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.
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DEVIN TOWNSEND: The Rebirth of Devin Townsend

Few artists in metal have been as single-handedly influential and prolific in the late 90’s/2000’s as DEVIN TOWNSEND. Despite amassing a diehard fanbase and the high praise and respect of his peers, Devin‘s personal life was suffering. After taking a self-imposed sabbatical in conjunction with the end of STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, Devin went through a soul searching journey and a reevaluation of his life.

APESHIT spoke to the mad scientist of metal before his show in LA earlier this year. We’re happy to report that not only is Devin back with a renewed sense of purpose and inspiration, he’s here to be bigger and stronger than ever.
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MARTY FRIEDMAN – Loudspeaker

Let’s face it…if you don’t know of the brilliance of Mr. Marty Friedman, you are either new to this genre of music or you’re a total moron. What you have with Loudspeaker is 11 songs of pure guitar domination in every sense of the word. You don’t have to play guitar or music at all to be able to appreciate the absolutely soulful, memorable, and high quality music here. As with all of his releases, Marty plays with such ease and natural flow. Every note comes out so smoothly and precisely that it cuts through you like a fine, fine laser. “Elixir” starts off Loudspeaker like a hammer to the head with its bludgeoning heavy riffs and pounding drums. It’s the perfect soundtrack for getting a speeding ticket. The next two tracks blend in heavy punk riffs (that would make Johnny Ramone proud) with infectious melodic riffs. It becomes obvious as the album progresses that this is not some “shred album” but a well-balanced instrumental album full of variations in its twists and turns, riffing, and moods. The melodies on Loudspeaker will undoubtedly have fans in Japan, as well as the rest of the world, going nuts. “Glycerine Flesh” has got to be one of Marty’s best songs with its soul melting melodies atop acoustic rhythm guitars. “Coloreas Mi Vida” would make QUEEN’s Brian May very proud as the leads absolutely own. The guest appearances by Billy Sheehan, John Petrucci, and Steve Vai blend in seamlessly into the songs. The more you listen to Loudspeaker, the more the brilliant intricacies come out like an unending well. Score another victory for Marty Friedman. (Shrapnel Records)

Marty Friedman’s New Album, Loudspeaker, in Stores March 13th

Loudspeaker is an album that will change all preconceptions about instrumental albums. It is an emotionally fueled work of genius, mixed with brilliant guitar solo mastery that has become Marty Friedman’s signature.

Loudspeaker features guest appearances by Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Mick Karn and Billy Sheehan. “For me it was a big experiment,” Friedman explains. “I knew they were amazing, but I wanted to get these guys to play the most aggressive way they could because as a fan I really wanted to hear them like I never heard them before-in a full metal context.”

Loudspeaker is an aggressive, passionate and absorbing collection of that exposes the beauty and the beast in Friedman’s personality. Friedman reveals his true diversity with the hypnotic opening strains of “Stigmata Addiction” to a poignant rendering of “Coloreas Mi Vida.” The album continually travels between moments of claustrophobic density “Black Orchid” to the razor-sharp shred of “Elixir.”

Marty Friedman began his career as a Shrapnel solo recording artist and later joined forces with Jason Becker to form the unrivaled dual guitar unit, CACOPHONY, who have a strong influence on today’s top guitarists. Amassing worldwide acclaim as a guitar superstar, he came to the attention of MEGADETH and the rest is history. Racking up sales of over 10 million records with MEGADETH, Friedman continued to record solo records, often embarking on adventurous musical forays far removed from his work with MEGADETH, including an album with Golden Globe winner, Kitaro.

In a bold move, he left the legendary MEGADETH to pursue new musical goals and has succeeded tremendously. Friedman’s many accomplishments make him currently the only musician to be a fixture in the top class of the Japanese domestic as well as international music scene. His music performance (songs from Loudspeaker) on national TV with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, to charting high with his own music and with Japan’s top artists, has spurred Friedman into new celebrity territory.

Now residing in Tokyo, Friedman has become a television celebrity appearing as a regular on 5 major networks, he can be seen on mainstream hit TV programs almost every day in Japan. “It’s all these insane experiences the last couple years in Japan that couldn’t be musically farther from my roots that make it so rewarding to make an all-out aggressive album now.”

Loudspeaker is exactly the kind of record that Friedman fans have been waiting for. It is heavy, melodic and digs down deep to his roots, and in spots reminiscent in style of his best selling Shrapnel solo record, Dragon’s Kiss.

Loudspeaker will be released on March 13th, 2007 in the U.S.