BraveWords 2015: The Scribes Speak – Carl Begai

At BraveWords we’re doing our annual look back on the year that was, with each scribe offering up their respective lists of Hots and Nots of 2015. My rundown is available below; the original version along with links to the other members of my BraveWords family can be found here.

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Top 20 Albums Of 2015
1) QUEENSRŸCHE – Condition Hüman (Century Media)
2) CRADLE OF FILTH – Hammer Of The Witches (Nuclear Blast)
3) KAMELOT – Haven (Napalm Records)
4) CHILDREN OF BODOM – I Worship Chaos (Nuclear Blast)
5) SYMPHONY X – Underworld (Nuclear Blast)
6) DANKO JONES – Fire Music (Bad Taste)
7) GRAVE – Out Of Respect For The Dead (Century Media)
8) DEAD LORD – Heads Held High (Century Media)
9) CHRIS CAFFERY – Your Heaven Is Real (Metalville)
10) SLAYER – Repentless (Nuclear Blast)
11) HELLOWEEN – My God-Given Right (Nuclear Blast)
12) NONEXIST – Throne Of Scars (Mighty Music)
13) FEAR FACTORY – Genexus (Nuclear Blast)
14) STRYPER – Fallen (Frontiers)
15) CIRCLE II CIRCLE – Reign Of Darkness (earMusic)
16) THE V – Now Or Never (Frontiers)
17) STRATOVARIUS – Eternal (earMusic)
18) ANNIHILATOR – Suicide Society (UDR)
19) LEAVES’ EYES – King Of Kings (AFM)
20) MOTÖRHEAD – Bad Magic (UDR) Continue reading BraveWords 2015: The Scribes Speak – Carl Begai

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…)

KOBRA AND THE LOTUS Vocalist Reveals Cause Of Reduced Touring For High Priestess Album – “I Was Diagnosed With Lyme Disease”

By Carl Begai


During my interview with Kobra And The Lotus vocalist Kobra Paige for the band’s new Canadian rock classic covers EP, Words Of The Prophets, one subject that came up was the band’s lack of touring in support of their full length album from 2014, High Priestess. They had the once-in-a-career experience of opening for KISS and Def Leppard through North America that same year, but Kobra And The Lotus were conspicuously absent from the European touring and festival circuit after years of being non-stop on the go on both sides of the Atlantic. At least that’s how it seemed.

“You’re completely right, we toured significantly less,” agrees Paige. “The main reason for that was I got really sick and the doctors said I couldn’t go out on the road. I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and it got really, really bad. We didn’t tour for eight months. I’m just starting to get back into it now but I’m still on antibiotics and being treated.”

According to medical journals Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks that can cause arthritis, neurological issues, and heart problems. It also wears down your immune system. Fortunately, the disease is NOT contagious and can’t be passed directly from human to human.

“I wasn’t sure if I should say anything about it to the fans or bring it up in the press because it was scary being off the road. If a band’s activity drops people start to forget about you really fast, but it was unavoidable. Basically, my body took me out. I had such severe mono that I didn’t really get out of bed in the first month that we were home. You can’t fight anything off when your immune system gets so bad like that. The last place you want to be when that happens is on the road because there’s nothing working for you at all.” Continue reading KOBRA AND THE LOTUS Vocalist Reveals Cause Of Reduced Touring For High Priestess Album – “I Was Diagnosed With Lyme Disease”

BWBK Interview: BLACK STAR RIDERS – “I’ve Never Learned So Much From A Dead Guy In My Life”

By Carl Begai

“I lost my mind when I got the gig.”

That’s Ricky Warwick, former vocalist/guitarist for The Almighty, on being asked in 2010 to join the new and, as it turns out, altogether brilliant incarnation of the legendary Thin Lizzy by long time guitarist Scott Gorham. Which was, of course, a no-brainer decision. Several years of road dog touring later, the band got down to discussing the possibility of and need for a new Thin Lizzy record. The fans had embraced the new band with Warwick standing in for the irreplaceable Phil Lynott, so why the hell not? Of course, one doesn’t simply pick up where Lynott and Lizzy left off 30 years ago (with Thunder And Lightning) without taking long, hard repeated looks in the rear-view mirror and questioning the wisdom of doing so. In the end songs were written, music was laid down, and the band decided to leave the past where it belongs as far the Thin Lizzy legend is concerned, opting to release the new album All Hell Breaks Loose as the Black Star Riders.


Before getting into the why and how of the Black Star Riders, Warwick is gracious enough to recap how he came to front his dream band even though he’s taken on the question a gazillion times since getting the gig. The story has lost none of its fire for him in its re-telling.

“Basically, what happened was is I’ve known Scott for many years, back from when I was in The Almighty in the ’90s. I did a solo record in 2002 and Scott payed guitar on a few tracks for me. So, he knew me well, he knew what I sound like, and when he was putting Thin Lizzy back together again he sort of had everybody except a singer. He was talking to Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) saying that he couldn’t find anybody to sing, and Joe asked him ‘Have you thought about Ricky?’ Scott’s reaction was pretty much ‘Fuck, why didn’t I think of that?’ and I got the phone call from out of the blue. It was like ‘Here’s what the story is, here’s what I want to do; do you want to sing?’ (laughs).”

“I describe it as winning the musical lottery. Thin Lizzy is the band I idolized my whole life, and I was given the chance to stand up there on that stage to play and sing those songs. You’ll say yes to that without even thinking about it. After I said yes and put the phone down, then I thought ‘Shit, what have I taken on? Phil is such a legend, he’s iconic, he was the greatest frontman in rock n’ roll, how am I going to pull this off?’ But, instead of freaking out I lived with it for a couple days and thought about how I as a Thin Lizzy fan would want to see the band presented. But, it never stops being surreal. It’s surreal every day and it will be for the rest of my life.”

“I never take it for granted,” he adds. “The honour is as huge now as it was when I got that phone call. And there have been moments where I’m standing there, I look over and there’s Scott Gorham, there’s the Thin Lizzy backdrop behind me. I have to be careful because there are moments where I’m off in dreamland thinking ‘Oh my God, I’m fronting this band, I have to put on a show.'”

“It’s a dream come true, absolutely. It really is, and it’s been an honour and a privilege to be involved in it.” Continue reading BWBK Interview: BLACK STAR RIDERS – “I’ve Never Learned So Much From A Dead Guy In My Life”

BW&BK Interview: DEF LEPPARD – Best Before: 1987

By Carl Begai

Way back in November 2004, I had the opportunity to interview Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen. By that point I’d pretty much dismissed the band as a lost cause with their best years behind them, but as a diehard fan of their first three albums and one of the millions willingly sucked in by Hysteria – featuring Collen on the latter two – I accepted without a second thought. It was a fantastic conversation, with Collen being unexpectedly receptive to what I figure were some unexpected questions given the amount of ass-kissing that usually goes on between journos and rock stars during press junkets.

I’m re-posting the story (originally found here) as a tribute to Collen’s latest Manraze album, PunkFunkRootsRock, which will be reviewed on this site in the coming days. It’s a brilliant record – the band’s second and, admittedly, my first taste of their music – sounding as raw and organic as you’re gonna get in this day and age, devoid of the ultra-processed bells-and-whistles-up-the-ass over-produced pap Def Leppard are now famous for. Hell, PunkFunkRootsRock could and probably should be the album that followed the Leps’ no-bullshit ’81 album, High N’ Dry. It’s that good, in my “humble” opinion (with all due respect to Collen’s bandmates, past and present).

Read on, stay tuned for a Manraze review, sample a few bits and pieces from PunkFunkRootsRock at the end of the story, try to tell me I’m wrong 🙂 And remember, this interview took place in November 2004

I used to be a Def Leppard fan. I admit to owning a copy of the band’s Hysteria opus from 1987 – an album fellow Knucklehead Martin Popoff so accurately describes as “tasteless and devoid of all life” in his Collector’s Guide To Heavy Metal. It was the beginning of the end of my fanboyship, although their first three albums kicked my ass and continue to do so to this day. Gritty, raw, bare bones hard ass rock-to-metal packages, On Through The Night (’80), High ‘N’ Dry (’81) and Pyromania (’83) were laid down by a band with stars in its eyes, grateful for every pancake they sold because it meant an extra round of pints at the pub. The gazillion-selling hit that was Hysteria changed all that, of course, with each album that followed offering up more and more ultra-layered processed cheese based on producer Mutt Lange’s original blueprint of How To Make A Better Sellout, which incidentally, actually began to take shape during Pyromania. Present day feedback and sales suggest that I’m not alone in my thinking, as Def Leppard hasn’t had a major blow-the-doors-off hit since Adrenalize (’92). Their last album, X, sewered out worse than Ashlee Simpson on SNL, yet the band’s label recently saw fit to release a Best Of compilation featuring, lo and behold, lots of older pre-hysterical material.

Needless to say I was surprised. I mean, the schmalz-loving Top 40 cuddle-rock contingent that keeps Def Leppard afloat today either doesn’t know, or more likely doesn’t care about the old classic songs. Given the chance to speak to guitarist Phil Collen and ask him what gives – could this perhaps be a sign that times and sound are changing? – I jumped at the opportunity. Continue reading BW&BK Interview: DEF LEPPARD – Best Before: 1987