Korn changed the world with the release of their self-titled debut album. It was a record that would pioneer a genre, while the band’s enduring success points to a larger cultural moment. The FADER notes, “There was an unexpected opening in the pop landscape and Korn articulated a generational coming-of-angst for a claustrophobic, self-surveilled consciousness. Korn became the soundtrack for a generation’s arrival as a snarling, thrashing, systemically-restrained freak show.”
Since forming, Korn has sold 40 million albums worldwide, collected two Grammys, toured the world countless times, and set many records in the process that will likely never be surpassed. Vocalist Jonathan Davis, guitarists James “Munky” Shaffer and Brian “Head” Welch, bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu, and drummer Ray Luzier, have continued to push the limits of the rock, alternative and metal genres, while remaining a pillar of influence for legions of fans and generations of artists around the globe.
The level of Korn’s reach transcends accolades and platinum certifications. They are “a genuine movement in a way bands cannot be now,” attests The Ringer. They represent a new archetype and radical innovation, their ability to transcend genre makes barriers seem irrelevant.
LAMB OF GOD
“For millions of headbangers, Lamb of God are simply the most important contemporary metal band in the world.” – Guitar World
Demagoguery, divisiveness, unrest, desperation, poverty, exploitation: if ever there were a time for a definitive mission statement from the modern standard-bearers of extreme music fury, that time is now. Thankfully, for the anxious and restless around the world, LAMB OF GOD delivers.
It’s not an accident that the latest album from the internationally acclaimed metal institution arrives with nothing more than LAMB OF GOD as its title. On their eighth studio album, the prime architects of the explosive New Wave of American Heavy Metal assemble ten songs of unrelenting might, encompassing every aspect of what they do best. The Grammy-nominated titans, beloved around the world with the same devotion as spiritual forefathers and touring comrades Slayer and Metallica, enter the new decade with an uncompromising new testament.
The band’s first album in nearly five years is a bold declaration of identity and intent, backed by the sharpest weapons in their renowned arsenal, from the invigorating dynamic anthem “Memento Mori” to the breakneck pummel of the penultimate album closer, “On the Hook.”
- Randall Blythe is as angry, insightful, and informed as ever, contextualizing and harnessing a subcultural born angst with an everyman venom no politician could possess. Guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler riff as if they may never riff again, injecting the album with a mountain of thrash, groove, shred, and stripped-down aggression in equal measure, demonstrating more than ever before why Guitar Worldhails them for their eclectic “wizardry.”
The formidable and fluid bass playing of John Campbell looms large as a rhythmic shadow, making use of every fingertip with the same aggression found on the Burn the Priest demo tape in 1997, finetuned by more than two decades of experience in clubs, theaters, arenas, and festival stages. Art Cruz, who rose to prominence as one of the genre’s top touring drummers with Lamb of God as his favorite band, makes his recorded debut with the band with a whirlwind introduction. Like the historic additions of Bruce Dickinson, Jason Newsted, or Paul Bostaph, Cruz commands his position with passion, sweat, and expansive dynamics, reenergizing Lamb of God’s overall sound.
Twenty years prior to the release of Lamb of God, the Richmond, Virginia born quintet gave heavy metal a violent shove into the new millennium with the prophetically titled New American Gospel. Kerrang! called it the “dawn for the most brutally aggressive band since Pantera.” As the Palaces Burn (2003) made the Rolling Stone list of the Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time.
Ashes of the Wake (2004) was the first Lamb Of Gold album to be certified gold by the RIAA, a feat all but impossible for a contemporary extreme metal band. Sacrament (2006) went gold as well, on the heels of its Top 10 Billboard 200 chart debut. Instant classics “Walk with Me in Hell” and “Redneck” contributed to Sacrament’s Album of the Year status in Revolver Magazine.
The raw and organic malice of Wrath (2009), which began the band’s enduring relationship with producer Josh Wilbur (Gojira, Avenged Sevenfold, Korn), earned Lamb of God the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hard Rock, Rock, and Tastemaker charts, with a No. 2 position on the Billboard 200. Those No. 1 positions were repeated with the boundary-smashing Resolution (2012), which swung effortlessly between thrash, traditional metal, sludgy doom, and flashes of crust punk with swagger and bravado. Like its predecessor, VII: Sturm und Drang (2015) debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. It was voted Best Metal Album of 2015 by the often difficult-to-please Metal Sucks, and the single “512” received a Grammy nod for the “Best Metal Performance”, their fifth nomination.
Multiple cover stories over the years, published by the likes of Revolver, Metal Hammer, Kerrang!, Rock Sound, Rock Hard, Decibel, Outburn, and even the Indian edition of Rolling Stone, demonstrate the massive interest in what Randy Blythe has to say. And there is no shortage of topics on Lamb of God, delivered through the author and photographer’s most famous medium. There was no shortage of riffs, either, the result of multiple sessions spread over several months.
Lamb of God was even more collaborative than recent records, where the track listings could be broken down more easily into “this is a Mark song, this is a Willie song.” As Morton explains, they began to consciously move back toward a more mashed up approach with VII, hearkening back to the days of As the Palaces Burn. “It started on the last record and continued on this one.”
“We both had a lot of material going into this album, but we made an effort to really have each other’s back,” Adler confirms. “We wanted to get back to the way that we used to do it.”
“I heard the demos from the writing sessions soon after they were done,” Blythe recalls. “There’s Willie’s demonically prolific output, along with Mark’s, and it came in waves. It was alarming.”
The guitarists got together several times to sort through songs and collaborate, in different locales, alongside Wilbur at The Halo Studio in the South Windham historic district of Maine or at a studio in Virginia Beach, about 90 minutes from Richmond. Work on the instrumental demos was broken up by the group’s main support slot on Slayer’s “The Final Campaign”, providing distance from the works-in-progress as they played their best-known songs. “I was really stoked on that aspect of it,” Adler says. “Moving forward, I would vote to do it the same way again.”
Morton agrees. “Normally it’s preproduction and then straight into the studio, but the way this one was fragmented and spaced out – sometimes by months – was really beneficial.” Once the band came together in Mark’s detached garage, where they rehearse, the songs came together as well. As Campbell notes, “Resurrection Man” is “a song that came together in that room, in preproduction, as opposed to the songs Willie and Mark had worked up beforehand.”
Blythe came armed to disrupt, demolish, and rebuild in all of the ways only aggressive music can, taking a page from the revolutionary self-starting personal politics of early punk, with an atom bomb sized disdain for current affairs. There aren’t any songs about any specific individual. Instead the record examines the state of the world and looks to the root causes of our problems.
“You try to pick the lesser of / but evil doesn’t come in twos,” Blythe warns in “Checkmate,” the second song on Lamb of God. “Make America hate again and bleed the sheep to sleep.” In “New Colossal Hate,” he laments, “the melting pot is melting down.” The epidemic of addiction is another target of the singer’s ire, as he links the opioid crisis to crack cocaine, to the Vietnam War, the Iran-Contra scandal, and of course, to Park Avenue. “Reality Bath” takes an unflinching look at mass shootings, with extra venom reserved for perhaps the vilest of them all: in schools.
“It’s addressing this whole generation, my daughter included, that’s growing up learning to hide in active shooter situations,” says Mark. “The second verse is about the rainforest disappearing. It’s talking about real things, very current subject matter, but it’s also a throwback to me, in a sense. It reminds me of when I was coming up as a teenager, when thrash music was very topical. I learned about a lot of issues and had a lot of conversations through music. Whether it was Sacred Reich or Megadeth, thrash metal was very political. This album has a lot of that.”
“Everything is shifting so swiftly, it’s impossible to put your finger on any one topical issue, since it’ll change tomorrow, so I chose to write this record about the global mental environment that has allowed this fucked up situation to occur,” Blythe explains. “I wrote down a list of topics I wanted to address. ‘Where did all this craziness start?’ The societal sickness from whence everything stems. I believe all of our problems stem from the creation of consumer culture, starting with the Industrial Revolution. And that’s what inspired the song, ‘Gears.’”
“Distraction flows down an obsessive stream / rejection grows into oppressive screams.” “Memento Mori” observes seeing the dangers inherent to a constantly “connected” culture. But it isn’t delivered without hope. “A prime directive to disconnect / reclaim yourself and resurrect.”
“Memento Mori” opens the album, but it arrives at the middle point in the lyric sheet. “There are two sequences,” notes Randy.” There’s the musical sequence, which is the flow of the album, and then there’s the lyrical sequence. In the lyric booklet, the lyrics are printed sequentially. I start by pointing out several glaring problems, the most important ones in my mind, and the root of them. Then it moves into a feeling that you can resist this stuff, to a feeling of hope. I could sit here and be a negative Nancy, and just write a completely 100% nihilist record, which I might have done if I were still 27 years old and drinking. It was important for me to have positivity in here, to keep the PMA, as the bad brains have taught us, which starts on an individual level.”
Even in an age of streaming and shuffling, sequencing remains of paramount importance to all five men of Lamb of God. “Albums are meant to be listened to front to back,” declares Adler. “We are privileged just to be able to release an album into the world. [But] you can have a bunch of great songs but if they’re not in the right order then an album just isn’t what it should be.”
“Every time we put out a record, we’ve had many somewhat heated discussions about [the song order],” Campbell says. “We very much look at it as an album more than a collection of songs.”
“This album is very representative of everything that Lamb of God does,” Morton declares. Which comes back to the decision to call the album, simply, LAMB OF GOD. “The whole vibe within the camp at this moment just lends itself to it,” Adler says.
“We feel very strongly about this record and about who and what we are,” Campbell agrees. “Putting our name on it is a statement,” Randy says. “This is Lamb of God. Here and now.”
A few years ago, “famous” displaced “teacher” as the number one career choice for children. When another recent study asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” one in five kids replied, “I just want to be rich.” High on the ultimate drug, worshippers of a new pop culture religion with its own twisted clergy, a generation of vacuous celebrities chases fame as its own reward, jettisoning any pretenses about talent, sincerity, or artistry.
Thankfully, there are still dedicated, hardscrabble, no-nonsense soothsayers, organizers, musicians, and likeminded creative badasses who’ve defiantly said, “enough!” Like SEETHER, the multiplatinum rock radio anthem-making machine whose albums, songs, and live performances are armed with big riffs, bigger melodies, crunchy tones, and atmosphere.
SEETHER’s existence itself is an act of rebellion, weaponized to cut through the noise with truth telling clarity and undeniable authenticity. Even as no-talent hacks and cartoon social media living mannequins seek to dominate the discourse, SEETHER takes a stand against those who Poison the Parish.
“We want to bring back musicality, playing loud, and the importance of having something to say that you can stand behind,” declares SEETHER front man/co-founder Shaun Morgan. “It’s about honesty in your music.”
Poison the Parish, the band’s seventh studio album, arrives just in time on Morgan’s new label imprint Canine Riot Records, via Concord Music Group. Morgan also served as producer (the first time he’s produced an album in its entirety), working alongside engineer and mixer Matt Hyde (Slayer, Deftones, Hatebreed) at Nashville’s Blackbird Studio, which has played host to everyone from Taylor Swift to Jack White.
Make no mistake. Poison the Parish displays no specific agenda, political or religious. But it is personal. This time out, SEETHER restored their sound with the blood, sweat and heaviness that’s long powered their career. In this day and age, keeping it real and doing it for the right reasons is a bold statement in and of itself. At a point where most bands start to waver, SEETHER have made certain album seven is the band’s heaviest yet.
“What it really boils down to is that I am disgusted and horrified by what I see society becoming, the complete idolatry of vapid social media and reality TV ‘stars,’” Morgan explains. “It hearkens back to the days of clergy shaping a society as voices of authority; now we’ve got these people glorifying soullessness and lack of talent. They’re preaching this gospel that you can be famous, as long as you have the right face or the right body or the right connections. They aren’t saying, ‘Hey, go out there and write a book, invent something, try to cure cancer.’ It’s all about getting the angles right, to create this illusion that your life is great.”
Poison the Parish is filled with newfound ferocity and purpose, all built around Morgan’s gift for classic pop melody and structure. Album opener “Stoke the Fire,” is a focused statement of purpose and the message is clear: SEETHER is a hard rock n’ roll band, first and foremost. Lead single “Let You Down” is a dynamic, groove-oriented earworm. The moody vibe of “Emotionless” is relentless and chilling while “Against the Wall,” brooding and melodic, reverberates with honesty and self-reflection.
Descendants of Nirvana, early Alice In Chains, and Soundgarden, SEETHER continues to create modern, urgent and memorable music fifteen years into an illustrious and highly successful career.
Consider: the South African band has amassed twenty Top 5 singles, three platinum records, a fan-beloved gold-selling DVD and scores of #1 singles including “Fine Again,” “Fake It,” “Remedy,” “Broken,” “Words As Weapons,” “Country Song,” “Breakdown,” “Rise Above This,” “Same Damn Life,” “Truth,” “Gasoline,” “Driven Under” and their infamous cover of “Careless Whisper”. The band has also been recognized by the South African Music Awards, MTV Africa Music Awards, and Revolver Golden Gods Awards.
The relentlessly hard working outfit has averaged 90 performances a year, crisscrossing the globe as headlining mainstays and featured performers on many of the world’s biggest rock festivals. SEETHER songs are familiar to anyone who plays Madden NFL games or watch the WWE.
In addition, Morgan co-founded the annual Rise Above Fest, the largest suicide awareness event in the world. Now in its fifth year, the annual benefit concert will take place over two days in July 2017 featuring performers such as Korn, Shinedown, Stone Sour, Skillet and SEETHER.
“We felt so much freedom with this album. We really focused on putting out something completely representative of who and what we are,” says Morgan. “We like to have a good time. That thing you feel when you create and play music, if you lose that to the business side, then you sort of lose the whole reason why you’re doing it. This album is, I think, where our hearts have always been and it represents us completely as the band we are.”
Creating something of value and meaning is SEETHER’s cultural antidote, its north star. And with Poison the Parish, they’ve done it with unrestrained power and grace. “Give something to people,” Morgan says. “Make people’s lives better in some way. That’s really the point.”
FALLING IN REVERSE
THREE DAYS GRACE
Outsiders always leave enduring impressions. By veering away from the pack, these mavericks confidently lead the charge for others to follow. Since 2003, Three Days Grace has staked a spot amongst the hard rock vanguard, quietly breaking records, toppling charts, moving millions of units worldwide, and making history by holding the all-time record for “most #1 singles at Active Rock Radio ever” with 13. The Ontario, Canada quartet—Matt Walst [lead vocals], Barry Stock [lead guitar], Brad Walst [bass], and Neil Sanderson [drums, percussion, keyboards, programming]—continue to blaze that trail on their sixth full-length album, the aptly titled Outsider [RCA Records].
“To me, Outsider represents the journey to find your place,” says Brad. “The world feels crazy at times. We try to get away from that every once in a while. We do our own thing, and we’re comfortable doing it. We have always looked forward—and not backwards. That’s an ongoing theme for us here.”
“It’s what we’ve done in many ways by being on the outside,” agrees Neil. “This is all about taking a step back from life’s madness without destroying yourself, cutting everyone off, or going crazy. You get a break and find the space to create.”
That’s exactly what the musicians did in the fall of 2016. Instead of congregating in a downtown Toronto rehearsal space, they initially wrote in a converted garage behind Brad’s house located two hours from the city.
Eventually, they retreated to Neil’s 90-acre farm to further hone ideas. Following daytime snowmobile trips, the guys often sat around bonfires with acoustic guitars, tapping into the wild spirit surrounding them.
“We grew up hanging out in the woods and building fires,” smiles Brad. “Home is where the heart is. This is where we’re most comfortable. We were able to focus on our craft. We spent more time writing this than any other project. It has a sense of seclusion to it. It’s like we naturally migrated back.”
As the songs took shape, the band packed up and headed to the remote Ontario’s Jukasa Studios. In order to capture that energy, they called upon longtime friends and collaborators. Producers Gavin Brown and Howard Benson returned to the fold, with Mike Plotnikoff engineering and Chris Lord-Alge on mixing duty.
“We put our ultimate dream team together,” smiles Barry. “These guys have all been a part of the family for a long time. It was amazing to have everybody onboard.”
“That production team hasn’t happened since One-X,” adds Neil. “We were lucky to get this group together. It made sense because we were in a similar headspace.”
As much as it upholds tradition, Outsider represents progression for Three Days Grace. Marking his second offering as part of the band, Matt showed “a new level of confidence and brought a ton of ideas,” according to his brother Brad. Meanwhile, Neil expanded the signature electronic palette, integrating analog synths and standout programming with the help of Rhys Fulber [Fear Factory, Frontline Assembly]. He casually nodded to electronic influences as diverse as Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie, Bring Me The Horizon, Lana Del Rey, and a surprising cult classic…
“We really love the movie Lost Boys and its score,” smiles Barry. “The whole thing has this dark, spacey, and eerie vibe. Those dudes were vampires and definitely outsiders!”
“I’ve always loved darker industrial music,” Neil elaborates. “I devoted a lot of time to those sounds and finding ways to integrate them. It was using these elements to create dynamic in the songs and not just overlaying them. You’ll hear moments where the keyboards or wide synth sounds are featured. Then, the guitar hits you in the chest. It made everything more interesting.”
First single “The Mountain” evinces that evolution. Those cinematic sonic flourishes augment arena-ready riffing before summiting towards a seismic and shuddering refrain, “I’m still surviving, keep climbing, keep climbing the mountain.”
“You wake up every day in a monotonous situation and resent what’s ahead,” Neil reveals. “You’re intimidated. However, you don’t have a choice but to put your boots on and face it, because there is no other option. It’s emotionally charged. A lot of this music is about yearning to escape, yet not knowing what’s on the other side. You can’t take your life, so you decide to make the jump into the unknown.”
“It comes down to surviving every day and just not giving up,” Matt concurs. “You can’t allow the bad thoughts to take over. We all go through trials and tribulations. The key is to keep going.”
“I Am An Outsider” serves as a clarion call for the four-piece with its heavy and hypnotic chant. “It’s the main theme,” explains Brad. “You break away from the inner circle and find your own path. There are ups and downs, but you end up where you’re meant to be.”
Then, there’s “Infra-Red,” an airy production gives way to a sharp seesaw of guitars and luminous vocals. “There are some people you just connect with,” says Matt. “You get along with them instantly, because you understand each other. ‘Infra-Red’ is finding that person who gets you.”
Elsewhere, the venomous “Me Against You” hinges on a hypnotic groove and scalding chorus, while the ethereal “Love Me or Leave Me” transmits loneliness encased in swaths of synths.
Given this undeniable unpredictability, Outsider feels right at home alongside a catalog of fan favorites from Three Days Grace. In 2015, Human marked the group’s second straight bow at #1 on the Billboard Top Hard Rock Albums Chart as well as their fourth consecutive debut in Top 20 of the Top 200. It spawned two #1 singles “Painkiller” and “I Am Machine,” signaling their 13th overall and 5th consecutive number ones on the Active Rock Radio chart.
Moreover, the four-piece consistently averaged a staggering 3.9 million monthly listeners on Spotify—remaining “one of the most listened to rock bands in the world.” In 2012, Transit of Venus soared to the Top 5 of the Top 200 and garnered a nod for “Best Rock Album of the Year” at the Juno Awards. The seminal One-X  notched an RIAA triple-platinum certification as Three Days Grace  was minted platinum and Life Starts Now went gold. To date, their veritable arsenal of number one includes “Chalk Outline,” “The High Road,” “Misery Loves My Company,” “World So Cold,” “Good Life,” “Break,” “Never Too Late,” “Animal I Have Become,” “Pain,” “Just Like You,” and “Home.”
In the end, Outsider speaks directly to that army of fans around the globe.
“I’d love for them to relate to it,” Brad leaves off. “I want people to feel like they can put it on and know they’re not alone. We’re on this journey as outsiders together.”
“Hopefully, this music can help people,” concludes Matt. “It bonds us all, and there’s no better way to connect.”
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY
Zakk Wylde – Vocals/Guitar
John DeServio – Bass
Dario Lorina – Guitar
Jeff Fabb – Drums
Sonic Brew – 20th Anniversary Blend 5.99 – 5.19 is nothing like the infamously awful, failed experiment of New Coke. This is the original formula, like Coke Classic, but spiked with Viagra, the Captain America super soldier serum, and triple the caffeine.
It’s less of a floor to ceiling remodel than it is a fresh coat of paint, in preparation for another crazy house party. Zakk Wylde and crew were careful not to mess with the magic captured on the long lost two-inch tape. Instead, they blessed the master with some note-for-note enhancement, spicing up Sonic Brew with a perfected recipe.
“I don’t want to hear Led Zeppelin II redone, with the band just replaying the whole record,” notes the charismatic frontman and gregarious guitar icon. “The performances and everything are a snapshot in time. We just added on top of what was already there on the original recordings. It’s like we went in and did surgery on this thing. We took the original CD master and added things that made it stronger.”
Two decades on from the band’s inception, Black Label Society soared to Number 4 on the Billboard Current Albums chart with their tenth studio album, Grimmest Hits (2018). It was the third consecutive Top 5 debut for BLS, right behind Catacombs of the Black Vatican (2014) and Order of the Black (2010). Grimmest Hits opened at Number 1 on both the Hard Music Albums and Independent Albums charts, as well.
Equal parts adrenalized fury and earnest emotion the BLS songbook plays a unique role in the lives of the band’s fans. The group cranks out anthems to turn up in revelry and tragedy, songs with which to celebrate and songs with which to mourn.
Mighty missives like “Stillborn,” “Bleed for Me,” “Funeral Bell,” “In This River,” “Concrete Jungle,” “Parade of the Dead,” “My Dying Time,” and “Room of Nightmares” have amassed millions of downloads, streams, and video views. They are the soundtracks to jubilant evenings that descend into bewildering mornings.
While members of esteemed rock and metal institutions like Alice In Chains, Metallica, Type O Negative, Clutch, Danzig, and Megadeth have passed through the band’s ranks, Black Label Society has consistently been defined by Wylde’s unmistakable voice and signature guitar sound and the steady rumble of bassist John DeServio. Bluesy guitarist Dario Lorina and powerhouse drummer Jeff Fabb joined Wylde and DeServio in the BLS crusade back in 2013 and 2012, respectively.
An energized beast and consummate showman, Black Label Society’s frontman bears his heart and soul with unchained passion, in both crushingly heavy blues-rock barnstormers and acoustic and/or piano-driven laments alike. The band are vigilant keepers of the flame. Zakk’s signature Les Paul Bullseye guitar hangs in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, his infamous leather bellbottoms in L.A.’s Grammy Museum, his handprints on Hollywood’s Rock Walk of Fame. He wrote the 2013 Major League Baseball theme for ESPN. He’s graced the cover of every guitar mag.
A lifelong disciple of Black Sabbath and the longest serving guitar-shredder for the Ozzman himself, Wylde co-wrote modern Ozzy Osbourne classics like “No More Tears,” “Mama I’m Coming Home,” “Road to Nowhere,” and “Miracle Man.” Together with Ozzy bassist Blasko and ex-Queens Of The Stone Age drummer Joey Castillo, Wylde pays faithful tribute to the forefathers of metal as frontman for Zakk Sabbath.
Wylde, who was still in his teens when he got his demo tape into Ozzy’s hands, was part of No More Tears (the biggest selling album of the legendary singer’s solo career), the double-platinum Ozzmosis, and a Best Metal Performance Grammy win.
A one-off record with Pride & Glory in 1994 was followed by Zakk’s first solo album, Book of Shadows (1996). Sonic Brew introduced Black Label Society to the world, igniting a molten momentum that barely slowed for the arrival of Book of Shadows II (2016), 20 years after its predecessor. It’s beautifully serendipitous that Sonic Brew – 20th Anniversary Blend 5.99 – 5.19 now marks a similar landmark anniversary.
“After the Book of Shadows record had its run, I was just like, ‘Well, what am I going to do?’” Wylde remembers. “I wasn’t playing with Oz at the time. I was playing with Guns N’ Roses but that was in limbo. I had all of these riffs. So I was just like, ‘I’ll sing it myself!’ [Ex-drummer] Phil [Ondich] and I had a blast making Sonic Brew. It was more rock than when I did the Pride and Glory thing, but there’s tinges of that stuff in there with the riffs, and then there’s always been mellow stuff on the records.”
The Black Label Society studio discography is like an instruction manual on how to expertly craft heartfelt, no holds barred, heavy metal infused American hard rock. Sonic Brew (1999), Stronger Than Death (2000), 1919 Eternal (2002), The Blessed Hellride (2003), Hangover Music Vol. VI (2004), Mafia (2005), Shot to Hell (2006), Order of the Black (2010), Catacombs of the Black Vatican (2014), and Grimmest Hits (2018) should be required listening for all aspiring blues-based rock musicians.
“Sonic Brew was the beginning. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years,” Zakk marvels.
Thanks to a new arrangement with Entertainment One (eOne), the BLS back catalog is now all in one place, uniting the band’s earlier work with their more recent output. The “re-blended” version of their classic debut is resurrected bigger than ever without sacrificing its familiar kick. Plus, there are two bonus cuts: a full band/piano version of “Spoke in the Wheel” and an acoustic take on “Black Pearl.”
Wylde’s powerful pipes, mayhem-inducing charisma, mischievous humor, and instantly recognizable shredding have made him a beloved figure to rock audiences the world over. One part invading-horde, one part traveling carnival party, Black Label Society continues to engage and inspire, powered by caffeine and cacophony.
THEORY OF A DEADMAN
Songs make statements at just the right time. Born at the intersection of insurgency and inspiration, music props up a sounding board for the people to be heard. Theory Of A Deadman amplify this voice on their seventh full-length offering, Say Nothing [Roadrunner Records/Atlantic Worldwide]. The award- winning multiplatinum Los Angeles-based Canadian band—Tyler Connolly [lead vocals, guitar], Dave Brenner [guitar, backing vocals], Dean Back [bass], and Joey Dandeneau [drums]—flip the pulse of the world into scorching songcraft, integrating experimental vision, rock ‘n’ roll attitude, and clever pop ambition.
In the midst of this storm, Connolly and Co. speak up like never before.
“This album allowed me to say all of the things that were on my mind earlier, but I was too afraid to say,” the frontman admits. “Our previous material was pretty much all relationship-driven. Everything was about me being unhappy. This one was about what’s going on in the world, the state of American politics, and everything else. It was a completely different way of writing for us. I remember Dave asked me, ‘Hey dude, did you watch a lot of CNN or what?’,” he laughs.
A whirlwind two years awakened this feeling in the group. After nearly two decades together, Theory landed their biggest career hit in the form of “Rx (Medicate)” from 2017’s Wake Up Call. Not only did it receive a platinum plaque, generate 100 million-plus streams, and become their third number one on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, but it also received a nomination in the category of “Rock Song of the Year” at the iHeartRadio Music Awards.
The musicians quietly reached this high watermark by remaining consistently prolific. To date, their discography encompassed the double-platinum single “Bad Girlfriend,” platinum single “Not Meant To Be,” platinum album Scars & Souvenirs, and gold singles “Angel” and “Hate My Life.” Plus, they notched two Top 10 debuts on the Billboard Top 200, namely Truth Is…  and Savages , as well as eight top tens on Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart. In addition to selling out shows worldwide, they’ve toured with everyone from Alter Bridge and Bush to Stone Sour and Big Wreck and more.
In 2018, Connolly turned his attention towards the next chapter. It started at a Los Angeles dinner with Wake Up Call producer Martin Terefe [Jason Mraz, Yungblud].
“I went out to dinner before Halloween with Martin, began discussing the record, went home, and had a panic attack,” recalls Connolly. “After ‘Rx (Medicate)’, there was a lot to figure out. It was really fantastic, but I don’t think we had a lot of time to live in it and digest it. There was pressure. I was like, ‘Okay, I have to get to work’. One day when I woke up, I knew what I needed to communicate. I was motivated to talk about things I want to talk about and not just write about girls. It’s not where I was 15 years ago, but here I am now.”
“What makes this record important is the content,” Brenner elaborates. “Tyler approaches some really tough topics like domestic violence and racism. We never did that in the past. ‘Rx (Medicate)’ opened the door though. This is almost a continuation. There are real discussions happening in the tracks backed by heavy stuff to make you think.”
Once again, the group hopped a plane to London and worked out of Terefe’s Kensaltown studio. Staying in an Airbnb for six weeks, they pushed themselves creatively like never before, incorporating new sounds and sonics.
Theory introduce Say Nothing with the single “History Of Violence.” Finger-picked guitar by Brenner brushes up against the singer’s searing snapshot of a woman afflicted by abuse at the hands of her husband. Between sweeping strings and airy solos, Connolly sings, “She need a sedative to get her straight, ya know she need a cigarette, she got the shakes, put them sunglasses on her, hide her face, such a waste…maybe the way out is a .38.”
“It’s a story about a woman who gets beat by her significant other, shoots him, kills him, and goes to jail,” he explains. “Even though she’s in jail, it’s still a better place to be than being imprisoned in real life by this man. It’s very similar to stories we hear in the news all the time, unfortunately.”
A pilgrimage to Abbey Road Studios left its fingerprints on “Ted Bundy.” Swaggering piano and boisterous horns resound beneath a Sgt. Peppers-gone-Silence-of-the-Lambs story.
“We did a private tour of Abbey Road, and I got to play on The Beatles piano,” recalls Connolly. “We went up to the room where they played ‘A Day in the Life’. When we got back to our studio, we were so inspired. We put tuba on ‘Ted Bundy’. After six albums, we don’t want to be complacent or stale. We try different things. Lyrically, it’s funny. I watched a documentary and got inspired to write about Ted Bundy falling in love.”
Elsewhere, a gospel choir kicks off “Quicksand,” adding yet another dimension to the aural palette. Meanwhile, the orchestration on “Black Hole Of Your Heart” moves in lockstep with an arena-ready beat punctuated by creaky guitar, nodding to Silverchair’s Diorama.
“All around, we really pushed ourselves in terms of the sound,” adds Brenner. “It’s like we finally fit the square peg in the round hole here!”
In many ways, “Strangers” encapsulates a pervasive feeling and strikes a chord with its powerful and provocative prose.
“It’s about what’s going on in America with politics,” says Connolly. “You have to pick a side. It’s interesting how people stick to their party and forget the country. We’re all like strangers now. It’s gotten too nasty.”
However, Theory’s music might be something everyone can ultimately agree on.
“I look at the record as a microcosm of our current era,” Brenner concludes. “It’s a reminder to look inward at what’s happening and what we’re becoming. I hope everyone dives into the words. At the same time, music is still an escape. Maybe we can give the world a little solace and encourage everyone to treat each other better.”
“We just want to write what speaks to us,” Connolly leaves off. “The best thing is when people sing lyrics back to you, or if a song gets somebody through a tough time. There’s something we all might be able to dig here.”
BLACK VEIL BRIDES
Committed to uncompromising expression, with a foundation in hard rock tradition and rule-breaking iconoclasm, Black Veil Brides is a transcendent celebration of life-affirming power and anthemic catharsis. A gothic vision first summoned in a small town by an isolated kid fascinated with death, rock, theatricality, and monsters (both real and imagined), Black Veil Brides is now a postmodern heavy metal institution with a legion of like-minded fans and supporters worldwide.
A new chapter in the band’s ever-evolving story arrives with The Phantom Tomorrow, an ambitious sixth album pushing the music of Black Veil Brides forward without sacrificing their beloved signature sound. Built around a thematically rich story, written by singer Andy Biersack, The Phantom Tomorrow combines imaginative worldbuilding with unrelentingly catchy and melodic bombast.
The twin-guitar attack of Jake Pitts and Jinxx cut through with sharp precision, overtop the steady pulse of powerhouse drummer Christian Coma and the fluid, rhythmic dynamics of Lonny Eagleton. Biersack’s rich baritone croon and soaring passion are anchored in the biggest hooks of the band’s career. Recorded in Los Angeles, with producer Erik Ron (Godsmack, Bush, Dance Gavin Dance), The Phantom Tomorrow excels as a series of standalone songs and a cohesive conceptual album.
The band’s strident opposition to conformity and obstacles (from both within and without) strikes a chord with every outcast who felt drawn to the allure of the dark. It’s evident in the 160 million-plus views of “Knives and Pens,” an early demo committed to video before singer Andy had found his band of brothers. The RIAA-certified gold single “In the End,” which itself boasts over 150 million views, is proof that the group whose merchandise dominated Hot Topic stores before they’d even dropped their debut album was no mere passing fad or ill-fated “scene.” This was built to last.
Daughtry, one of the most visible and consistent Rock & Roll torchbearers of the 21st Century, has sold over 9 million albums and 16million singles worldwide as well as selling out concerts across the globe. Their debut album, the self-titled Daughtry, was the top-selling album of 2007, producing 4 Top 20 Platinum-selling singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and became the fastest-selling rock debut album in Soundscan history. It was also nominated for 4 Grammy Awards and won 4 American Music Awards and 7 Billboard Music Awards including Album of the Year. The subsequent albums, Leave This Town (2009), Break The Spell (2011), Baptized (2013) and Cage To Rattle (2018) were all certified Gold and placed in the top 10 in the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart. In 2020, Daughtry released their newest single, World On Fire, which marked their return to their rock roots and the top of the Rock Charts in the US.
SLEEPING WITH SIRENS
It starts at ground zero. By wiping the slate clean and turning the page to the next chapter, Sleeping With Sirens re-center, recalibrate, and realign on their fifth full-length and first album for Sumerian Records, How It Feels to Be Lost. The gold-certified quintet—Kellin Quinn [vocals, keyboards], Jack Fowler [lead guitar], Nick Martin [rhythm guitar], Justin Hills [bass], and Gabe Barham [drums]—amplify the impact of their unpredictable fretwork, velvet vocal acrobatics, and hypnotically heavy alternative transmissions without compromise.
In essence, the band strips itself to the core and uncovers what it sought all along…
“We needed to get back into a room and not care about the outcome,” exclaims Kellin. “We needed to sit down and write something from our hearts we really love and believe in without regard for opinion. That’s what we did. We didn’t care about the result. We wrote one song, liked it, and moved on. Everything finally fell into place.”
The time turned out to be right for them to do so.
Since emerging in 2010, Sleeping With Sirens have tested the boundaries of rock by walking a tightrope between pop, punk, metal, hardcore, electronic, acoustic, and even a little R&B. This high-wire balancing act attracted a faithful fan base known as “Strays,” generated global album sales in excess of 1.5 million, ignited over half-a-billion streams, and achieved a trio of gold-selling singles: “If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn,” “If You Can’t Hang,” and “Scene Two-Roger Rabbit.” They launched two albums—Feel and Madness—into the Top 15 of the Billboard Top 200. Additionally, they collaborated with MGK on “Alone” and Pierce the Veil on the gold-certified “King For A Day.” Beyond selling out shows worldwide and receiving acclaim from The New York Times, Alternative Press crowned them “Artist of the Year” at the Alternative Press Music Awards, proclaimed “Kick Me” the 2015 “Song of the Year”, and featured them as cover stars a whopping seven times.
However, everything came to a head during 2017. In the midst of the tour cycle for Gossip, Kellin found himself at rock bottom under a haze of depression and alcoholism.
Reaching a fork in the road, the future of the band hung in the balance.
“I let everything go,” he admits. “I wasn’t being the leader I had always been. For the last few years, I was struggling with alcoholism, depression, and anxiety. I didn’t know how to turn it around or what to do. Being on the road and touring as much as we did for Gossip was really hard on me. I didn’t know if I even had it in me to write another record or get on stage and perform. Something just happened one day. I woke up, called Jack, and said, ‘Hey, I want to stop drinking. I want to go into a room and write the best record we’ve ever written’. Both of those things happened within a week.”
With Kellin free from alcohol as of December 2018, he and Jack holed up at MDDN studio in Los Angeles and got to work. This time around, they welcomed longtime friends Zakk Cervini [blink-182] and Matt Good [Asking Alexandria] behind the board as producers. Jack cooked up “dark music” that immediately resonated with the frontman.
The whole process “felt organic,” as he recalls. “The music reflected exactly where I was at.”
As a result, the first single and opener “Leave It All Behind” exudes an undeniable sense of urgency. A buoyant riff seesaws between electronic echoes before converging on a vocal crescendo topped off by a hard-hitting scream and distorted crash.
“Sometimes, you get those thoughts,” he sighs. “You wonder, ‘What would happen if I wasn’t here?’ I put it into perspective. There are people who listen to my band. There’s my family who rely on, love, and me. I realize it’s important to stick around, because we can figure it out together. This is also a reminder for the youth to keep fighting.”
The follow-up “Agree to Disagree” tempers a snaky bass line and a rush of vocals with a bold falsetto-punctuated declaration, “I like the nighttime, better.”
“We can sit around and argue all day long, but it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong,” he continues. “We need to realize if we can’t agree, let’s find a way to coexist. We have to be open to understanding others, even if we’re aren’t one-hundred percent on the same page.”
Elsewhere, the equally anthemic and addictive “Medicine” confronts Kellin’s demons head on as it details “being up late at night drinking.” The finale “Dying To Believe” extracts comfort from darkness beneath cover of strings and guitars with a “thank you” for the fans and reminder “to see the best in yourselves.”
In many ways, the title, How It Feels To Be Lost, hints at actualization as much as it does potential.
“It felt like we finally found what we were looking for with this record,” Kellin smiles. “The lyrics, the emotion, the musicianship, and the production are all there. It’s the best we could do. It’s going to be exciting to get on stage and perform these songs. We finally found ourselves.”
In finding themselves, Sleeping With Sirens emerge with their most dynamic and definitive body of work to date.
“Certain records have saved our lives,” Kellin leaves off. “They became staples that I put on. They got me through hard times in my life if I needed to scream or sing my heart out or just feel thrashing guitars and loud music. This album brings all of those sides together. I want this to be our anthem for new fans. To the diehards, we want this to do justice for you. It’s what you’ve been waiting for.”
The heavy metal-n’-roll dark madcap visionaries collectively known as AVATAR didn’t pick their moniker by accident. An “avatar” is defined as either a manifestation of a deity in bodily form or an icon representing a separate being in another realm. Both meanings perfectly describe the Swedish rock sensations, as they’ve built something larger than life.
Ambitious sorcerers of the highest order, AVATAR smash the boundaries between band, theater troupe, and cinematic masterminds, with a series of celebrated albums and videos, and the immersive world of Avatar Country, a fantastical land where metal rules supreme.
The AVATAR cultural infiltration encompasses both commercial rock radio and streaming services, where songs like “The Eagle Has Landed,” “Hail the Apocalypse,” and “Let it Burn” have amassed more than 100 million streams, as new “citizens” enter into their “kingdom.”
Avatar Country (2018), released via Entertainment One, was the second-largest independent album in North America upon its debut. Already a Breakthrough Band (Metal Hammer) award winner and Top 40 act overseas, the band’s seventh record debuted at No. 4 (Hard Music Albums), No. 8 (Rock Albums), and No. 25 (Billboard 200 Current Albums). One major rock outlet even declared Avatar Country a heavy metal Sgt. Pepper’s.
AVATAR returns in 2020 with a bold manifesto called Hunter Gatherer. The band’s eighth album is an unflinchingly ruthless study of a clueless humankind’s ever-increasing velocity into an uncertain future, furthering the reach of the band’s always expanding dark roots. Songs like “A Secret Door,” “Colossus,” and “Age of Apes” are ready-made anthems for the modern age, each struggling for a collective meaning amidst the savagery of technology.
Casting themselves as “gods in disguise,” guitarist Jonas Jarlsby and drummer John Alfredsson combined forces as teenagers, determined to manifest their creative strength into the world. Soon, they recruited vocalist Johannes Eckerström, bassist Henrik Sandelin, and guitarist Simon Andersson, recognizing them as fellow visionaries and troublemakers.
Before any of them had turned 20, they financed a blistering debut album, Thoughts of No Tomorrow (2006), by themselves. Riding on a wave of youthful intensity, AVATAR unleashed a sophomore set, Schlacht (2007), cracking the Top 30 on the Swedish album charts. Avatar, the self-titled third album, followed in 2009, as the band’s unrelenting touring schedule saw them on the road with acts like In Flames, Helloween, and Obituary.
Guitarist Tim Öhrström replaced Andersson in time for the release of Black Waltz (2012), cementing Avatar as an unstoppable five-headed hydra poised to spread fire like a burning plague across the world. During this period, the band began to come into their own in the visual medium as well, with a sinister dark precision and a sense for the spectacular. AVATAR showcased their expansive visual flair on tour with Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch, followed by their first American tour, with Lacuna Coil and Sevendust.
Hail The Apocalypse (2014) smashed into The Top 10 US Top Hard Rock Albums. Loudwire declared the engaging and inventive clip for “Vultures Fly” the Best Rock Video of 2015. Produced by Sylvia Massy (TOOL, Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers), Feathers & Flesh (2016) was an astonishing concept album, spinning a fantastical tale of owl vs. eagle, and producing several songs that continue to resonate as signature Avatar compositions.
Following the release of Avatar Country (2018), the group broadened its horizon into a feature film. AVATAR blew past a $50,000 Kickstarter campaign goal in less than 90 minutes, eventually collecting close to $200,000 to finance Legend of Avatar Country.
It was demonstrative of the feverish dedication of the band’s audience; the same fans who propelled them into the Rock Radio and Billboard Album charts since the band formed as teens in Gothenburg. Legend of Avatar Country serves as both companion piece and natural expansion of the Avatar Country album’s rich story blueprint. As Kerrang! rightly observed, “The insanely rabid fan response to the [movie] announcement is a testament not only to the band’s connection with its fans but to the strength of the concept itself.”
Hunter Gatherer (2020) shares the determined focus of the conceptually driven Feathers & Flesh and Avatar Country while decisively emphasizing the individual songs above any overarching story. At the same time, there are thematic threads throughout the album, reflecting the members’ shared state of mind. Hunter Gatherer is the darkest, most sinister version of Avatar, with deep studies of cruelty, technology, disdain, and deprivation.
In 2019, Avatar reunited with producer Jay Ruston (Stone Sour, Slipknot, Anthrax) at Sphere Studios in Los Angeles, California, where the foundation for each song on Hunter Gatherer was laid with the band performing altogether, as they’d done only once before, on Hail the Apocalypse. The old-school method of playing as one in the studio, more akin to how they are on stage, captured the essence of Avatar. Recorded entirely to two-inch tape, something you don’t hear about much in 2020, Hunter Gatherer exhibits everything that makes AVATAR standouts in the vast, rich landscape of heavy metal’s past and present.
Not since the initial cultural disruption of MTV has the combination of ambitious compositions and visual storytelling merged with such vibrance. Like Rob Zombie, Rammstein, and KISS, AVATAR seamlessly blur the line between sights and sounds. AVATAR songs are new anthems for the ages, precision heat-seeking missiles targeting a cultural landscape ready for fresh songs to champion from a band with a giant persona to rally behind. The AVATAR experience is challenging, daring, and altogether captivating.
As the more than 200,000 subscribers to the band’s YouTube channel will attest, AVATAR conjures the flair for the dramatic of old school Hollywood, the macabre moodiness of modern adventure films, and the adrenaline-fueled thrills of Halloween horror attractions.
Johannes Eckerström – Vocals Jonas Jarlsby – Guitar
Tim Öhrström – Guitar Henrik Sandelin – Bass John Alfredsson – Drums
“Spiritbox is where serene art-rock and metal savagery meet.” – Loudwire
The existential dread of isolation and the wondrous alchemy of artisans, ensconced in a self-imposed enclave of creativity, have converged in the music of SPIRITBOX. Part post-metal band, part art collective, SPIRITBOX makes magic in the musical and visual mediums, evoking spirits like that other type of “medium.” Not unlike the arcane occult technology of their namesake, SPIRITBOX communes with people all around the world, via broad emotional outbursts of sound.
Conjuring spirits through music and video as do-it-yourself artists from their remote place of worship, the burgeoning arts community of Vancouver Island, the husband and wife duo of Courtney LaPlante and Mike Stringer inspired a cult following from their first emergence in 2017. It wasn’t long before bassist Bill Crook was baptized into the fold, expanding the outfit to a trio.
A self-titled EP introduced SPIRITBOX to the world, enchanting an even broader spectrum of the esoteric minded sort. Singles Collection, the five-song set that followed in 2019, documents LaPlante’s struggle with depression, while emphasizing the band’s genre-transcending musical prowess. From melancholy to madness, from hopelessness to redemption, SPIRITBOX is a complete extension of its creators. As Revolver Magazine pointed out in a glowing profile, the band’s 2020 breakout single, “Holy Roller,” is both “insanely catchy and totally crushing.” Most strikingly perhaps, like everything SPIRITBOX, “Holy Roller” was fashioned free from compromise.
There is nothing pandering or remotely insincere about this band. That authenticity is what attracts its religiously devoted adherents, an ever-growing “denomination” of diverse people. The obsessive nature of the burgeoning fandom is a testament to the immersive quality of SPIRITBOX. As the ghostly phrase from the late ‘80s baseball movie goes, “If you build it, they will come.”
10 Years – Knoxville, TN
Growth transpires over a lifetime. The process never stops. Rather, it ramps up as time passes. 10 Years accelerate this cycle on their ninth full-length album, Violent Allies [Mascot Records / Mascot Label Group]. The gold-certified Knoxville, TN alternative hard rock trio—Jesse Hasek [vocals], Brian Vodinh [guitar (live) /drums, bass, backing vocals (recording), and Matt Wantland [guitar / synth programming]—progress as a unit once more. Embracing heightened vulnerability, elevated songcraft, and sonic adventurousness, they convert the push-and-pull of their collective creativity into a cohesive, clear, and cathartic body of work.
“We don’t ever try to recreate what we’ve done in the past,” explains Jesse. “We knew we had to challenge ourselves to see what we had in us. If it’s not stressful, you’re not challenging yourself to grow. From the beginning, music has always been therapy and an outlet. We let ourselves enjoy the process, be vulnerable, and talk about those emotions. We got back to why we love music with the maturity of where we’re at in our lives. We were able to harness that love of creating from a wiser and more developed perspective.”
“We were hard on ourselves,” admits Brian. “It was more intense than during records past, but it was worth it. The outcome was exactly what we wanted it to be.”
For nearly two decades, 10 Years have quietly pushed themselves and modern rock towards evolution. Building a formidable catalog, the group’s gold-selling 2005 breakthrough The Autumn Effect yielded the hit “Wasteland,” which went gold, infiltrated the Billboard Hot 100, and clinched #1 at Active Rock Radio and #1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs Chart. They landed three Top 30 entries on the Billboard Top 200 with Division , Feeding the Wolves , and Minus the Machine . Most recently, 2017’s (How to Live) As Ghosts marked a reunion between Jesse, Brian, and Matt and achieved marked success. Not only did the album bow in the Top 5 of the US Top Hard Rock Albums Chart, but it also yielded the hit “Novacaine.” The single ascended to the Top 5 of the Billboard US Mainstream Rock Songs Chart and tallied 16 million Spotify streams, alongside 29 million streams across all dsp’s. The cumulative total for all track streams from repertoire on How To Live (As Ghosts) exceeds 51 million plays. Along the way, they sold out countless headline shows and toured with everyone from Korn, Deftones, and Stone Sour to Chris Cornell and Linkin Park. During 2019, these three musicians headed to Los Angeles, rented an Airbnb in Woodland Hills, and spent five weeks recording with GRAMMY® Award-winning producer and Feeding the Wolves collaborator Howard Benson [My Chemical Romance, Halestorm, Papa Roach, Three Days Grace].
When talking to the band members they share, “Time spent in the studio or simply collaborating on our vision was a catalyst in reaching creative clarity like we’ve never had before. It reminded all three of us that this bond created over the last two decades is best served when individual voices becomes collective vision. It was fun, because we were back to being brothers. No matter how frustrated we might get, once we looked out at it, the energy was unexplainable. Our mission was to really connect with the songs, break them down, and build them back up.” Brian adds, “The younger versions of us would’ve been going to Hollywood every night and partying. It was different. We actually came up with a lot of ideas, melody tweaks, and had really good brainstorming sessions in the car on the PCH. The whole vibe contributed to what the record is.
All we cared about was writing and recording the best songs we possibly could. We felt like we had something to prove, especially to our A&R guy and the President of North America for Mascot Ron Burman.”
They prove it on cuts like the first single “The Shift.” Melodic guitars slide across a caustic beat before a rush of distortion ignites the refrain, “We are a violent virus, without a remedy.” “Lyrically, it’s about the polarization of society and the human impact on the earth itself,” states Brian. “We were thinking about how humans can be a virus to the Earth.”
“While in the studio last fall, we were looking at the state of the world as we wrote ‘The Shift’,” Jesse reveals. “As a society, we’re so distracted that we’re not united. When the pandemic happened, it became so important to finally see the positivity of humanity. We’ve realized we’re all in this together. You can pick a side, but we’re sitting in the same realm.” Airy keys echo through “The Unknown.” It builds towards a sweeping celestial chorus. “We’re in a wide-open world we’ve created, but we have to step back and look at where we are and adapt,” continues Jesse. “We’re all in the unknown right now.”
A clean riff snakes past the verses of “Without You” before a hypnotic hook unfurls. The instrumental “Planets” interludes thread the album together with soft piano and acoustic as a counterpoint to the explosive energy of “Cut The Cord” and “Start Again.” There is a broad, dynamic range of repertoire on the new album as exhibited by the lead single “The Unknown”’ and its opening with ominous yet hopeful piano notes alongside Jesse’s lamenting uncertain times in the vocals, to the heavy drums and distorted guitars on “Déjà vu.” Everything culminates on “Say Goodbye.” The conclusion’s cinematic soundscape and poignant lyrics bid farewell to Jesse’s late grandfather and emphasize “the band at our most vulnerable,” according to the frontman.
Meanwhile, the title speaks to an overarching theme. “We came back to this quote, ‘There’s a strange power in the joining of unlike things’,” remembers Brian. “There is something incredibly special about how we create. Violent Allies is the perfect way to summarize it. We go through hell facing all challenges head-on, but the final product is worth it. Simultaneously, it reflects the state of divisiveness in The World. Everything is so political. Everyone is angry at each other.
We’re better when we come together though.”
In the end, 10 Years keep growing as Violent Allies. “This record wasn’t just another record,” Brian leaves off. “It’s the result of working hard to improve on all levels. There’s a lot to dig into. It’s a graduated state for the band.”
“After all of this time, 10 Years is a brotherhood,” Jesse concludes. “I’ve spent the better half of my life accomplishing what I never thought was possible with these guys. It’s been an unexplainable, crazy, and awesome journey since Brian first asked me to join the band on his 19th birthday. We’ve beat the odds and continue to live life. It bothers me when people don’t try to push themselves to enjoy what life has to offer. Life is beautiful, if you really go for it and try. It can show you beauty—and that’s what this band has shown me.”
You hear it again and again.
When one door closes, another one opens. However, it’s true – especially in the case of Sick Puppies. Weathering and persevering through potentially life-changing events, the gold-selling, chart-topping Los Angeles-based and Australian-bred hard rock outfit knew one thing.
They were going to make more music as Sick Puppies.
“There was no question” affirms Emma. “We had no doubt that we wanted to continue. Mark and I got together and basically said, ‘first and foremost, we love music. We love this band and our fans, and we have put so much into it, and we are not done and want to take it further.’ In order to do that, we needed to find the right member.”
Instead, the “right member” found them. With stints in several bands under his belt, Texas-born singer and guitarist Bryan Scott reached out to Emma via Facebook within days of the announcement. He sent her a video of himself performing, and she swiftly replied.
“Both Mark and I knew he was the guy right away – he was cool and he sounded great.
It was a natural progression. We were totally on to something” said Emma “Something just overwhelmed me,” admits Bryan. “I had a feeling that I needed to reach out. They needed a singer and guitarist and that’s what I am. I had always loved their music and as soon as I saw the post, I went home and immediately sent Emma a message. We clicked right off the bat. Music is in their blood – it’s who they are. They live and breathe it every day. I’m the same way.”
Following a first dinner together at a Los Angeles burger spot, they hit the rehearsal studio together and began jamming. After nailing numerous favorites from the Sick Puppies catalog, they started writing new material over the next several months.
2013’s Connect saw the band embrace a more experimental side.
“On the last album, a lot of ideas came from many different places, but our core is rock and that is what we love!” Mark says on this new album, we’re giving fans what they want, that classic Sick Puppies sound.”
“I think fans will enjoy the resurgence of the heaviness,” smiles Emma. “We love that, so we went all the way with it.”
The group teamed up with producer and songwriter Mark Holman [Three Days Grace, Red, Shinedown, Halestorm, The Struts], to start working on their fourth full-length album. Recorded in Nashville and Los Angeles during 2015, the new music reflects the group’s, incendiary interplay between Emma, Bryan & Mark.
“We were actually supposed to work with Mark Holman before, but it never materialized for whatever reason,” Emma continues. “It was the right moment in time, and he was the perfect producer to bring out the emotion in these songs.”
Locked and loaded with a muscular riff and booming percussion, “Stick To Your Guns” the band’s first single announces the band’s return with a literal bang. Bryan’s vocals careen from hypnotic to heavy as an arena-size refrain takes hold.
“You have to push regardless of what anyone tells you,” he says. “This was a big thing for us. You can pray, hope, or wish for something to happen, but at the end of the day, you have to “stick to your guns”, go out there, and believe. The song is meant to empower.”
Then, there’s the epic “Where Do I Begin,” which spotlights Emma and Bryan’s impressive harmonies in the chorus. For lyrical inspiration, the musicians actually turned to the diehard collective Sick Puppies World Crew.
“We looked on their Facebook and read everything,” Emma recalls. “We saw that everyone shared a lot in common, and it was quite touching. We grabbed a few descriptive words and came across this theme. A lot of people out there feel like they’re missing out. They hear things like, ‘You can do it when you’re ready.’ I think, ‘What’s ready?’ If someone’s going to wait to be ready, they might wait their whole lives. It’s about struggling with that and making a move.”
With its gnashing chant and pummeling groove “Let Me Live” introduced the album during the first teaser video—which arrived to palpable audience fervor. Meanwhile, “Walls” sees Emma’s vocals take center stage with gorgeously haunting delivery.
“It describes the painful feelings that come when a friend, family member, or someone you’re very close to changes, disappoints, disappears, or drifts away,” she sighs. “It’s just a snapshot of what I was feeling at that point in time.”
That kind of honesty has solidified a bond between the Sick Puppies and their fans since day one. To date, their breakout second full-length Tri-Polar has sold more than 500K albums, yielding 2 million single sales including the gold-certified “You’re Going Down” as well as rock smashes “Maybe” “Riptide,” and “Odd One.”
“All The Same” the band’s first hit single from their debut album, “Dressed Up As Life” became the soundtrack for the viral video “Free Hugs” campaign racking up tens of millions of online views and saw them appear on Oprah, 60 Minutes, CNN, Good Morning America, and The Tonight Show.
2013’s Connect earned the band its highest Billboard Top 200 debut at #17 and yielded two top 10 singles at rock radio peaking at #2. Along the way, the trio played alongside the world’s biggest bands from Muse, The Killers, Deftones, Evanescence, Breaking Benjamin, Papa Roach, Incubus to Tool.
Now, their message is more powerful than ever.
“When people hear this, I want them to take away a feeling of new life, new passion, and new excitement from this band,” Emma leaves off. “Mark and I love what we do. We were going to forge ahead no matter what. We found the perfect guy, and we’re excited about this next chapter.”
Code Orange’s 2020 album UNDERNEATH represented a creative and critical high mark for the band. It closed out last year on multiple year-end lists. NPR celebrated it among “The 50 Best Albums of 2020” declaring, “UNDERNEATH’’s liquid metal soundtracked a molten catharsis of confusion and rage.” The New York Times named it among the “Best Albums of 2020,” and Billboard touted it as one of “The 25 Best Rock Albums of 2020,” going on to applaud how,“The band’s greatest strength remains that unpredictability.” Landing on “The 25 Best Albums of 2020,” Revolver urged, “You could never question their creative ambition; on UNDERNEATH, those ambitions are fully realized. Stand back in awe.” Consequence of Sound proclaimed it one of the “Top 30 Metal + Hard Rock Albums of 2020.” In its “The 100 Best Albums of 2020,“Noisey put it best, “Fitful and frightening, this album sounds like the dying cry of the modern world.” Furthermore, Code Orange have also garnered a 2021 GRAMMY Award nomination in the category of “Best Metal Performance” for the title track “Underneath.” UNDERNEATH is available on all streaming platforms, and features the singles – “Swallowing The Rabbit Whole,” “Underneath,” and “Sulfur Surrounding.” In its wake, the band performed multiple unforgettable livestream experiences, including “BACK INSIDE THE GLASS” an all-immersive environmental experience placing Code Orange’s live show at the center of awe-inspiring virtual landscapes. It marked Code Orange’s third groundbreaking livestream of 2020, following their revolutionary empty venue record release show, “LAST ONES LEFT: In Fear of The End,” and “UNDER THE SKIN,” their first-ever stripped down performance, which is available now as a digital album on all streaming platforms. Additionally, Code Orange have continued to reach fans across the globe through their “YOU AND YOU ALONE” livestream series, which features collaborative performances, playthroughs, and in-depth discussions + fan Q&A’s broadcasting regularly on the band’s official Twitch channel.
Produced by Code Orange’s Jami Morgan and Nick Raskulinecz with co-producer Will Yip,UNDERNEATH features additional programming from Chris Vrenna, and was mixed by Yip and Code Orange’s Eric ‘Shade’ Balderose. NPR declared “[it] devours a body of extreme sounds — sludge, noise, metallic hardcore, doom, grunge, industrial and whatever else it takes to make the mosh pit swarm — to make uncompromisingly chaotic metal.” Stereogum detailed UNDERNEATH as “a conceptual piece about online poisoning…” adding, “the experience of hearing it on headphones is akin to getting torn limb from limb by cybernetic terminators,” while the The FADER attested, “Code Orange sound like no other metal band around right now. Underneath is their shot at the stars.” The UK’s Metal Hammer gave UNDERNEATH a perfect 10 out of 10 album review, hailing the LP as “a 1,000 ft neon signpost for the rest of the metal world to follow, the first classic record of the decade.” Kerrang! awarded UNDERNEATH a flawless 5K review declaring the album, “one of the most powerful, cathartic, creatively satisfying and bruisingly heavy records of its age,” with Rolling Stone praising Code Orange’s, “cutting melodies and the group’s balance of industrial rattle and shock-treatment guitar riffs.” Revolver affirmed, “The record is one of the most colossal and best sounding hardcore-adjacent albums of all time.”
Furthermore, Code Orange made headlines in the professional wrestling world earlier last year with their performance of “Underneath” at WWE’s NXT Takeover: In Your House event. Code Orange previously released “Let Me In,” their official entrance theme for WWE Superstar ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt, and featured at WWE’s NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III performing a rendition of wrestler Aleister Black’s entrance theme alongside Incendiary’s Brendan Garrone.
Comprised of Jami Morgan (Drums / Vocals), Eric ‘Shade’ Balderose (Electronics / Guitar / Vocals), Reba Meyers (Guitar / Vocals), Dominic Landolina (Guitar) and Joe Goldman (Bass), Code Orange flipped the heavy music world on its head with their breakthrough albumFOREVER, a collection that masterfully mixed hardcore aggression with urgent industrial textures, earning the band a breakthrough GRAMMY nomination and top placement on several “Best of 2017” lists including: Rolling Stone’s “20 Best Metal Albums of 2017,“Revolver’s “20 Best Albums of 2017,” and The Independent’s “Top 20 Rock & Metal Albums of 2017.” FOREVER was followed by the 2018 release of THE HURT WILL GO ON, a digital EP featuring “3 Knives” and “The Hunt” Feat. Corey Taylor, as well as “The Hurt Will Go On” (Shade Remix), an official remix of Code Orange’s “Hurt Goes On” helmed by the band’s guitarist and vocalist Shade. More recently the Code Orange has collaborated with a wide array of artists, co-producing Injury Reserve’s “HPNGC” Feat. JPEGMAFIA, serving up a pair of remixes for alt-J’s “Hit Me Like That Snare” and “Adeline,” and guesting on Amnesia Scanner’s “AS Flat.”
Lacuna Coil’s new live album, Live from the Apocalypse, is the fruit of an unprecedented time. Unlike previous live efforts—Visual Karma (Body, Mind and Soul) (2008), Shallow Live: Acoustic at Criminal Records (2010), and The 119 Show – Live in London (2018)—the Italians, under the yoke of the pandemic, cleverly devised a way for their devoted fanbase to hear and see them on stage by organizing a special live stream event performing their latest album, Black Anima, in September 2020. By all accounts, this was no ordinary gig. Even though Lacuna Coil were in their hometown of Milan—at the famed Alcatraz Club—there were no fans to greet them. No roar of anticipation; No claps of adulation; No interaction with the people who had become deeply involved in and had a profound love for Lacuna Coil’s music and live shows over two-plus decades. The live stream energy was different. It had to be. With hearts on their sleeves, cameras rolling, and the world tuning in online, Lacuna Coil brought Black Anima: Live from the Apocalypse to life. To commemorate the occasion, Lacuna Coil and Century Media are releasing the live stream event, under the title Live from the Apocalypse, on CD/DVD and LP/DVD on June 25th.
“On one hand, it felt awkward to play for a huge empty room,” tells vocalist Andrea Ferro. “But, on the other hand, it felt great to finally reconnect with our fans at home and with the people working behind the scenes. Alot of people enjoyed the show—it was definitely a one-off event loaded with a lot of emotions and feelings. Live from the Apocalypse is an opportunity to offer a new release to our fans while the COVID-19 crisis is still a real thing, affecting them and us. The live album represents a unique moment in our career (and life) that will be forever remembered as that one time when we literally ‘rose from the Apocalypse.’”
Fans that caught the live stream event were treated to a rare setlist. Lacuna Coil pulled out every track from their acclaimed Black Anima album. From smash-hit singles “Layers of Time” and “Reckless” to a piano rendition of “Save Me” (with Silvia Zanaboni) and a palpable version of “Apocalypse,” the group had the world at their fingertips. Lacuna Coil’s songs of darkness and hope captivated the global audience, many of whom commented in real-time their appreciation and admiration. But that wasn’t all on offer. In addition to tracks like “Now or Never,” “Sword of Anger,” and the prescient “The End Is All I Can See,” Lacuna Coil reached into Black Anima’s bonus tracks to make this unique event extra-special. Live from the Apocalypse also showcases the riveting highs and lows of “Black Feathers,” the slow, moody temperament of “Through the Flames,” and the throwback feel of “Black Dried up Heart.” Truly, this was a once-in-a-lifetime gig, now available for all to cherish in their homes, their cars, literally, anywhere that life takes them.
“The setlist was entirely based on our latest record Black Anima,” Ferro says. “Many of the songs were performed live for the very first time. This includes the bonus tracks on Black Anima. So, the show itself was a way to say that we had and still have no intention of stopping. That there is still hope, even if in that specific moment things were looking pretty dark and hopeless. The idea of the release came immediately after the live stream gig. When the fans started to ask for it and when we realized that the material was pretty intense and worth being released, that’s when Live from the Apocalypse became a physical reality.”
Live from the Apocalypse wasn’t necessarily modeled after other famed live albums. Key differences are that the audio is as close as possible to the band’s performance. The audio has been remixed from the mixing board—no buffering or audio quality drops here. Produced by Lacuna Coil bassist Marco “Maki” Coti-Zelati, mixed by studio engineer (and longtime friend) Marco Barusso at BRX Studio, and mastered by Marco D’Agostino at 96kHz.it Mastering Studio, Live from the Apocalypse sounds bright, loud, and live. Fans that didn’t get to attend the live stream event can relive the experience as if they were there.
“We like live albums that are not too overproduced,” Ferro admits. “We wanted Live from the Apocalypse to sound well but also real—it doesn’t have to be exactly the same as the record. Sometimes you have live recordings that have alot of technical problems. For instance, the vocal mics sometime pick up the other instruments. The noise can be so loud that it’s hard to hear the vocals. This requires a lot of studio work, often whatever it takes to fix the audio problem. We were very careful this time. Luckily, the original board audio didn’t require a lot of work.”
Lacuna Coil are no strangers to performing live. Since their inception in 1997, the Milan-based metallers have played over 1,500 shows in more than 50 countries. They’ve smashed album sales charts with Comalies (2002), Karmacode (2006), Shallow Life (2009), Dark Adrenaline (2012), Broken Crown Halo (2014), and Delirium (2016) in Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. Their music videos for “Layers of Time,” “Reckless,” “Enjoy the Silence” (Depeche Mode cover), “Trip the Darkness,” “Spellbound,” “Closer,” “Heaven’s A Lie,” “Our Truth,” “End of Time,” and “I Like It” have amassed over 100 million views collectively, with other music videos for “Losing My Religion” (R.E.M. cover), “I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name),” “Blood, Tears, Dust,” “I Won’t Tell You,” and “Swamped” combining for another 27-plus million views. The band were the first Italian music artist to create a song exclusively for Amazon’s Amazon Music Originals program with the Halloween-themed, Alexa-powered track “Bad Things,” which is now included on Live from the Apocalypse. Additionally, Lacuna Coil’s 20th Anniversary show, The 119 Show: Live in London, was lauded for its sheer scale—with an enhanced stage production and circus artists—by fans and critics. Indeed, Live from the Apocalypse will set new benchmarks for Lacuna Coil. Not only for its original purpose but because it demonstrates fierce perseverance and indefatigable drive.
“We’re currently in the very early phase of writing a new album,” says Ferro. “It’s been a weird year and it’s been tough to mentally get out of the standby situation that our lives have been forced into. Instead of experiencing the outside world we have to dig deep inside ourselves in order to find the right inspiration, but as always the first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you are not staying where you are.”
For almost 30 years, John 5 has been one of the most in-demand guitar players on the planet. As well as a guitarist for hire, 5 has shared the stage as axe-man for Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson and Rob Halford. He has also worked with an impressive array of names, from all walks of music, including KD Lang, Rod Stewart, Dave Lee Roth, Alice Cooper, Tina Guo and Steven Adler.
To call John 5 a shredder does not do him justice. There’s little he can’t put his hand to.
John 5 was born John William Lowery, on July 31st 1970, in Gross Pointe Michigan. His love of guitar began at age seven, when he began watching the Hee Haw series with his father. “I watched the guitar playing and knew that was what I wanted to do. My friends wanted to be astronauts and such but all I wanted to do was play and play and play”. Other notable influences included KISS and Jimi Hendrix.
John 5’s solo career turned out not to be a flash in the pan, and he has now released 9 studio albums, a live album and a remix album . He has worked with several special guests on those albums, including Albert Lee who called John 5 “one of the nicest guys I’ve worked with“, Steve Vai who called John “underrated”, Joe Satriani, Jim Root, Eric Johnson and many more. As well as his solo albums John 5 teamed up with the vocal talents of Joe Grah (formerly of Texas band Jibe) to form “radio rock project” Loser. Their first single, ‘Disposable Sunshine’ featured on the Fantastic Four soundtrack.
In 2006, John 5 was invited to join Rob Zombie for a short Ozzfest tour. Despite being told “not to get too comfortable”, the pairing brought a resurgence in Zombie, who at the point was turning his hand to directing movies and taking a break from music, they began work on 2006’s ‘Educated Horses’. As a consequence John 5 had to make the decision to leave his fledgling band Loser. “Being the founding member of Loser, my decision to leave was not an easy one.”
In 2015, following a series of web shows to celebrate the release of his solo album ‘Careful With That Axe”, John 5 decided to take his solo set on tour, and formed The Creatures band to support his live shows. Initially joined by long-term friend Rodger Carter on drums, the band continues touring to this day, and now work as a unit on 5’s solo albums, including ‘Season Of The Witch’, the live album ‘It’s Alive’ and 2019’s ‘Invasion’. The current line-up includes John 5, Ian Ross on bass and drummer Logan Miles Nix.
Although John 5 does less “hired gun” work, he has contributed to work with Lynryd Skynrd, Meatloaf, Ricky Martin, Rod Stewart, Motley Crue and Rod Stewart.
“I’m busy, constantly busy with work but I look at who I am in the studio with or sending music to and I think I don’t ever want it to stop.”
When Ayron Jones wrote the haunting lyric, “Got me on my knees / too much smoke, can’t breathe,” heard in his new single “Mercy,” he meant the words quite literally. It was August of 2020 when he penned the song along with Marty Frederickson and Scott Stevens, and by that point, during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, the whole world appeared to be on fire.
“I just felt like the line epitomized where we were in America,” Jones says. “It was like taking a telescope and giving people a perspective of America from an outsider and what it felt like to experience this time. It was a rough story about what was really going on here in this country—and particularly for me, as a Black man.” Full of charged lyrics and melodies, “Mercy” strongly captures a collective consciousness of the time. It is also, though, underscored by a vision of hope and endurance: through it all, we persevere.
Jones’ own personal story—from the streets of Seattle to full-blown rock star—is no less rough, yet also one filled with perseverance and determination. His parents both battled drug addiction, and at a young age Jones was taken in by his aunt and uncle. Money was tight, and Jones struggled to understand both his place in the world and how to overcome his tumultuous youth. Yet, these very elements became the fuel to drive his early career.
Doubling down on his uniqueness with an album that harkens back to Jones’ beginnings, CHILD OF THE STATE is slated for release on May 21 via Big Machine / John Varvatos Records. “Having faced the abandonment I did as a child, and how that affected me in life, is really what this album is about,” he explains of the title. “It’s the triumph of overcoming all of that and still being that person. I’m the same kid looking for his parents, that longed for the love and support. A lot of people have faced adoption and abandonment, but it’s not really talked about as to how that affects people and I thought it was important to be a beacon of hope for those people. To stand for something and prove not everyone has to be a stereotype or statistic.”
Jones was 13 when he first picked up the guitar that belonged to his friend—one that he began visiting more frequently just so he could spend more time with the instrument. Recognizing his raw talent, his aunt and a neighbor eventually gifted him guitars, and all the while he taught himself to play, picking and strumming until the strings felt like a second skin. “I had a lot of conflicting emotions about my identity and my childhood,” explains Jones, “and until I found the guitar, I didn’t have an outlet. Writing and playing became a channel to express everything that I had been feeling, and then it just became my obsession.”
That self-sufficient tenacity continued to buoy Jones when, at the age of 19, he began releasing music independently. His talent and diligence earned him opportunities with iconic artists such as BB King, Guns N Roses, Janelle Monae, and many more; he forged a path to continuously widen his audience, and broke barriers as a Black artist in the Rock industry. Jones tells “in the early days, we would walk into clubs and be treated poorly because we didn’t look like the usual Rock band; but, after leaving the stage we had won over the hearts and minds of the crowd. We knew that we were doing something to open the door for other artists like us, not just in Seattle but across the world. Fast forward to today, and Seattle has become a Black rock city – prominent Black artists are leading the scene. I’m proud to have endured the hardships and challenges that I did as a performer, in order to open the door for those coming next.”
Jones cultivated a robust following in the Pacific Northwest, earning the embrace of the city’s musical royalty including Duff McKagan, Mike McCready, and more. His independent rise allowed him to hone his creative vision, and the partnership with Big Machine / John Varvatos Records was the next step in his musical and creative journey. Jones explains: “Had I stayed independent, I don’t think I would’ve had the opportunity to be where I am now, as a chart-topper and moving into my first major record,” he says.
CHILD OF THE STATE will feature “Mercy” as well as his Top 5 debut “Take Me Away,” which proved that there’s definitely a market for Jones’ genre-blending sound. His life is sprinkled throughout the full album, with lyrics tackling controversial subjects, and stories that listeners can relate to.
Jones weaves together complex issues of addiction and relationships, in “Spinning Circles” – You’re the want that I need / Like that cough from good weed / And those lines that you toe / That slow drip down your throat. For him, the song is autobiographical in the sense that “we have all been in relationships that were very unhealthy, where we couldn’t get rid of the person and there was something there that kept drawing us back and forth, going in circles.”
“Supercharged” stands as an anthem for his love for female energy and past muses. Jones admits, “I love love and for better or worse the abandonment in my childhood has fueled that emotion.” Masterfully upending preconceived notions of music and lyrics, the album also feeds on a palpable passion: from the bluesy “Baptized In Muddy Waters,” evoking Muddy Waters both literal and figurative, to the stripped-down and pensive “My Love Remains,” and the hard-driving soulful melody of “Boys From the Puget Sound.”
From one song to the next on the album, Jones’ love affair with the guitar and his versatility on the instrument shines through. He also played a heavy role in production on Child of the State, collaborating with producers to craft his sound and vision. “The experience of working with various individuals on the project both allowed me to express myself and my experience in the studio, plus to further my own knowledge of production.”
“I’m this cat that is playing Rock, and I probably look like I came from the hood—which I did,” Jones adds. “But I’m not the stereotype, and I want people to be taken aback. I want people to think about what CHILD OF THE STATE means. And when they open up this record by a hoodie-wearing Black man from the worst of circumstances who’s creating this sonically gorgeous music, I want people to think about that, too.”
FROM ASHES TO NEW
The future is something that all of us must deal with yet it’s often uncertain and that was the case when it came to the making of From Ashes To New’s sophomore full-length The Future.
When the band’s vocalist/keyboardist/programmer Matt Brandyberry rhymes on the title track “The Future”, “Day One is over, The Future’s approaching, the embers are glowing, we’re spreading the ash,” it’s not only verbal wordplay about moving forward from their most recent album Day One, it also serves as a declaration of From Ashes To New’s mission statement for this album: The Future Is Hear.
The follow-up to the 2016 debut album Day One, which saw the band break into the Top 10 Active Rock Chart with the track “Through It All” and featured streaming hits “Breaking Now” and “Lost and Alone”, The Future sees the Lancaster PA-based group embracing a new path, revealing a new lineup, and marking a massive step forward. “We went through an extreme level of adversity while creating this album, explains Brandyberry. “Pretty much anything that could go wrong to slow down the process and throw you a curveball happened, but we came out on the other side.”
Following the success of Day One and extensive touring, the group’s drummer and co-vocalist decided to step away. Instead of focusing on setbacks, Brandyberry focused on a path forward for From Ashes To New. In March 2017, he began working on the new album with drummer Mat Madiro (Trivium) and guitarist Lance Dowdle—but finding a vocalist who could complement Brandyberry’s rapping was a complex process – it had to be the right fit! – so the group decided to begin writing The Future as a trio. “I was in a bad mind frame because of what was happening with the other members leaving and the anxiety made it difficult to write at times but ultimately we came together and decided we were going to write the best music we possibly could and see where that took us,” Brandyberry recounts.
Once this collection of songs started coming together the group starting auditioning vocalists and Brandyberry kept coming back to Danny Case even though the singer didn’t necessarily have the same amount of experience as some of the seasoned pros who wanted the gig. “We asked our fans to help us find a great vocalist, and we kept coming back to Danny because he has such a dynamic range. Being able to go across that spectrum with his voice was a huge selling feature—and not only that but the dude is driven,” Brandyberry explains. “We were looking for someone who wants it, he’s hungry for it and he wants to work hard and earn their success… and Danny is that guy.”
From Ashes To New’s chemistry lies at the core of The Future, an album that sees the band expanding their music palette and taking their blend of rock, hip/hop, pop and metal to new heights. From the relentless, syncopated groove of the opener “Wake Up” to the arena-ready anthems like “Gone Forever” and Current Single “Crazy”, to the hip-hop/electronica-influenced hybrids like “My Name,” The Future is a unique album that fans will undoubtedly relate to with regardless of what type of musical scene they usually embrace.
The album was written at Brandyberry’s home studio and then recorded at Atrium Audio with producers Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland (August Burns Red) eventually mixed by Josh Wilbur (Korn, Lamb Of God). A last-minute experiment brought about “Nowhere to Run” recorded with Nick “Raz” Furlong and Colin Brittain (Papa Roach, Blink-182). With all this, The Future became a collaborative album in the truest sense of the phrase.
“This is the first record that other members really got a chance to put their stamp on and I think you can hear that influence on every song,” Brandyberry explains, adding that he and Lance, an accomplished programmer, were able explore new sonic textures by combining the organic and electronic aspects of From Ashes To New in a way they’ve never fully realized in the past.
Speaking of which, The Future also sees Brandyberry taking everything to an entirely new level in a way that perfectly complements the bands roots and the impassioned singing of Case. “Songs like (the album’s stellar title track)‘The Future’ is the best rap I feel I’ve ever written and features a children’s choir “I think that song in particular has a perfect blend of everything that we do. I really love the raps on that track because I feel like it really challenged me and hopefully shows how I’ve been able to grow and find new ways of executing ideas as an artist and a writer with this record.”
“The concept is obviously about the future of the band but it’s also the future of our world,” Brandyberry continues. “We’re actually happier now with what we are putting out than we’ve ever been, so we look at everything went through as a blessing in disguise.” Whether you’re a longtime supporter of the band or a recent convert to their innovative sound there’s no question that The Future established them as one of the leaders of their genre. Now it’s time to make that future a reality.
BORN OF OSIRIS
Illinois progressive metal band Born of Osiris are back with the follow up to the acclaimed The Simulation, a frankly face-melting seventh album called Angel or Alien. All of the ingredients that made previous efforts so intensely enjoyable are present and correct: inhuman vocals, technically dazzling fretwork, intricate musicianship courtesy of the rhythm section, and epic tunes. But there’s an organic evolution taking place — a progressive progression that has seen the Palatine group take things up a level.
“The Simulation was great,” says co-singer and keyboardist Joe Buras. “I feel like it’s a great precursor to our new record. I think it was a stepping stone because we have a new member, guitarist Nick Rossi, which was a huge change for us as far as writing styles and just having some new life, young blood in the band. Ok we had that stepping stone and I feel like it was received well.”
It was. Rossi joined Born of Osiris in 2018 and The Simulation was his debut with the band. The lineup is totally settled on Angel or Alien — the group has never sounded tighter, perfectly highlighted by forthcoming single and album opener “Poster Child.”
“I think we’ve become a little more structured,” says Buras. “We don’t have to be old school and never repeat a part — we can find themes. We’re not trying to play a million notes a minute. We’re finding our space, and exploring. Let’s not just try to be the heaviest and craziest. Let’s try to sonically be just more pleasing, and focus on what pleases us.”
Angel or Alien was wrapped in January, before the pandemic put the world in lockdown, and the fact that the members have home studios meant that they’ve been able to carry on with their work. Nothing was compromised, resulting in an album that the band feels is a complete record.
“Ronnie [Canizaro, vocals] and I both had some major life changes since December,” says Buras. “Everybody’s had major changes since December obviously, but we had some personally moving news. The tipping point was when we jumped off writing these songs, we knew that move was happening. We knew we had to change what our situation was. So I feel like this record is a build up of that emotion. December/January is when we got to make that move and record the record. So those were all our built up emotions and this is what it came out as.”
The keys-man believes that fans may be surprised by the length of the album, clocking in at an hour. Meanwhile he gets to sing more on this one, and guitarist Lee McKinney even takes the mic for one song. Buras also says that there are interludes, intros and outros that are reminiscent of Born of Osiris classic The Discovery.
That’s a general theme running through Angel or Alien — it’s familiar yet new. Traditional but progressive. And that’s important because, after 17 years in existence, the band has a loyal fanbase which expects a spirit of adventure but longs for those strong roots put in place long ago.
Original members Buras, Canizaro and drummer Cameron Losch juggled bandmates quite a lot before finally finding McKinney and, more recently, Rossi. But that’s just the nature of their back story — local musicians looking for like minded souls.
“We had all been in bands since we were young,” says Buras. “Local bands playing in each others’ basements on the weekends. Mid high school, a lot of the bands broke up and we found the best members — the people that wanted to do it full force. The most talented ones in a way. Just finding the right people. So we formed in high school, and then we got signed when we were seniors. Recorded our first record.”
The venue for that origin tale is Palatine, a northwest suburb of Chicago, about 30 miles from the city — not exactly a hotbed of rock & roll activity. Safe, well-to-do, nice schools — their conventional futures were mapped out for them until they broke out.
“I feel like the people that formed Born of Osiris were the people that were on the edge,” Buras says. “A few of the members, we graduated but throughout school we were getting in trouble. But we all went to church together, and our parents were very supportive. Cameron’s mom is a violin teacher and his dad’s technical so we always had the sound system. My parents grew up with my grandfather who’s a big band orchestra guy so they’re used to the music scene. Ronnie’s mom is a musician as well. So it was like in the blood of the founding members.”
Angel or Alien is further proof that they took the right path. The album is due out later this year — the lockdown hasn’t affected the rollout. For now of course, touring is on hold.
“Obviously we’d love to be touring when we release it,” says Buras. “But we were talking about an end of summer release and that hasn’t really changed. We’ve had our ducks in a row since February. Just in general, it feels like the music industry is at a halt in a lot of ways.”
You can’t keep these guys down though; expect further streaming content in 2020 as they prepare for and promote the release of this latest opus. Though McKinney is in Texas, the rest of the band remain in Palatine and are able to stay busy. More singles will come as the year unfolds. What we know for sure is that Angel or Alien is the sort of technical, head-churning metal album that we need right now.
Joe Cotela (Vocals)
David Ludlow (Guitar)
Kyle Koelsch (Bass)
Matt Reinhard (Drums)
If you’re not pissed off, then you’re not paying attention. Ded thrives on the aggressive spirit that is authentic to the heavy music genre. “There is an honesty and attitude about heavy music that I don’t feel as often anymore” says lead singer Joe Cotela – “and we want to bring that back”. Ded is loud and aggressive – but it serves as a positive outlet: the band produces an unapologetic sound that draws from the art of fantasy and expressive screams. Their debut album “Mis-An-thrope” has made an impact across the Rock world.
Ded was born in the music scene of Phoenix, Arizona and has been together for almost 3 years. Band members Joe Cotela (Vocals), David Ludlow (Guitar), Kyle Koelsch (Bass), and Matt Reinhard (Drums) developed a friendship and ultimately a musical partnership that mixes horror and dark imagery to develop a familiar, yet unique sound that sets them apart from other bands. Cotela says “With our music – we want to make the listener feel like how you feel after you’ve watched a really good horror movie – on edge, jittery… And very much alive”. They incorporate these volatile elements into their lyrics – with the hopes that it will breathe new life into the hard-core genre. Imagine an inspired take on outward thinking that transcends screaming, and low tuned riffs. Their sound is meant to “be in your face and tell it like it is”, while paying homage to Korn and Pantera, who served as early inspirations. Ded are also influenced by more recent bands like Slipknot and Bring Me The Horizon. This is modern hard rock & alternative metal that goes beyond anger – including themes like existentialism and ego in everyday life. The lyrics are timely and resonate with an audience navigating the chaotic world we live in.
The band’s work ethic, drive, and dedication led them to record an EP that quickly made the rounds of the music industry, and started a buzz that opened doors. Using that as a springboard, the band hit the road and toured with Beartooth, Asking Alexandria, Atreyu, Every Time I Die, Upon a Burning Body, The Acacia Strain, John 5, Powerman 5000, and Insane Clown Posse among others.
Their touring helped grow awareness in the business and brought them to the attention of producer John Feldmann (Disturbed, Blink-182, Beartooth). Their collaboration with Feldmann culminated in the band signing with Jordan Schur @ Suretone Records – who discovered and grew the careers of platinum rock acts Staind and Limp Bizkit, among others. Suretone released their first song and video for “FMFY” in December 2016.
2017 was very busy year for Ded – they played all Major Rock U.S. festivals, played more than 150 live shows and toured 25 + dates with KORN and Stone Sour. Both of their 1st two singles “Anti-Everything” and “Remember The Enemy” reached the Top 20 on the Active Rock Radio charts. “Anti-Everything” was #8 on SiriusXM Octane’s Top 10 for 2017 and they named the band “Artist Discovery of the Year“. They won the Kilpop/Rock Radio Award for Metal Debut of the Year”. “Anti-Everything” & “Remember The Enemy” were featured on high profile curated Hard Rock & Metal playlists at all major streaming services including Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon Music, Youtube, and Google Play Music. The video for “Anti-Everything” has more than 1.4 million views on Youtube. The band is repped by CAA for booking.
Their 3rd single “Hate Me” recently peaked at #28 on the Active Rock Radio charts and has been featured on key playlists including Spotify’s “Rock Hard“, Apple Music’s “Breaking Hard Rock”, Amazon Music’s “Fresh Rock” and “Introducing Rock”, Pandora “New Rock”, Youtube and Google Play Music’s “Hard Rock Hotlist”.
FIRE FROM THE GODS
For some artists making music isn’t a choice, it’s fueled by something larger than themselves. This is undoubtedly true of Fire From The Gods whose second full-length American Sun sees them adopting the tagline “In Us We Trust” meaning “we the people” are responsible for change; a unifying statement in order to try to prevent society from succumbing to the growing malaise brought on by soul-sucking technology, divisive politics and environmental destruction. “With this record what we’re trying to drive home is that our differences and where we are from doesn’t need to define who we are moving forward,” frontman AJ Channer explains. “Like [2016’s] Narrative I’m telling the story from my perspective, but it’s a story that people from all walks of life can relate to in the sense that we all face the same challenges… and the only way to conquer them is if we face them together.”
Fire From the Gods have experienced their share of ups and downs since the Austin, Texas-based act released their David Bendeth-produced (Breaking Benjamin, Paramore) debut three years ago. Since then, the band—which also features drummer Richard Wicander, guitarists Drew Walker and Jameson Teat and bassist Bonner Baker—have toured incessantly with acts like Born Of Osiris and Of Mice & Men, played festivals ranging from the Vans Warped Tour to Mexico’s Force Fest, re-released their debut as The Narrative Untold featuring new songs produced by Jonathan Davis of Korn and spread their message to fans all over the world. However instead of resting on their laurels, the act doubled down on their message with American Sun. “I think this record is a lot more personal because I’ve become a lot more open about who I am and what I’ve had to deal with,” Channer explains. Channer spent his childhood shuffling between London, New York, Los Angeles, Norfolk and Ghana, giving him a unique perspective on the world, however the issues that he’s dealt with such as anxiety, depression, anger, rejection and loss are universal.
This is evident on the album’s first single “Not Built To Collapse (Truth To The Weak).” “It started out as this triumphant call-to-action sort of song but like everything with Fire From The Gods and a lot of my writing, it’s centered around self-reflection, being self-aware and, most importantly, accepting responsibility for your actions. Over driving drums and relentless riffing, the song sees Channer alternating between hip-hop rhyming and melodic singing as he spits lyrics like, “Let that boy speak / he bringing truth to the weak.” “That line is about the fact that there’s always someone that’s going to try to shut you down, even if it’s your own fear of rejection or being told your not good enough,” he explains. “There’s always someone with a louder mouth than you saying that you don’t know what you’re talking about. That is what the protagonist in the story of American Sun is struggling with throughout the album.”
American Sun was recorded, engineered and mixed by Erik Ron (Godsmack, Issues) over a two-month period in Los Angeles, which was a new experience for the band and one that lent itself to creating a nuanced album that grows more engaging with each listen. While the band only had a brief yet productive window of time to write and record Narrative, for American Sun the band were able to take their time when it came to not only the songwriting but also to the album’s instrumentation and arrangements. “The songs on this album are the culmination of a lot of different sessions which I think was quite beneficial because we were in a lot of different moods at certain points in the writing process,” Wicander says. “Being in LA with so much time really helped us be able to curate everything and get it exactly how we wanted it.” However the band also stayed open to allowing things to happen spontaneously, which is evidenced in the syncopated, hip-hop anthem “They Don’t Like It,” a song that came together organically during a one-day burst of inspiration.
Since the current lineup of the act coalesced in 2015, Fire From The Gods have integrated elements of metal, rock, hip-hop and modern rock into their sound, however they never do it in a way that’s methodical or contrived. “If the song calls for screaming and angry vocals I’ll do that and if it calls for something a little more melodic that’s what I do, it’s just about the emotion of the song and how I’m feeling at the moment,” Channer explains. “I like to say we wrote a rock record with a hip-hop ethos.” From the radio-ready hook of the opener “Victory” to the detuned groove of “All My Heroes Are Dead,” the music on American Sun is less about trying to recreate an already successful sound and more about inspiring an emotion that resonates with the listener. “People talk about emo music but in all truth and fairness I feel like all music is emotional. If music doesn’t evoke an emotion why are you doing it or why are you listening to it?” he continues. “If I can create something that touches somebody and make them feel the message of the song, that’s ultimately my goal,” he adds.
“You can be stronger than your past, you can be stronger than the influences that are out there,” Channer says of the “cannibal mind” that wants to consume us all. More than ever somebody needs to step up to be the voice of the voiceless—and with American Sun, Fire From The Gods have ambitiously taken on that task and crafted a truly timeless album in the process.
VEIL OF MAYA
This is the story of The Violent.
As 2019 came to a close, rock band Red Sun Rising announced an indefinite hiatus as its members pursued other opportunities.
Soon after, the world as we knew it sunk into the deep hole of the pandemic. The time in lockdown helped to fuel to the creative process for singer and songwriter Mike Protich, who was in search of a new creative release and to stretch his musical muscles.
He recruited two members from his former band — Patrick Gerasia on drums and David McGarry on guitar. The threesome began to work remotely during the initial lockdown and quarantine. They embarked on virtual sessions using home studio setups and collaborating with producer Albert DiFiore in Nashville Tennessee.
With roots in rock music, the three began to find fresh and invigorating ways to utilize their musicianship beyond the standard iteration of rock bands. They embraced experimentation by blending the familiar elements of rock music with a newfound appreciation for electronic and digital sounds. This process was elevated due to the fact that the members were unable to physically be in a room together to play.
Out of this process, The Violent was born.
It is truly a child of this chaotic pandemic — both sonically and lyrically.
Lead Vocals: Mike Protich
Drums: Pat Gerasia
Guitar: Dave McGarry
When you think about Alternative music Oxymorrons undoubtedly come to mind. The New York-based boundary-pushers have made a name for themselves in the spirit of change – building a movement from years of being told they were too rock for hip-hop, too hip-hop for rock. They boldly committed to creating music that defies arbitrary rules of classification, cementing the band as early pioneers of the modern genre-blending revolution.
Oxymorrons began as a collaboration between Kami (K.I.) and Demi (Deee), two Queens-bred brothers profoundly touched by the power of music at an early age. “From my dad playing Lionel Richie to Phil Collins, to our older brother playing Biggie to Metallica, I was definitely an MTV baby,” recalls K.I. “I would watch videos from acts like Soundgarden and Nirvana and pretend to be a rock star, even breaking my bed a few times, lol.”
Meanwhile, their neighborhood was always full of hip hop stars like Onyx, Lost Boyz, AZ, 50 Cent and Nicki Minaj, and seeing their successes let K.I. and Deee know what was possible. Still for the two brothers it was always about finding a way to think outside the box as an artist and carving their own path. “It was acts like NERD, Jay-Z, The Diplomats, Kanye West, Outcast, Jamiroquai, Lupe Fiasco and Kid Cudi that really influenced us the most,” says Deee. “They inspired us to be ourselves.”
The lineup expanded with the addition of drummer extraordinaire Matty Mayz who seemingly fell from the sky into their laps at just the right time. “Matty was an intern at a management company we used to work with early on and he overheard how our drummer at the time had just flaked on an upcoming gig,” recalls K.I. “He immediately told us he could play and so we gave him 8 songs to learn in just 2 days. He crushed it and has been with us ever since.”
Guitarist Jafé Paulino was a well known musician/vocalist from the underground NYC music scene who made a name for himself playing with a wide variety of local Brooklyn- based acts. So when a mutual friend showed Deee a video of Jafé doing his thing, he was extremely impressed. “We met up for coffee and quickly realized there was a lot of synergy in what we all were doing and stood for,” says Deee. Jafé immediately became an intricate part of the band and the lineup was finally set.
Oxymorrons are no stranger to the big stage. They have toured and shared the stage with the likes of Lupe Fiasco, Fever 333, Fishbone, Gym Class Heroes, OutKast, Envy On the Coast, Foxy Shazam, Waka Flocka, Rihanna and more. They have also graced the stage at notable festivals such as Warped Tour, Afro Punk, Firefly, SummerFest and Funkfest to name a few. Their high energy performance and versatile sound makes for a potent combination that never disappoints.
Yet it’s not just the live show where Oxymorrons have left their mark. They have received co-signs from Billboard, Kerrang!, The Fader, Alternative Press, Complex, Hypebeast, Ebro of Beats 1 Radio, Daniel Carter BBC1 Radio and many more. Their larger than life songs have been used in ads for ABC’s ‘The Mayor’ and Converse, and featured on ESPN’s First Take. They have also found synergy in brand partnerships with Dr Martens, HUF, Microsoft, Taco Bell, Hot Topic and beyond.
As the newest addition to Jason Aalon Butler’s (Fever 333) Artist Collective ‘333 Wreckords Crew’, Oxymorrons have expanded their sound with their first release “Justice”, putting forth a powerful message during these tumultuous times. “We have a lot to say with ‘Justice’, and it’s more than just the lyrical content, it’s about the actions behind it,” explains Matty. Jafé adds, “We have chosen to designate all profits from this song to grassroots organizations that are fighting for social justice with their boots on the ground. It aligns us with the movement of time, regardless of the times.” Never shying away from using their voices for social change, they have also used their platform to give back to causes they support including Jed Foundation and Hip-Hop Hacks.
Although 2020 was the year of the pandemic, it was still a very productive year for Oxymorrons as they solidified their base, finished a new album and are in prime position to bring the noise in 2021. Be on the lookout for their next single “Green Vision” to drop at the top of the year……you have been warned.
IF I DIE FIRST
Widow7 took the music industry head on in early 2021. Seeing an empty spotlight caused by a global pandemic; the band sat poised and ready to hit the ground running when the time was right. Mid 2021 proved to be the perfect opportunity. From the bands’ debut sold out show; they quickly accelerated to garnering national attention. In June 2021 the band took the Twitch audience by storm with appearances on That Space Zebra Show; gaining popularity and earning them a label showcase in Los Angeles for Danny Wimmer/Alchemy Recordings. The band then went on to the festival circuit in summer 2021. With appearances at Knotfest Iowa, Aftershock, and Welcome to Rockville; the band has set out to prove they belong with the upper echelon of live performance bands. Widow7 released 4 songs in 2021 with one single; “Therapy”, being picked up by Sirius XM Octane and the stamp of approval from The Metal Ambassador himself; Jose Mangin. 2022 shows no signs of slowing down with appearances at Welcome to Rockville, Inkcarceration, and several tour dates already announced.
AS YOU WERE
Based out of Fort Knox, KY, As You Were is a rock band from the United States Army Recruiting Command. As You Were has recorded and toured the country showing music fans that the Army has
much more to offer than they might think. As You Were averages over 150 days a year on the road performing at clubs, theaters, high schools, colleges, sporting events, national conventions, and at major music festivals. Made up of highly skilled professional musicians As You Were specialize in performing all the most current chart-topping rock and pop hits interspersed with their own original songs.
All talented musicians before they joined the Army, As You Were, is made up of lead singer and guitarist Tom “Kat” Katsiyiannis, drummer Ryan “Cleveland” Kaluza, bass player Chris “Chester” Cabrera, and recent addition on guitar Austin West. The band and the songs they perform tells the Army story through the experience of music, opening the eyes of potential future Soldiers to unexpected ways to serve their country. A fully contained self-sufficient touring machine, As You Were has opened for musical acts such as Flo Rida, AJR, Tones and I, Lewis Capaldi, and were an official opening act at the 2020 iHeart Music Festival.
You can follow them @aywmusic on FB/IG, and get all of their latest updates at www.aywmusic.com, where you can also download their two albums “Set Yourself Apart”, and “What You Desire” for free.