By Carl Begai
Call it a safe bet that a fair number of progressive metal fans feel slighted by having two giants of the genre – vocalist Russell Allen (Symphony X) and Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater) – slamming down ton of bricks modern-edged metal with nary a 5/8 time signature or widdly keyboard flourish in sight. Nope, this is feelgood freight train mayhem minus the seatbelts done up old school, with the dynamic prog duo and guitarist Mike Orlando relying on musicality rather than gutteral aggression and the same old boring-ass downtuned chords to get their message across. Allen is a monster right out of the gate, his melodic bellow on lead-off tracks ‘Undaunted’ and ‘Psychosane’ laying the groundwork for some of the strongest material of his career (and wiping those damn Allen/Lande albums from memory). Orlando was either schooled in Stuck Mojo, or the band’s guitarist Rich Ward – who was in Adrenaline Mob for about 5 minutes – made a lasting impression on his songwriting. When it comes down to the groove crunch, and there’s plenty of it, Orlando’s shred is also an echo of Zakk Wylde, giving folks a welcome taste of Black Label Society. With Portnoy providing the backbone for the Allen/Orlando-penned tunes, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Adrenaline Mob’s overall sound is far and away from your average balls-out 4/4 metal band.
By Carl Begai
I recently caught up with keyboardist Adam Wakeman, the son of Yes keysman Rick Wakeman, to discuss his new prog metal band Headspace. Formed in 2006, the band – also featuring vocalist Damian Wilson, guitarist Pete Rinaldi, bassist Lee Pomeroy and drummer Richard Brook – issued their debut EP in 2007 and are now gearing up for the release of their first full length, I Am Anonymous. Wakeman also offered a look into his current status as a member of Ozzy Osbourne’s band and how that will affect his activities in promoting Headspace when the album in released.
“I would love nothing more, as I know the other guys would, than to dedicate 100% of our time to be out touring with Headspace and making more records. Part of the problem with not being 20 years old anymore is that we’ve got families, and mortgages to pay. We have to balance the time we allocate to each thing. Ozzy is going to be relatively busy this year, but it’s not going to take over the entire year which is good. We will have some time to promote Headspace.”
The easiest solution to the promo problem would be, of course, to nab a support slot on the next Ozzy tour, whenever that comes around.
“I think we could probably do a few shows,” Wakeman agrees, “but the reception we got when we did some support slots (in 2007) was quite funny. I asked Sharon (Osbourne / wife and manager) is we could do it and she asked me ‘Why would you want to be fourth on the bill? There’ll be nobody here.’ This was at Wembley Arena. I said ‘Yeah, but if there are 5,000 people in it’s the equivalent to us playing 20 club shows. We might as well get it out of the way all in one go…’ (laughs). It was good, but people weren’t really expecting us because we got on the bill quite late. So, when we walked on stage people thought we were Black Label Society. You could see the looks of confusion on the faces in the crowd (laughs).” Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
Small town Ontario has given the world big name pop stars Shania Twain (Windsor) and Avril Lavigne (Napanee), and coughed up metal artists that have received international recognition including Helix (Kitchener), Kittie (London), James LaBrie (Penatanguishine), Sebastian Bach (Peterborough), Woods Of Ypres (Sault Ste. Marie) and Protest The Hero (Whitby). Add to this list one Cory Manahan from Keswick, a 17-year-old shredder / singer out to make extreme metal a little more dangerous. His debut album, Commence was released in 2010, quickly marking him in and around Toronto as an up-and-coming talent to watch. It also makes him a little intimidating when one considers the high level of creativity coming from a teenager, following in the footsteps of some of metal’s finest.
For the record, Commence is clearly influenced by modern metal-edged acts such as Slipknot and Lamb Of God, but there’s no mistaking the old school undertones that put the record on par with some of Manahan’s heroes. No small feat for someone who is still learning the ropes.
“I got my first guitar for Christmas when I was 10 or 11,” Manahan begins, “and I started with playing early Zeppelin and Sabbath. When I was about 14 I started getting into the more extreme metal, and I’ve been listening to everything since. And playing and practicing. The first couple years that’s all I did, 12 hours a day. I’m such a nerd (laughs).” Continue Reading
Their third album, easily the best of the four studio records that have come out under the Britny Fox moniker. It featured new vocalist Tommy Paris in place of Tom Keifer wannabe Dean Davidson, giving the band a huge set of balls… something they had been lacking since day one. Totally underrated in spite of the fact it’s a four chord album – hell, if it works for Maiden, why not here? – this is probably one of the last “anthem” hair band records to come out before Cobain and grunge fucked everyone blind for most of the decade. Gorgeous guitar tones and solos for miles, amazing voice, some very cool riffs (and a guest spot by Zakk Wylde), this is one of those better than average cock rock albums I’m actually not ashamed to admit I like. Great driving music as I recall…
Fave tracks: ‘Louder’, ‘Six Guns Loaded’, ‘Black And White’, ‘Over And Out’, ‘Liar’.
THE NEW BLACK – How To Love Your Liver
By Carl Begai
Guitarist Christof Leim was two for two in 2008, cranking out a new Sinner album (Crash & Burn) to rave reviews and launching new street level dirt metal outfit The New Black to equal amounts of high praise. A big change from his one album stint with The Traceelords (The Ali Of Rock – 2006), a band that couldn’t decide if it was metal, rock, or full-on sugar pop and eventually imploded. And while Sinner’s success was assured with Crash & Burn’s return to the band’s rock roots, The New Black was a gamble. Leim had no expectations going in save that the music would better reflect who he is as a musician, making the positive reactions to their demo material and resulting record deal with AFM Records that much sweeter.
“The New Black started before I joined Sinner, and it was one of the good things in life that got the ball rolling: binge drinking,” Leim reveals. “Fabs (Schwarz/guitars) and me attended the Earthshaker Festival in 2006, and we watched the show by a headliner that I won’t mention because they sucked (Lordi), then hit the caiparinha booth. I told him that I had a lot of heavy riffs sitting around that I couldn’t use in The Traceelords because they didn’t fit. Basically, they were a bunch Black Label Society-type riffs. Fabs and I got along great, so the only logical conclusion was that we should form a new band. We got shitfaced and the question came up; ‘So, when should we start this new band?’ Answer: ‘I don’t know, what time is it? 10:45pm? Okay, we’ll start it at 11:00pm…’ (laughs). Fabs is a real musician, not just a rocker, so I sent him three song ideas, and a couple weeks after the festival we were at a party and he pulled out a CD with three songs on it. From there things moved along really quickly.”