AYREON – Everything In Time

arjen-5By Carl Begai

I caught up with Ayreon mastermind Arjen Lucassen a while back to discuss a variety of subjects including the last Ayreon record, 01011001, the Timeline compilation released at the end of 2008, and his new project, Guilt Machine. It was an informal fact-finding mission done outside the confines of the usual press junket routine. Many thanks to Arjen for taking the time; much appreciated.

Discussion begins with the success of 01011001, which had the daunting task of following up The Human Equation, considered by many fans to be the cornerstone of the Ayreon catalogue. By all accounts 01011001 did extremely well, but it was agreed almost across the board that it was harder to get into than its predecessor due to its considerably darker atmosphere. Once inside, however, most fans were hooked.
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SONS OF SEASONS – It’s Good To Be King

oliversons2By Carl Begai

Guitarist / keyboardist Oliver Palotai will tell you that downtime is overrated if it means sitting around doing nothing. So it seems, given that the man has spent the last four years as a card carrying member of Kamelot while juggling schedules with artists such as Doro, Blaze Bayley and Uli Jon Roth both prior to and during his time with the band. A full plate, and one he’s managed to pile a little higher with his own band, Sons Of Seasons. It’s not a mere side-project, either, as Palotai has invested a considerable amount of time, money, heart and soul in getting the band off the ground while honouring his other commitments. The end result is Gods Of Vermin, and dark and atmospheric symphonic metal record that deftly avoids becoming yet another knock-off goth rock album. On the contrary, it’s one of those rare albums that seemingly offers up something new with each listen. Where Palotai found the time to write and record the material, let alone find the band members best suited for the job, is anybody’s guess. Including his.
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BW&BK Interview With WOLF Online…

wolf-2I recently spoke with Johannes “Axeman” Losbäck from WOLF about the band’s new album, Ravenous. An excerpt appears below, with Losbäck discussing the seemingly perpetual comparisons to Iron Maiden…

“The coat fits now and people know that’s going to come out in our sound. At the beginning people would say ‘I like them because they sound like Iron Maiden.’ Nowadays it’s ‘I like them. Period.’ But where would we be without that comparison? We get a lot of Mercyful Fate comparisons these days, which is great. All I can say to that is thank you goddamn very much (laughs). We could do a lot worse. If people want to compare my riffs to Dave Murray or Hank Shermann… please continue (laughs). So, those comparisons come with respect nowadays.

“The Iron Maiden comparison was justified and it still is, and for us it’s a compliment. We love hearing that. Bruce Dickinson plays our stuff on his BBC rock show on Friday nights, and that doesn’t suck. He even played our version of ‘Deja-Vu’ and liked it. If he would think Wolf is a rip-off band somehow I don’t think he’d be doing that.”

Go to this location for the complete interview.

MIDNATTSOL – Out Of The Dark

carmen2By Carl Begai

Carmen Elise Espenaes used to be known as the younger sister of Leaves’ Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine first and the singer of Midnattsol second. That started to change at the beginning of 2008 with the release of Midnattsol’s second album, Nordlys, an unexpectedly ballsy outing leaps and bounds ahead of their 2005 debut in every way. Affectionately referred to by some as having an Amorphis-meets-Iron Maiden sound, Nordlys took the folk metal direction established on Midnattsol’s first record, Where Twilight Dwells, and turned it on its ear. The band was bent on making an impact. More progressive and traditional metal elements, most certainly heavier, better produced, the album showcased a band interested anything but settling for comfortable half-measures. Capping it off was Espenaes’ multi-facetted vocal performance, so strong that one had to wonder where Midnattsol had found their new singer and why she was using the old one’s name. Once perceived as delicate and waif-like, perhaps even insecure in her role fronting a metal band, Espenaes blew the doors off on Nordlys like a seasoned professional. A development that could be seen as well as heard over the course of the select number of shows Midnallsol was able to put in over the past year.
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CANDLEMASS – Doomed If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

candlemasspentagram1By Carl Begai

So, what’s it like having Ronnie James Dio fronting Candlemass?

A question posed by yours truly to bassist/founder Leif Edling on the heels of hearing Candlemass’ new album, Death Magic Doom, for the first time. All in good fun, and meant as a compliment to “new” frontman Robert Lowe and the material he’s given voice to on his second record with the band. Lowe’s voice and Dio’s are indeed similar, making the comparisons to Black Sabbath that have been following Candlemass around seemingly since their inception that much more fitting. Nobody is complaining, however, especially not Edling

“It’s fantastic,” he laughs. “Have you heard his version of ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’? I was gobsmacked when I heard it. He sounds amazing. Dio is Rob’s favourite singer, so now we’re talking about doing ‘Kill The King’…”
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JON OLIVA’S PAIN Drummer CHRIS KINDER Enters The House Of Insanity

In a recent interviewkinder2 with BW&BK, Savatage / Trans-Siberian Orchestra guitarist Chris Caffery revealed that when it came time to work on a new solo album he committed himself to doing it on his own. As in locking himself away from the world in the name of his music for months at a time, surfacing occasionally for a dose of sunlight and to conscript a select few musician friends to fill in the blanks as needed. Once the material for the aptly named House Of Insanity had been hammered into a shape he was happy with, Caffery was left with the problem of mastering the record; a potentially monstrous task in its own right. Rather than take it on alone as well he turned to a member of his extended Savatage family, Jon Oliva’s Pain drummer Chris Kinder, both to preserve his sanity and to ensure a quality album. Caffery has gone on record as saying Kinder brought the songs on House Of Insanity together, citing the drummer’s production work with JOP as more than enough proof he was the right man for the job. Kinder is likewise pleased with the end result and considers the album yet another important step in his development as a producer and, ultimately, a musician.
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BW&BK Interview With DANKO JONES Online

I recently spoke with Toronto’s own Danko Jones for his new B-Sides compilation album, a discussion which quite naturally involved talk about girls and touring with MOTÖRHEAD. An excerpt is available below.

danko2Danko: “I recently bumped into an old high school buddy of mine that I haven’t seen since then, and he was out with a date. We started talking about old times, and then I looked at his date and she seemed familiar, so I asked if we knew each other. She said we knew each other from the early days, and then asked me what I was up to and if the band was still around. That’s when it hit me; it’s been so long that you’d think we wouldn’t be around anymore. I kinda got my back up, told her ‘Yeah, uh, we just got off tour with Motorhead.’ She did one of those ‘Ohmygawd, rilly?’ routines (laughs). It was pretty cool, especially since I did it in front of an old high school buddy. It’s true, though. Bands aren’t supposed to be around for 13 years or even ten years. I really do look back and go, ‘Fuck, this is wild.’”

Go to this location for the complete interview.

ARCH ENEMY – Soccer Chants And Circle Pits

By Carl Begai

Just as Canadians have been pegged by the world at large as being nice and polite in any given situation no matter how dramatic or off-putting (no, we are fucking not), Japanese metal fans have been saddled with the reputation of being reserved and disciplined to a fault regardless of how intense a band might be on stage. Arch Enemy’s latest DVD, Tyrants Of The Rising Sun, rips this myth to shreds. Perhaps it was due to the cameras set up on the night, or maybe it’s because Japan has become Arch Enemy’s home turf in a bizarre trans-continental way, but the audience that the band plays host to on this latest live retrospective was anything but sedate. Like the fans in North America and Europe – perhaps even more so – the Japanese legion hang on every word and every note as the gig plays out, breaking into song and applause when instructed, unleashing soccer chants and circle pits as the music and atmosphere dictate. No question, Japan’s metal fans can wear Arch Enemy’s trademark “Pure Fucking Metal” shirts with pride.
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