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.
Continue reading

CHTHONIC Vocalist Freddy Lim to Run For Parliamentary Seat in Taiwan

“Using music to change the world” is a slogan that appears often in the history of rock, however, in Taiwan, a man is turning it into reality. CHTHONIC lead vocalist Freddy Lim is traveling the road of music to parliament. Check out his campaign website: http://www.ivotefreddy.com/.  And on December 26th, a Formosa Defenders outdoor concert will be held in place of a campaign rally.

Beyond their musical impact, CHTHONIC has also focused their interests and strengths on social and political concerns both past and present within Taiwan. The band’s in-depth lyrics have historically focused on accounts of the country’s inhabitants fighting against repressive regimes in history that textbooks refused to tell in addition to their public displays of support for social movements and human rights activities, including last year’s Sunflower Movement and this year’s student protests against the Ministry Of Education’s adjustments in high school curriculum guidelines.

Beyond CHTHONIC, Lim also serves as the lead vocalist of a band that he formed with guitarist Marty Friedman, METAL CLONE X, which has released two albums in Taiwan and Japan. He has also organized two of the most well known music festivals — the Formoz Festival and Megaport Festival.

Lim was one of the co-founders of live houses including Zeitgeist; this year, he launched the most successful crowdfunding site in Taiwan called Free Bird. In addition to music events, he has served two terms as chair of Amnesty International Taiwan, a board member of the Memorial Foundation Of 228, and has been active in human rights activities. He has been honored with the President’s Award by Taiwan’s National Cultural Association, and founded the New Power Party, a new political party in Taiwan. In less than one year of its founding, the New Power Party has become the third largest party in Taiwan besides the two major political parties. In June, he announced his bid for legislature.

Twenty years after the band’s founding and seventy years after the end of World War II, CHTHONIC has decided to hold a Formosa Defenders outdoor concert in Liberty Square in Taipei on December 26th, 2015. The concert will feature all of CHTHONIC‘s classic songs, and the finest presentation of its unique oriental metal style, while blending in the ideas and spirit of anti-repression and bringing about change to the nation that CHTHONIC has always stressed in its music. It will be CHTHONIC‘s largest scale outdoor concert, and fans from around the world are invited to take part.

CHTHONIC chose the Liberty Square as the venue for the Formosa Defenders concert, because it’s a temple built to worship the dictator Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] who later went into exile in Taiwan after being defeated. This well-known location represents the authoritarian regime of the old times that the band references regularly in its music, and also the venue for many social movements. It is, thus, the most suitable location for CHTHONIC‘s twentieth anniversary concert.

MARTY FRIEDMAN – Inferno

Marty Friedman - InfernoAs a fan of metal, you love Marty Friedman by default.  But since his move to Japan 10 years ago, can we all say that we’ve kept up with what he’s been up to?  Thankfully for everyone Marty has come to us with his best solo record to date.  Inferno is full on metal or said in another way, full on Marty Friedman.

The title track starts things off and he wastes no time in blowing up your mind with a roller coaster of guitar wizardry.  The song quickly re-reminds you that Marty can smoke any guitarist on the planet.  Inferno is about diversity of flavors as many of the songs are co-written with some of today’s most well-known artists.

Wicked Panacea” features RODRIGO Y GABRIELA doing what they do best mixed in with Marty‘s frenetic playing.  It makes for a very unique and excellent hybrid.  “Meathook” with SHINING (NO)’s Jorgen Munkeby on vocals and saxophone is a balls out, off the wall number not unlike SHINING‘s work.  Hearing Marty and Jorgen trade leads is a thing of beauty.  “Hyperdoom” is a mere 1:55 and takes a little less than a minute to build up before Marty just goes off (pun intended).  While the vast majority of Inferno is pretty damn heavy, REVOCATION‘s Dave Davidson and Marty take it more extreme places with “Sociopaths.”

The beauty of the album lies in not only its diversity but also running order.  Just the listener may need a change up from all the full-out metal, the slower, mellower “Undertow” comes in.  Huge, melting melodies say so much with way less notes than are found on the previous songs.

The biggest deal surrounding Inferno has to be “Horrors,” which was co-written with still guitar god, Jason Becker.  This epic has it all – the peaks and valleys, acoustic guitars, and mind bending leads.  Simply awesome.

Inferno is an immediate and overwhelmingly clear reminder that we have indeed been pining to hear from Marty Friedman.  (Prosthetic Records)

Song of the Day: The Brilliance of Marty Friedman and Jørgen Munkeby

The new Marty Friedman album, Inferno, comes out on May 27, 2014 and there is a great track which features SHINING (NO)’s Jørgen Munkeby on saxophone and vocals.  It’s funny though, anyone who tries to match shredding with Marty usual loses.  Check out the track, “Meat Hook“:

Jørgen and Marty explain how the collaboration came about:

National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2014 Show Report

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!
Continue reading

First Track from New MARTY FRIEDMAN Solo Album Online

The track, “Steroidhead,” off of MARTY FRIEDMAN‘s upcoming solo album, Inferno, is now up.  Check it out below:

It sounds unmistakenly like Marty.  “Steroidhead” sees FRIEDMAN backed by Keshav Dhar and Anup Sastry (SKYHARBOR). Says Friedman, “I love working with innovative, risky and borderline crazy musicians, and the guys on ‘Steroidhead‘ certainly fit that description. Each track on the album has a separate dream team on it, so it feels like a constant barrage of fresh interpretations of my music.”

Due in May,Inferno is Marty‘s first solo album of original material in four years, and his first recording in more than a decade that will be released worldwide simultaneously. Featuring what he describes as the heaviest, most intense playing of his career, the album will feature guest appearances by several artists influenced by Marty, including Alexi Laiho (CHILDREN OF BODOM), RODRIGO Y GABRIELA and REVOCATION‘s David Davidson. In addition, Inferno includes FRIEDMAN’s first songwriting collaboration with Jason Becker since the pair played together in CACOPHONY.

MEGADETH – Countdown to Extinction – 20th Anniversary Edition

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since I first blasted MEGADETH‘s Countdown to Extinction on my cassette players as a high school freshman.  Those were good times in my young life as a metalhead which Capitol Records/EMI is hoping to bring back for everyone with the 20th Anniversary Edition.

Looking back, there are a lot of interesting aspects about the record.  First, it follows in the footsteps of the stylistic shift between successive fourth and fifth albums of Mustaine‘s former band.  After coming off a fourth record that showed the band at its absolute technical and ambitious peak, the fifth record was a blatant ploy at gaining more commercial success with a substantial watering down of the brilliant thrash that was laid in the previous record.  MEGADETH have never been dishonest about their motives for Countdown.  The record also stands as the peak of the band’s success as well as the last time this classic line-up would play this fast.

Nevertheless, Countdown still stands the test of time as a very modern and sophisticated piece of metal influencing bands such as NEVERMORE.  The songwriting was more direct, poignant and was packed with technical brilliance.  The guitar duo of Mustaine and Marty Friedman easily proved why they were the best guitar duo in thrash.  Their guitar work is still untouchable.  While songs like the cheese of “Sweating Bullets,” the hit “Symphony of Destruction,” and the title track are still the most popular, the true crown jewels lay in “This Was My Life” and “Ashes in Your Mouth.”

It’s important to note that the 20th Anniversary Edition is the original release of the record and not the remixed, remastered version that Mustaine produced a couple years back.  Also, Los Angeles natives will get a kick out of the liner notes which try to portray the record as being recorded in the midst of a warzone AKA the LA Riots.  Truth be told, the band recorded in the San Fernando Valley, which was very far from any action or violence of the LA Riots.  Yeah, MEGADETH are not a dangerous or socio-political band.

The second disc on the 20th Anniversary Edition is the complete show from the Cow Palace in San Francisco in 1992.  While select songs from the show have been released on various singles and EPs during that era, this is the first time it’s been available in its entirety.  This is easily the band at their peak.  Just a scorching performance that will never be duplicated by later incarnations of MEGADETH.  The production is killer with Dave Ellefson‘s bass as clear as the guitars.  His performance is just godly. Mustaine‘s banter in between songs has its unintentionally amusing moments.

If you long for a time when all Dave Mustaine was doing in the press was talking trash about METALLICA and MEGADETH were one of metal’s most relevant bands, then take a stroll down memory lane with the 20th Anniversary Edition.  (Capitol Records/EMI Music)

OBSCURA Post CACOPHONY Cover of “Concerto” Online

OBSCURA has posted “Concerto,” which was included as the Japanese bonus track and on the iTunes digital deluxe album of their brand new album Omnivium, online now via the band’s Facebook page. “Concerto” is a cover track from Marty Friedman and Jason Becker’s CACOPHONY Speed Metal Symphony album.

The band are set to head out on tour with the DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND, CHILDREN OF BODOM, and SEPTIC FLESH next week. A full list of tour dates can be found on the band’s Facebook page.

OBSCURA has also announced a signing session at the new ENGL Amps showroom in Los Angeles, CA on Thursday June 23rd from 6:00 to 7:00PM PST. The ENGL Showroom is located at 10911 B Vanowen Street, next to ESP Guitars, in North Hollywood, California.

Video of the Day: MEGADETH’s Hidden Treasures Interview

Back in the midst of MEGADETH‘s zenith in the early to mid 1990’s, the band did not have to rely on nostalgia and past victories in order to legitimize their relevance. They released an excellent compilation of their unreleased songs that mostly made appearances on various movie soundtracks. If you don’t own Hidden Treasures, you better get your arse in gear. This release also marked the final years of MEGADETH before they fell further victim to their own desire to expand their commercial success.

Check out this interview with guitarist Marty Friedman and vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine regarding the release.

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.