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.

Let’s talk a little bit about the same ol’, same ol’ business.  Another year, another few signature Kerry King (SLAYER) models released from the once great B.C. Rich line.  The B.C. Rich product was once endorsed by some heavy hitters in the death metal scene, but has been unfortunately touted as a laughingstock company in recent times.

mustaineguitarDean Guitars have also rehashed more Dimebag DarrellRazorback” models, this time featuring the graphics from the Vulgar Display of Power, Far Beyond Driven, and The Great Southern Trendkill covers.  As if the camouflage, confederate flag, neon green, etc. versions weren’t enough, Dean is bleeding every last inch of Dimebag‘s legacy with these “new Razorback” axes annually.  The other Dean line being bled to death is the Dave Mustaine signature line.  In 2017, the new models feature of course the Dystopia album cover, “A Tout Le Monde” version (which also coincides with the blatant promotion of the MEGADETH beer with the same name), and various other random Mustaine models.

Schecter Guitars debuted their new Zakk Wylde signature models last year, and this year they included a few different variations with various color schemes.  A nice addition to the Schecter lineup this year, however, was seeing the King Ov Hell (ABBATH, ex-GORGOROTH)Mephisto” bass on display.

SLIPKNOT guitarist Mick Thomson has left Ibanez and introduced his new Jackson Soloist USA limited edition guitar.  Also on the Jackson front, ex-MEGADETH guitarist and current Japan icon, Marty Friedman showed off his new signature “MF-1” guitar, featuring a mahogany body with 22 medium jumbo frets with pearl block inlays.  Friedman was extremely busy promoting awesome new product, including his signature EMG pickups, known for its beautiful and warm tone, as well as his new ENGL signature “Inferno” amp head.  The “Inferno” is a two-channel, 100-watt, tube head which was inspired by Friedman‘s last solo effort of the same name.

Hanneman Heineken ampESP probably had the most onlookers gawking at the display right outside the booth – METALLICA gear on display, such as the well used and extremely distinct ESP guitars used on past tours from James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett.  Also in the same display was Jeff Hanneman‘s Heineken-themed “HannemanMarshall amp head, and one of his own SLAYER jackets on display.  Very awe inspiring for fanboys and old school fans alike.

One of my personal favorite guitars I saw on display this year was also from the ESP booth, which was a sweet Sonic the Hedgehog 25th anniversary guitar.  Yes, you read that right, Sonic from the SEGA video game series.  I’m sure this guitar plays beautifully, would look great on the wall, and would also satisfy the gaming nerd in you.

Sonic the Hedgehog guitar

As NAMM comes to an end every year, we wish we didn’t have to wait another year before feasting our eyes on more musical eye candy.  See you then!

National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2012 Show Report

Every year, NAMM bestows upon us shiny new toys for musicmakers of all genres to make new (and old) sounds with. NAMM 2012 was no less a musical heaven for the products, gadgets, and innovations that help make metal happen. We took a spin through the showroom floor at Anaheim Convention Center to check out some new equipment that our metal cohorts use and abuse. Full report after the jump.
Continue reading

Lament of the Day: I Miss Marty Friedman Playing Metal

If you got into metal after the early 90’s, then Marty Friedman may not have a place in your heart. Back when he was unleashing his godly guitar talents in CACOPHONY or MEGADETH, he was one of the most revered and popular guitarists in metal. So yeah, few people outside Japan or his diehard fanbase has heard much from Mr. Friedman in the many years since he quit MEGADETH and subsequently moved to Japan to co-host TV shows and play with Japanese artists.

Here is a video of Marty playing a Rust in Peace medley featuring some of his most memorable guitar solos. It was filmed on May 13, 2005 at an Ibanez guitar clinic in Korea.

If you’re curious about what Marty‘s been up to in Japan, check out these awesome clips of a TV show, Rock Fujiyama, from a few years back where Marty co-hosts and SLAYER‘s Kerry King guest stars. I asked Kerry a few years ago about this television appearance and he said that it was one of the coolest things that he’s ever done and that Marty is one of the greatest guitarists ever.

WITCHERY – Witchkrieg

After taking a breather in their respective other bands, namely THE HAUNTED, OPETH, and ARCH ENEMY, the members of WITCHERY offer Witchkrieg, the first album with vocalist Legion (ex-MARDUK) on board. Upon first glance, Legion’s vocals are much more varied than when he had the monotone screech in MARDUK – unfortunately, most of his vocals are masked by too many effects, which cheapens the excitement of the new vocalist.

Witchkrieg” opens with the crunchy, old school WITCHERY sound, with nice, crisp production, as the album starts off with a lot of promise. Kerry King’s trademark solo fits the opening track perfectly, and sounds completely in tune with the music. But the album is quite bi-polar, as a song like “The God Who Fell From Earth” opens with a bland nu-metal riff, and even guitar master Hank Shermann cannot save this blunder. “Conqueror’s Return” has a few headbanging riffs, but the layers of effects on the vocals make the song almost unbearable. Witchkrieg thrashes away with “The Reaver,” and the trade off solos from EXODUSGary Holt and Lee Altus show that this album has glimpses of brilliance.

Witchkrieg falls into the cliché of cheesy songwriting, as “From Dead to Worse” has a great opening, but the chorus is so bland that it sounds like Nathan Explosion of DETHKLOK is singing; fortunately, the solos from Andy LaRocque adds a nice flair to the end. “Devil Rides Out” is classic WITCHERY material, and “Hellhound” is a fast, brutal, and all out thrash attack.

Witchkrieg is an average effort, as there are good riffs scattered around here and there, but is mostly mediocre and somewhat disappointing. The band should always be looked upon as just a side project, as guitarist Jensen has used up all his good riffs in THE HAUNTED. While the plethora of guest musicians add a nice touch to the album, it’s safe to say that people have given this band more credit than they deserve. (Century Media Records)