Administrivia

Been a LONG time since I’ve dished out one of these columns, but things are back to what passes for normal around here which means we#re back in business. That said, read on for your metal hoser updates…

Labrie 3

As most Dream Theater fans know, Canada-born frontman James LaBrie recently released his new solo album, Impermanent Resonance. There a full story with LaBrie here that goes over the ins and outs of the record, but from a completely biased point of view it’s fair to say Impermanent Resonance is one of his best (perhaps falling just shy of Static Impulse’s epic stature).

Plenty of aggression, which falls in line with Static Impulse’s in-your-face approach, but there’s a bloody infectious melodic aspect to the songs that open LaBrie’s music up to a wider audience. Hails to collaborator/keyboardist Matt Guillory for his brilliant songwriting skills. But don’t take my word for it; check out the full record on YouTube. Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

It was announced back in February 2012 that Norway’s Theatre Of Tragedy, who spawned the career of Leaves’ Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine and officially called it quits in October 2010, were working on remastered re-issues of their first three albums: the self-titled debut, Velvet Darkness They Fear, and Aegis. Initially meant to be released in late 2012, Massacre Records have confirmed July 5th as the official release date for all three albums in digipack CD and double vinyl LP formats.

The re-releases will feature rare bonus material, and will also include a band interview conducted by me split into three parts, one for each album. It was an honour to be asked by the Theatre Of Tragedy family to contribute to the re-issues, and I consider it to be a personal career highlight.

Following is an brief excerpt from the interview conducted for Aegis, which will appear in full in the re-issue liner notes. Call it an attempt to help promote the releases coupled with my pride getting away from me just this once.

Enjoy….

Theatre+of+Tragedy+aegispromo2

Aegis

Theatre of Tragedy’s third album, Aegis, scared the hell out of their diehard fans. The band continued to evolve as they had between their self-titled debut and second record Velvet Darkness They Fear, but in a direction nobody had expected. The songs were geared in a goth metal direction, with the trademark doom aspect of the band’s sound reduced to a nuance. This was particularly apparent in the absence of vocalist Raymond I. Rohonyi’s growls, long considered to be just as important to Theatre of Tragedy’s sound as Liv Kristine’s soprano vocals. Raymond’s clean singing/spoken word delivery on Aegis – which would become a staple on future albums – had a direct influence on the atmosphere of the songs, which left some fans disappointed. Years later, however, Aegis is widely regarded as one of Theatre of Tragedy’s strongest records even by the (former) naysayers.

“Many people were screaming ‘They’re going goth mainstream!’ and pulling their hair out,” Liv remembers, “but it was nothing like that. It was just another influence coming into the band, which was guitarist Tommy Olsson. He’s a huge Sisters of Mercy fan, and he brought in this way of playing guitar. Ray realized that he had to develop in some way concerning his vocals to match his sound.”

“This was a natural progress for Raymond and the band,” drummer Hein Frode Hansen explains. “We changed both our guitar players and that obviously brought new influences to the band. The goth rock and elements of traditional songwriting became more relevant, and we wanted to make the perfect goth record for both metal and goth fans. It was probably more goth with a metal sound than the other way around (laughs). It was an homage and a wink to the elders Fields Of The Nephilim, Sisters Of Mercy, The Cure, The Cult and The Mission, and we started experimenting more with programming and samples. The feedback was very diverse, but most people came to enjoy it. As one fan said, ‘It is the perfect album to make love to!’” Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

It was announced back in February 2012 that Norway’s Theatre Of Tragedy, who spawned the career of Leaves’ Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine and officially called it quits in October 2010, were working on remastered re-issues of their first three albums: the self-titled debut, Velvet Darkness They Fear, and Aegis. Initially meant to be released in late 2012, Massacre Records have confirmed July 5th as the official release date for all three albums in digipack CD and double vinyl LP formats.

The re-releases will feature rare bonus material, and will also include a band interview conducted by me split into three parts, one for each album. It was an honour to be asked by the Theatre Of Tragedy family to contribute to the re-issues, and I consider it to be a personal career highlight.

Following is an brief excerpt from the interview conducted for Velvet Darkness They Fear, which will appear in full in the re-issue liner notes. Call it an attempt to help promote the releases coupled with my pride getting away from me just this once.

Enjoy….

Theatre+of+Tragedy

Velvet Darkness They Fear

Released in August 1996, Velvet Darkness They Fear is regarded as Theatre of Tragedy’s breakthrough album due to the popularity of the single ‘Der Tanz der Schatten’. It was unthinkable that a proclaimed doom-goth metal band could achieve commercial success on any level, yet they did just that. The Theatre’s German fans in particular embraced the song, leading to rumblings in the background that ‘Der Tanz der Schatten’ was a calculated attempt to cash in on a fanbase that had made itself known when the band’s debut hit the shelves the year before. This wasn’t the case according to drummer Hein Frode Hansen:

“Me and Raymond (Rohonyi/growls) were really into a lot of German darkwave bands like Das Ich, Lacrimosa, Goethes Erben and such at the time, and Raymond really wanted to do a song in German. A few of the other members were really against the idea and thought it would do more harm than good, and that nothing good would come out of it. Little did they know. The single hit both the metal crowd as well as the ‘grufties’ (goths) and became a huge club hit. What’s even stranger is when Brazilian bands cover a Norwegian band that sings in German (laughs).”

Vocalist Liv Kristine elaborates: “Both Raymond and myself chose German to be our third language at Gymnasium and we were hooked on the language. That was two years before we went on tour, but we wanted to write a song in German so we asked Tilo Wolf from Lacrimosa to help us with the lyrics. The version Raymond and I came up with wasn’t nearly as good as what Tilo wrote, but it was a good try and the song turned out really well. And one month after we’d recorded ‘Der Tanz der Schatten’, Ray and me both started studying German in university at home in Stavanger.” Continue Reading

The tribute album dedicated to Woods Of Ypres frontman David Gold – who passed away in December 2011 – entitled A Heart Of Gold: Tribute To Woods Of Ypres, is now available for digital download via Bandcamp.com at this location.

Fans can purchase a CD hard copy of the album by sending $20 via PayPal with your name, mailing address and email to DavidGoldTribute@gmail.com.

Heart-of-Gold-A-Tribute-to-Woods-of-Ypres-e1343246205256

The confirmed tracklist is as follows:

Disc 1
‘Thrill Of The Struggle’ – Catuvolcus
‘Adora Vivos’ – Raphael from Musk Ox
‘Lightning And Snow’ – Earthen
‘Falling Apart’ – Canopy
‘A Meeting Place And Time’ – Panzerfaust
‘Finality’ – Kuhrzarth
‘The Sun Was In My Eyes’ – Anemic
‘Retrosleep In The Morning Calm’ – Albireon
‘Suicide Cargoload’ (live) – Gypsy Chief Goliath
‘Career Suicide’ – Reliquis

Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

It was announced back in February 2012 that Norway’s Theatre Of Tragedy, who spawned the career of Leaves’ Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine and officially called it quits in October 2010, were working on remastered re-issues of their first three albums: the self-titled debut, Velvet Darkness They Fear, and Aegis. Initially meant to be released in late 2012, Massacre Records have confirmed July 5th as the official release date for all three albums in digipack CD and double vinyl LP formats.

The re-releases will feature rare bonus material, and will also include a band interview conducted by me split into three parts, one for each album. It was an honour to be asked by the Theatre Of Tragedy family to contribute to the re-issues, and I consider it to be a personal career highlight.

Following is an brief excerpt from the interview conducted for the self-titled debut, which will appear in full in the re-issue liner notes. Call it an attempt to help promote the releases coupled with my pride getting away from me just this once.

Enjoy….

TheatreofTragedy4-1

The journey started with a simple demo tape, which received favourable reactions first in Theatre of Tragedy’s hometown of Stavanger, Norway and then from the international metal press. From there everything snowballed, and the rest is history.

“Most of us were so young and inexperienced at the time, so we didn’t really have the fear of being ridiculed, nor the ambitions to make it big,” says drummer Hein Frode Hansen. “We were just a bunch of kids wanting to make a hybrid of our different musical influences at the time. Individually, we were mediocre musicians at best, but together we were something fresh and new.”

“We all came from different backgrounds and that what made it so special,” continues guitarist Tommy Lindal. “We simply put some elements of all the members together and it sounded really cool; metal with piano and soprano vocals. My impression at the time was that we didn’t worry too much about if the people liked it or not, as long we enjoyed it ourselves.”

The debut album seemed to be a risky affair on many levels. The Theatre was more than a bit daring when one considers there was nothing heavy or metal about ‘…a Distance there is…’ , a track featuring piano, cello, Liv’s vocals, and the sound of falling rain. The song has since become the cornerstone of the debut for many diehard Theatre of Tragedy fans. Tommy remembers working on the track:

“…’a Distance there is…’ is a song that I think everybody in the band has a different relationship to. We were in Sweden at Dan Swanö´s studio, spending our Christmas alone in Sweden recording the debut. Lorentz and Liv had some ideas and ended up recording the song. The cello was Dan Swanö’s brilliant idea; he called a friend to drop by the studio and record some cello parts. It took some hours and the result was amazing. We were all was excited about it and decided to put it on the record.” Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

Over the last couple months I’ve been subjected to some unsigned bands that have done a great job of knocking me on my ass. Call this Round 1 of what will hopefully be an ongoing column on this site assuming the music continues to grab my attention as these folks have. Read on if yer curious….

Over The Coals

Over The Coals out of Vancouver have started make a buzz outside of their regular haunts thanks to the video for the song ‘My Worth’, a track taken from a forthcoming EP. It’s my understanding that they used to have a male singer – YouTube footage supports this – but the addition of one Susie Myers seems to have been the clincher in terms of solidifying the band’s sound. First thing that came to mind when I heard ’em…. it sounds like Strapping Young Lad and My Ruin had a baby. Must be a West Coast thing. It’s impossible to judge them on one song, of chorus, but I like the sound of serious potential

Check out Over The Coals on Facebook here. The video for ‘My Worth’ can be found here. Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

On February 7th, I was contacted by vocalist Todd La Torre, who was known first and foremost as the frontman for Crimson Glory before replacing Geoff Tate as the singer of Queensrÿche in 2012, effectively pulling double duty. After a lengthy conversation and some minor editing, La Torre handed over a press release exclusively for BW&BK (found here) announcing that, after approximately three years as Crimson Glory’s voice, he had officially resigned.

La Torre was introduced to Crimson Glory by Matt La Porte (Jon Oliva’s Pain, Circle II Circle), becoming an official member in 2010. He helped to ignite and give new life to the legendary band that had been on hiatus for nearly ten years, and mourning the loss of original vocalist Midnight. Crimson Glory emerged back into the world arena metal scene with very high praise and acceptance. La Torre toured as the new voice of Crimson Glory throughout Europe in celebration of the band’s 25th Anniversary with great success.

Talk of a new album was highly anticipated and the band appeared to be firing on all cylinders.

“We were writing the new album and things were looking good, says La Torre. “We had interest from two major European labels, which was very promising. I was very honored and proud that we were on the rise, and the fans were embracing all that we were doing. We had wonderful momentum and we were working within an important window of time within which the new record should have been recorded and released to have the most impact given the bands resurgence. Unfortunately, the record never materialized despite my best efforts.”

“My involvement with Queensrÿche had nothing to do with the album progress,” he continues. “I haven’t been contacted to write with Crimson Glory for over six months. As a band, our writing sessions were slow, eventually becoming non-existent before I ever joined Queensrÿche. During the specific timeframe that I was in talks with Queensrÿche, members of CG were simultaneously occupied by other external and internal endeavors that apparently absorbed the time and/or will away from CG, which is not fallacious per se, but it proceeded in passivity. The main reason for my resignation from Crimson Glory is primarily due to its inertia status.” Continue Reading

So, me and my extended BW&BK family have issued our individual Best Of 2012 lists because that’s the sort of thing you do in this biz as the new year kicks off. I’ve decided to post my long-winded overview of the last 12 months here, with a link provided leading to my Top 10 Albums list along with other honourable (and dishonourable) mentions…

It was a rollercoaster of a year, as they all are in the music biz.

From being blindsided by Halestorm’s new album The Strange Case Of… and becoming a fan against my will, to dealing with a fuckwit promo rep at Roadrunner Records who decided to change my questions in an email interview because she felt they were “too harsh” for her artist (um, shouldn’t that be for the artist to decide?), to bucket list interviews with Brighton Rock’s Gerry McGhee and the lovely Lita Ford, to witnessing some amazing shows on both sides of the pond, 2012 has been quite the adventure.

See the list here for the Hot and Not albums of my year, then pick apart my sanity at your leisure.

Gotta say that I was surprised at not being disappointed by any of the shows I was able to attend this year. The third annual European run of Rock Meets Classic featuring Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Steve Lukather (Toto), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band), three-fifths of Primal Fear’s roster and Trillium vocalist Amanda Somerville was positively brilliant, with PF singer Ralf Scheepers going above and beyond lending his voice to the Toto hit ‘Rosanna’ (!). Watching Devin Townsend successfully manipulate a Motörhead crowd into doing his bidding was a gut-buster, seeing former Helloween members Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen on stage together with Unisonic belting out classics ‘I Want Out’ and ‘Future World’ was ’87 surreal, and the Leaves’ Eyes / Firewind tour that looked so weird on paper turned out to be one of the best gigs of the past 12 months.

Nightwish gets a scrapbook all its own due to a brilliant show in Nuremberg – featuring more pyro than the sun – and a day and night hanging with some of the finest people in the metal business. Continue Reading

One of the things I enjoy most about the whole music biz schtick is the people I meet along the way. Not just the so-called rock stars; label reps, tour managers, promoters, stage crews, promo people, merchandise watchdogs, other journalists…. I’ve met plenty of each and I’m proud to call many of them my friends.

One such specimen is Australian sound engineer Matt West, who has worked for the likes of Testament, Motörhead, and several non-metal artists; a gentleman whom I met by chance and turned out to be quite a nice guy largely due to his warped sense of humour and love of metal. Turns out we also share a love of photography, and Matt has taken a big step by releasing a book of 200 shots compiled from his travels around the world.

Gotta say, I’m impressed.

Following is an overview of the book by Matt and the official press release for the book, entitled Moments:

Matt: “Moments is a collection of images with minimal information: only a title and location accompanying each shot. My desire is to leave the interpretation up to you. A random sequence of apparently unconnected photos, moving from one country to the next, through the randomness of the images you are invited to make your own connections. The dialogue of this book is both personal and internal.

There are to be no band or celebrity shots here. These are moments that caught my eye while wandering foreign lands. A collection of images from around the world taken while on the road, mostly away from the crowds and the flashing lights.

This is a book for when you have a few quiet moments of your own to drift away. It’s easy reading and easy viewing. I hope you will find something that inspires your imagination.” Continue Reading

Guns N’ Roses – better known by the old schooler such as myself as Axl & Roses these days – kicked off their residency at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, NV on October 31st. Author, journalist, musician, internet radio host, long time BW&BK supporter and good friend Joel Gausten was in attendance and checked in with an exclusive review of the show. An excerpt is available below:

By Joel Gausten

“One-hundred minutes. That’s how long it took Axl Rose and his current incarnation of Guns N’ Roses to take the stage at the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on October 31st AFTER the 9:00pm start time actually listed on the damn ticket. While a local opening band called 333 did their best to placate the crowd with their brand of Nickelback-lite alt metal (and came back and played an additional 20 minutes AFTER ‘Thank you, good night!’), the groans from within the crowd grew louder with each passing minute. Was that bastard going to screw his audience AGAIN, even on the first night of a lengthy residency in Vegas? Would the headlines about Axl’s erratic behavior once again take center stage over the guy’s unbelievable talents? Would this guy flat-out suck? Anyone who has witnessed the train wreck that occurred at the band’s recent Bridge School Benefit gig surely couldn’t know what in the world to expect as the lights finally dimmed on the Joint’s stage. Would this much-hyped string of shows be the final nail in the coffin for one of Rock’s most incendiary acts?” Continue Reading