VOLBEAT @ The Troubador, West Hollywood (12/09/09)

Denmark’s best import since MERCYFUL FATE played their first show in Los Angeles. Though this off-date from the band’s opening slot on the current METALLICA U.S. tour was hardly publicized, the Troubador was packed with enthusiastic VOLBEAT fans. As the band hit the stage, you could see the smiles on their faces as they had not anticipated such a great turn out. Everyone was in a good mood, plenty of drinks were being consumed by all, and it was just a fun party atmosphere. People were singing along and smiling the entire time. VOLBEAT played for a good hour and a half in which they played all the hits from their three albums. Even though their first album is not available domestically, the crowd seemed to be very familiar with the songs. They also played their latest song, “A Warrior’s Call,” which is the theme song for Danish boxing champ Mikkel Kessler. And for all the MISFITS fans, VOLBEAT played the classic, “Angelfuck.” Frontman Michael Poulsen told the crowd that although they are honored to be opening for METALLICA, there’s nothing like playing a full show. He also proclaimed that the Troubador crowd was the best crowd so far during the tour. All in all, this was probably one of the most fun shows in recent times to attend in LA, and there’s no doubt that VOLBEAT will be back soon. Skål!

GOJIRA Reveal Initial Handful of Headline Shows on Off-Dates of METALLICA Tour

France’s GOJIRA have announced a series of headline dates on off days from the METALLICA/LAMB OF GOD tour which goes from September 14th thru October 18. Support on these shows will come from ZOROASTER and BURST. The dates are as follows:

9/21/09 Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY
9/22/09 Ottobar, Baltimore MD
9/24/09 The Masquerade, Atlanta GA
9/25/09 The Hangar, New Orleans, LA
9/27/09 Warehouse Live, Houston TX
10/2/09 The Social, Orlando FL
10/5/09 Valarium, Knoxville TN
10/6/09 Pop’s Nite Club, St. Louis (w/ GOATWHORE, THE BERZERKER, WARBRINGER)
10/7/09 The Rave Bar, Milwaukee WI
10/9/09 The Pearl Room, Mokena IL

More dates will be announced.

GOJIRA to Support METALLICA on North American Fall Tour

Fresh off the heels of their successful and critically acclaimed first U.S. headlining tour, French metal act, GOJIRA, have been tapped by METALLICA to support the first half of their North American fall tour in September and October, along with LAMB OF GOD. The band will also be headlining their own shows between METALLICA dates.

GOJIRA vocalist/guitarist, Joseph Duplantier commented, “METALLICA has invited us to open for them on the first part of their North American tour this fall. Fifteen shows around US and Canada with LAMB OF GOD as main support. METALLICA has been our main influence since we started playing music, and we can say that this announcement is a dream come true.”

Sep. 14 – Nashville, TN – Sommet Center
Sep. 15 – Cincinnati, OH – US Bank Arena
Sep. 17 – Indianapolis, IN – Conseco Fieldhouse
Sep. 19 – Montreal, QC – Bell Centre
Sep. 20- Montreal, QC – Bell Centre
Sep. 28 – San Antonio, TX – AT&T Center
Sep. 29 – Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center
Oct. 01 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Bank Atlantic Center
Oct. 03 – Tampa, FL – St. Pete Times Forum
Oct. 04 – Atlanta, GA – Phillips Arena
Oct. 12 – Winnipeg, MB – MTS Centre
Oct. 13 – Minneapolis, MN – Target Center
Oct. 15 – Cleveland, OH – Quicken Loans Arena
Oct. 17 – Charlottesville, VA – JPJ Arena
Oct. 18 – Charlotte, NC – Charlotte Bobcats Arena

GOJIRA‘s latest album, The Way of All Flesh, debuted at #138 on Billboard and #1 on Billboard’s new artist chart. Their album, From Mars to Sirius, was recently named one of the “21 Best Metal Albums of the 21st Century,” by MetalSucks.com.

Visit the band’s official MySpace page here: http://www.myspace.com/gojira

MERCYFUL FATE to Release New Versions of “Evil” and “Curse of the Pharoahs” on iTunes

As many of you already know, MERCYFUL FATE‘s “Evil” is featured as a playable track on Guitar Hero: Metallica. MERCYFUL FATE re-recorded these two tracks specifically for the game because the original masters no longer exist. Now, the band is making both available to fans to purchase on iTunes! These versions were recorded at Earplug Studio in Copenhagen and Nomad Recording Studio in Dallas, Texas. They were both mastered by Andy LaRocque at his Sonic Train Studio in Sweden.

King Diamond comments: “It was a lot of fun to get a chance to re-record “Evil” and “Curse of the Pharaohs” from our 1983 Melissa album. It was cool to go into the studio and try to figure out all the various harmony vocals and see if I could still do them. The other guys had a lot of fun with this project too, and the whole thing turned out much better than we could have hoped for. Everyone nailed their performances and Hank’s solos were even slightly improved. Everything is right where it should be and with a much better sound! The ‘feel’ was there and all of the guys – Hank, Denner, Timi and Bjarne are all naturals. The versions that will be up on iTunes were mastered by Andy LaRocque and even with a 2009 sound, there’s no doubt that these songs were recorded by MERCYFUL FATE!”

If you have yet to check out Guitar Hero: Metallica – make sure you do. King Diamond himself is a playable character in the game once you unlock the “Evil” track! Plus, a video of King Diamond‘s on-stage performance with METALLICA at Ozzfest 2008 in Dallas is included as a bonus feature in the game.

Evil” and “Curse of the Pharoahs” will be available for fans to purchase digitally on July 14th. A special edition picture disc vinyl single will be available on September 1st!

http://www.myspace.com/kingdiamond
http://www.covenworldwide.org

VOLBEAT – Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood

Denmark’s VOLBEAT continues to roll on Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood with their unique combination of thrash, rockabilly, roots rock ‘n roll, country, and punk. While their last one, Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil was a quality, solid album, the new one is better. VOLBEAT better captures those intangible elements of soul and timelessness and the results are fantastic. The band really separate themselves from the pack with their superior songwriting skills.

Though there are still plenty of metal riffs that put Black Album-era METALLICA to shame, the album features the more rock ‘n roll and melodic side to the band. On “Still Counting,” VOLBEAT even play a reggage/dub intro that THE CLASH would’ve loved to have written and then proceed to split skulls with James Hetfield-sized riffs. While the first eleven songs provide more than enough quality content, it’s the final three songs that really bring it all home. The second to last song, “Find that Soul,” is the absolute crowning song on Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood.

Once again, the man that holds it all together and leads the way is the larger than life presence of vocalist/guitarist Michael Poulsen. His vocal range and vocal arrangements have grown and his vocals take on a heavier workload this time around.

A unique sound, top notch songwriting, and soul – what more could you ask for in a record? (Mascot Records)

[blipfm 7727752]

SOILWORK Post Video for “20 More Miles”; Kick Off Tour on Friday

SOILWORK, who are set to kick off their North American tour with DARKANE this Friday, have posted their new music video for the track, “20 More Miles.” Watch it now:

[myspacetv 50860015]

The clip contains footage from the band’s recent European and World Tour with footage from Australia, Japan, Russia, and Malaysia (including the Electric Weekend Festival with METALLICA), and was edited by Olle Carlsson. The song “20 More Miles” is off the band’s latest album, Sworn to a Great Divide.

Visit the band’s MySpace page for tour info and tickets: http://www.myspace.com/soilwork

APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2008

We finally got off our asses and did it.  It’s already the year 2009, but we’ve complied a list of our top albums of 2008.  Compiling such a list is never easy, and 2008 was no exception.  Maybe it was a lack of albums that really stood out, or maybe we just weren’t paying enough attention.  Regardless, we took a quick look back on the metal albums we felt were notable in 2008.
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METALLICA – Death Magnetic (APESHIT Take 2)

Every new METALLICA album is like a car crash on the side of the road – you don’t really want to check it out, but at the same time, you’re curious and want to see what all the excitement is about. The long awaited album is now here, and believe it or not, it’s not horrible. In fact, it’s pretty damn solid. No, the band doesn’t go back to their roots, nor does it sound like Master of Puppets, but it IS a refreshing album to listen to, especially since METALLICA have not made anything of quality since the Black Album. Skeptics will probably dismiss this album during the first listen, but after a few spins, it becomes apparent that it is a pretty decent METAL album; something the band has not done in a while, as they have been making music closer to “hard rock” than metal. The first positive step METALLICA made was to get rid of Bob “pop” Rock, and brought in Rick Rubin to produce the album. Every instrument is crisp and clear, newcomer Robert Trujillo has his bass lines audible in the mix, and the garbage can snare is gone. The negatives are still there – Lars still has atrocious drumming and when James starts to sing, it can be agonizing at times. METALLICA does pull off a few “old school” moves however…solos are back, thrashy riffs are back, songs hit the seven, eight, and nine-minute mark, and there is even an instrumental!

The opening track, “That Was Just Your Life,” starts off with a riff that could be comparable to newer mid-paced SATYRICON material and starts the album off nicely. The next few songs are solid until “The Day That Never Comes” starts, which is an obvious choice as a radio hit, as James‘ country influence, off key singing come into play, and the song ends with a semi-heavy-but-annoying riff. “All Nightmare Long” gets the album back on track with some nice thrashy chops, Kirk‘s distinct solos, and even some double bass (for a few seconds!) which will bring you back to the good ol’ days. That feeling is short lived however, when the next track “Cyanide” pops up. Another radio friendly hit, it definitely has an “I Disappear” feel to it. The catchy, yet hilarious chorus of “Suicide – I’ve already Died!” makes one wonder if James puts as much thought into his lyrics as he did with the older classic albums. The low point of the album is next with “The Unforgiven III”, which defines exactly what everyone was expecting “new” METALLICA to sound like – think “Astronomy” from Garage Inc.

Fortunately, the album picks back up in both quality and aggression with “The Judas Kiss.” The guitar crunch that’s been missing for years is back and James is on top of his game on this track, which makes “The Judas Kiss” one of the stronger songs on the album. METALLICA proves to everyone that they can still write good music if they want to. In true METALLICA fashion, the track before the aggressive final song is an instrumental. As the album winds down with the 10 minute instrumental, “Suicide & Redemption,” Death Magnetic closes with probably their most aggressive track in years. “My Apocalypse” is a song that old school fans who have hated everything METALLICA put out in the last 20 years can finally enjoy.

Death Magnetic is far from perfect, and far from a 100% metal album, but it is impressive. All minor details and nitpicking aside, this is the album METALLICA should have put out after the Black Album, so just ignore everything from Load to St. Anger. Don’t hold your breath for the next album to be as good as Death Magnetic, but for the time being, soak up this surprisingly enjoyable release. (Warner Bros. Records)

METALLICA – Death Magnetic (APESHIT Take 1)

As one music’s biggest names, METALLICA‘s ascension to international superstardom and subsequent alienation from the underground scene where they began has been well documented. Following what many considered to be the beginning of the end with the Black Album, the band released a series of sloppy, weak, uninspired tripe for nearly two decades. St. Anger, the band’s previous album was supposed to be a return to form but instead signaled yet another disappointment. Shoddy production, lackluster performances, no solos, all filler, no killer. Death Magnetic, however, finally sees some semblance of life from these titans, so it’s actually nice to hear METALLICA play well, metal again!

That Was Just Your Life” opens the album with some ominous tones, before power chords and some punchy drum sounds signal the band’s return. Driving, crunchy rhythms are the order of the day, and listeners can practically hear Kirk Hammett smile as he rips a quick solo as the band revisits their NWOBHM roots with some guitar harmonies. Even Lars Ulrich throws in his two cents with a quick double bass flurry. Keeping the momentum flowing, “The End of the Line” follows up with more solid rock riffing although the band stumbles a bit between the pre-chorus and chorus with some awkward transitions. However, a long riff driven instrumental section follows bringing forth a variety of changes. Lead off single “The Day that Never Comes” is essentially a remake of the classic “Fade to Black” with its quiet beginnings and driving mid-section. It’s odd to hear the band repeat themselves and offer a dumbed down variation on a classic. “All Nightmare Long” makes several false starts before finally kicking in hard and heavy. Lyrically, the song sees the band attempt to bring back an edge to their sound, but it comes across as forced rather than menacing. Yet despite the absurd lyrics to the song’s chorus, the hooks remain intact and stick in the listener’s head well after the song is done. “Cyanide” on the other hand, is an uneven mess. While the verses to the song are quite strong with solid rhythms, Lars Ulrich‘s awkward drumming and James Hetfield‘s overbearing howl really overpower the pre chorus and its subsequent goofy chorus. But Hammett saves the day with another ripping, bluesy solo and the band flirts with ripping off IRON BUTTERFLY‘s “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida” creating an odd mish mash of ups and downs. Like an never ending franchise, “The Unforgiven” returns with part three, and the band benefits from some nice orchestration from David Campbell who bring’s out the band’s love of spaghetti westerns and Ennio Morricone to the forefront. METALLICA‘s performance is solid if not unspectacular, even borrowing from STONE TEMPLE PILOT‘s “Creep” in the process. The album’s next twenty minutes however go nowhere fast with plodding almost lazy approaches to playing and writing that do little except perhaps providing theme music for a pro wrestler’s entrance if nothing else. Closing out the proceedings is “My Apocalypse” (no, not an ARCH ENEMY cover) which is an uptempo rock thrash number that sees Hetfield try to rekindle the metal spirit with lyrics about deadly vision, hail of fire, annihilation and mangled flesh.

Death Magnetic is an uneven album that is at times invigorating and other times frustrating. The repetition can be at times numbing, and Ulrich‘s tinpot “snare drum for beginners” approach to playing actually borders on comical at times. New bassist Robert Trujillio is kept on a leash and in check throughout the album, with the creativity and virtuosity he displayed in SUICIDAL TENDENCIES and INFECTIOUS GROOVES being kept under suppression. The unexpected hero in all of this? Kirk Hammett. While he essentially reworks his bluesy at times wah-happy stylings, it’s great to finally hear him work unrestrained as he breathes new life and energy in to the songs. Hetfield‘s distinctive vocals exude confidence throughout Death despite a few ill-timed missteps. It’s sort of strange to hear one of the creators and leaders of metal struggle to find their bearings throughout the album, but oftentimes they do, with their marriage of CORROSION OF CONFORMITY meets DANZIG rock finding some odd middle ground with barn burning, at times progressive thrash they unleashed so skillfully back in the 80’s. A long way from classic, Death Magnetic is still a masterpiece compared to everything since the Black Album, and is a step in the right direction. It’s great to hear some of that old fire return to the band and hopefully they can keep it burning brighter when it’s time for album ten. (Warner Bros. Records)

MACHINE HEAD to Support METALLICA in January

Grammy nominee’s MACHINE HEAD are pleased to announce that they will serve as direct support to METALLICA for a spate of dates that begin in January.

The band, who are currently tearing it up alongside SLIPKNOT, DISTURBED, MASTODON, and others on the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival, completed a successful opening stint with METALLICA in Europe earlier this summer.

Additional support will come from THE SWORD.

Dates thus far are as follows:

Jan. 12 – Milwaukee, WI @ Bradley Center
Jan. 13 – Detroit, MI @ Joe Louis Arena
Jan. 15 – Washington, DC @ Verizon Center
Jan. 17 – Philadelphia, PA @ Wachovia Center
Jan. 18 – Boston, MA @ TD Banknorth Center
Jan. 26 – Chicago, IL @ Allstate Arena
Jan. 29 – Uniondale, NY @ Nassau Coliseum
Jan. 31 – Newark, NJ @ Prudential Center