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. Continue reading →
“So, it is now official that Anders Björler is no longer a part of At The Gates. He will always be part of the At The Gates family, of course, but he will no longer write, record or play with us live.
“This is something that we, the rest of the band, have felt was on its way for quite some time, as that special spark was no longer with him the last year.
“We are grateful for all we have experienced together with him, all the records, all the songs, all the gigs, all the laughs and good times.
“The rest of us have in the meantime started the work on the follow up to At War With Reality, we already have three songs written, and the direction is set for an intense, hungry follow-up album.
“Jonas has always written a considerable part of the bands’ material and we are fully confident that the new material will live up to the standards set by our previous records. It is ripping.
“The four of us still has the burning urge to create death metal together, and we love playing live in front of our fans, so we will go on, with an even stronger intent.
“While writing the new record, that we intend to record in the beginning of 2018, we are trying out Anders‘ replacement. Some auditions are being held as we speak, and we will get back to you with news on the matter as soon as we know more.
Here is Anders‘ statement:
“Just a quick note to let everybody know that I am leaving At The Gates permanently.
The passion is just gone. There might be a more lengthy statement in the future, but at the moment I feel no need to explain further.
“This is a personal decision, and it has 100% to do with the music side of things.
“The reunion in 2008, and the subsequent tours, as well as the comeback album ’AT WAR WITH REALITY’, really helped revisiting our friendship, and it brought us together in a way I will always remember and cherish.
“I would also like to thank all the people that supported us throughout the reunion shows as well as the ’AT WAR WITH REALITY’ album.
NAMM amped up (pun intended) everything in 2015 – from the delicious lunch trucks outside to the amazing performances at the end of each day by GEORGE CLINTON & PARLIAMENT FUNKADELICand other artists. Oh yeah, did we mention that there are also the amazing new products on display? As always, there’s too much to talk about so let’s highlight a few items that caught our eye.
For the drummers, a few great items were released. Tama announced the Tama Star hardware consisting of snare stand, tom mount and straight and boom cymbal stands. The Star line has been a hit with drummers of all genres already, and the new hardware will compliment their kit nicely. Another great item is Tama’s SLP or Sound Lab Project snare line, which will offer optimum configurations for every type of drumming style, including extreme metal. Add this with the new line of colors, such as the walnut kit, Tama has once again proved why their brand is so coveted by professional drummers.
Since we’re discussing legendary drummers, Paiste has launched the signature Dave Lombardo22” Rude Power Ride cymbal, aptly called The Reign. Inspired by the original cymbal which Lombardo used on Reign in Blood, this heavy ride features not only a piercing, metallic ping, but stays clear in extreme conditions – note to extreme metal drummers, as this ride would surely cut through the downtuned guitars on featured album recordings.
Speaking of ride cymbals, Sabian introduced the Big and Ugly cymbals which produce a dry and organic sound, which cuts through more than the typical run-of-the mill cymbals, especially since we’re living in a 100% digital recording world now. Check out the following models from this line: King, Nova, Pandora, Phoenix, Apollo, and Monarch Rides.
One of the coolest drum kits that we have seen must have been from Schlagwerk – a German percussion company. At first glance, these Cajon drums looked like cardboard boxes, but they packed quite a punch and looked crazy and awesome (see our pics for more detail). Innovative and awesome!
Most of our readers are interested in the new guitars, so let’s talk about the some of the new guitar products!
Since THE HAUNTED’s last album Exit Wounds was my favorite album of 2014, I had to check out guitarist Ola Englund’s signature Washburn line, and the Swedish flag model was my favorite one. A beauty to see in person, and I’m sure it plays just as beautifully.
ESP recently acquired a new endorser, none other than EXODUS/SLAYER axeman Gary Holt! Holt was previously with Schecter, but has ditched them for ESP, and they belted out a new signature axe for him. The new GARY HOLT EC is a pretty sweet axe I must say, with crisp and clean highs to produce amazing solos, and nice action for that thrash attack. The blood red finish and red pickups are definitely a nice touch to the signature model, and retails for a cool $9,118.40. There are more affordable models as well, the GH-600 and GH-200, so check them all out!
Shredder Gus G. (OZZY OZBOURNE/FIREWIND) also debuted a few new signature models, most notably the ESP Gus G. As always, ESP had some amazing and gorgeous custom models for display. Most were not for sale, but the few that were went up to a dizzying $70,000.
Jackson introduced a few Dinky models in various finishes, and one new model that stood out was the signature Scott Ian (ANTHRAX)Thraxagram Soloist model, full with pentagram and U.S. flag. Of course a few new colors for JacksonRandy Rhodes V’s and David Ellefson(MEGADETH) models were available as well. Phil Demmel’s (MACHINE HEAD) signature guitars had some cool black/gray and black/red combo finishes on the body, and they looked pretty damn sweet.
Since announcing the famous Dave Mustaine line a few years ago, Dean had a few new models on display, such as the In Deth We Trust, United Abominations, and Rust in Peace axes. I loved the original Dimebag Dean design, but unfortunately, it seems like Dean has been milking any and all new Dimebag designs to death – new color schemes and the many Razorback designs just seems in bad taste just to generate some extra interest in what was already a great designed guitar. Anyway, at least Dean was gracious enough to have Dime’s original Dean from Hell on display.
Last but not least, Ibanez of course, had sick new models to show off to the world. New Steve VaiJem models were beautiful, and guitar virtuoso counterpart Joe Satriani also was rockin’ his new line as well. KISS fanatics definitely appreciate the brand new Paul Stanley models, like the PS120, with chrome hardware, black finish, and sweet inlays. There was even a RG Iron Label 8 string Prototype on display too…craziness!
One last honorable mention was the limited edition MÖTLEY CRÜE“Final Tour”Marshall fridge. With authentic Marshall parts, genuine MÖTLEY CRÜE logos, this thing would be a conversation starter for sure, and there’s even a limited run of hand signed versions of the fridge as well. Killer!
The convention keeps getting better every year and we are extremely grateful to the NAMM folks for the opportunity to cover these sick products! Stay heavy!
Unlike everyone else, we waited until 2014 was actually over to recount our favorite albums. It’s been a great year for extreme music with a healthy amount of excellent releases. We saw the return of legends in GODFLESH and AT THE GATES as well as welcome returns from long recording breaks in BEHEMOTH and MAYHEM. And who can deny the GHOST B.C.-like popularity explosion of Japan’s BABYMETAL? Crazy shit. Metal is certainly a diverse genre.
For 2014, the APESHIT goons did not have any unanimous or semi-unanimous album of the year (i.e. 2013’s CARCASS‘ Surgical Steel). But MAYHEM, BLOODBATH, GODFLESH, and TRYPTIKON were near consensus picks. Sorry, ENTOMBED A.D. didn’t make it here.
Short review: Exit Wounds is THE HAUNTED‘s best album since One Kill Wonder.
[Read on for the longer version.]
After the excellent teaser, Eye of the Storm 7″, THE HAUNTED make their full declaration with Exit Wounds. All the great things that make the them the best thrash band in the world are here in full force. Led by returning vocalist Marco Aro and his career-best vocal performance, THE HAUNTED bring back the violent and dark themes, and prime riffing.
After the near career killing Unseen, the band had two choices: call it a day or remember what made them great. In all facets, they chose the latter. In addition to being their work in years, many songs on Exit Wounds rank as the best in their catalogue. Songs like “Psychonaut,” “Trendkiller,” and “Time (Will Not Heal),” lay everything to waste. The album is not perfect as there are two clunkers – one being “All I Have.”
New member, lead guitarist Ola Englund, could not be a more perfect fit. His solos are impeccable as every single note perfectly placed and is line with THE HAUNTED-sound.
The bottom line is that we should celebrate the fact that one of metal’s best bands are back to form. The thrash throne has been reclaimed. (Century Media Records)
After making their official announcement at the beginning of this year, we are crawling towards the release of AT THE GATES‘ comeback album, At War with Reality. In the latest of their minimal updates, Century Media Records has posted an album teaser. Check out this 27 seconds from the new album:
Nearly three years and three band members replaced and THE HAUNTED appear ready to atone for their previously subpar releases. If the three songs on Eye of the Storm are any indication of where the band’s head is at, then it’s time to rejoice. On this 7″, THE HAUNTED are back to doing what they do best: thrashing better than any band on the planet.
Generally speaking, THE HAUNTED reclaim the sound and style of their first three or four albums. Interestingly, this digital single/7″ only gets faster with each song. “Eye of the Storm” is a muscular song which features those sweet but short dynamics and touch of melancholy that has made the band stand out during their career. The intro riff on “Infiltrator” is just one of the sweetest metal riffs you’ll ever hear. So damn good. Finally, “My Enemy,” is a scorcher complete with Kerry King-like guitar whammy bar action.
Not only is Eye of the Storm a must for fans of the band, it’s a great reason to get excited for the next full-length. (Century Media Records)
Swedish death metal legends AT THE GATES are officially back. With a reunion tour that hasn’t ended for years, the band have announced that they are working on a comeback studio album. It is expected to be released worldwide by the end of 2014 via their new label partner Century Media Records.
AT THE GATES checked in with the following comment statement:
“So, here we are almost 24 years since the birth of AT THE GATES, and some 18+ years since our latest album ‘Slaughter Of The Soul‘. A lot of years have passed and we have embarked on some life-changing reunion tours and shows the last couple of years. So, why make a new album you might ask, and why now? Well, what we learned from the last couple of years hanging out and playing shows together, is that we enjoy what we do to the fullest extent. We love playing music together, and we love to hang out as friends. But, as a musician, we constantly write new music. It’s a huge part of our identities.
“We are fully aware that we have made some very drastic statements in interviews as well as the closing words on the DVD about the longevity of AT THE GATES, but things change, situations change and people change. When Anders sent the first song last summer, we had zero expectations of the outcome. We only knew one thing – That it sounded amazing! At the time we weren’t even sure there would be an album, but as things progressed, more songs came into existence, and we knew we were on to something great.
“We know you are all curious about the new material, and to make a simple explanation of where we are at musically, we would describe it as a perfect mix between early AT THE GATES & ‘Slaughter of the Soul‘-era AT THE GATES, trying to maintain the legacy and the history.
“We chose Century Media as a worldwide partner for the upcoming album. We have all been friends for years with people at the label. Jonas & Anders have a history with THE HAUNTED there (as well as Adrian with PARADISE LOST).
“So, we hope to bring you updates about the progress of the new album soon. The plan is to record the album in June/July with a tentative release in October / November of 2014 on Century Media Records.”
–AT THE GATES, January 27, 2014
Check out the band’s teaser (which does not provide any new music):
Swedish’s THE HAUNTED have begun the comeback after losing three-fifths of its band with the launch of their first single, “Eye of the Storm.” Check it out:
Eye of the Storm is available as a limited edition 7″ and as a digital single, which both feature three tracks.
The single marks THE HAUNTED‘s recording debut of the band’s revamped line-up, which includes founding members Jensen (guitars) and Jonas Björler (bass), returning members Marco Aro (vocals) and Adrian Erlandsson (drums), as well as new member Ola Englund (guitars).
Jensen comments: “There aren’t superlatives enough to describe how much the band has longed for these three songs to be released. We are sure fans have been anxious to know what the band sounds like today after all the turmoil and old members leaving and new members joining. We feel that these three songs represent the band perfectly. We are currently working on the new album, an album that will be filled to the brim with what we know to be ‘THE HAUNTED‘. We’ll start doing gigs this spring and we’ll do festivals all over the place this summer. Get in touch with the festivals you visit (and behave like an animal at) and tell them to get us on the bill! THE HAUNTED is back. Play it loud. No. Louder.”
VALLENFYRE has officially entered the studio to record their second full-length album and follow-up to 2011’s A Fragile King entitled Splinters.
Gregor Mackintosh (vocals and lead guitars) comments: “We have now arrived in a very cold Salem, MA and are currently holed up in Godcity Studio with producer Kurt Ballou tracking drums for our second album, ‘Splinters‘. We are really digging Kurt‘s honest, old-fashioned approach to recording. No triggers or samples. Just a good drum kit, good mics and a good drummer.”
In 2011, Gregor Mackintosh (PARADISE LOST) announced that he would go back to his death metal roots with his new band, VALLENFYRE. The level of expectation was set high with a line-up consisting of Hamish Glencross (guitar – MY DYING BRIDE), Scoot (bass – DOOM, EXTINCTION OF MANKIND), Adrian Erlandsson (drums – AT THE GATES, PARADISE LOST, THE HAUNTED) – and of course, Gregor on vocals (for the first time in his career!). Their debut, A Fragile King, was a reference to Gregor‘s father’s (lost) battle with cancer.
Check out the music video for “Cathedrals of Dread” from their debut: