technology moves forward, digital drums have become the norm, and one of those products like the DTX-760, delivers an exceptional sounding drum kit that can be fully utilized for recording or music production.

Paiste introduced the Big Beat cymbals which sounded quite crisp and you have to experience these cymbals first hand.  Pictures won’t do them justice, so check them out if you get a chance.

Sonor once again welcomes Nicko McBrain from IRON MAIDEN back to the fold and his kit looks awesome.  The toms and bass drums all come in a beautiful black finish, which really accentuates the aesthetically pleasing look of the kit.  Can’t wait to see this kit in action at upcoming MAIDEN shows!

Guitars have always been a huge part of the show, and there have been some awesome axes announced in 2016!

kirk hammett esp guitarESP guitars showcased their amazing custom shaped guitars (most of which aren’t for sale, unfortunately), and some new signature models.  METALLICA’s Kirk Hammett had his Nosferatu (LTD KH-Nosferatu) axe on display and James Hetfield’s Vulture was also a sight to see.  Other notable signature LTD models were introduced from Mille Petrozza (KREATOR) and Max Cavalera (SOULFLY).  However, the most impressive and unique item unveiled was the brand new Gary Holt (SLAYER/EXODUS) guitar with the body painted from his own blood!  The “wow” factor for this piece was simply incredible.

jeff loomis schechter guitarSchecter guitars brought out a few new Jeff Loomis (ARCH ENEMY) signature models including the JL-7 and CYGNUS JLX-1.  The huge unveiling however, was for the brand new signature Zakk Wylde models, including the Viking V FR and Odin models.  Taking the design from his older Gibson models, the new Wylde models look more updated and sleeker on the Schecter versions.

Ibanez introduced  Nina Strauss (ALICE COOPER) signature models such as the S5521QDPB, which may impress some of the badass female guitar players in the world, and new Paul Stanley (KISS) and Steve Vai models were updated as well.

Not completely new news, but recently Praxis Musical Instruments took over the B.C. Rich line and the brand was set for a complete reboot for the 2016 year.  Hopefully the quality does not suffer and the B.C. Rich continues to make sweet looking axes for Metal players worldwide (Kerry King, Lord Ahriman, etc.)

Coinciding with MEGADETH’s new album Dystopia, both Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson had announcements of their new signature models.  Mustaine introduced his Dean “Zero Dystopia” model, complete with cover art of the new album, and Ellefson introduced a few of his new Jackson CBX IV and V models.  Great looking guitars and basses on the Mega-front!

The goons here at APESHIT will continue to provide annual NAMM product updates related to the Metal world, and once again thank the great people at NAMM for letting us cover the show!

APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2015

motorheadWhen looking back at 2015, the only thing that seems to matter is the passing of Lemmy Kilmister. Of course losing Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor in November was sad but Lemmy was on another level – one of the pillars of the entire rock ‘n roll universe. Thankfully, he left a voluminous legacy for us to enjoy for eternity, including some of music’s best interviews and quotes possible. Cheers, Lemmy.

Other than that, 2015 was a remarkably strong year for the pioneering, long-running bands in the metal scene.  Everyone from KILLING JOKE, MY DYING BRIDE, FEAR FACTORY to AMORPHIS put out fantastic records. This past year also saw some very good super groups in TAU CROSS and FIRESPAWN make their debuts.  You’ll find that many of them made it to our respective lists.

Additionally, we’ve recruited some fresh blood in Charles Elliott, Andrew Sample, and Jeff Wagner. These industry vets have been in the trenches with us for years and years, and have helped bring you many of the greatest records ever released for the past 20+ years.
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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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