Amanda Somerville

All posts tagged Amanda Somerville

“You know all is not well when Hell resorts to outsourcing to close deals made with the Devil. Or in this case, a guy named Stan.”

That’s the tagline for my new would-be book, a work of fiction entitled GRIM – My Way To Hell. I launched a 30 day Kickstarter campaign a little over two weeks ago in an attempt to raise pre-order funds to finance its publication. If all goes well, the book will be released in October 2016.

Some people might remember, however, that I condemned the idea of crowdfunding in my BraveWords year-end write up back in 2014, which makes me something of a hypocrite. Funny how things come back to bite you in the ass when you least expect it. The problem is I’ve had this book burning a hole in my brain for the last few years, and real life being what it is, saving the funds needed to publish a book independently with a limited income is next to impossible. So, I’ve had to swallow my pride. We’re going to see what happens with this, and if the campaign fails I’ll have to go back and do things the hard way.

Cover art for the book was created by former BW&BK graphic artist Hugues Laflamme, while the video trailer above features music composed exclusively for the project by After Forever guitarist / death vocalist Sander Gommans. The voiceover was provided by Trillium / Avantasia vocalist Amanda Somerville. It was shot and edited by video director Andreas Spitz. Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

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Ingolstadt, Germany: March 10th, 2015

So, show #1 of Rock Meets Classic 2015 is in the books. As expected there were the usual first show glitches, missed cues and general stiffness, but it promises to be one of the best RMC tours yet (and the last two years are pretty damn hard to top). Looking forward to see how this monster grows.

Noteworthy bits and bites:

– by far the best intro performance Rock Meets Classic has ever had. Doing up ‘Thunderstruck’ Apocalyptica-style = brilliant.

– Marc Storace of Krokus singing ‘Long Stick Goes Boom’ backed by an orchestra? Gold.

– Asia frontman John Wetton sounds exactly the same as 30 years ago. Killer.

– Mat Sinner smiles a lot.

– Mr. Big vocalist Eric Martin has way too much fun for one person. By mid-tour ‘To Be With You’ is going to be epic. The backing vocalists blew the roof off on ‘Green Tinted Sixties Mind’ (nice going Amanda, Tiffany, Kolinda and Sascha… mind blown).

– hails to guitarist Oliver Hartmann for remembering “the note” during the solo for ‘To Be With You’. Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

It was recently announced that after almost five years Kiske / Somerville – the project featuring vocalists Michael Kiske (Unisonic, ex-Helloween) and Amanda Somerville (Trillium, HDK, Avantasia) – have reunited for a new album entitled City Of Heroes. Due out in April, preparations are currently underway to present a bigger and better than the self-titled debut from 2010, which went over a storm amongst the project’s ready-made fanbase.

On February 4th the full band – Kiske, Somerville, Mat Sinner (bass / Primal Fear, Sinner), Magnus Karlsson (guitars / Primal Fear, Starbreaker) and Veronika Lukešová (drums / Rock Meets Classic) – descended upon Nuremberg, Germany and met up with director Martin Müller to shoot video clips for the songs ‘City Of Heroes’ and ‘Walk On Water’. A behind-the-scenes photo gallery from the 12+ hour shoot can be viewed below.

No vocalists, musicians, instruments, video directors, assistants or photo-journalists were harmed during filming. Catering was awesome.

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Continue Reading

This story was originally published on this site back in April 2014, heralding the arrival of HDK’s new album Serenades Of The Netherworld. Or rather, the first taste of the record in the form of two singles to get people talking, which they did. Here’s the updated version of the story to coincide with the full album’s September 1st release.

By Carl Begai

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It’s been five years since former After Forever guitarist Sander Gommans broke his self-imposed hiatus from the music business with HDK, a slavering beast of a project that flew in the face of his former band’s symphonic goth metal sound. The debut album, System Overload, was a full-on metal assault that presented both Gommans and vocalist/co-conspirator Amanda Somerville (Trillium, Avantasia) entering unexplored territory, showing off a very different and altogether volatile side of their musical personalities. A second HDK album was always in the cards; it was just a question of when the pair would get around to writing and recording it in amongst other projects that were on the go, which included the launch of Gommans’ studio/music school The Rock Station, working on albums from Trillium and Kiske / Somerville, and tours with Trillium, Avantasia and Rock Meets Classic. Serenades Of The Netherworld has finally surfaced – creeping into the light slowly but surely – as a bigger and more melodic take on System Overload. It’s certainly more dynamic and less bent on bludgeoning the listener into submission, but not at the expense of healthy sonic violence.

Amanda: “That wasn’t because of me. That was definitely Sander’s fault (laughs).”

Sander: “The thing is, with the first album I wanted to do something really different from After Forever. I’d wanted to do it for years and years, and that’s what came out. Since then I’ve had time to work with other artists and re-think some stuff. I wanted to write a new HDK album that was similar to the previous one but it came out much more symphonic and way more melodic. I didn’t have to distance myself from After Forever anymore, and I was ready to write stuff that was more melodic anyway like I did for Trillium and Kiske / Somerville. And I worked with keyboard players this time, so that gave the music a different feel as well. The new HDK is still heavy but it’s different from the first album..”

Amanda: “On the first album Sander was saying ‘There aren’t going to be any keyboards on the album because After Forever is full of frickin’ keyboards…’ (laughs). I think that has a lot to do with how the new HDK album turned out.” Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

What started five years ago as an interesting concept of mashing a rock band with an orchestra live on stage in support of popular vocalists of yesteryear, Rock Meets Classic has set a new standard for itself and anyone dumb enough to try and rip them off. Following successful runs through select parts of Europe – primarily Germany – with stars such as Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Paul Rodgers (Bad Company), Steve Lukather (Toto), Dan McCafferty (Nazareth), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) and Eric Bazilian (The Hooters) to name only some of ’em, the 2014 edition of Rock Meets Classic serves up its most diverse line-up yet with unexpectedly positive results. As in, a brilliant high quality ass-kicking.

In all honestly, hearing that Alice Cooper, the Uriah Heep duo of Mick Box and Bernie Shaw, and Joe Lynn Turner were going to share the stage with the likes of ’80s popsters Kim Wilde and Midge Ure (Ultravox) for the tour left me scratching my head in disbelief. As in, I was curious as to who was smoking what when they dreamed up a supposed musical car crash. It’s supposed to be ROCK Meets Classic after all, and although The Mat Sinner Band and the Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague have never disappointed in the past, I wondered who the hell would even care about Kim Wilde and Midge Ure.

A whole hell of a lot of people as it turns out. And rightly so, as the duo stood toe-to-toe with their rock pedigree tourmates.

So, rather than penning an overblown review with too many windbag adjectives, the following is a list of highlights from Rock Meets Classic’s fifth show of 2014 on March 14th Würzburg, Germany:

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– the Würzburg show and audience crushed the Nuremberg production from the night before.

– backing vocalists Amanda Somerville, Tiffany Kirkland, Kolinda Brozovic, Ralf Scheepers and Sascha Krebs were given the deserved opening spotlight with a great rendition of the Queen classic ‘Show Must Go On’. It was also nice to see they still have their own individual looks and a minimal choreography rather than being decked out like penguin clones. Scheepers still looks metal, and nobody is trying to hide Kirkland’s rather awesome haircut (especially the lady herself).

– Midge Ure’s voice is amazing, and the symphonic rock version of the Ultravox hit ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ is a keeper. Thank the appropriate diety for YouTube so you can experience it.

– Joe Lynn Turner wore a vest that looked like the couch my parents had back when I was a kid in 1975. He sounds just as good as he ever did, which is bloody amazing.

– seeing and hearing four of five Primal Fear members out of their metal comfort zone is always a blast. They set a new benchmark for themselves this year.
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By Carl Begai

In recent years, Primal Fear bassist Mat Sinner has crossed over from the realms of metal and become a familiar face / presence to the mainstream rock crowd in parts of Europe. As one of the masterminds behind Rock Meets Classic – which is exactly what it sounds like – he has seen what started as a grand touring experiment morph into a highly anticipated packed-to-the-rafters annual event. Boasting the Mat Sinner Band and the Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague as its foundation, Rock Meets Classic is gearing up for its fifth run in March / April 2014 featuring some of the finest rock vocalists/musicians the ’70s and ’80s has to offer. Previous outings with Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Steve Lukather (Toto), Lou Gramm (Foreigner), Dan McCafferty (Nazareth), Paul Rodgers (Bad Company), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) and Eric Bazilian (The Hooters) went over a storm, appealing to everyone from the unwashed metalheads to the husbands / wives that get out maybe twice a year, to the 65+ year-old pensioners who dress their best for the occasion. The 2014 installment of Rock Meets Classic is shaping up to be another blast for everyone involved regardless of whether they’re on stage or in the audience.

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And while their names may not fill the seats to the extent the featured artists do, Sinner is equally focused on enlisting top notch musicians as members of the Rock Meets Classic backbone. No small wonder the roster hasn’t changed very much since the first run and now features four-fifths of Primal Fear

“If I’m able to give jobs to my bandmates so that they make some decent money on a nice tour, I will,” says Sinner. “And there’s a social part to it, where for example I’m not going to give the drummer position away to another drummer when I have Randy Black. I know Randy can play all this stuff, he’s got the skills, and I know he’s a big fan of some of these singers. Everybody was very, very happy with him on the last Rock Meets Classic tour. He told me he had the time of his life, so of course he wants to do the tour next year. If I can give something back to these guys, there’s nothing wrong with that.” 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

By Carl Begai

I recently caught up with Kamelot guitarist Thomas Youngblood to discuss the band’s new record, Silverthorn. It’s what you’d call a big deal amongst Kamelot fans in that the album features new vocalist Tommy Karevik in place of Roy Khan, and it puts the band’s previous album Poetry For The Poisoned to shame. Reactions have been overwhelmingly positive across the board in spite of Khan’s absence – something that potentially could have cut Kamelot down at the knees – and most fans agree that Silverthorn is the album that should have followed Ghost Opera from 2007.

Silverthorn was planned as a concept album featuring a tale that’s too long to explain here, suffice to say that involves a tragedy, mystery and death. In other words, a story that’s tailor-made for Kamelot’s drama-fuelled symphonic metal approach. Vocalist Amanda Somerville, who has worked behind-the-scenes and recorded backing / guest vocals with Kamelot since The Black Halo in 2005, was on board for Silverthorn as a backing / choir vocalist, and she wrote the story as it appears in the book included with the limited edition box set of the album.

We took some time out from assorted travel madness to discuss her part in the production.

“They had the concept thought out first,” Somerville begins. “Sascha (Paeth / long-time Kamelot producer) and Tommy did the songwriting and they came up with bulletpoints, so they had the main outline of the story for me. The songs are like the details of the story that are still kind of left open to interpretation. We had a Skype session and they explained what they had in mind, but they didn’t have the story with the specific events of what actually happened. For example, they told me the story should start with two brothers and their sister; they’re doing something together, a tragic event takes place, and she dies. I asked how she was supposed to die and they didn’t know, so I came up with situation and scenario. I basically fleshed everything out.”

“I also came up with the way the killings in the story start happening. It’s told from the ‘good brother’s’ perspective, and I thought it would be cool to make it so that it wasn’t quite clear if he really has a twin or if he’s schizophrenic. I mean, we never learn the good brother’s name. It leaves the question open as to whether it might be him doing all these weird things. I wanted it to be intriguing and suspenseful. The time limit and the page limit and the budget made it hard to get all the details in there, so I had to make do with writing the story over 10 pages.” Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

During a recent interview for the as-yet-untitled follow-up to his HDK album from 2009, System Overload, former After Forever guitarist Sander Gommans discussed his involvement on the new metal solo album from singer/songwriter and Avantasia / HDK vocalist Amanda Somerville. Gommans enjoys being his own boss, but he freely admits the creative process for the Trillium debut, Alloy, made him realize that even the master of the universe has to take the back seat once in a while.

“In the beginning it was hard for me because normally you wrote something for somebody and let it go, but since Amanda and I are partners, I didn’t let it go that easily. I wanted to make the best out of it, and I wanted Amanda to make the best choices. I helped her out with some of the administrative stuff and I wrote a few songs, but it was really Amanda’s project and I had to get used to her big involvement. Not so much in the writing of my songs, but in the vocal arrangements and lyrics. She had a really good idea of how the album should sound and what she wanted, and I kept telling her ‘It’s not metal enough… it needs to be more metal.’ And she would tell me, ‘This is my project, I want to have it exactly the way I want to have it…’ (laughs).”

“She made the choices in the creative aspects of the album, and now that it’s out, it’s about surprising to me how cool it is. It offers so much more than the average metal band, and it has so much more to it that you can really see what a talented person Amanda is when it comes to having her own vision. In my arrogance, I found out that I should stop being arrogant and shut up sometimes (laughs).” Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

Back in July, vocalist Amanda Somerville spilled the beans on her first official metal solo project, Trillium (interview available here). With the release of the debut album, Alloy, only weeks away she shot a video for the song ‘Coward’, and we got together the following morning over tea to delve a little deeper into the new album.

It’s safe to say Somerville efforts will surprise a lot of fans – in a good way – and earn her some new ones along the way as Trillium plays out. And while it’s a no-nonsense metal album, anyone that’s followed Somerville’s decade-long non-metal career will wonder if some of the songs were consciously tweaked from a singer / songwriter / acoustic state to the tough-as-nails tracks we’re hearing now. Take away the distortion and the tracks in question would easily fit on her 2009 solo album, Windows.

“It was very conscious, actually,” Somerville reveals. “Songs like ‘Path Of Least Resistance’, ‘Purge’ and ‘Mistaken’ were pretty dark, and I’d planned to put them on my next solo album, which was going to be darker and heavier than anything I’d done before anyway. I had all this material that was building up, and since I’m a piano player and not a guitar player, it was clear to me I’d have to work with someone who played guitar as their main instrument like Sascha (Paeth / producer) or Sander (Gommans / HDK) so they could metal it up. That was the idea from the start, and the way things progressed led to those songs being on this album.”

“The songs that I wrote with Sander – and he’s a prolific songwriter, cranking them out like crazy – we already them had in mind for this project. Sander was totally into it, and every time he sits down with his guitar a song comes out of it. The way we typically work, he writes the instrumental parts and then I come in and suggest whatever changes I think should be made. Then I take the song and write a vocal line and lyrics to it. Sander likes a good challenge as well, though, and when he heard the piano / vocal demo I had for ‘Machine Gun’ he asked if he could work on it. He came up with the big main riff, which really supplements the running theme through the whole song.” Continue Reading