Retro Fit: STRYPER – To Hell With The Devil (1986)

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Yeah, I confess, I was one of the sheep that helped this album go platinum. Listening to it now, I realize I’ve become a metalhead of discerning taste over the past 23 years, and it boggles the mind to think I used to wade through this record (or the cassette in my car) to get to the good stuff. Probably had something to do with the fact that To Hell With The Devil’s predecessor, Soldiers Under Command, offered up a wealth of crushing guitars and introduced me to oft-overlooked vocalist Michael Sweet. Call it a sign of the times, but with the rise of Poison and related Max Factor-sponsored bands, To Hell With The Devil was a polished God Glam record that alternated between a balls-out metal, prissy melodic rock, and two of the worst, cheesiest, (insert derogatory comment here)-est, pre-Dirty Dancing soundtrack ballads ever written. Ever. Continue reading Retro Fit: STRYPER – To Hell With The Devil (1986)

HDK – “Hit The Pavement!”

hdk22By Carl Begai

Suffering from what has been documented as “stress-related burnout”, After Forever guitarist/co-founder Sander Gommans’ condition put the band on forced hiatus for the duration of 2008. The downtime gave the band members an opportunity to explore other musical ventures, and for Gommans it meant taking a serious stab at bringing his long-fermenting side-project HDK to life. Initially meant as a lighthearted showcase of his heavier side – the Hate Death Kill moniker is an intentional metal cliché – he decided prior to the break that the material was strong enough to be taken far more seriously. Calling on pop rock / temporary Epica vocalist Amanda Somerville, who had collaborated with After Forever several times in the studio, for her assistance, the pair settled in to create what is by far the most brutal piece of work in their respective catalogues. Sadly, the release of the HDK debut, System Overload, was punctuated by the announcement that After Forever had decided to call it quits. Rather than look back Gommans has chosen to push forward by starting a new chapter in his musical career; one that starts on an unexpectedly brutal note.
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Waking Up Dead — Interviews From 2005 With SAIGON KICK Drummer Phil Varone And Emmy Award Winning Director Fabio Jafet

deadBack in 2005 former Saigon Kick / Skid Row drummer Phil Varone released a DVD entitled Waking Up Dead, which documents his rise to fame and eventual fall from grace due to substance abuse. Filmed by Emmy Award winning journalist and film maker Fabio Jafet over a four year period, it offers a brutal look at the realties of the music business, and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s ever had the whole fame and fortune dream (view a clip here). Thanks to Matt Kramer, the vocalist of Saigon Kick, I was able to set up interviews with both Varone and Jafet to discuss the project, and both pieces were published by BW&BK in 2005. I watched the movie again today and decided to resurrect the interviews now that I have this page to do my bidding.

The first interview features my discussion with Jafet. Remember, this is was back in 2005 so the timelines might be a tad off…

Continue reading Waking Up Dead — Interviews From 2005 With SAIGON KICK Drummer Phil Varone And Emmy Award Winning Director Fabio Jafet

Retro Fit: BRITNY FOX – Bite Down Hard (1991)

britnyfoxbiteTheir third album, easily the best of the four studio records that have come out under the Britny Fox moniker. It featured new vocalist Tommy Paris in place of Tom Keifer wannabe Dean Davidson, giving the band a huge set of balls… something they had been lacking since day one. Totally underrated in spite of the fact it’s a four chord album – hell, if it works for Maiden, why not here? – this is probably one of the last “anthem” hair band records to come out before Cobain and grunge fucked everyone blind for most of the decade. Gorgeous guitar tones and solos for miles, amazing voice, some very cool riffs (and a guest spot by Zakk Wylde), this is one of those better than average cock rock albums I’m actually not ashamed to admit I like. Great driving music as I recall…

Fave tracks: ‘Louder’, ‘Six Guns Loaded’, ‘Black And White’, ‘Over And Out’, ‘Liar’.

THE NEW BLACK – How To Love Your Liver

The New Black 12.10.2008THE NEW BLACK – How To Love Your Liver
By Carl Begai

Guitarist Christof Leim was two for two in 2008, cranking out a new Sinner album (Crash & Burn) to rave reviews and launching new street level dirt metal outfit The New Black to equal amounts of high praise. A big change from his one album stint with The Traceelords (The Ali Of Rock – 2006), a band that couldn’t decide if it was metal, rock, or full-on sugar pop and eventually imploded. And while Sinner’s success was assured with Crash & Burn’s return to the band’s rock roots, The New Black was a gamble. Leim had no expectations going in save that the music would better reflect who he is as a musician, making the positive reactions to their demo material and resulting record deal with AFM Records that much sweeter.

“The New Black started before I joined Sinner, and it was one of the good things in life that got the ball rolling: binge drinking,” Leim reveals. “Fabs (Schwarz/guitars) and me attended the Earthshaker Festival in 2006, and we watched the show by a headliner that I won’t mention because they sucked (Lordi), then hit the caiparinha booth. I told him that I had a lot of heavy riffs sitting around that I couldn’t use in The Traceelords because they didn’t fit. Basically, they were a bunch Black Label Society-type riffs. Fabs and I got along great, so the only logical conclusion was that we should form a new band. We got shitfaced and the question came up; ‘So, when should we start this new band?’ Answer: ‘I don’t know, what time is it? 10:45pm? Okay, we’ll start it at 11:00pm…’ (laughs). Fabs is a real musician, not just a rocker, so I sent him three song ideas, and a couple weeks after the festival we were at a party and he pulled out a CD with three songs on it. From there things moved along really quickly.”
Continue reading THE NEW BLACK – How To Love Your Liver

The Archives Updated, My First Book Now Available

razor-3I’ve updated The BW&BK Archives with some pretty cool stories (if I do say so myself) featuring BIF NAKED, Phil Collen from DEF LEPPARD, LOUDNESS, and an exclusive head to head to head chat with NIGHTWISH founder Tuomas Holpainen and SONATA ARCTICA frontman Tony Kakko conducted during the Once tour in 2004. Finally, my book Fire And Fame is now available for purchase in The Books section. Hit the link for details.

BW&BK Interview With EDGUY Frontman Tobias Sammet Online

I recently spoke with EDGUY frontman Tobias Sammet about the band’s new album, Tinnitus Sanctus. A brief excerpt is available below:

edguy21Sammet: “I can’t speak for everybody in the band, but I got sick of that ‘high velocity at any price’ approach. If you really have to say something at that speed, like in ‘Speedhoven’ for example, then it’s fine because it’s supposed to be fast, but I really don’t want people telling me what to do. I’m not going to record a fast song just for the sake of recording a fast song. That doesn’t make sense, and to me the mid-paced songs give you many more opportunities to put energy, melody and atmosphere into them. The music breathes so much more, and that makes it much easier to give the song a heart and soul. There are so many power metal bands playing fast songs and one song sounds like the other, and quite often I get the impression that those songs are being created from a blueprint.”

Go to this location for the complete interview.

An Interview With About.com

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As an introduction I figured I’d share a recent interview I did with About.com, conducted by Chad Bowar. Read on…

How and when did you first discover metal music?

High school, 1983. There was a kid in my classes by the name of Jim Watt who wore those cheesy black rock shirts with the long white sleeves – W.A.S.P., Mötley Crüe, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Metallica – every single day. Between the clothes and the long hair he was marked as an “undesirable” by the teachers and always ended up sitting at the front of the class so they could keep an eye on him, so he quite naturally became the center of attention for everyone. He was actually a very cool guy and quite happy to hang with shy and introverted geeks like myself and teach us a thing or two about music. A couple cassette tapes later and I was hooked for life. My parents weren’t exactly thrilled, but I think they were secretly glad my pocket money was being used for records and not drugs.
Continue reading An Interview With About.com