Review: Opeth and The Sword at Stage AE Pittsburgh

While much of the music consumers out there are eating up corporate crap, there are still some true artists out there, in every genre, that are truly unique and influential.  The “metal” world has the almighty Opeth that has been blowing minds with their musical prowess since 1990 with their one consistent member: guitarist, and songwriter Mikael Åkerfeldt.  There is no true way to categorize Opeth as within one song your ears can be swayed to death metal, folk, jazz,blues, classical, and a myriad of other sub-genres.

It had been almost five years since Opeth came back to Pittsburgh (the last time at Stage AE as well) and they came with new material from Sorceress, their new album out today(Purchase, download and stream Sorceress now at www.opeth.com/stores), as well as pulling out some really old classic stuff {see set list below}.  The band is perfect live as they are tighter than a nun and harrowingly intense.  Akerfeldt is amazing to watch and listen to, his voice with great range- from guttural depth to high pitch- as well as his precise guitar mastery.  Of course, Fredrik Åkesson is no slouch and can shred, lay back, or thrash at the drop of a hat.  Sometimes one can forget what a layer that keyboards can make and truly Opeth would not sound right live without Joakim Svalberg.  Bass player Martín Méndez displayed frightening skill on his 5 string bass and was completely in tune with percussionist Martin “Axe” Axenrot who does not get enough credit for his prowess.

As Rollingstone.com pointed out, “Sorceress is an expression of how much Opeth can accomplish without the strictures of extreme metal”.  Rolling Stone needs to realize that it is not this 12th record that marks a recreation of the band, but that Opeth has been doing it all along.

Speaking of reinvention, The Sword was an excellent band to pair up with Opeth as openers.  While their style is much different than Opeth, they themselves have a way of sweeping through genres in their history.  Rising out of Austin in 2003, the band started out as a “doom” oriented stoner metal band.  What they have evolved into, especially after the last two records, is something that cannot be categorized.  Like their tour mates, they have great range, from doom metal to hard rock to influences of classic country.  Their latest, High Country and it’s just released acoustic Low Country, is a testament to how much they have evolved.

The band came out blazing and ripping with “Cloak of Feathers” from Apocryphon and then right into “Dream Thieves” from High Country.  The audience reacted to every song and was enthralled by the performance of  John D. Cronise who is the songwriting mastermind behind the majority of the band’s material.  Guitarist Kyle Shutt showed serious chops and soul, and  Bryan Richie and drummer Santiago “Jimmy” Vela III were equally amazing.  The Sword is an excellent recording band, but they truly need to be witnessed live to fully appreciate how good they really are.

All photos 2016 AWeldingphoto

GHOST Popestar Tour Pummels Pittsburgh with a Square Hammer @StageAE

You know the band that you feel like you discovered so early on that you swear they are part of you?  It’s like you learned some great secret and you just cannot help but want to share that secret with everyone.  Little by little it’s not a secret anymore and that can be joyous or disastrous.  Many fans are protective of the bands they find, but personally, I love sharing them with people and seeing those bands have their effect on as many people as possible.  I first caught Ghost in a little article in Decibel and it was not long after that they embarked on a US Tour (2012) with Opeth and Mastodon that I was privileged to witness and photograph.  I left that experience with a deep love for what the band was doing and could never dream the level of what they are up to now.  I have not missed a Ghost show in town since, so I will do my best to remain unbias, but fully revealing, which is why I am unusually writing in the first person.

Ghost is currently on their US “Popestar” Tour that coincides with an EP of the same name.  Everyone who purchases a ticket gets a free download of the EP (a little trick Prince sort of invented).  Ghost’s Popestar is a brilliant chapter in what is hopefully an endless novel of work.  On an EP, a band is often able to introduce new material as well as offer deep cuts, live, never-heard, or cover songs.  With each LP or EP Ghost has produced they have grown and shown more of their personality as a band and their versatility.  This latest piece includes “Square Hammer” which will take Ghost to another level in popularity due to its catchy chorus that I defy you to erase from your head. Ghost decided to open with this song, risky, but a great call.  The song came off wonderfully and flawlessly, the audience already knowing every word.  The rest of the EP was not handled live, most likely due to that fact it is mainly cover tunes, including songs from The Eurythmics, Echo and The Bunnymen, Simian Mobile Disco, and Imperiet.  In many ways that was a bonus because what one really wants to see are the Ghost songs one loves and is familiar with.

The second and third song were heavy hitters, including the last LP Meliora‘s big hit “From The Pinnacle To The Pit”.  This was another breakthrough for the band in the heavier vibe and killer bass line, this time, handled live by the new female bassist (replacing Omega), who could be or could not be SeanYseult from White Zombie (or possibly onetime the Oath guitarist Linnéa Olsson).  Then “Secular Haze” lead single from  Infestissumam came blazing in to keep the heavy vibe rolling.  It was great to hear something from the first LP, Opus Eponymous, in “Stand By Him” keeping with the tongue in cheek horror/religious and social commentary theme.  And this is where Ghost either wins people over or loses them, it is their intelligent, sometimes humorous, and double entendre lyrics that either make you fall in love or run for holy water.

“Con Clavi Con Dio” was perfect, as Papa continued to perform flawless vocals, and dual guitar players just keep hitting the riffs and gorgeous melodies that fit so perfectly, not overpowering, but subtle with grace.  Of course, this particular song draws a bit more on their horror genre pieces being from the first LP but also includes a good Latin lesson for those digging beyond surface level.  Tack onto that “Per Aspera ad Inferi” that shows off the more sexual side that Ghost explored on Infestissumam .  And then came “Body and Blood”, a song that explores cannibalism, as well as the sexual metaphor of eating flesh, and the strange phenomenon of when one eats communion, it also has to come out…food for thought people.

The instrumental “Devil Church” was a great segway to the single (and huge sing a long) “Cirice“, a love song of sorts only Ghost could pull off.  Papa continued with hilarious banter in between songs, always in his “Dracula” voice, and everyone ate up the theatricality.  It was as though everyone in the audience was in on the fun, got the inside joke, released their inhibitions for a few hours.  This is what concerts are for, yes?  “Year Zero”, one of Ghost’s strongest tunes and of course, most outwardly “satanic” with the mentions of Belial, Behemoth, Beelzebub, Asmodeus, Satanas, and Lucifer, brought a massive cheer and response from the audience.  With the chorus of “Hell Satan, Archangelo/Hell Satan, Welcome year zero” either you join in or go to confession the next day, or maybe both.  What true fans of Ghost realize is that they do not take this stuff too seriously and treat it more as horror fun.  Strong religious types are not going to agree anyway, so I will not even entertain appeasing their opinion.  A small intermission followed to allow Papa’s key costume change out of the dead pope costume and into the art deco, 1920’s stylish persona that was unleashed on the previous tour.

The following songs were He IsAbsolutionMummy DustGhuleh/Zombie Queen, and Ritual.  Just brilliant.  “Mummy Dust”, “Ghuleh” and “Zombie Queen” completely highlight how musically deep this band is and the complex arrangements that they can put together.  Ghost is part metal, part prog, part new wave, part classic rock, and we’ll throw some classical in there as well. Who else can pull out a Keytar and not look like some pop one hit wonder from the 90’s?  They have the ability to put together things that are unexpected, completely embodied by the dichotomy of their image and their music.  I cannot apologize for loving this band which is why I stated the earlier disclaimer, it’s hard not to be biased when you have witnessed them five times (every tour in essence), every time they have graced Pittsburgh, and have come away with such elation, a tough feat when you are lucky enough to go to a few shows every week.

The encore, of course, was the traditional “Monstrance Clock” ending and the spooky chorus of “Come together, together as a one /Come together for Lucifer’s son”.   Fists raised and pumping, the audience in full fervor sung along and when it ended left spent and happy, much like Papa’s explanation of the slower paced song being a bit like the show building to an orgasm.  This writer left very spent and very happy.  Every song was great, the show surrounding the show was killer, and the crowd was super cool.  Doug Bradley, AKA “Pinhead” from Hellraiser was, as always, in attendance with his beautiful and talented artist girlfriend and hung out in the pit for a bit with the photographers.  This was icing on the cake, in that we had a great conversation about the band and Doug described himself as a “fanboy” and as a close friend of the band, discussed “Papa’s” genius (even though we all know who it is, I will not confirm).  Part of the fun of Ghost is the mystery they have built and the fans protect.  It works and it fits perfectly in the genre.  As they finish this tour and move on to the next LP, the band will inevitably become bigger and better.  But, being the “taste” that they are, the band will always be ours, always belong to us, always be our secret.  May the haunt us forever.

 

 

All photos 2016 AWeldingphoto

 

THE RETICENT Debut New Song: “The Confrontation”

THE RETICENT Debut New Song: “The Confrontation
Dead Rhetoric zine has partnered with Progressive Metal band THE RETICENT for the exclusive premiere of “The Confrontation” from On The Eve of a Goodbye. Stream it at http://deadrhetoric.com/randomness/exclusive-stream-the-reticents-the-confrontation/
Grammy nominated Christopher Hathcock has returned with the fourth album from THE RETICENT. Heaven & Hell Records is pleased to announce the October 5th release of On The Eve Of A Goodbye. Pre-order the album at http://www.thereticent.net/
The album was produced by Jamie King (BTBAM, The Wretched, Scale The Summit), and will be released on limited edition CD with complete lyrics. Check out the official video for album track “The Girl Broken” at this location, as well as “The Comprehension” video here.
This is undoubtedly the most ambitious and intense offering from THE RETICENT to date. An uncompromising autobiographical concept record, On the Eve Of A Goodbye is certain to exceed all expectations, boasting 73 minutes of stirring progressive metal that must be heard in its entirety to grasp the full magnitude.
On The Eve Of A Goodbye is an autobiographical concept album. All of the tracks serve to detail the day before, day of, and day after the suicide of THE RETICENT’s mastermind Chris Hathcock’s childhood friend, Eve.  The songs chronicle his concern for her, her deterioration into self-hatred, and culminates with the tragic act and its aftermath.  Not only a stylistic contrast to previous releases, this album is also intensely more personal than past Reticent albums (which were already emotional purges).  The album is intended to be heard as a single entity rather than a collection of tracks.
“This is an album that is utterly amazing start to finish.” 10/10
 – My Global Mind
“A degree of musical mastery” 
– Jamie King
 
“An album of incredibly well crafted metal and rock.”
 – Shutter 16
Track Listing:
1. 24 Hours Left
2. The Girl Broken
3. The Hypocrite
4. 19 Hours Left
5. The Comprehension
6. The Confrontation
7. The Apology
8. 10 Hours Left
9. The Mirror’s Reply
10. The Postscript
11. 2 Hours Left
12. The Decision
13. Funeral For A Firefly
14. The Day After
15. For Eve
The album was recorded in order in the span of a few days in the summer of 2015 (with a touch up in November 2015).  Producer/Engineer Jamie King (known for previous work with BTBAM, The Wretched, Scale The Summit, etc.) chose to allow Hathcock to do as he needed in the studio as he felt it added greatly to the emotion of the record.  In fact, on the song “Funeral for a Firefly” when trying to record the lead vocal part, Hathcock made it only two lines in before sobbing hysterically as memories and the trauma he had held back for a decade came flooding to the forefront.  After calming to the point that he could catch his breath, Hathcock told Jamie King that he felt unable to record the song.  Jamie encouraged him to try just one more time and if it didn’t work, they’d drop it.  Hathcock went back into the booth and made it through the entire song with constant tears streaming down his face and his voice cracking and quivering as he went through.  Jamie was so affected by the performance he said he wanted to keep the raw performance – as in no edits to the sound so every sniffle and breath could be heard putting the listener in the booth with the despairing singer.
Credits:
All music, lyrics, and narration written by Chris Hathcock
All instruments and vocals performed by Chris Hathcock
except the following:
Narration by Carl Hathcock, Juston Green, and Amanda Caines
Female vocals by Amanda Caines
French Horn by Dr. Nicholas Kenney
Trombone and Trumpet by Matthew Parunak
Tenor Saxophone by Andrew Lovett
Produced by Jamie King
Mixed, Mastered, and Engineered by Jamie King at The Basement Studios
Executive Producer: Chris Hathcock

www.thereticent.net

OPETH TO PERFORM AT RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL ON OCT 1ST/Live @StageAE 9/29

New Album, Sorceress, Out September 30th On Moderbolaget Records/Nuclear Blast Entertainment
August 19, 2016 – Los Angeles, CA – Sweden’s musical alchemists, OPETH, will be releasing their bewitching, 12th studio album, Sorceress, on September 30th via the band’s imprint label Moderbolaget Records withNuclear Blast Entertainment. In celebration of the release the band has planned special shows at historic venues around the world in support of the record, including Radio City Music Hall in New York on October 1st, Wembley Arena in London on November 19th and the famed Sydney Opera House on February 6th, 2017. Purchase tickets for OPETH at Radio City Music Hall at http://bit.ly/2b0079n.
These memorable performances also celebrate the recent release of OPETH’s Deliverance & Damnation box set, featuring the band’s classic 2002 and 2003 records as one complete work as originally intended, and their just released record Lamentations – Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire that’s available now on DVD and 180 gram 3xLP from Music For Nations. Purchase the live record now at http://amzn.to/2bcra4Y.
OPETH will be performing music from their upcoming album, Sorceress, as well as fan favorite cuts from their celebrated catalog and will be closing the shows with a special set featuring material from Deliverance & Damnation.
“We’re getting pumped up for the coming ”Sorceress” world tour. We have 3 shows scheduled that are quite ”out of the ordinary” due to their legendary status and location. The SSE Wembley Arena in London/UK. Radio City Music Hall in New York/USA, and the famous Sydney Opera House/Australia. These three shows will be completely unique in terms of songs, spanning over 2 separate set lists. We’ll pull out songs from our back catalogue and mix it up with newer stuff during the first set. The 2nd set will consist of songs exclusively from the Deliverance/Damnation records, that was just celebrated with a re-release combo package by the newly revived Music For Nations label. So it’s a little bit of a celebration indeed! We’ll only play this set list 3 times on the whole world tour, so if you miss it, you’ll have missed it. Of course all other shows will be treated with the same amount of respect and we’ll chisel out a nice diverse set list spanning over our entire career for every single show during the tours. We very much hope to see you there!” – Mikael Åkerfeldt
Fans are invited to pre-order Sorceress now in a variety of formats and packages at the links below. Listen to their new song “Sorceress” now at https://youtu.be/LhqijfqecvA.
Pre-order Sorceress – Physical:
OPETH Store (US): http://www.jsrdirect.com/bands/opeth (Exclusive Orange Vinyl Available)
OPETH Store (Euro): http://store.moderbolagetrecords.com (Exclusive Silver Vinyl Available)
OPETH Store (Nordic): http://www.omerchnordic.com
Pre-order Sorceress – Digital:
OPETH North American Tour Dates:
Sep 24San Bernardino, CA – Ozzfest/Knotfest @ San Manuel Amphitheater
Sep 29 – Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
Sep 30 – Silver Spring, MD – Fillmore
Oct 1 – New York, NY – Radio City Music Hall
Oct 2 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
Oct 4 – Montreal, QC – Metropolis
Oct 5 – Toronto, ON – Massey Hall
Oct 7 – Detroit, MI – Fillmore
Oct 8 – Akron, OH – Good Year Theater at East End
Oct 9 – Chicago, IL – Riviera Theater
Oct 10 – Minneapolis, MN – First Ave
Oct 12 – Oklahoma City, OK – Diamond Ballroom
Oct 13 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
Oct 14 – Austin, TX – Emo’s
Oct 15 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Live
Oct 18 – Las Vegas, NV – Brooklyn Bowl
Oct 19 – Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theater
Oct 21 – Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades
Oct 22 – San Francisco, CA – Warfield
Oct 24 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
Oct 25 – Seattle, WA – Moore Theater
Oct 26 – Vancouver, BC – Orpheum
For More Information:

Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt Going “All In” With New Music

By Roadrunner Records 

Opeth mainman Mikael Åkerfeldt is interviewed in the new issue of Decibel, and offers some hints as to the direction their next studio album, which will be recorded this year, could take.

Mikael Åkerfeldt

“I have about six songs done and another two or three just started, plus a million ideas that I haven’t processed yet. Some songs are simple and stripped-down, while others are epic in the true sense of the word. Business as usual, hopefully with unusual music.” He says some songs may even feature strings. “Some of these things could easily be done with synthetic sounds or effects,” he said, “but recording the Storm Corrosion LP with Steven Wilson made me realize what a massive difference it can mean to incorporate the real shit. I’m semi-pretentious in my songwriting and sometimes I go all in. I think it’s time for ‘all in’ with strings and the full monty. Hopefully it won’t be a mess.”
Read more on Blabbermouth.
Opeth‘s 2011 album Heritage is available everywhere now—grab a copy from the Roadrunner webstore

Opeth Live & Unplugged

Opeth did an in-store appearance at Newbury Comics in Massachusetts this past Saturday for Record Store Day; in addition to signing and meeting fans, they played a five-song mostly acoustic set, which you can watch now, thanks to a fan who shot the whole thing!

Finally, the band is currently on the road – find a date near you here!

Dan Swano signs long-term worldwide deal with Century Media Records

It’s with great pride and joy that Century Media Records can announce the signing of a long-term worldwide deal with Swedish singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer extraordinaire Dan Swanö.

Most dedicated metalheads will not only be able to call themselves owners of certain releases by one Dan’s many outstanding bands/projects (EDGE OF SANITY, NIGHTINGALE, etc.), but also the work at his own Unisound studio will surely have left a mark in everyone’s record collection at some point: OPETH, KATATONIA, DISSECTION, MERCILESS, 59 TIMES THE PAIN, DARK FUNERAL, HAIL OF BULLETS, MARDUK, MILLENCOLIN and NASUM, to name but a few.

Swanö has been no stranger to Century Media Records: He was originally involved with the death metal supergroup BLOODBATH (also featuring members of OPETH and KATATONIA), who released the Breeding Death EP as well as the amazing first two albums, Resurrection Through Carnage and Nightmares Made Flesh, via Century Media. Most recently, Swanö has been heavily working again as producer and mixer of albums, including releases by Century Media artists such as ASPHYX, GRAND SUPREME BLOOD COURT, ODDLAND and MORGOTH.

Dan Swanö comments about the signing:

“It’s been 23 years since I signed my first ever record-deal, but never before have I been this excited…I have now signed with Century Media Records!

I bought the first release from Century Media back in 1989, and it is amazing to see how much the label has grown over the years.

After working with CM for a few compilation CDs and for two and a half albums with BLOODBATH, I knew it would be the perfect home for me whenever I felt like returning to the recording-industry as a performer again.

And now…I am back! With a vengeance!!!”

The first result of the new cooperation between Dan Swanö and Century Media will be the release of his newly founded metal outfit WITHERSCAPE, which sees Dan teaming with another talented multi-instrumentalist, Ragnar Widerberg, to create an intense concept album– which should not only musically please fans of earlier Swanö-works likeMoontower or EDGE OF SANITY, but also attract fans of contemporary progressively atmospheric metal in the vein of OPETH, BARREN EARTH and AMORPHIS.

Swanö comments about the upcoming WITHERSCAPE album:

“I have just completed the final mixes of the first album from my new project WITHERSCAPE.

Fans of my ‘Moontower’ album and the catchier parts of EDGE OF SANITY won’t be disappointed!

I sing, both clean and growl, play drums and keyboards. Ragnar Widerberg plays all guitars & bass and has co-written almost all the tracks with me.”

 

Look forward to a late July 2013 release for WITHERSCAPE’s The Inheritance via Century Media.

Here are some online links to past works involving Dan Swanö:

BLOODBATH – “Eaten”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBfoMgllphs
HEAVEN SHALL BURN – “Black Tears” (EDGE OF SANITY cover):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PtfyRjkn40
EDGE OF SANITY – “Crimson” (feat. Mikael Akerfeldt of OPETH):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St6lJaiHYIc

Selected Dan Swanö discography:

EDGE OF SANITY – Unorthodox / Purgatory Afterglow / Crimson I & II

Dan Swanö – Moontower 

BLOODBATH – Breeding Death / Resurrection Through Carnage / Nightmares Made Flesh  

ODYSSEY – Re-Inventing the Past

NIGHTINGALE – Nightfall Overture White Darkness

Dan Swanö will have a new website ready for a summer launch, but in the meantime, you can visit his studio site as reference for his works: http://www.unisound.se

Stay tuned for more details about WITHERSCAPE and The Inheritance to be revealed soon!

Photo by Erik Ohlsson
Photo by Erik Ohlsson

OPETH IS WRITING NEW MATERIAL

OPETH_Singles_9186_HR

Opeth guitarist Fredrik Åkesson was recently interviewed by Australia’s North , and during the course of the conversation, revealed that the band are writing material for their next studio album! He also revealed that the new record will be “in a somewhat different direction to Heritage.” Get more details here!

Also, the band will be hitting the road in North America next month; check out the tour dates here!

7 HORNS 7 EYES Pulls out of Canadian Tour Due to Unforeseen Logistical Issues

Due to unforeseen issues concerning 7 HORNS 7 EYES internally, the band has made the decision to pull out of their tour with ANNEX THEORY this February. In spite of steps taken to try to alleviate these issues, the band will be unable to take part in the tour. However, the tour itself is not cancelled and ANNEX THEORY will press on on their own.

Comments 7H7E guitarist Aaron Smith:

“This is certainly not the outcome we had in mind when we announced our participation in this tour, and it’s really a bummer to let everyone down who had made plans to come see 7H7E play and to the promoters of the shows as well. There are several factors in our decision to cancel, including unforeseen financial strain, and it was not a decision we made quickly or lightly, but it’s definitely the best decision. We fully intend and look forward to rescheduling a similar run of dates in the future (we hope with ANNEX THEORY), so that we can make it up to our Canadian fans! We will not forget!”

7H7E released their debut album, Throes of Absolution, on April 24, 2012 via Century Media Records in North America. The record features artwork by Travis Smith (OPETH, NEVERMORE) and a guest appearance by former NEVERMORE guitarist Jeff Loomis. To purchase Throes of Absolution, please head over to CM Distro or iTunes.

ANNEX THEORY’s latest EP, Process Existence, was self-released last May. The effort was mixed and mastered by Travis Montgomery of THREAT SIGNAL and features a cover of the RUSH classic “Subdivisions.”

DARK TRANQUILLITY to release new album, ‘Construct,’ in May 2013

The guardians of the Gothenburg sound, DARK TRANQUILLITY, released their first album 20 years ago and are still one of the most exciting bands in melodic death metal. New and old fans will be happy to hear that they are ready to announce their 10th album.

The band comments: “Greetings, Darklings! After having played over 200 shows in every corner of the world in support of the ‘We Are The Void’ album, it’s time to focus inwards and lock ourselves up in the studio. Months and months of hard songwriting work has paid off, and the recording sessions will start early this year. Further details will be announced in due time, but for now we can reveal that the album will be entitled ‘Construct’ and that we’re very excited to have Jens Bogren (PARADISE LOST, OPETH, KATATONIA) taking care of the mix. The release date is set for May 28 in North America.”

Fans can expect nothing but greatness with Construct, plus worldwide touring in support of the album in 2013 and beyond. The next chance to see DARK TRANQUILLITY live will be in Dubai, where the band has never played before. Some European summer festival appearances have also been announced, and the band is currently working on a US tour for this upcoming September. Stay tuned for more tour dates coming soon!

DARK TRANQUILLITY live:
12.04.2013 — Dubai Rock Fest — Dubai, United Arab Emirates
30.05.2013 — Beastival Festival — Geiselwind, Germany
28.06.2013 — Basinfire Festival — Spalene Porici, Czech Republic

Interview with Bob Meadows of A Life Once Lost (In Pittsburgh at Garfield Art Works 12/14)

A LIFE ONCE LOST roars into Pittsburgh at the Garfield Art Works next Friday, December 14 with Revocation and Ken Mode. Bob Meadows, lead vocals, took some time to speak to Pittsburgh Music Magazine about the frustrations of the music business, playing Pittsburgh, taking and giving vocal lessons, their new release “Ecstatic Trance”, and the inspiration for the lyrics behind “Madness is God”, check it out by listening here…

A LIFE ONCE LOST has existed on the forward edge of modern metal, where progression and innovation collide with tradition, since its inception. From day one, the path the ALOL have blazed has not only been defiant but also their own.
A LIFE ONCE LOST was formed in ’99 in the Philadelphia suburbs by Doug Sabolick (guitars) and Bob Meadows (vocals). The nascent band immediately forged a noisy, high-impact wall of sound combining dissonant, modern aggression with the hallmarks of traditional metal. Almost as soon as ALOL had songs, the band started cutting their teeth in the Philly-area DIY circuit playing alongside their peers in Converge, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Lamb of God, God Forbid, and more.
Early releases followed on Deathwish, Inc. and Robotic Empire, and ramped up to 03’s punishing ‘A Great Artist’, their first proper full-length. ‘A Great Artist’ saw them take hold of their dark, rhythmic sound and took A LIFE ONCE LOST from a Northeast favorite to a true national band. It was the catalyst that enabled them to get signed to Ferret Records and to then embark on their first national tour(s) alongside Between the Buried & Me among others.
Then ALOL released its’ sophomore album, the more refined ‘Hunter’, in ‘05 and moved to the forefront of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. The band conquered America for the next 2 years touring as part of Ozzfest 2006, as well as direct support tours alongside Lamb of God, Clutch, Opeth, Strapping Young Lad, As I Lay Dying, Every Time I Die, High on Fire and more.
Their 3rd album ‘Iron Gag’, released in ’07, saw significant critical acclaim. That album had ALOL introducing traditional rock grooves and a more confident swagger into their already-explosive sound. The ensuing ‘Iron Gag’ tour saw the band crisscross North America and Europe, from Alaska to Mexico and London to Moscow respectively, once again alongside High on Fire; The Dillinger Escape Plan + new tour mates, Suicide Silence, and Job for a Cowboy.

At the end of the ‘Iron Gag’ World Tour in ‘09, they begin practicing again only to find fractures in the band. After a year plus of writing, Sabolick and Meadows were faced with their most difficult decisions yet. In order to realize their vision for the next evolution of A LIFE ONCE LOST, they needed to scrap almost all of the new material; cut ties with the other members, and start again on their own.

ALOL’s process was arduous, and required Bob Meadows and Doug Sabolick to rebuild everything from the ground back up. The writing process was intense while the two tried to meld a diverse range of influences – Killing Joke to Can, King Crimson to Kraftwerk, Fela Kuti and more – while respecting and remaining true to the sonic art that they had always traveled.

Three years in the making, A LIFE ONCE LOST’s new album ‘Ecstatic Trance’ (Season of Mist), is the product of that unwavering determination and raises their patented rhythmic attack to hypnotic new levels of precision and expression. Huge, jagged riffs and churning, syncopated rhythms are the blueprint for the emotive guitar-playing and explosive vocals of Sabolick and Meadows respectively. Dark washes of melody and ominous Hammond Organ tones color epic tracks such as “Madness Is God, “Something Awful”, and “The Blues”, giving their material a bold, raw sense of expression unlike any they’ve shown before. ‘Ecstatic Trance’ is one of 2012’s best metal albums, and proves that the path of A LIFE ONCE LOST is always moving forward.

7 HORNS 7 EYES announces Canadian headlining tour

Seattle’s 7 HORNS 7 EYES has announced their first ever Canadian headlining tour with support from Winnipeg’s ANNEX THEORY for February 2013. Dubbed the “Throes of Existence Tour” and sponsored by Heavy Blog is Heavy and Stuff You Will Hate, the trek will start in Winnipeg and end in Ottawa.

Commented 7 HORNS guitarist Aaron Smith: “We are excited to be hitting the great frozen hostile wasteland (as Jim Carrey put it), also known as Canada. This is a totally untapped market for us in terms of live performances, and we’re looking forward to bringing the show to our Canadian fans alongside ANNEX THEORY! It’ll be some very wintery driving for us, so if you live along the tour routing, come on out and give us a proper Canadian welcome!”

Continued vocalist JJ “Shiv” Polachek: “We can’t wait to finally hit the great north with such a sick band like ANNEX THEORY! These shows will be special to everyone who attends, because due to the fact that we have to fill up a headlining time slot, we get to play ‘Throes of Absolution’ in its entirety! So make sure to come out and enjoy some epic BDC jams, and generate some heat by moshing and headbanging your balls off with us! I can’t wait to wear ten layers of clothing at all times! Someone please buy me drinks because my Florida blood is thin and I don’t know if I can survive a place like Canada! Please respond!”

Dates are as follows:

“Throes of Existence Tour” feat. 7 HORNS 7 EYES with ANNEX THEORY
February 7th – Winnipeg – The Zoo
February 8th – Regina – TBA
February 9th – Calgary – The New Black
February10th – Kelowna – Lake City Bowl
February 11th – Vancouver- Columbia Theatre
February 14th – Prince George – Westwood Pub
February 15th – Edmonton – Avenue Theater
February 16th – Saskatoon – Lepps
February 19th – Thunder Bay – Black Pirates Pub
February 22nd – Toronto – Hard Luck Bar
February 23rd – Montreal – TBA
February 24th – Ottawa – The Rainbow

7 HORNS 7 EYES released their debut album, Throes of Absolution, on April 24 via Century Media Records. The record features artwork by Travis Smith (OPETH, NEVERMORE) and a guest appearance by former NEVERMORE guitarist Jeff Loomis. To purchase Throes of Absolution, please head over to CM Distro or iTunes.

ANNEX THEORY’s latest EP, Process Existence, was self-released last May. The effort was mixed and mastered by Travis Montgomery of THREAT SIGNAL and features a cover of the RUSH classic “Subdivisions.”

PIG DESTROYER Re-Signs to Relapse Records

Fresh on the heels of the release of their critically acclaimed fifth album Book Burner, The undisputed kings of grind PIG DESTROYER have re-signed with their long time record label home Relapse Records.

The band commented on the re-signing with Relapse:

“Super excited to be a part of the extraordinary Relapse Records again! A song comes to mind in the melody of the “Team America” jingle. “Relapse, FUCK YEAH! Once again, signing a muthafuckin contract!”
– Adam Jarvis

“Relapse has been a great home for both ANb and PIG DESTROYER since the very early days. We’re not an easy band to deal with but Relapse has been patient, enthusiastic, and accommodating to our headache-inducing schedules, our strict adherence to not touring or behaving like a normal band, and just generally being pains-in-the-asses. We wouldn’t trade that for anything.”
– Scott Hull

“I don’t always sign contracts with record labels, but when I do, I choose Relapse.”
-jR Hayes

Book Burner which was released October 22nd features 19 tracks with a return to the band’s raw, misanthropic sound. Book Burner is available on multiple formats including CD, Deluxe 2xCD, LP, Deluxe 2xLP, Cassette and Digital. All of the editions are available for order via Relapse Records and iTunes.

The deluxe editions each contain a bonus disc of punk covers and a short story, titled The Atheist, penned by frontman JR Hayes. The Atheist is a post-apocalyptic tale about a decaying world taken over by the violence of religion that showcases the renowned lyricists’ unsurpassed style for the first time as prose. The deluxe 2xLP also contains an etched b-side featuring artwork by Wormrot frontman Arif Rot.

In support of Book Burner, PIG DESTROYER will be making special appearances at various festivals including Decibel Magazine’s 100th Issue Anniversary Show and Maryland Deathfest 2013.

PIG DESTROYER TOUR DATES:
Jan 19 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer w/ Municipal Waste, Repulsion, Tombs Tickets
May 23 – 26 Baltimore, MD Maryland Deathfest XI

SPIRITUAL BEGGARS preparing new album for Spring 2013

Sweden’s classic rock heavyweights SPIRITUAL BEGGARS are currently at work on a new studio album and are targeting a Spring 2013 release via InsideOut Music. The album, their eighth studio offering, will be the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2010 release Return To Zero. Additionally, the band is proud to announce that they will be appearing at the 2013 Roadburn Festival Afterburner, on April 21 in Tillburg, Holland.

“Back in the early ’90s, Roadburn founder Walter Hoeijmakers was one of the very first supporters SPIRITUAL BEGGARS had in Europe,” says bandleader Michael Amott. “His unbridled enthusiasm for our music back then when most people didn’t ‘get it’ meant so much to us. It’s a great feeling to now play his fantastic festival and celebrate the staying power of SPIRITUAL BEGGARS and the Roadburn concept together! We’re releasing a new studio album and celebrating our 20th anniversary as a band in 2013, and I really can’t think of a better way to start the party than at the esteemed Roadburn Festival!”

Since their formation in the early ’90s, SPIRITUAL BEGGARS have been at the forefront of the burgeoning stoner rock scene, raising the benchmark for stoner metal bands around the globe through a succession of much acclaimed albums that redefined the genre. Records like Another Way To Shine, Mantra III, Ad Astra, On Fire and Return To Zero deliver a masterful homage to the rock sensibilities of DEEP PURPLE, RAINBOW, URIAH HEEP and TROUBLE, and also the blistering guitar heroics of Frank Marino and MOUNTAIN’s Leslie West.

SPIRITUAL BEGGARS line-up:
Michael Amott (Guitars | ARCH ENEMY, ex CARCASS)
Ludwig Witt (Drums | GRAND MAGUS, ex FIREBIRD)
Per Wiberg (Keys | ex OPETH)
Sharlee D’Angelo (Bass | ARCH ENEMY, WITCHERY)
Apollo Papathanasio (Vocals | FIREWIND)

New Jersey Writer/Author BRIAN ABERBACK Pens New Educational Unauthorized Rockography, “BLACK SABBATH: Pioneers of Heavy Metal”

Esteemed New Jersey writer and author BRIAN ABERBACK has penned a new, educational Black Sabbath book, being released with Enslow Publishers, Inc. The book, titled Black Sabbath: Pioneers of Heavy Metal, is an unauthorized “rockography” that transforms the extensive knowledge about Black Sabbath that Aberback has amassed over the years to the page for future music enthusiasts and students alike to enjoy.

Black Sabbath: Pioneers of Heavy Metal is the only Black Sabbath biography written for middle and high school students. Thoroughly researched, annotated and highly informative, this book is an appealing read for all ages and a great way for parents to introduce their kids to some of the music they love and grew up with. This book chronicles one of rock’s most legendary band’s careers from its formation to the present day and does a superb job of conveying the group’s ups and downs, not glossing over any details while staying age-appropriate. Black Sabbath: Pioneers of Heavy Metal is available in high-quality library bound hardcover as well as softcover editions and can be found wherever books are sold online.

Black Sabbath: Pioneers of Heavy Metal has already been added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Library and Archives and sits on the shelves of libraries throughout the United States to New Zealand, Singapore and the United States Army Base in Heidelberg, Germany.

Black Sabbath: Pioneers of Heavy Metal is part of The Rebels of Rock series from Enslow Publishing Inc. The Rebels of Rock books have a list price of $31.93 and a 25% discount price for Schools and Libraries of $23.95. Other books in The Rebels of Rock series include “rockographies” on Aerosmith, Def Leppard, The Clash, The Ramones, and The Rolling Stones.

BRIAN ABERBACK is a veteran music journalist specializing in hard rock and heavy metal. Aberback’s encyclopedic knowledge of heavy metal and hard rock spans numerous genres. His interview list is a who’s who of heavy metal and hard rock legends, including Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, Overkill, Testament and Mercyful Fate. His work has appeared in daily newspapers, weekly and monthly magazines, and on news and music websites. Many of his stories have been published in The Record, the largest daily newspaper in Northern New Jersey.

What sets Aberback apart, in addition to his strong writing style and dedication to his craft, has been his passion for giving heavy metal bands a shot at attracting new audiences through mainstream newspaper exposure. Over the years he’s introduced such bands as Nile, Cradle of Filth, Amorphis, Morbid Angel, Opeth, Arch Enemy, The Haunted and many, many more, through the pages of The Record and other publications, to music fans, and even metal fans, who likely would have never heard of these bands. Not often do you find daily newspaper writers publishing stories about the likes of D.R.I., Diamond Head, Everytime I Die, Iced Earth or The Gathering.

***An articulate and well-informed speaker with a vast knowledge of the history of rock-and-roll, musically and socially, with a specific emphasis on heavy metal and hard rock, BRIAN ABERBACK is available for book talks, panel discussions and as an expert commentator for television and radio programs.

Check out some great reviews on Black Sabbath: Pioneers of Heavy Metal:

“Refreshingly levelheaded and loaded with sourced quotes, it’s that rare middle-grade biography (or “rockography,” as the title page insists) that is able to trace a band’s history, revel in its rock awesomeness, and be blunt about such things as drug abuse, all the while keeping things at an age-appropriate keel.”
–Booklist

“Through this book, old and new fans alike learn about the band’s history and impact on the music industry.”
–Children’s Literature

For more information on the book and the author Brian Aberback and to purchase Black Sabbath: Pioneers of Heavy Metal, visit www.brianaberback.com.

AWARD-WINNING BANGER FILMS’ CALL TO ARMS TO THE METAL COMMUNITY

Due to an overwhelming demand from metal fans worldwide, Grammy-nominated and Juno award-winning Banger Films is setting out to raise funds to make what has become known as “The Lost Episode” a reality. Metal Evolution: Extreme Metal “The Lost Episode” covers co-director Sam Dunn’s favorite genres: Death Metal, Black Metal and Grindcore, and he is reaching out to metal fans to help make it happen:

Metal Evolution – The Lost Episode: Extreme Metal from Banger Films on Vimeo.

“Hundreds of fans have emailed us demanding, pleading, that we do this episode,” says Banger Films co-founder Sam Dunn. “So in response we’re launching an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funding within the Metal community to finance the episode. The goal is to raise $175,000 in 90 days!” The campaign kicked off Friday, September 14th. Details of the campaign, including cool donor gifts at various contribution levels can be found here: http://www.indiegogo.com/ExtremeMetal

Originally broadcast on VH1 Classic (USA) and Much More Music (Canada), Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn’s series Metal Evolution presented 11 episodes based on their “Heavy Metal Family Tree” originally shown in their groundbreaking documentary, Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey. Host and metalhead-turned-anthropologist Sam Dunn crisscrossed the globe exploring the vast history of Heavy Metal across its 40+ year history, covering everything from the Pre-History of Metal and Shock Rock to Grunge and Thrash Metal. But one very important episode was left out: Extreme Metal. Perceived to be perhaps too niche or “extreme” to attract enough audience interest, the episode did not see the light of day, ironic considering it is Heavy Metal’s most vibrant and fastest growing genre.

“For many fans, including myself, extreme metal is massively important. It continues to push metal forward, both sonically and aesthetically,” says Sam. Alex Webster, co-founder/bass player of death metal legends Cannibal Corpse, agrees: “There’s really no way that you could tell the complete story of heavy metal without including a chapter that covers extreme metal. And given their knowledge, experience, and passion for the genre of heavy metal, I think that Banger Films are the most qualified people to do it!”

Contributors’ support will send Sam on a global journey from San Francisco and Tampa to the United Kingdom, Norway and Sweden to investigate the history, myths and intricacies of extreme metal. Sam will unravel the lineage between Extreme Metal’s divergent branches – Death Metal, Grindcore and Black Metal – and meet with the sub-genre’s most influential sonic architects, including members of Death, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Carcass, Napalm Death, Entombed, Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Opeth, Enslaved and many more. The result will be an unforgettable portrait of metal’s most iconoclastic sub-genre.

Watch the 11 episodes of Metal Evolution here:
In Canada: http://www.muchmore.ca/metal-evolution/
In USA: http://www.vh1.com/shows/metal_evolution/series.jhtml

Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt Taken to Hospital

Mikael performing in Pittsburgh (aweldingphoto.com)

Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt had to be taken to the hospital last night before their scheduled show at The Myth in St. Paul.  According to their twitter account he bumped his head while on the tour bus which required him to get stitches. Akerfeldt also suffered some very severe headaches but is expected to be up for the next show.  As the main songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist, this must have caused the band and fans some alarm.

Mastodon played an extended set to keep everyone happy.  Pittsburgh Music Magazine wishes Mikael a speedy recovery.