By Carl Begai
One of the big metal events of 2015 was the highly anticipated Savatage reunion show at the world renowned Wacken Open Air. Many fans were sceptical of the band’s return to the stage when the buzz first started, however, as Savatage’s sister-act the Trans-SiberianOrchestra had absorbed the band members on its rise to arena rock mega-fame following Savatage’s Poets And Madmen tour in 2002. It was TSO’s continuing success as one of the highest grossing annual tours in North America that had presumably stalled any further output from the Savatage camp and effectively put them on hiatus. The press discovered over the course of 2015 that a Savatage reunion at Wacken was very much a reality in the making, with band members sworn to secrecy by management during press engagements for their own projects; it affected guitarist Chris Caffery and Circle II Circle vocalist Zak Stevens in particular, as they both had new albums come out in 2015.
“That was right up to the day of the show,” says Stevens. “You know how management is; everything has to be top secret (laughs). We really felt is was that way right up until we hit the stage. It was crazy, yeah, but everyone did a pretty good job. The consensus among some people is that we could have done better, we could have taken it more seriously. I think we had a little bit of a chip on our shoulder because we’re older, we did the rehearsals and figured out that we’re a lot better now than we were back in ’97 when we played the main stage at Wacken. And everybody in the band fell in love again. That was fantastic because it was clear that everybody missed it.”
“We had this really aggressive plan to hit the two stages at once, using fiber optic technology so we wouldn’t have any signal loss, and we brought all the pyro that we use in a season with two companies in TSO and blow it all off on one night… without trying to blow anybody up (laughs). We had one pyro meeting before the show and you would have loved that. You would have laughed your ass off because it was like ‘Okay everybody, gather round. We’ve got all this pyro from the TSO tours, we’re going to blow it all up tonight, these are the places you don’t want to stand…’ They asked how many people on stage were new to pyro and about 40% raised their hands. I raised my hand because I’ve never been involved with that kind of pyro (laughs). Because I’m a frontman and one of the elder statesman they pulled me aside and said ‘Look, definitely don’t stand here, here, here and here…’ (laughs).” Continue reading SAVATAGE Vocalist ZAK STEVENS Comes Full Circle – “You’re About To Do The Biggest Show Of Your Life”
By Carl Begai
In mid-2011, Calgary-based Kobra And The Lotus surprised their fans with the release of a video for the song ‘Welcome To My Funeral’. At the time it was a non-album track, a taste of what was coming down the pipe later in the year with their second official record, Visionary. It was a bold move, particularly since there had been zero build-up to the new record in the press prior to the video release, and shocking in that singer Brittany “Kobra” Paige’s vocal style had evolved even further since the band’s 2010 debut, Out Of The Pit. Everything was ready to go for Visionary right down to the artwork, but the band’s plans were abruptly scuttled when they were offered a deal with Spinefarm / Universal in cooperation with KISS legend Gene Simmons’ label, Simmons Records.
A new game plan was put into play along with a couple line-up changes, and Kobra And The Lotus found themselves back at the drawing board for what would become their self-titled second outing.
“When we signed the new deal the label wanted us to write more material for them to choose from so we could release the strongest album possible,” says Paige. “They also wanted to keep it upbeat, so they cut all the ballads. We wrote a bunch of fast hit-you-in-the-face songs and they picked four to be used with what we already had for Visionary. We actually wrote ‘Forever One’ in the studio, and that was created out of four different demos that the label decided not to use (laughs). It was pretty crazy taking chopped up pieces of songs and realizing we had one really solid song in there. What’s really interesting is how the band has evolved sound-wise on the new album. There are a lot of dual guitar leads, there’s some thrash in there now. Everything is so much bigger now.” Continue reading KOBRA AND THE LOTUS – From Vision To Venom
By Carl Begai
Dubai-based death metal bashers Nervecell are all about crushing stereotypes. Their agenda is entirely musical in nature and not at all politically or culturally motivated, contrary to what the mainstream media would have you believe about everything and everyone coming out of the Middle East. The whole “Nice guys finish last” adage has likewise been squashed, as the humble and soft spoken quartet – when they’re off stage, at any rate – have spent the summer and will be closing out 2009 as the first Middle Eastern metal band ever to tour through Europe. It’s a journey Nervecell earned with all-important European one-off festival shows in 2007 and 2008 and their Preaching Venom album, having made enough of an impression to warrant more dates, bigger crowds, and a growing fanbase. At press time the band was gearing up for an appearance at the prestigious Wacken Open Air in Germany, considered to be the metal equivalent of a “Yes We Can” banner. The world being what it is, however, it’s fair to say that Nervecell’s origins make them a something of a novelty on the European scene, resulting in a great deal of dubious curiosity and head-scratching prior to the inevitable full blown acceptance.
Continue reading NERVECELL – Practice What They Preach