Posts Tagged ‘press’

Dream Theater – The Astonishing

While here at Heavy Blog we usually err on the “for its own merit” side of the album/career debate, choosing to focus on an album’s singular traits rather than its place within a band’s discography, this would be a mistake here. While  The Astonishing , one of the most anticipated albums of the year, is certainly a departure from everything  Dream Theater has been giving us in the past few years, it’s also a return to several key sounds from the beginning and middle period of their career. Even that departure requires an understanding of the bigger picture of their trajectory; to depart from something, you need to understand something. And so, the first thing that is immediately apparent when the first real track (that is, not the intro) of  The Astonishing begins to play is: this is a rock opera. When the second track begins to play, something else becomes immediately apparent: the main touchstone for this album within the extensive Dream Theater discography is  Six Degrees of Inner  Turbulence . That spring in the step, that hopeful and cheery outlook, screams of that intricate album, the closest the band have come to a rock opera in the past. Yes, OK, but is it  a good album ? That’s what we’re all here to find out. In two words: yes and no. In more than that,  The Astonishing  contains some amazing tracks, possibly the best the band have produced since the lukewarm  Octavarium  trickled into our ears. When the tracks are playing, it’s impossible to resist how downright energetic this album is. At these moments, the cheesiness is perfectly balanced with that old-school  Rush  feel that Dream Theater have always been famous for and things work. They work really well in several points: on “Lord Nafaryus” for example, LaBrie delivers the intricate villain role with brilliant precision, doing things with his voice that he never has, as far as register and delivery goes. The artificial strings blend perfectly with the over the top piano, accentuated by signature guitar bridges from Petrucci. This cohesion is perhaps one of the best marks of a good Dream Theater album: when they work together, instead of playing against each other, they sound best. The slightest, cheesy touch from Petrucci near the end really closes the deal, making this one of the best tracks on both albums. This track is followed by two more excellent iterations of this new-fangled sound: “A Saviour in the Square” is epic to the exact degree needed, with a splash of horns to spice things up. LaBrie returns to more conventional grounds and reminds us that, regardless of personal taste, he is one of the most consistently excellent singers in the industry. Personal note time: when “When Your Times Has Come” kicks in, the next track down the line, I get teary eyed. This song is cheese to the maximum degree, but Rudess has chosen old school synth effects, with a wink to Kevin Moore perhaps, and LaBrie executes beautifully. This is “Hollow Years” territory: you know it’s cheesy rock but it just touches something within you and it works. Which brings us to the major defect with the album. Honestly, what band can expect to release 33 tracks and get that perfect balance between emotional propensity and technical achievement? Even Dream Theater, one of the most veteran and influential bands operating today, can’t pull it off.  The Astonishing  is replete with filler tracks, songs that really have no right existing other than an obscure parts they play in this (rather underwhelming) story that the album attempts to tell. And that’s not enough: cliche guitar parts mix with over-sweetness in LaBrie’s voice and bounce off the most cliche lines that Rudess can make from his keyboards. And they’re repetitive as well. There’s no reason for “Act of Faythe”, one of the cheesiest songs ever made by Dream Theater, to exist when a track like “The Answer” exists as well. There’s supposedly a common theme being iterated upon here but it’s not interesting enough to carry the tracks forward. Nor are the ways in which the band iterate upon it interesting in anyway: they include shifting the mood just a bit to give it a lighter or darker spin and nothing else. All of these flaws extend to the second “CD” as well, and then some. “A Life Left Behind” for example is a track which could have come right out of  Awake but it’s successor, “Ravenskill” is completely pointless, taking too much time with its intro and failing to deliver when the main theme is introduced. Since the flow between the tracks, a famous trope of progressive records, has been completely abandoned here in favor of the “track by track” structure of rock operas, the second CD is hard to pin down and connect to the first. By the time you’ve reached it, so many filler tracks have gone by without a clear approach to thematization that the thread is almost impossible to grasp. The narrative has been completely lost and every track, even the good ones, start to sound the same. That’s no accident: even the good tricks utilized on this album are the  same old tricks  that we know from this album itself and from past entries in the Dream Theater discography. While the overall style of the album is new, in that it taps into tropes that were only lightly present in their careers so far, the track progression is the same tried and true method. OK, we’ve saved the best (worst) for last. Sharp-eyed readers might have noticed that we haven’t mentioned two current members of the band. The first, John Myung, might not surprise anybody; his absence, both in sound and words, from the band is a thing of legend by now. On  The Astonishing , or at least on the copy that we of the press received, he is almost 100% missing. Whether in the mixing or in the recording, the bass was completely swallowed by the other instruments and is completely absent from the final product. However, now we come, here at the end, to the most egregious and unexplainable flaw in this record: Mike Mangini. Throughout the album, Magini displays an almost impressive amount of disinterest in what’s going on around him. The drums line are not only performed in a lackluster way, they also sound as if zero effort was put into their writing. We  know  Mangini is a talented drummer but that talent is nowhere to be found here: obvious fill after obvious fill churn out under paper thin cymbals and pointless kick drums, ultimately amounting to nothing much. There’s literally no moments on the albums that are worth mentioning for their drums and this infuriatingly frustrating, given what we know of  his obvious ability. At the end of the day, when you put all of the above together, you get a disappointing album. If this had just been a bad album, we could have chalked it down to age, momentum and being out of touch. That’s impossible though, since when the album is good, it’s really quite good. If only it had been cut to about ten tracks and purged of the incessant repetitions, it might have been the best Dream Theater album in years. Instead, it’s a puerile attempt at a grand gesture that ultimately falls on its face, caught too close to the sun with wax spilling over, giving all its features the same, bland, indecipherable structure. ? Dream Theater – The Astonishing gets… 3/5

Rex Brown Unleashes Trailer for ‘Official Truth, 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera’ Book

Da Capo Press Those looking to get more insight into one of metal’s most popular bands — Pantera — should have plenty of opportunities over the next couple of years. Frontman Phil Anselmo is currently working on his memoir , but first fans will be able to look behind the curtain with bassist Rex Brown ‘s autobiography, ‘Official Truth, 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera,’ which arrives next month. The bassist penned the 320-page book primarily about his time with Pantera from his own honest perspective as he viewed it. The page-turner arrives in stores March 12 through Da Capo Press , and a book trailer has surfaced online. In it, Brown states, “Barely a day passes that I don’t think about Pantera. I dream about Pantera, I have nightmares about Pantera and it’s always there and I imagine it always will be. It’s inevitable.” He goes on to add that he frequently thinks of the band’s common bond and how it came to an end all too soon. He states, “As one we lived and breathed every second of the wild ride that changed our lives in so many ways and came to a sickening, pre-mature end one night in Columbus in 2004,” referring to the tragic slaying of Dimebag Darrell onstage in December of that year. In addition to Pantera, Brown played bass with his Pantera bandmates Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell with country outlaw David Allan Coe in the one-off project Rebel Meets Rebel. He followed that with a lengthy stint in Down , fronted by Pantera’s Phil Anselmo, before eventually parting ways with the band and becoming a member of Kill Devil Hill in 2010. Watch Rex Brown’s ‘Official Truth, 101 Proof’ Book Trailer [button href=”” title=”Next: Down Play With Former Bassist Rex Brown in Dallas” align=”center”]

August Burns Red Begin Work on ‘Most Ambitious Album Yet’

Facebook: August Burns Red August Burns Red have enjoyed their break from the road, but now have enough material to begin recording their next studio album. The group confirmed their return to the studio via a series of Facebook posts this past week, with drummer Matt Greiner getting his tracking out of the way first. One of the first studio photos can be seen above. Even before a note was recorded, Greiner had been pounding away. In a photo posting , it was revealed that the drummer physically wore down his drumsticks during the writing process. Guitarist JB Brubacker told Alternative Press , “2012 turned out to be quite intense for us from a touring standpoint. We did more traveling than we had ever previously done in our career and after three straight months on the road to end the year, I think we were all ready to come home and shift into writing/recording mode. Now that the writing is complete, we are all itching to get started with the actual tracking.” Speaking about the sound, the guitarist added, “This new record will push the boundaries of our genre more than we ever have before. We set out to write a record where every song stands out from the last. There is a lot of ground covered here and a ton of meat to this album. It’s full of odd metered rhythms and breakdowns, unexpected twists and turns and some of our most technical riffing to date. Each of us have parts that make our heads spin and we have had to practice like crazy to get some of this stuff together.” Brubaker says that the album, which he calls their “most ambitious album yet,” is expected later this year via Solid State Records. [button href=”” title=”Next: Watch August Burns Red’s ‘Empire’ Video” align=”center”]

Marilyn Manson Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Woman Who Claimed They Were Engaged

Frazer Harrison / Allen Berezovsky, Getty Images Earlier this month, Marilyn Manson reached out via his lawyer demanding a public apology from Seraphim Ward (real name Yolanda Tharpe) for spreading false stories about him in the press. Now that that hasn’t happened, he’s following through on a defamation lawsuit against Ward. According to the Hollywood Reporter , the complaint was filed Tuesday (Jan. 29) in Los Angeles Superior Court. Manson claimed he was the target of “a months-long campaign of defamation and harassment.” It’s also stated that Manson does not know Ward, whose occupation is listed as musician and independent occult filmmaker in the complaint. Ward’s claims first got attention when she stated in a widely circulated story that she was engaged to the rocker. Though Manson and his representatives denied he even knew Ward, that apparently didn’t stop her from continuing to make claims concerning Manson, including accusations that he is ‘pro-Nazi’ and racist. According to the filing, Ward did eventually retract the engagement announcement, but later made public accusations that Manson refused to marry her because he “did not want to be seen with [African-American] women” like her. She also claimed that he was responsible for the death of her two cats and that he was stalking her. The rocker is reportedly seeking $50,000 relating to five cases of defamation, misappropriation of common law right of publicity, unlawful use of Manson’s name for commercial advantage, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. [button href=”” title=”Next: 10 Best Marilyn Manson Songs” align=”center”]

Tool Member Badly Injured in Vespa Crash, Songwriting for New Album Delayed

Tool Dissectional An unidentified member of Tool recently suffered serious injuries after crashing his Vespa scooter along icy roads. The accident left the musician with several broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder, thus pushing back jamming and writing sessions meant for Tool’s massively anticipated fifth full-length album. Posted on the band’s website on Jan. 26 as a Tool newsletter, the Vespa accident was described in detail while keeping the identity of the member affected hidden. Strangely enough, yet another anonymous person involved with Tool also wound up in the hospital from a separate Vespa crash, suffering a head injury along with multiple cuts and bruises. Tool were hoping to begin 2013 with some good news that would energize fans long awaiting a new record, but unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case. However, in a turn for the better, the band is now back to work on the album. Here’s an excerpt from the latest newsletter detailing the situation: The New Year started off on a bad note as far as writing and arranging sessions for Tool’s next record. For the most part this was due to a ‘minor’ accident on a Vespa scooter (slick road conditions being the cause) by a certain band member that resulted in several broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder. Because of the physical nature of the musical instrument involved, 9 DAYS of jamming were lost, although I’m happy to report that the person involved is recovering nicely, so much so, in fact, that writing sessions resumed last Monday (January 21), despite it being a holiday for many. Coincidently (?), a few days prior to the mishap on the scooter, another person involved with Tool also wound up in the hospital after crashing his Vespa in Hollywood. Although he suffered a head injury (as well as multiple cuts and bruises to his body), I’m quite certain that if you were to order an “Entaphiosis” Hoddie, you would receive an “Entaphiosis” Hoodie. Several days ago members of the press (from different magazines) conducted interviews with band members about upcoming events, and I would imagine that these writers, etc. also inquired as to how things were progressing with regards to the band’s next record. So, there’s something to look forward to reading, and I will certainly try to give updates as to when these publications hit the newsstands. I was hoping to be able to throw some of you a bone the first week of the New Year, but for certain reasons this announcement has been pushed back a month. Therefore, look for a news post that will be exciting to some towards the end of the first week in February. Maynard James Keenan and his side project Puscifer are set to release their latest EP, ‘ Donkey Punch the Night ,’ on Feb. 19. As for news on Tool’s upcoming record, stay tuned as news continues to break. [button href=”” title=”Tool Guitarist Adam Jones Proposes to Girlfriend Live at WWE ‘Royal Rumble'” align=”center”]

Brazil Nightclub Fire Kills More Than 230 People

Germano Roratto/AFP/Getty Images Nearly 10 years after the tragic 2003 fire in which 100 people died at The Station nightclub in Rhode Island during a show by the rock band  Great White , an eerily similar nightclub blaze Sunday morning (Jan. 28) in Santa Maria, Brazil, has claimed the lives of more than 230 people. According to an Associated Press report, witnesses stated that a flare or firework lit by a band member during country pop group Gurizada Fandangueira’s performance started the fire, though officials are still investigating the exact cause. After the blaze broke out, partygoers began to panic while rushing toward the Kiss nightclub’s solitary entrance. The exit was reportedly partially blocked by people who had already perished attempting to escape. Many of the deceased were found in a bathroom after it was apparently mistaken for an exit. One of the survivors, Luana Santos Silva, told the Globo TV network, “There was so much smoke and fire, it was complete panic, and it took a long time for people to get out, there were so many dead.” Another survivor, Michele Pereira, told the Fohla de S. Paulo newspaper, “The band that was onstage began to use flares and, suddenly, they stopped the show and pointed them upward. At that point, the ceiling caught fire. It was really weak, but in a matter of seconds it spread.” The band’s guitarist, Rodrigo Martins, told Radio Gaucha that he thought that Sputnik, a machine they used to create a luminous effect with sparks, might have caused the fire. He stated, “It’s harmless. We never had any trouble with it. When the fire started, a guard passed us a fire extinguisher. The singer tried to use it but it wasn’t working.” Martins confirmed that the band’s 28-year-old accordion player Danilo Jacques died in the incident, while the five other members escaped unharmed. At last count, 233 people had been counted among the dead and 117 had been treated at hospitals for smoke inhalation and burns. Sunday’s incident was the worst nightclub fire since December 2000, when an accident led to 309 people dying in a venue in Luoyang, China. In the United States, the Great White club fire at The Station in Rhode Island is the most notorious incident. One hundred people were killed after a combination of pyrotechnics and cheap foam soundproofing led to the February 2003 blaze. Loudwire offers its condolences to all the family and friends of those who lost their lives as well as thoughts for those injured in Sunday’s Brazil nightclub fire. CNN Report on Brazil Nightclub Fire [button href=”” title=”Next: Stage Collapse Kills One and Injures Three” align=”center”]

DevilDriver Singer Dez Fafara Offers Details on New Album, New Label + More

Liz Ramanand, Loudwire It’s been quite a year for DevilDriver , as they began 2012 as part of the Metal Alliance tour with Arch Enemy and recently finished up a massive U.S. trek with GWAR. During DevilDriver’s stop in Brooklyn, N.Y., we caught up with frontman Dez Fafara , who dished on the band’s new album and expressed his excitement about joining Napalm Records’ roster. He also took a look back on DevilDriver’s 2011 release ‘Beast.’ How would you describe your relationship with GWAR and the rest of the roster on this tour? We’ve been friends with GWAR   for a long time; we toured with them six or seven years ago it was one of the funnest tours we ever did. We know everybody, we know the Cancer Bats really well, we’ve toured with them before – it was my ideas to put the Bats on as well and it ended up happening so it’s been really killer so far. Everyone’s just hanging out and having a great time. No doubt you have toured with numerous bands but is there one band or musician you would love to tour with that you haven’t gotten a chance to tour with yet? We did some shows with Metallica but they were festivals but I would love to do a Metallica tour – every band is going to say that. Other than that, there’s a lot of artists out there that I would still love to work with of course. With all of this touring what is one thing you must bring on tour with you, no electronics? I bring my own blankets because there’s been a million musicians sleeping in those bunks and on those mattresses so I bring my own blankets, my own sheets, my own pillow, my own everything. If you tour like we do and I take the same bunk every time in different buses. Any creepy findings in one of your tour buses? Oh yeah, I got really ill about a year ago on a tour and they couldn’t figure out why was so ill. It was about two weeks into it and I was coughing up black s—t, we finally stripped my bunk down and we turned over the bunk and the whole thing – the bottom was covered in black mold. Somebody had spilled a drink in there or whatever and left it over the course of time and it was just getting me really sick. Other than that I’ve never experienced other creepy crawlies, you’ll see spiders in buses sometimes but we tend to let those guys out and let them live ‘cause they’ve already had a hard road. Congratulations on your new home of Napalm Records – what made your guys decide on this move? They have passion. I think when the whole folding of Roadrunner was happening, they were … letting a bunch of other people go – I had been there a long time, I think they decided, I decided, we all decided that it was just time to part ways. Napalm has a massive amount of passion for heavy metal, they love the band. When we met with the owner, he was like “I love the band.” He knew songs and it was like okay, “This is a guy who’s entrenched in our music so we want him behind it.” We’re also with Roadrunner still overseas in Australia and New Zealand so it’s good to be with them still over there. The United States label itself has changed and I forsee in the next year, it’s just going to fold completely in probably to Warner, I would imagine. With people in the UK that I’ve worked with forever, press people and others – when they lose their job, it’s time to go, start over and I’m not afraid of that. A lot of people are afraid of moving into a new house but it’s awesome to do and decorate it new and make it happen again, make it feel alive so that’s what’s happening with DevilDriver and Napalm right now. We’re excited for the record, they’re excited for the record – I think Napalm needs a flagship in the United States and I think we could be it for them and I think their press people and they think we could be it for them, too. We’re going to go gunnin’ with this next record and see the numbers – I’m predicting both higher sales and a higher chart position than what Roadrunner offered us. So we’ll see. What’s the progress on the next album? Songs are all written – I’m six songs in right now, written, we’ve got two covers that we’re going to be doing. We’re looking at a late fall – sometime between late August and late September, kind of hard to quote me right because we’re just looking for that release space but I believe that’s when the time is going to be. So this is the last time DevilDriver will be in the United Stated at least until September, October of next year. We’re taking a whole year away from the States to just let it marinate and then come on back on the new record. What do you think the vibe will be like for this new album? Every record is different, that being said I thought ‘Pray For Villains’ was kind of an out of the box record for us, I thought ‘Beast’ was a weird out of the box record for us – we’ve kind honed back in to where we are. This new record sounds a lot like the first three records, it’s got an intense groove to it and I’m really happy – the writing is going extremely well. That being said I think we’ve laid back on our laurels right now and be like, “We’re a groove band” the fans started calling us The Groove Machine, The California Groove Machine – everybody needs a title, we’ll take that one and we’re going to give them that on the new record for sure. It’s been well over a year since the release of ‘Beast.’ Looking back on it, what does Dez the music fan love about that album? A weird record for us, I’m not going to lie, when I sat down – the arrangements everything, it was a weird record to write. When it came out we knew it was just an out of the box, aggressive record for us and it got a lot of positive feedback. All of the accolades that it got, I didn’t know if I expected that reaction. Now looking back in hindsight, we needed that, we to just do something apart from ourselves and that’s what has led us now to where we are with the new record which is like, “Let’s really hone in on the songwriting on this one, let’s make sure the arrangements are really tight.” Everyone’s really excited. Looking back on ‘Beast’ we worked really hard, we toured really hard on it and it did what it was supposed to do for us which was put our sound out there in a unique way and make sure that we didn’t follow any kind of course of anybody else and we laid our own path, which we’ve been doing since we started. [button href=”” title=”Check Out Photos of DevilDriver Performing in New York City” align=”center”]

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