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, and as always, we had a great time checking out all the gear!
This 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.
As 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!
ESP 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.
Schecter 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!
Big news out of the ARCH ENEMY camp: Guitarist Nick Cordle is out of the band as guitar extraordinaire, Jeff Loomis, will join the band as live guitarist. However, before Jeff joins up with the band’s current tour, original guitarist, Chris Amott, will take over Nick‘s spot for the rest of the U.S. tour. Now, who doesn’t want to catch the band on tour? Awesome.
Check out the official statement from the band and Jeff Loomis here.
The month of January brings excitement to the City of Anaheim every year, and the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) 2014 show is no exception! Let’s cut to the chase this year! A few highlights of the gazillions of musical instruments and gadgets are found below…enjoy!
NEVERMORE guitarist Jeff Loomis and drummer Van Williams have announced their departure from the group. The two have released a joint statement:
“In a mutual decision Jeff Loomis and Van Williams have decided to leave NEVERMORE. The time has come to pursue our own paths from the group. Due to internal struggles and ongoing issues within the band, we feel it is our time to move on. We would like to thank all of our fans around the world for their years of love, support and enthusiasm. This was not an easy decision but a very necessary one at this point, may we all meet again someday, somewhere in time.”
Loomis and Williams had been with NEVERMORE since the band’s first album, 1995’s self titled, Nevermore.
NEVERMORE recently announced that they would be cancelling their planned tour with SYMPHONY X. No information regarding additional confirmed tour dates is known at this time.
The arrival of a new NEVERMORE album should always be considered a gift to the metal community and The Obsidian Conspiracy is no exception. Both great and good songs are what make NEVERMORE’s latest another success. And as we’ve come to expect, there are the invaluable, intangible characteristics of powerful emotions, fierceness, and metal spirit. “And the Maiden Spoke” is highly reminiscent of KING DIAMOND-style story telling as it deals with the ghost of a maiden. “Emptiness Unobstructed” is hands down one of the best songs that the band have ever written. The song opens up with a brilliantly emotional and compelling chorus led by vocalist Warrel Dane. “Without Morals” contains another one of the band’s best and passionate choruses. “The Obsidian Conspiracy,” scorches with urgency and the kind of tension that perfectly ends the album.
As much as the band have demonstrated just how insanely proficient and talented they are at their respective instruments, there are times on the new album when you feel as if they’ve gotten even better. Just the opening riff of the album with its lighting speed notes and precision is enough to make you shake your head. One aspect of the brilliance that lays on The Obsidian Conspiracy is the band’s ability to take a commonly used metal riffing style, tempo, etc. and give it a fresh, inventive, and invigorating stamp on it. As much as there are these young metal bands being touted for their technical prowess, few bands aside from latter era DEATH, DECAPITATED, or NILE can touch NEVERMORE’s absolutely intense, technical brilliance.
While it may or may not be obvious, Warrel Dane is one of the best (clean) vocalists in one of the heaviest bands in metal. His charisma and his ability to make all his memorable vocal lines sound absolutely natural and potent is something that should never be underappreciated. He may be one of the last of a dying breed.
If you want to know what defines “modern metal,” The Obsidian Conspiracy is exhibit 1. (Century Media Records)
Seattle’s NEVERMORE have recently completed the songwriting process for the follow up to 2005’s This Godless Endeavor entitled The Obsidian Conspiracy.
The band will commence recording in August with producer/SOILWORK guitarist Peter Wichers (who previously worked with NEVERMORE vocalist Warrel Dane on his solo debut Praises to the War Machine). Longtime friend and collaborator Andy Sneap will once again be handling mixing duties. The album is currently set for an early 2010 release. Fans can also follow Dane on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/warrel_dane for updates as to the progress of the new album.
Dane comments: “These songs are full of newfound rage, lyrically and musically. Jeff Loomis has come up with some amazing new riffs that will no doubt please old and new fans alike. Also, I think the combination of Peter and Andy will result in something very, very special.”
If you’ve been listening to underground metal for the past 10 years or so, you’ve probably had the pleasure to hear NEVERMORE‘s unsung lead guitarist Jeff Loomis. To call Loomis‘ progressive, heavy, and technically superior guitar playing “modern” would be a great place to start. Zero Order Phase represents his first entry into the instrumental guitar album genre. It clearly shows dimensions of Loomis‘ playing and songwriting which have never been displayed before. While opening song, “Shouting Fire at a Funeral,” may sound like it could’ve been a NEVERMORE song, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In place of where one would expect Warrel Dane‘s vocals to come in, Loomis plays beautiful melodic leads that possess the perfect tone. “Opulent Maelstrom” is a great mix of dissonance, jazz fusion, and soaring leads. Actually, Zero Order Phase is all about tasteful and soaring leads. The songs themselves are compelling and solid enough to stand alone as legit songs as opposed to being a mere platform for Loomis to just play solos. Zero Order Phase also features a good amount of variety in the songs such as the mellow yet strong “Azure Haze” and the weird juxtapositions of ominous parts and light Indian-like jams of “Cashmere Shiv.” “Sacristy” is the only track that actually sounds more in line with what a typical guitar instrumental album would sound like with its progressive feel and solo style. “Devil Theory” and “Miles of Machines” showcase Loomis‘ mindblowing speed, technique, and feel as he tears up the fretboard in awesome fashion. The album’s final track, “Departure,” is a haunting and beautiful acoustic track that picks up where the acoustic intro to OZZY‘s “Diary of a Madman” left off. Even if guitar instrumental albums are not your thing, Zero Order Phase stands out for being more song-oriented, unremorsefully metal, and just plain more compelling. If you’re looking for a true guitar hero, Jeff Loomis is your man. (Century Media Records)
One of metalâ€™s most talented shredders, Jeff Loomis, of NEVERMORE fame will further prove his undeniable skills with his first solo project, which is set for a fall release. The ambitious offering is an all instrumental effort and is destined to shed some much deserved spotlight on the genreâ€™s most notable, yet unsung, guitar player.
Loomis states: â€œHi everyone. I just wanted to give you all an update on the solo project. I entered Robert Lang studios on March 22nd with producer Neil Kernon (NEVERMORE) and drummer Mark Arrington. Mark completed the drums for 10 tracks in about three and a half days. He did some incredible drum work that I know will bring this record to a higher level than I expected. Mark and I worked before back in 1993-94 when he played half the songs on our debut CD. Being able to do this entire recording with Neil is really amazing as well. We’ve done some great work in the past, but being able to focus on an entire instrumental record is going to be great. Rhythm guitars will be tracked next. I’ll keep everyone informed on the progress as we track for the next month.â€