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.
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APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2016

VirusAnother strong year is in the books for heavy music, so strong that making a year end list seemed unfair to every release that we did not include in our lists.  The underground continues to thrive with releases from legendary bands such as DARK FUNERAL, VADER, and NEUROSIS that will stand the test of time. Actually, most of the long running bands did not fail to meet or exceed expectations.  Thrash metal pioneers, MEGADETH, VOIVOD, and TESTAMENT, certainly released excellent records.  What is more important is that 2016 saw a lot of great releases from less trendy, more obscure bands.

Trees of EternityThis past year is personally notable as lost a dear friend and contributor, Brandon Stratton AKA rocknro11chef13.  As a small tribute, we’ve included albums that he would’ve likely picked for his year end list.  Life is short, my friends.  Embrace it.

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MACHINE HEAD’s Robb Flynn to Lead All-Star BLACK SABBATH Tribute Band at Benefit Concert

Members of MACHINE HEAD, METALLICA, SLAYER, TESTAMENT, EXODUS, DEATH ANGEL, FORBIDDEN, SPIRALARMS, SUICIDE SILENCE, and RUBBLE will perform classic songs by BLACK SABBATH as part of an all-star tribute band that will headline the Robb Flynn & Friends Benefit Concert on Friday, January 17, 2014 at the Oakland Metro Operahouse in Oakland, California.

FORBIDDEN and SPIRALARMS guitarist Craig Locicero, who organized and will also take part in the event, had the following to say about how the idea for the benefit concert came about: “A good friend of ours and all around great person, Nikki Davis, was in a motorcycle accident with her husband Jeff. Sadly, Jeffdied at the scene. Fortunately, Nikki survived but she was unconscious for a few days. She awoke to the daunting reality that her husband, soulmate and best friend had passed away.  It was heartbreaking to all of us in the Bay Area scene.

“Robb Flynn and I have known Nikki for at least 25 years and she is a huge supporter of the Bay Area’s metal and punk scene.

“I wanted to help Nikki out a year ago, but most every band was busy on tour and unavailable. A few weeks ago, I had approached Robb about doing a benefit for Nikki and he thought it was a great idea.

“Robb has gone above and beyond to help bring together something very special and memorable to helpNikki on January 17th. He’s been the catalyst for getting this thing off the ground so quickly and Nikki is very thankful.

“We hope to raise enough money to help Nikki continue to get back on her feet because the healing is not finished. She still has medical bills to pay and we want to do anything we can to help our old friend.”

For those who can’t attend the concert, donations can be made to Nikki‘s PayPal account at [email protected].

Kirk Hammett Expresses Love for CARCASS in New Video

Extreme metal legends CARCASS, in cooperation with METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett‘s Kirk Von Hammett’s Fear FestEviLhave made the music video for “Unfit for Human Consumption” available for viewing here.  Original member Ken Owen makes a welcome appearance in it.

Directed by Glenn Maguire, the song comes from CARCASS’ recent acclaimed release, Surgical Steel.

Make sure you catch CARCASS perform this upcoming February at Kirk Von Hammett’s Fear FestEviL, Hammett’s first annual horror convention in San Francisco.  Private “crypt” tours, signing sessions, and musical performances by other Nuclear Blast Bay Area artists DEATH ANGEL,and ORCHID, will also be included in the three-day event.

In other CARCASS news, the band will be heading out with THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, GORGUTS, and NOISEM in March 2014 for a North American tour.   Tour dates can be found here.

Industry Profile: Ian Christe

Ian Christie
In APESHIT‘s ongoing quest to speak with the people who work behind the scenes to make it all happen, we caught up metal renaissance man, Ian Christe. Starting out with the familiar starting point of a zine, he moved onto freelance writing for a wide variety of music publications as well as writing music.  His band DARK NOERD THE BEHOLDER appeared on the very cool soundtrack for the uber disturbing Gummo movie.  Currently, heavy music fans can catch his radio show, Bloody Roots, on Sirius XM Radio as well as read the insightful books that his publication company, Bazillion Points Publishing, is putting out.  Ian gives us the inside scoop on some of his coolest projects, including the upcoming books from Bazillion Points.
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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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Just when you thought METALLICA were back on the redemption track for their near 20 year reign as sell out kings of rock music history, they go and put Lulu out. Few collaborations between two such celebrated artists have turned out as ill-conceived, poorly executed, and abysmal as this record.

First of all, THE VELVET UNDERGROUND‘s Lou Reed wrote all the lyrics and does lead vocals. METALLICA handled all the instrumentation/compositions and James Hetfield is on backing vocals.

So what does it sound like? Lou Reed sounds like a crazy old poet doing free form vocal lines that are often all over the place. And when he attempts to actually sing instead of just do his random spoken words, he provides a clinic in off key singing. Lyrically, no one gives a shit what he is rambling about partially because of how awful he sounds. And in case you do tune into his lyrics, they are just plain stupid. In other words, he sounds like total shit.

If you haven’t checked out THE VELVET UNDERGROUND by now, Lulu basically guarantees you will keep things that way.

So you would think that METALLICA learned some lessons in returning to some of the things that made them legends in the 80’s with their last album, but that is clearly not the case. The abominations known as St. Anger and S&M don’t sound as bad compared to Lulu. In what seems like a series of rushed improvisation sessions, the band have tried to write an art rock album with free form or atmospheric nuances. Unfortunately, the music is stricken with terrible riffs, poor songwriting, and poor execution that help create an extremely uncompelling and downright unpleasant listening experience.

Riffs meander and float in space hoping to form a hook or some sense of logic but it’s an overwhelmingly losing endeavor. Songs drag on for what seems like an eternity with no sanctuary in sight. Yes, many songs here are very long. The godawful, “friendly” guitar tones of the Load-era are back. METALLICA also try their hand at various guitar effects, playing styles, and adding classical stringed instrumentation to create a compelling art rock atmosphere but there are a trillion bands who are better than them at this.

Lars Ulrich bestows the world with his worst drumming to date. The free form nature of the music gives Lars more room to take a lead role but his beyond amateurish attempts at drumming 101 are laughable and just plain embarrassing. It’s easy to picture his ridiculous mannerisms and facial expressions as he lays down these tracks. His open gaped mouth like a fish out of water intermingled with his face wincing in the agony of trying to keep a standard drum beat come to mind. There’s a reason why Jason Newsted encouraged him to practice for all those years.

To add insult to injury, the record label is releasing many different versions of this abomination with different packaging and content at different price points. And you know they will all sell a shitload (pun not intended). Look for the Warner Bros. payola machine to peddle this garbage to the world as well as 2011 METALLICA fanboys to defend their old and tired band all across the internet.

When you lack self awareness about your talents and, most importantly, limitations, Lulu is what happens. The sad and pathetic part is that you know deep down inside, Lou Reed and METALLICA earnestly believe that this record is a brilliant collaboration that could warrant successive records together. METALLICA in particular play to all their weaknesses – improvisation, writing music beyond what they do best (their first four records), and the undying mindset that they are boundless. But the reality is, METALLICA stubbornly insist on proving to the world that they can reach new lows.

Lulu should be the final nail in the coffin for the careers of both Lou Reed and METALLICA. Fuck off. (Warner Brothers Records)

In New Murder in the Front Row Book, MACHINE HEAD’s Robb Flynn Recalls Growing Up in SF Thrash Metal Scene

MACHINE HEAD guitarist/vocalist Robb Flynn joins Gary Holt of EXODUS, Alex Skolnick of TESTAMENT, and other Bay Area thrash metal luminaries contributing written material to the deluxe upcoming photo book Murder in the Front Row: Shots From the Bay Area Thrash Metal Epicenter, by Harald Oimoen and Brian Lew. This massive volume is due December 2011 from Bazillion Points Books, and sneak peeks and preorders are available at this location:

In the book, Flynn recalls his initiation into the local scene via highly-energized gigs like RAVEN, METALLICA, and EXODUS at the Berkeley Keystone; Texas transplants D.R.I. at the Mabuhay Gardens; and EXCITER at the Stone. “I became totally obsessed,” Flynn writes. “I punched a kid and broke his nose at an ANTHRAX show at the Kabuki for saying [EXODUS guitarist] Gary Holt sucked. Yes, I was a thrasher, willing to fight and bang and bleed for my thrash metal gods.”
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Concert Memories: METALLICA, MOTORHEAD @ The Whisky (12/14/95)

lemmysBack in 1995, I had heard on the radio of an upcoming MOTORHEAD show to celebrate 25 years of MOTORHEAD and Lemmy‘s 50th birthday. But the thing that made me really want to go to the show was the fact that there were other famous rock stars expected to make an experience. My initial guess was that someone like Slash would show up since he’s always been into live guest appearances in LA, and hey, that was good enough for me.

So back then I was a senior in high school and by then, hardly anyone was into metal and if they used to be, they had moved onto punk (i.e. PENNYWISE) or something else. The prospect of going to a show alone wasn’t as bad as it could seem to appear simply because my absolute love for heavy music more than compensated. So with a recently purchased MOTORHEAD No Remorse compilation in my cassette tape deck and a Thomas Guide map to guide me, I set off for my first trip to The Whisky.

I guess word had spread about the possibility of famous guests at the show as there was a line formed outside the venue when I arrived early. So as we were all standing in line along the wall of The Whisky, you could hear a band doing sound check. Out of nowhere you hear James Hetfield‘s unmistakable voice roaring over the music. Holy fuck! I wanted to scream out in excitement. My favorite band in the world was going to appear at the tiny little Whisky! I heard some other people in line wondering out loud whether that was James Hetfield or not but it didn’t seem to stir up any outward excitement.

Once we were all let in, the first band to go on was LA’s own DEMOLITION PIT. The band had made some headway in the local LA scene, especially with their appearances on 105.5 FM KNAC (the world’s first all hard rock/heavy metal radio station). The band’s PANTERA-influenced style went over well with the packed house.

The Whisky had TV screens around the club that would announce the next band to take the stage. As the crowd waited around for the next band, the words “METALLICA” came up on the TV screens. People went apeshit! Everyone had to pinch themselves. This was a dream come true. So I did what any metal maniac would do, I fought my way to the front of the stage to get the best view possible.
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