KOBRA AND THE LOTUS – Return Of The Priestess (Black Velvet, If You Please…)

By Carl Begai


Canadian bashers Kobra And The Lotus kicked off the summer of 2014 in the best way possible; they released their monstrous High Priestess album to rave reviews, hitting the road the day before the record hit the shelves supporting KISS on their 40 Anniversary North American summer tour alongside Def Leppard. Not the sort of honour bestowed upon one’s metal head every day, especially to a young band that has been paying its dues in the clubs and on festival circuits since 2009. Membership has its privileges, of course – in this case being signed to Simmons/Universal featuring KISS legend and business mogul Gene Simmons – but Kobra And The Lotus still had to deliver to audiences that generally didn’t give a damn about them.

“As a whole that tour was amazing,” says Paige, agreeing the band was widely regarded as window dressing by the diehard KISS fans. “The experience was incredible and really inspiring for us. KISS and Def Leppard were really great to us, they’re great people, and they shared some stories that really put them on the same level with us. It showed us that you have to have faith in yourself and push through a lot of obstacles. Def Leppard told us about getting bottles of piss thrown at them in ’88, but they kept going. The shows were very different and we had to adjust to that. Capacity for the amphitheaters we played was about 20,000 every night, and people were kind of pouring in and having drinks as we were playing, so we’d be in front of 8,000 to 10,000 people but that looks really scattered over that amount of space.”

It sounds as if Kobra And The Lotus were like a restaurant lounge act on any given night; patrons milling about, more concerned about finding their seats and ordering food and booze than the music.

“It was like that! But, it was good for us and it made us improve as performers because we had to figure out how to captivate that kind of audience. It was fun, and there were some shows that were definitely epic. Nashville was completely full when we played and it was amazing, it was so loud. That was probably the highlight for me on that whole tour.” Continue reading KOBRA AND THE LOTUS – Return Of The Priestess (Black Velvet, If You Please…)

BraveWords Interview: SYMPHONY X – “If RUSH Was A Metal Band…”

By Carl Begai


There’s a music snob stigma attached to progressive metal and prog rock based entirely on one’s chosen approach. Young musicians with hearts set on the brass ring try to out-“Metropolis” Dream Theater at every turn (yeah, good luck with that), the diehard fan(atic)s will argue at length as to why their heroes can do no wrong even when the latest epic is clearly a cut/paste car crash of odd time signatures and über-noodling, and the traditional metalhead legions scoff at the thought of math pits versus mosh pits. Early on in their career New Jersey progsters Symphony X were seen as yet another band to be emulated, worshipped and slagged for their niche brand of music, but they’ve broken free from that particular cell block in a big way. It’s a process that began in 2007 with their Paradise Lost album – a metal slab nobody had counted on – took root in 2011 with Iconoclast, and has now grown into something particularly ominous with new outing, Underworld. Symphony X is still prog metal, absolutely, but it’s nice to hear a progressive band that’s not trying to blow away their listeners with 16 time changes in five minutes just to prove they have the chops.

Ask guitarist Michael Romeo and he’ll tell you Underworld is about the songs as a whole, not the flash inside them.

“We were talking about doing different things after eight albums,” he says. “The Rush album Moving Pictures came up a lot in conversation because every song on that record is great. Yeah, there’s some progressive stuff on Underworld but in the end there are just great songs on the record. The only thing we were really thinking about was trying to not to repeat something we’ve done. We wanted to do something a little bit different but have the elements of what people know from Symphony X.”

“The goal was for things to be cohesive and to the point, and if the songs catch people off guard, cool. Yeah, we’re a progressive band, so there’s nothing wrong with putting some measures in 7 somewhere, but we do it without taking away from the songs.” Continue reading BraveWords Interview: SYMPHONY X – “If RUSH Was A Metal Band…”

Only In Canada, Eh! – November 2011: ECLIPSE ETERNAL, DOLL, RUSH Producer RICHARD CHYCKI, And GLEN DROVER Hits The Road For A HAIL! Storm…

Yeah, about a week early, but I’m planning on going out as Silent Bob for Halloween and have to practice not talking shit. So, before I take my vow of quietude…

Eclipse Eternal – home town T.O. black metal skull crushers and a favourite of Swedish producer-to-the-gods Fredrik Nordstrom – have signed with Archaic North Records and will release their new album, The Essence of Hopelessness, on January 14th, 2012 (cover art can be viewed on the left). The band returned to ex-Megadeth guitarist Glen Drover’s Eclipse Studio for the recordings, and according to the pre-release hype sheet it’s going to be the sort of chaos-driven smackdown fans are expecting:

“They have delved into their innermost suffering and wrenched forth an album that is both poignant and memorable. From cold atmospheres to absolute chaos, from acoustic and spoken word interludes to ripping shredding, this album is as brutal as it is stirring.”

So, take that as you will, but past experience has taught me that anything Eclipse Eternal releases rips metal trendies like Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth to shreds. Continue reading Only In Canada, Eh! – November 2011: ECLIPSE ETERNAL, DOLL, RUSH Producer RICHARD CHYCKI, And GLEN DROVER Hits The Road For A HAIL! Storm…

BW&BK Interview: STYX Vocalist LAWRENCE GOWAN – Talkin’ ‘Bout My Regeneration

In 1999, Canadian vocalist / keyboardist / guitarist Lawrence Gowan was invited to join U.S.-based rock legends Styx as a permanent band member. The news came as a surprise on many levels. For one thing, Gowan had replaced Dennis DeYoung, considered by many fans to be the The Voice of the band, and the vast majority of those followers were completely oblivious to Gowan’s star status at home. He was a dreaded unknown. Gowan fans, meanwhile, were left wondering how a star of the Canadian ’80s pop rock scene had managed to attract the attention of a band that had been around for 20 over years by that time.

I was one of them. Having grown up with both Styx and Gowan as a teenager, it was an amazing development that blew me away. The fact that Styx had added Gowan’s breakthrough hit ‘A Criminal Mind’ to their setlist was the icing on an already fattening cake. In 2005, I was given the opportunity to interview Gowan for BW&BK (found here), a personal high that fulfilled one of the unplanned items on my bucket list.

The band recently released the Regeneration album, featuring re-recorded versions of Styx favourites (and a Damn Yankees song or two). And while I didn’t have the chance to speak with Gowan or his bandmates, credit where it’s due to my BW&BK colleague Mitch Lafon for a fantastic in-depth chat with Gowan about the record and his career. An excerpt is available below.

By Mitch Lafon

BraveWords.com: Gowan was a staple on Canadian radio and TV in the ‘80s. ‘Moonlight Desires’, ‘A Criminal Mind’ and ‘Strange Animal’ were top hits…

Gowan: “’Moonlight Desires’ was a #1 video. ‘A Criminal Mind’ was #1 in Montreal.”

BraveWords.com: A friend of mine, Sean Kelly, just did a cover of ‘A Criminal Mind’ on his new solo album – Where The Wood Meets The Wire (Universal).”

Gowan: “I heard that. It’s great.”

BraveWords.com: It just goes to show that people still love that song, but how come Gowan didn’t break through in the United States?

Gowan: “I’ll explain that, but it’s a terribly long, drawn out and boring story. So, last year when I did the Return Of The Strange Animal record – I decided to tell the story in cartoon form. The link is: Gowanstrangeanimal.com. What you’re getting at here is the two completely different music businesses that exist today and existed in the ‘80s. Yesterday, Todd came to me with a new artist from Australia that I had never heard called Gotye. I immediately put in on, looked him up on Youtube… There’s the difference today. If somebody came to me back in the ‘80s and said there’s this new Australian band called AC/DC. How can I get their record? I’d have to go to the import section of my local record store or… But today you can access anything from around the world instantly. Everyone now, automatically gets a world wide release because of the Internet, but the way it was in the 1980’s was the polar opposite of that. The record companies decided who got released where and why. A terrific example would be The Jam in England. They’d play Wembley Stadium in England, but you could barely find their records in the United States and that was the same situation for Platinum Blonde and me in Canada. We were signed to CBS records and although we had international deals and out sold some of the biggest international stars (in Canada) – we couldn’t get a guaranteed release in the United States. It seemed like the hurdle just kept moving and moving and moving…” Continue reading BW&BK Interview: STYX Vocalist LAWRENCE GOWAN – Talkin’ ‘Bout My Regeneration