Archive for July, 2012
By Carl Begai
Back in May singer Sarah Jezebel Deva – best known as Cradle Of Filth’s backing vocalist – released a three song EP entitled Malediction. A noteworthy move not only because it came out barely a year after her second full length album, The Corruption Of Mercy, but because of the guest artists she and guitarist / producer Dan Abela welcomed on board for the production. Sarah’s former Cradle Of Filth bandmate Martin Powell (keyboards) was reportedly lured in with the promise of a Mars bar and some soap, while Soilwork frontman Björn “Speed” Strid agreed quite unexpectedly to sing on the duet ‘Lies Define Us’ without ever having met anyone involved. The biggest shock, however, was Cradle Of Filth frontman Dani Filth willingly lending his talents to the last song, ‘This Is My Curse’. A “shock” not only because the short-but-deadly singer is basically playing second string to part of his former support staff, but because Sarah had said numerous times in interviews that she would “never” work with Cradle Of Filth in any capacity ever again.
Lo and behold, she appears on the Cradle’s new orchestral album Midnight In The Labyrinth and Dani can be heard shrieking up a storm in Sarah’s house.
“I won’t make it a secret that me and Dani didn’t speak for three years, until he contacted me in January of this year asking me to do Midnight In The Labyrinth,” Sarah reveals. “I left Cradle because it was the right time. Me and Dani were having all kinds of altercations, and I’ve always viewed Dani as my brother, so it was hard. I love him but I hate him (laughs). We’re very much on the same page in some aspects, but it was time to go. I always thought that Dani and I would never communicate again, and I was quite happy with that even though there was a sense of missing him. I’d also met someone, and I wanted to do my own thing, so I left the band and went to Australia in November 2008. I never got a ‘Thank you for all that you’ve done for this band…’ or anything. I was in contact with Dave (Pybus/bass) but that was the only real contact I had to that part of my life. So, getting that call from Dani, I was really chuffed. I was skeptical at first, but I thought to myself, ‘You know, now it’s time to grow up.’” (continue reading…)
By Carl Begai
During a recent interview with guitarist Jason Bieler about the possibility of a Saigon Kick reunion (found here), he also discussed his independent record label Bieler Bros. Records – now in their 10th year – and his new Owl Stretching project. With regards to the label, it remains surprisingly low key in spite of the fact bands like Slaves On Dope and Nonpoint were a part of the roster and acts like Deathstars and Karnivool are now part of the family. It’s fair to say that being dubbed “independent” isn’t synonymous with “disposable” in this case given the artists that have signed on over the years.
“We’ve been so passionate about finding amazing records and working with these artists and figuring out what we can do with them that we sometimes forget how to tell the story about what we’re doing,” Bieler says of the label’s underground status. “Even I look back sometimes and go ‘Holy shit! We’ve done some really cool stuff!’ The label portion of my career has been around as long as the Saigon Kick portion of my career, and sometimes I have to get away from it to actually see it for what it is. Having a band like Karnivool… we’re so proud of being involved with them. And last year we had one of the biggest alt records in the use with a band called The Silent Film. Nonpoint did well, and Skindred’s doing well in Europe right now.”
Bieler Bros. was launched out of a love for music, and as such the label roster isn’t restricted to heavy material as some might expect. Artists like InAshton and Look Right Penny can be found in amongst the metal-oriented bands, and Bieler makes no apologies for throwing that curve.
“The diversity issues we have are funny. It would be much easier for if we tried to be a Nuclear Blast or a Victory Records who really focus on genre-specific stuff because everything we did would be going to the same journalists, the same radio or marketing formats, so everything would be geared to that one audience. People who like Deathstars would probably boil Censura alive in their own urine given the opportunity, and vice versa. The label has a lot of the same identity issues in that we just want to do great things with stuff we find amazing, and there’s not necessarily any rhyme or reason behind it.” (continue reading…)
By Carl Begai
As a 43-years-and-counting old-schooler, In This Moment rank as one the few acts amongst a crop of modern day metal bands to come across my desk that offer up quality material rather than disposable and often laughable kiddie aggression. Blood is album #4 – their third with producer Kevin Churko (Ozzy Osbourne) in the booth – and like their previous record A Star-Crossed Wasteland it’s an exercise in re-invention, with just enough repetition thrown in to keep the hard-nosed “Change bad!” fans happy.
Blood strikes a balance between Maria Brink’s banshee screech and rich clean voice – the focus of every In This Moment record – with the heavy bumped up a notch from A Star-Crossed Wasteland (read: meaty guitars every which way you turn). The band explores a new arsenal of dynamics once again, making good on their reputation for shaking things from album to album so that no two are completely alike. Lead-off track ‘Blood’ shares airspace with Marilyn Manson’s ‘This Is The New Shit’, while ‘Adrenalize’, ‘Scarlet’ and ‘From The Ashes’ are as close to “expected” as the band is gonna give you. Where In This Moment truly shine are the melody-laced in-your face anthems ‘Whore’ – channelling Eminem’s monster hit ‘Lose Yourself’ – and the crowd-rallying ‘Beast Within’. (continue reading…)
By Carl Begai
Over the last few months vocalist / guitarist Lita Ford has devoted her time to promoting her new album, Living Like A Runaway, which has doubled as an exercise in damage control. She isn’t shy about calling her failed 2009 psycho-industrial nu-metal comeback album Wicked Wonderland a disaster, and she makes no secret of her feelings towards ex-husband and former Nitro singer Jim Gillette, whom she credits for making her life a living hell. After filing for divorce in early 2011, Ford dealt with the ugly aftermath of her broken marriage and channelled that energy into making a new album, Living Like A Runaway. It’s a true comeback, loaded to the gills with emotion and attitude, ultimately giving the fans what they wanted last time out.
“The new album cover should have one big middle finger on it,” she laughs. “I came back with a record that wasn’t a Lita Ford record, and I’m happy to say Living Like A Runaway is the real deal. It’s got a lot of emotion in it. It’s not ‘I think I’ll write a record now,’ it’s pure heart and soul. The music came to me at one of the darkest times in my life, and the only release for me to dump my emotions out was my music.”
It might be accurate to say that Living Like A Runaway turned out the way it did as a result of Wicked Wonderland and the emotional baggage that went with it. The recorded version of the aforementioned middle finger, so to say…
“Well… actually, I don’t know… maybe you’re right,” Ford concedes. “My ex had complete control over everything. He wanted to make Wicked Wonderland, he wanted to write the songs, and I couldn’t function with him around. So, in a way I guess you could in fact say I had to go through the divorce to make this record.”
“I just needed the divorce. He was blocking me from being creative and he was blocking me from being Lita. I couldn’t function. Sometimes it happens when you’re with somebody and they sort of take over your life. It was like ‘Okay, the first thing I’ve gotta do is get you outta my way…’ (laughs). Once that happened I was able to be me again. I sat down, started writing, and I felt all this creativity flowing. It was non-stop. We couldn’t put a cap on it and it was great. As a matter of fact, the day my divorce was final was the very day the record was delivered to the record company. That was a good day (laughs).” (continue reading…)
By Carl Begai
St. Catharines-based Fraze Gang recently released their second album, entitled Fraze Gang 2, and along with a heavier and edgier sound they went from being a trio to a quartet, adding Dead Celebrity / former Hexus guitarist Derek McGowan to the line-up. Anyone familiar with either band will find the Fraze Gang merger a head-scratcher, but McGowan considers it an honour to be a part of the proceedings even though things are geared in a melodic ‘70s / ‘80s rock direction. And the truth is he earned his spot in the band as Fraze Gang frontman Greg Fraser’s stunt double in Brighton Rock a long time ago, which McGowan readily admits was a surreal experience.
“It’s coming up on ten years now, and that blows me away because it doesn’t feel that long ago. It was about a year after they got back together to do some reunion shows here at home. Brighton Rock’s second album, Take A Deep Breath, is still one of my favourite albums. Every single moment on that album means the world to me, because it brings me back to great memories of my childhood. I originally wanted to be a drummer, so I’d set up a makeshift kit and try to do Mark Cavarzan’s moves (laughs). It was Mark’s playing, Bobby Blotzer from Ratt and Joey Kramer from Aerosmith, those were the guys I tried to emulate up to the point where I got a guitar. The Fraze Gang thing came about because I stayed in touch with Mark, Greg, and Stevie. We’d talk on the phone and I went out to a few Fraze Gang shows, and they eventually asked me to get involved with the band. Originally I was just their live guitarist, and we’d get together to rehearse and jam on the songs.” (continue reading…)
By Carl Begai
David Gold was Woods Of Ypres, but there’s no discounting the long list of musicians that helped him bring the music to life during the band’s 10 year career. One of the last names on that list is twentysomething-on-the-younger-side drummer Rae Amitay, and it wasn’t until the tribute shows held in David’s honour back in April – in Toronto and his home town of Sault Ste Marie respectively – that fans were truly aware of her connection to the band. Conscripted for a European tour planned for early 2012 in support of Woods 5: Grey Skies And Electric Light, she had yet to be tested as a full card-carrying band member, but those plans and expectations were tragically derailed when David passed away on December 21st, 2011.
It was a small but necessary consolation for Rae to be able to attend the tribute shows and pay her respects both as a performer and a fan.
“Unfortunately, with everything that happened we didn’t have time to make a proper announcement about the new line-up,” says Rae. “I thought I was going to get completely lost in the shuffle when the tribute shows happened, so it was so nice of Joel (Violette / guitars) when he brought me and Brendan Hayter (bass) up because we were really looking forward to being in the band. I started hearing rumours about tribute shows and I wanted to be a part of them, but there was no way unless I could do something with Joel, and I really wanted to. So, I approached him and asked him if he’d be interested, and he was like ‘Wait, there are tribute shows?’ People just assumed Joel was going to know about them, but he didn’t. We got some basic information and started planning a tentative set, and it all came together from there.”
“I think Joel had to be there, because he played such a massive role in the writing and recording of Woods 5. I felt that if he hadn’t been a part of those shows it would have detracted from the whole thing because there needed to be some semblance of Woods Of Ypres present. It was very important that Joel got to take part in it.” (continue reading…)
By Carl Begai
The footage is grainy and distorted, yanked from a decomposing VHS cassette tape, accompanied by audio better suited for a showcase on vacuum cleaners. The focus is on a long-haired punk kid by the name of Max Duhamel sitting behind a drum kit, unleashing an ungodly barrage of blastbeats and fills that should be impossible for someone his age. It’s his first gig as a member of Montreal-based Kataklysm, and a fine example of the band’s “no limits” approach to their career.
Some 20 years later, Duhamel is still raising chaos behind the kit – albeit at a much higher level – celebrating the band’s landmark achievement of lasting this long alongside frontman Maurizio Iacono, guitarist J-F Dagenais and bassist Stephane Barbe with the mother of all metal documentaries, Iron Will: 20 Years Determined.
Truth be told, Iron Will is loaded with so much detail it’s a safe bet that folks completely unfamiliar with Kataklysm would peg the band as playing 20,000 seaters a night and jet-setting at this point of their career. After all, working-class mid-tier artists simply do not release retrospectives this in-depth and extensive. Until now.
“It’s a very detailed and massive release, but I’ll be honest with you, we were worried because it’s so long,” says Iacono. “We were thinking that maybe it was too much, so we went back and forth with (record label) Nuclear Blast and realized that if we cut it, the DVD was going to be like everybody else. We didn’t want to run through it and say ‘The band made it!’ at the end and that was it. This documentary was done for the fans and for ourselves. It’s not made for gaining new fans. If that happens, cool, but that was never the intention.”
“We had to dust off a lot of things to get at that old footage. Especially the footage of our very first practice with me and my mullet (laughs), my cousin Fabio Agostino (guitars), and Ariel Martinez on drums in the basement. You can see the footage is old… ‘90 or ’91; that’s vintage, before Sylvain (Houde/vocals). We weren’t even Kataklysm at that point, we were TSD. My cousin had the footage and it was so old it wasn’t even on a VHS tape, it was on one of those little tapes you put in the VHS tape (laughs). At that time there were no cameras that took normal video tapes, they were about to come out. It was done on a handheld, a bunch of kids thinking they were gonna be rockstars.” (continue reading…)
Only In Canada, Eh! – July 2012: KATAKLYSM, FRAZE GANG, KOBRA AND THE LOTUS, And A WOODS OF YPRES Tribute Album
Metal news from the first nation of Hosers. Read on…
Quebec’s northern hyperblast legends Kataklysm released their new documentary DVD, Iron Will: 20 Years Determined last month, and it’s a monster. For anyone who has a band, started a band, tried starting a band and failed, tried starting a band and became Nightwish or Metallica, it’s worth spending the five hours needed to watch the whole thing. One of the best working class band documentaries ever. Seriously. It goes right back to the beginning of Kataklysm’s career, leaves no stone unturned, and shows the band at their best, worst, most embarrassing and most righteously awesome. Even if you don’t get the music, you’ll get the story: dream big, dream loud, screw the naysayers.
The package also comes with the band’s complete 20th Anniversary show from Summer Breeze 2011. Complete details can be found here along with order information. Check out a clip from the live portion of the DVD here. (continue reading…)