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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WINGER – II: In The Heart Of The Young (1990)

wingerThere are albums in every metalhead’s collection where you just kinda shake your head and wonder how much you’d had to drink prior to hitting the Midnight Madness sale at the local record store. Then there are those albums that you swear no amount of alcohol, drugs and offers of drunken monkey sex combined could ever convince you to listen to let alone spend money on. And yet, there it sits, filed away neatly amongst the pure fucking metal you claim to live your life by, a festering musical zit recalling the glaring lack of taste symptomatic of youth.
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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.

Retro Fit: VOIVOD – Negatron (1995)

negatron1I have a vivid memory of driving down Victoria Park Ave. in Toronto with former M.E.A.T Magazine colleagues Drew Masters and Adrian Bromley, with Masters taunting us with a game of “Name That Singer” as he gleefully seared our eardrums with the newest promo CD in his disc-changer. Looking back, I’m embarrassed to admit I couldn’t even figure out who the band was even though the shred and clatter of the music was so obviously Voivodian (read: very Canadian, like beer and hockey). Continue reading Retro Fit: VOIVOD – Negatron (1995)

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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Waking Up Dead – Interview From 2005 With SAIGON KICK Drummer Phil Varone

Part 2 of my 2005 coverage of SAIGON KICK drummer Phil Varone’s fall-from-grace documentary Waking Up Dead featuring an interview with the man himself, originally published by BW&BK. Call it a dose of “rock star” reality…

Phil Varone entered the heavy metal arena in 1991 with Saigon Kick, a little known band from Florida that would go on to become a cult favourite on the metal scene before imploding in the mid-90’s. Varone would take part in a Saigon Kick reunion tour in 2000 – reportedly where his troubles with drugs began in earnest – and would eventually resurface with Skid Row, going on to record on their comeback album, Thickskin, in 2003. The tour that followed and the addictions that went with it ultimately brought Varone crashing to earth. He’s clean now, however, focusing on his second chance at life.

“I’ve been off drugs for a while now,” Varone says. “I go to my cardiologist regularly, I go the gym six days a week, I have a trainer, so I’ve really done a 180 with my life and I feel great. I’ve never felt better, to be quite honest with you.”

According to Varone, it took leaving Skid Row and the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle behind to bring about the change in his lifestyle.

“Basically, my doctor said that if I went back out on the road I was going to die” he reveals. “I made the decision at that point to quit what I was doing and clean up. I went through some mild heart attack situations on the road that we actually have on tape, got close to overdosing a couple times, all that shit. Bottom line is that the music industry and being on the road exposed me to a lot of things. My decision to stop touring was for health reasons, and because I also have children that I need to take care of, to be around. When we decided to do this movie and we had all this interest in it, I saw that I could help people with it. Waking Up Dead is part of my rehabilitation.” Continue reading Waking Up Dead – Interview From 2005 With SAIGON KICK Drummer Phil Varone

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

stryper-thwtd-1st

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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