By Carl Begai
Best known as the voice and attitude of full-on traditional metal bashers Benedictum, Veronica Freeman has traded in the leather, chains and knee-high bitch boots for a romp with presumably tamer melodic rock/metal. Teaming up with a host of accomplished musicians / songwriters including Pete Wells (Benedictum), Jeff Pilson (Foreigner, ex-Dokken), Michael Sweet (Stryper) and Mike Lepond (Symphony X) to name a few, Freeman has put out a genuinely strong first solo effort boasting the ’70s / ’80s vibes and flavours of classic KISS, Dokken, a bit of AC/DC, and even present day Stryper. The 12-track album features Freeman pulling back on her raging Ronnie James Dio-esque voice just enough for a more soulful delivery suited for this type of rawk, but by no means does it soften any of the blows delivered. Think a pissed off Anastacia backed by walls of distortion and guitar shred, which is a very good thing. But, her familiar in-your-face roar is most certainly part of this production, unleashed as needed.
Now Or Never features two songs co-written with Michael Sweet, with ‘Again’ kicking things off and ‘Love Should Be To Blame’ surfacing mid-album; both could have made the cut for Stryper’s recent No More Hell To Pay record. ‘Roller Coaster’ is reminiscent of classic Destroyer-era KISS, ‘Kiss My Lips’ (featuring Chastain singer Leather Leone guesting) has more groove than every track on the new AC/DC record, and the (real) album-closing salvo of ‘Ready To Run’ is reminiscent of early, early Dokken’s classic ‘Live To Rock (Rock To Live)’. Continue Reading
So, once again, a wrap-up of the Hots and Nots from the year gone by courtesy of my day job at BW&BK. The whole rundown of Brave Embarrassments, Best Concerts, assorted predictions and pleas to stop music industry stupidity can all be found here.
Below you’ll find my Top 10 list of favourite albums of 2013 and a long-winded summary of why the year didn’t suck for music… at least in my world.
Top Ten – 2013
1) ANNIHILATOR – Feast (UDR)
2) CHILDREN OF BODOM – Halo Of Blood (Nuclear Blast)
3) STRYPER – No More Hell To Pay (Frontiers)
4) QUEENSRŸCHE – s/t (Century Media)
5) HEADSTONES – Love & Fury (Universal/Frostbyte)
6) DUSKMACHINE – Duskmachine (Massacre)
7) THE NEW BLACK – III: Cut Loose (AFM)
8) JAMES LABRIE – Impermanent Resonance (InsideOut)
9) THRAWSUNBLAT – Wanderer On The Continent Of Saplings (Ignifera Records)
10) HELLOWEEN – Straight Out Of Hell (Sony)
By Carl Begai
When a band releases an album for free, the knee-jerk reaction is to dismiss it as a collection of odds and bits that aren’t worthy of an official “real world” physical release. A Southern Revelation is available at no cost to friend and foe alike (details below), featuring brand new material written and recorded in the wake of a label-instigated shitsorm that would have ripped a lesser band to shreds. Call it nine shots of venom capped off with a chaser celebrating the good old days, served up as a middle finger dedicated to Tiefdruck Musik boss Daniel Heerdman following the botched release of My Ruin’s previous record, Ghosts And Good Stories.
A bloodletting rather than an exorcism, vocalist Tairrie B. Murphy tears down Heerdmann, false promises, industry politics and the posers it spawns, ever the elegant wordsmith whether she’s a raging scream or calculated spoken word. Always a treat to listen to – “listen” being the operative word – lyrical violence abounds, with Tairrie venting in her trademark no-bull fashion on ‘Walk Of Shame’, ‘Middle Finger’, ‘Seventh Sacrament’, ‘Deconsecrated’, and the killing blow, ‘The Soulless Beast’. And while certain folks may feel that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, being compared in song to the devil and stamped as “The Great Pretender” by name should be food for change of thought. Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
Music journalists / writers are often pegged within the industry as frustrated musicians that didn’t have the chops or couldn’t take the heat. Not entirely accurate, but you need only to glance through a malicious self-serving review or half-hearted article to find the guilty-as-charged. Author / journalist Joel Gausten is far from being one of the disenchanted, boasting instead a successful catalogue of books and a long and colourful music career that shows signs of picking up even more steam. To date he has written books on Black Sabbath, Prong, Killing Joke, The Undead and The Misfits, and a tome on Satanism. His punk / metal credits include an extended stint with The Undead, The Misfits, Pigface, Electric Frankenstein, and a work-in-progress under the name Effectionhate. In all, an impressive little empire that shows every sign of continued growth, largely because the brain behind it is bolted in place and his vision is crystal clear.
“I’ve always been very, very interested in writing,” Gausten says, beginning a two part interview on his escapades. “It’s something I’ve always loved and it really started for me in grade school. As a young kid I has some speech problems, so I always found it more effective to write in terms of plain old communication. I guess it was about Grade 5 where I really started to discover music, and I was into what I guess you could call the popular hard rock music of the day. Gun N’ Roses was just starting to get noticed, stuff like that, so I actually published my own ‘zine (laughs). It didn’t really have anything in it; it was just regurgitating stuff from real magazines, and I sold it in my school through the student council and raised 13 bucks at a quarter each (laughs). That’s when I realized ‘Hmm, there might be something to this.’ That was my first big success.”
By 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’…”