Document 70191

Sean McCloskey / [email protected]
Managing Editor
Matthew Pashalian / [email protected]
Copy Editor
Jeffrey Noller / [email protected]
Norrel Blair
Sayre Berman
Tony Landa
Alex Markow
Crystal Clark
Todd McFliker
Mikayla Davis
Christina Mendenhall
Joseph L. Hasbrouck
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SFL Music Magazine
1880 Dr. Andre’s Way, Suite B
Delray Beach, FL 33445
Current and past issues are available online
Cover Photo: Sean McCloskey
SFL Music Magazine is published monthly in South Florida
by SFL Music, Inc. All contents are (c) 2011 and may not
be reproduced without written permission of the publisher.
December 2011 | Issue #23
6. Taylor Swift
8. Jack Wagner
10. Sting
12. John Fogerty
12. Off Future
14. The Devil Wears Prada
18. Judas Priest
22. Rick Springfield
24. Korn
30. Guns ‘N Roses
31. Anthrax
32. Jason Bonham
33. The Sounds
34. Smith Westerns
35. DreamTheater
36. Orlando Calling
38. Album Reviews
Taylor Swift | Bank Atlantic Center | Photo: Sayre Berman
6 |
Jack Wagner | Mizner Park Amph. | Photo: Sayre Berman
8 |
10 |
John Fogerty | Hard Rock Live | Photo: Sayre Berman
Odd Future | The Fillmore | Photo: Tony Landa
12 |
The Devil Wears Prada
Story by Norrel Blair
With the release of their
latest album, Dead Throne,
The Devil Wears Prada now
have four albums under their
belt. According to lead singer
Mike Hranica, it is the band’s
“heaviest” album, which, of
course, as a metalcore band, is
almost synonymous with “best
album.” Though, just having
unrelentlessly brutal guitar riffs and ear-rattling drums is not
everything, at least not for Hranica, who decided to center
the lyrics of Dead Throne on a theme of anti-idolatry. This
may not be so obvious when you’re trying to decode the
band’s lyrics beneath their aggressive sound and Hranica’s
14 |
screaming vocals.
However, whatever topic the
band decides to comment on,
it’s their aggressive sound that
keeps the fans coming and the
stages they play chock-full.
This was especially true for the
band’s appearance on the Vans
Warped Tour this year. Having
been one of the most talked
about bands the last time they
appeared on the tour in 2009, it
was with no doubt that if they were going to return, they would
return louder than ever; and this time, with all of Hranica’s
teeth, who’s missing false tooth became a much-talked about
On the early afternoon before the band’s performance at
the Van’s Warped Tour’s West Palm
Beach date, SFL Music talked to
Hranica about the band’s thenunreleased album, Death Throne,
and even, more curiously, if Hranica
is anything like the scary person he
may appear to be when he is not
performing on-stage.
SFL Music: The title of your new
album is Dead Throne. What’s the
meaning behind the title, and is it a
departure from the Zombies EP, or
a step forward?
Mike Hranica: Dead Throne is
originally based off of Dead Idols,
which was my idea for the record
name; but then we went more
metaphorical with it; the idea of
putting things up on a pedestal… We
should have called it “Dead Pedestal”
[laughs]. Basically, it’s the idea of
putting things up on a worthless
place. A lot of the record is based off
of this anti-idolatry idea; and a lot of
the songs really sum up what Dead
Throne is, and our relation as a band
to being heroes and idols.
Sound-wise, it is relatable to the
Zombies EP, but also With Roots
Above. I wouldn’t call it a full-on
departure, but it’s departing in
the direction of progression and
evolution; but it is very relatable to the old material. When we
finished it, I knew it was different from the other releases; but
if a Prada that liked the Zombies EP or With Roots Above
doesn’t like this album, then they’re stupid.
The last time you played the tour was in 2009. What’s it
like to re-visit the tour?
It was nice to be able to have our cell phone service. Warped
Tour is consistently amazing. You don’t really have tours like
Warped Tour anywhere else in the states, so we always look
forward to it.
Being the kind of band you are; how much more relaxed
or different are you guys from when you are on stage?
Sometimes we can tend to be just as dark off stage, but it’s
never crazy really… maybe a spontaneous dance party here
and there. For the most part though, it’s pretty mellow and
boring. My objective is to come off as mean as possible at all
times in my life, so that when someone can actually meet me,
they can go, “Oh, he’s not that bad!”
Who are some of your favorite bands on this tour so far?
Paramore was really cool when they were out. We already
knew a few bands like A Day To Remember, so it was cool
getting to hang out with them all summer. A few of us are big
fans of Against Me, and it was Andy and I’s goal to be-friend
them on this tour. It turns out they’re all really nice.
16 |
When you guys were on the tour in 2009, the line-up was a
balance of pop-punk, hardcore and electronic. This year,
it seems to be major hardcore or metal, why do you think
that is?
It’s what sells. Obviously, there are trends in music. It’s
definitely good that heavy music is thriving right now because
it’s good for us, and good for all of our friends. I know when
I was a kid, I wanted to hear the heaviest thing that existed,
and I didn’t know what that was. First, it was Linkin Park
because that was the heaviest thing on the radio; but now,
kids are listening to music that is all-screaming bands so much
younger. It’s becoming way more popular. In general, it’s an
amazing thing.
There just seems to be a little bit much as far as oversaturation
in the metal/metal core world right now. Anyone can start a
band. Anyone can make music. Anybody can get a decent
recording out. There’s just so much music out there that is like
a band’s first CDs, y’know? It’s all just mediocre, and it makes
it harder for kids to find the true gems; not saying that we are
a gem.
Does this make you guys put in much more effort to try
and separate yourselves?
We get lumped in with those bands, and I’ve never even heard
of 95% of those bands. It just makes it for us, as a band; try to
separate ourselves as much as possible.
By Jeff Noller
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It would be criminal to understate how
influential Judas Priest has been to heavy
metal. One of the leaders of the New Wave
of British Heavy Metal in the late 1970s and
early 80s, they’re responsible for generations
of new heavy metals bands worldwide; fusing
the sludge and doom of Black Sabbath with
the riffs of Led Zeppelin and injecting it with a
lightning speed aggression. Albums such as
1978’s Stained Class and 1979’s Hell Bent for
Leather broke new ground in the genre, while
1980’s British Steel is a landmark classic,
which contained the perennial fan favorites
“Living after Midnight” and “Breaking the
Law.” The band saw their biggest success
with 1982’s Screaming for Vengeance that
included the popular single in the U.S, “You
Got Another Thing Comin,’” whose video
played all over MTV.
You could safely say that without Judas Priest,
bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and
Pantera may not have had the impact that
they’ve had on heavy metal. Not only were
they the first heavy metal band to effectively
use a two-lead guitar attack, thanks to Glenn
Tipton and K.K. Downing; but they were the
first to dress in leather and chains – thanks
to frontman Rob Halford’s trysts into London
S&M shops in the late 70s. Heavy metal
would not be what it is visually or sonically without Halford,
Tipton, Downing and bassist Ian Hill.
After touring the world for over four decades, the Priest
recently announced that their current Epitaph tour would
be their last. That doesn’t necessarily mean they guys
will be quiet. The band recently put out The Chosen Few
compilation, composed of cuts picked by heavy metal bands
such as Metallica, Slayer and Korn; as well as the more
comprehensive Single Cuts, which covers all of their A and
B-side singles released in the UK during the band’s 15-year
tenure with CBS/Columbia Records. They’re also going to be
working on material for a new album in the coming year.
Prior to the band’s killer (and possibly final) performance at
the Bayfront Amphitheater in Miami, Florida, SFL Music had
the chance to speak to Glenn Tipton over the phone about
the tour, how their new guitarist, Richie Faulkner, is working
out – Downing retired in 2010, and how they look at their body
of work now.
SFL Music: With your farewell tour, you guys have
really taken things to the extreme with the use of lasers,
firebombs, smoke and all the stage outfits you are
doing according to Rob Halford. How have people been
responding to this tour so far here in the states?
Glenn Tipton: It’s just been tremendous, really. It’s been
an incredible reaction. We started off in Europe, and on to
South America, and now we’re in the States. The audience’s
response has been wonderful. As you know, we have Black
Label Society. [BLS frontman and guitarist] Zakk [Wylde] and
the boys are playing fantastic. Thin Lizzy has great, great
Although this is the last world tour the band is going on,
you still have a new album in the works. How are the new
songs coming along?
Well, we have the thought that we need to create a bit of
space for ourselves to get back in the studio. We’re off to
Australia in December before take month off after Christmas.
And then we have the Far East, and then go around on a
European leg and Russia, and places like that. As soon as we
get the chance, we’ll be taking a small break, rest the brain
and get back into the studio in the middle of next year.
I heard that the new album is a mixed bag with a lot of
different styles musically, but lyrically pays a lot of tribute
to the fans, kind of your “farewell album.” Are you testing
any new songs on the road, or are you focusing solely on
your catalogue?
Well, what we’re doing is playing at least one song per
album. We’ve done 17 studio albums, starting with [1974’s]
Rocka Rolla. We’re doing certain things like playing “Victim of
Changes” [off of 1976’s Sad Wings of Destiny]. It’s interesting
because we’re bringing back tracks that we haven’t played for
years like “Star Breaker” [off of 1977’s Sin After Sin],” which
is great, the fans are singing along with it. “Never Satisfied”
[off of the aforementioned Rocka Rolla] is another we haven’t
played in a long time. We’re playing tracks we’ve never played
before like “Blood Red Skies” [from 1988’s Ram It Down],
plus all the usual fan favorites that everyone wants Priest to
play. It sometimes can be very difficult to work out a Priest set
because you have to implement some new songs. But this set
20 |
list is probably the best we’ve ever done, and everyone seems
to be pretty satisfied with it.
How have things progressed with Richie Faulkner now as
the band’s new guitarist?
Richie has just amazed us all. I’ve said it many times, but I
think if it wasn’t for Richie, I don’t think we would be out here at
the moment. He came along out of the blue, and he just dove
right into the burdens. Unbelievable guitarist, you have to see
him to believe it. We’re just so grateful, you know? We cherish
because I think it would have been the end of Priest.
How did the idea originate to have some of the biggest
names in heavy metal select songs from your catalogue
for The Chosen Few compilation?
Well, I wish I could say it was our idea, but really, it was the
record company’s idea [Laughs]. They approached several
people, and it’s a great concept for an album. You look forward
to seeing what their favorite Priest tracks are, and it makes the
whole thing very interesting.
Judas Priest has influenced scores of bands since you
guys formed in the early 70s, and, to this very day, continue
to inspire new ones. I wanted to see how your perspective
has changed over time from when your band broke big in
the late 70s to your heyday in the early 80s to now?
I’m not sure a lot has changed. Obviously, we’ve evolved
musically a little bit. You know a lot of people say, at times, that
our early songs stand out well today. We just love our music
and our fans love our music. We work hard on composition
and recording and continue to evolve because we still keep
our ears to the ground. We still follow the current trends and
sounds like we did in the early days of Judas Priest fashion.
Other than that, I think, the most important thing to us every
day is our performance on stage.
And we’re together with an audience
because that’s what keeps Priest
breathing and right.
Going back to the scores of bands
that you guys have influenced,
Anthrax recently had a track off of
their new album, Worship Music,
which they named after your
band. I was wondering if you had
a chance to listen to that song yet.
Yes, I heard about that. They’re good
friends of ours, and we’ve toured with
them many times. I haven’t heard the
song yet, but, I mean, it’s obviously a
nice gesture and I’m sure it’s great.
I’m as curious as anyone, so I look
forward to taking a listen to that song.
Given that this is your final world
tour, have you had a chance to
reflect on all of your previous
tours and songs that you have
played that have come and gone
from the set lists? Most of all;
what have become your favorite
songs to perform on stage?
It’s strange, you know, because you would think we would get
sick of playing songs like “Breaking the Law” or “Living After
Midnight” or “You Got Another Thing Comin.’” But when you’re
on that stage and the audience is singing along with you, it’s
just as exciting every night as it was when we first started
playing them. “Hell Bent for Leather” is great. We bring the bike
onto the stage; a great thriller. “Beyond the Realms of Death”
is great to play. It’s great to play stuff that we haven’t played
before like “Blood Red Skies,” and so those are some of the
songs I enjoy doing. “The Hellion”/”Electric Eye” is another one
where the audience is there to drive you along.
With The Chosen Few compilation, you guys also put
together the Single Cuts compilation that spanned a 15year period. It included all of your A and B Sides. I’ve
spoken to some bands that have done those types of
retrospectives, who find it a little weird to listen to some
stuff that they put out 20-30 years earlier. Some look at it
with great nostalgia and some just like to focus at what
they’re doing presently.
I usually look at it as… I’m a person who usually doesn’t look
over it. Yesterday is tomorrow’s history, isn’t it? And today
is a gift or whatever, so I’m a present guy usually. But it is
interesting, and we’ve never been a singles band either. These
were just tracks released [at the time]. In the UK, they served
as a preview of the album. You could say there were singles
like “Breaking the Law” and “You Got Another Thing Comin,’”
but we have never been a singles band. We’ve never been on
the radio that much to be honest. What the Single Cuts are is
a collection of tracks that are just a preview of each album.
But again, it’s quite the nostalgia and the collector’s set, and
interesting to have.
As you know, the heavy metal genre has changed and
grown in leaps and bounds over
the last few decades. The music
industry itself has changed over
the last decade with the Internet
and social media. It’s a much
different ballgame than it was
during your hay day. What’s your
advice was for new bands trying
to get their foot into this industry?
Well, it’s very difficult for me to give
new bands advice because when
I first started, things were a lot
different. You didn’t have the Internet
or music downloading. You really
can’t whine or complain about it,
you just have to go along with it. My
advice would be to use the Internet
to their advantage, get people to
love their music. It means you have
concentrate more on the live side
of things, and get the band to play
really well. Get the music to go out
onto the Internet, and go out and
play the songs on stages. Then you
have a platform to show your music,
and you can grow performing.
Rick Springfield | Mizner Park | Photo: Sayre Berman
22 |
By Matthew Pashalian
Love them or hate them, no one can deny the fact that
Korn has their own sound. Since first bursting onto the
scene with 1994’s self-titled album, their style of 7-string
guitar dissonance combined with dirge, hip-hop influenced
beats has struck a chord with millions the world over.
Vocalist Jonathon Davis’ delivery, presence and lyrical
concepts, in particular, has influenced scores of bands.
Having gained a massive underground following before
bursting into the mainstream with 1998’s Follow the
Leader, the band has only gone uphill; blowing open the
door for other acts given the tag of nu-metal such as Limp
Bizkit, Coal Chamber, Sevendust, Incubus and Cold.
24 |
Korn doesn’t follow trends; they start them. Never has that
statement been proven truer as you can hear the band’s
influence all over radio throughout the past ten years in
practically every hard rock band. Though some faces may
have changed over the years, the core of Korn is still solid;
releasing albums on their terms and to their standards. Once
again, the band is about to reach another mile stone with
their latest offering, The Path of Totality. This combines their
aggressive sound with the DJ-infused dub step that has been
gaining mass hysteria across the planet the past few years.
Currently out on a promotional tour road testing a handful
of these new songs for fans in more intimate club settings,
we sat down for an in-depth chat with the band’s incredible
drummer Ray Lauzier to discuss the new album, the industry
and all things Korn.
SFL Music: Korn is known for being a very
groundbreaking and innovative band; so what initially
brought the idea to make an entire album fused with
dub step?
Ray Lauzier: Jonathan has always been into electronica
music, and I’ve always loved bands like Nine Inch Nails as
well with the programming vibe and all. As a drummer, it
can get kind of scary sometimes. For a lot of drummers,
it can be an absolute nightmare because the programing
usually takes over; and then the drummer is out of a job.
At first when he approached us with this idea, I was like,
“Uh oh; maybe I may have to sit this one out.” But we did
everything live and I played along with the programming on
the album, which was very cool. The sound is so massive
and bombastic. I love it. The whole concept really came
together when he [Jonathan] met with Sonny [Skrillex],
inquiring about writing a song that maybe he could write
lyrics over. The first single, “Get Up,” that’s how that came
about. He played us that song eight months ago, and our
jaws just hit the ground. We were just like, “Are you kidding
me?” The whole dub step, DJ thing and all of that crazy stuff
transposed with a lyrical content and structure; and not just
verse/chorus/verse/chorus/solo section or whatever you
call it these days. There is no real solo sections anymore;
it’s like a bridge instead.
So it’s cool that we could go that route, which initially turned
to, “Hey, let’s do a 5-song EP.” From there, Jonathan met
with 12th Planet and Datsick; and he just kept meeting with
more and more people, which, in turn, turned into like a
12-to-13-song record.
At first, we were wondering if it was going to be a Jonathan
Davis solo record; and he was like, “No, it’s for Korn.” That’s
what’s great about Korn, everything we do has that stamp
on it. No one sings like Jon, or plays bass like Fieldy or guitar
like Munky; you just know it’s them, it’s very identifiable. I
mean they could do a jazz record and it would still sound
like Korn. To me, it’s just about branching out and hopefully,
everyone has an open mind. The diehard fans were already
like, “What! What’s this!” But then, when they heard the first
single they were like, “I don’t want to like it, but I do.”
You mentioned that the band performed live with the
programming to these songs. Were you playing with
the click tracks the whole time for that?
Yeah, just for the dub step songs. As you know, Korn plays
very loose – we may start at one tempo and then the verse
might fall back three beats; and that’s just the Korn vibe. To
be honest, I just love that so much more. There are so many
bands out there that quantize everything and fix every part.
The vocals sound amazing, and then you see them live and
they suck. That’s one thing I said; if we’re going to play
this stuff live and make this record like this, I want to play it
live. Having Zach as a keyboardist and some of the stuff on
tracks has to be to a click track, plus we triggered the drums
so it’s the exact same sounds that you hear on the record,
but I am actually playing them – that was important to me.
Even though I’m playing very strict, it still has a human feel
to it.
Initially, when you guys first started writing for what
would become this album, there were reports online
from about a year ago saying that the songs were
taking on a sound more akin to grunge and alternative
rock like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. Did any of
those initial ideas make it to this record?
There’s always a rumor. I hadn’t heard that one yet actually.
Everyone has their opinions about stuff and how the way
things are sounding. At the end of the day though, it still
has that Korn stamp on it. No matter what, it’s still going
to be us. I’ve only been in the band for four years, but it’s
definitely night and day compared to the last record, where
all four of us sat in a room, wrote a song and then like
an hour later tracked it for the record. No click tracks, no
machines, nothing, we used two inch tape.
This album is the opposite. There are a lot of bands out there
who have twenty records out and it still sounds like their first
record. That’s what I love about Korn; it still sounds like
them and they aren’t afraid to branch out. Untitled sounds
nothing like See You on the Other Side, and Korn III sounds
nothing like the new record; yet it’s all the same band.
No matter what critics say it’s cool that they still have their
sound. There is enough of an open-minded fan base that
they’re going to give it a shot, I don’t think it’s going to bum
anyone out, but it’s definitely going to turn some heads –
hopefully, in a positive way. We have been getting a lot of
positive feedback. You get those people who are like, “We
want two guitars and crunching metal riffs;” and Korn has
never been a cookie-cutter band. They plowed through
the 90’s. All of these bands were coming out, and they
just went right up the middle. Just this is what we do
and no one sounds like us. They paved that way so that
things could come out that were so different, and that’s
an awesome thing. They can’t put out Life is Peachy or
Untouchables out again.
No matter how much fans may want it, it just can’t
Yeah, I mean the thing is fans say an equal amount.
You hear the diehard fans that they want to hear this,
and then you have the other fans say, “Yeah, but that’s
been done already.” A lot of people were like, “Thank God
you made Korn III. And that’s when they went back to
Ross Robinson, their first producer; but, in the end, you
can’t make everyone happy, you’re always going to be
pissing someone off. One good thing about this band is
that there’s no bullshit. We’re always true to what we do.
Some bands try to sound like whatever is currently big,
and that’s just so far from what Korn is about. We’re about
to come up to the band’s 20th Anniversary, and I think that’s
why their fans are worldwide. Some bands are big maybe
just in Europe or Canada; but we’ve been to South Africa,
to Dubai, to Australia. Fans show up with Korn inspired
tattoos and it’s just crazy. To appeal to masses like that is
saying something.
Korn are no strangers to having DJ’s work with
their songs such as All Mixed Up and Screwed and
Chopped. What sets The Path of Totality apart from
those types of discs?
That’s the thing; people are like, “Why are you doing this
new thing for?” To me, they’ve been doing, for example,
songs like “Children of the Korn” that they did way back
in the day with DJ’s and rappers doing this element of hip
hop with the metal. So it’s not that big of a switch, in my
opinion. What sets this apart is that it isn’t traditional rap.
The dub step style is different because it takes sounds
and squashes and compresses them, and throws them
through something else and compresses them again and
turns it upside down.
I was watching Sonny do some stuff, and I thought I was
a decent engineer and somewhat of a producer myself;
and I was like, “Wait, what are you doing this for, what
are you doing this for?” And he’s throwing sounds through
all these different things, and the next thing you know,
it comes out as this wacky sound from outer space. So
that’s what’s different about this record. Some of the stuff
on this record is just impressive in its simplicity, it’s not
even complex. It’s just the way that the production is and
the way that the noises are made. Live, it’s coming off
way better than I thought, and I was a little scared at first
because we’re opening with four older songs that are a bit
obscure. You have to do all the hits like “Blind” and “Here
To Stay” or else you’re going to get shot. To throw this dub
step set into the middle of the show – the first night, it just
went over really well and it keeps getting better.
24 |
Jonathan has been quoted in saying that this has
been the most difficult album for the band to create.
Coming from your standpoint, what did you find to be
the most challenging about this record?
We were never in the same room for this record, and the
last album was total opposite. We never stopped touring
for Korn III. We would be in Korea and Jon would say,
“Hey, go grab a kick and snare and cymbals and we’ll set
them up backstage and track a song for the new record.”
I was like, “For the new record?” And he was like, “Yeah
yeah, go grab them!” We would literally mic everything up
and run the Pro Tools stuff backstage, be off for a month
and go into the Bakersfield Studio and track guitars.
Jon actually sang the last three songs on the record in
Japan, in a hotel room, and padded up the doorway. It
was made in such a weird way; and that’s what was so
challenging to me, just to get my head around all of these
massive programming’s. I’m known as a progressive
kind of drummer, and in the past, I’ve done a ton of
like instrumental record. I’ve done like 75 instrumental
albums, and most of them have all been progressive stuff.
That’s my background. So to play super huge beats is
a challenge in itself for me because anything I might do
could screw up the song. I just wanted to play exactly
what the song would need, and the programs were so
good on the record that I really didn’t need to add that
much. The cymbals are 100% live, but the drums aren’t.
There is a lot of triggering and locking up going on. But I
love it because it’s so huge sounding. On my way to the
airport for this tour I had just gotten my mastered copy
and all of the speakers in my car were popping. If you
have a crappy sounding stereo system in your car, this
record will still sound great.
Were you guys aware beforehand that Sonny Moore
was previously a singer and sometimes guitarist in
a somewhat popular band in their own right as well?
Absolutely, he’s a hell of a musician all around. That’s
the funny thing, these 16 year old kids think he’s this new
thing, but he’s been working his ass off for years. We
were definitely aware of that, and a couple of the guys in
the band were fans of that stuff as well. I hadn’t heard it
until they turned me onto it.
Do you think that because he also comes from the
standpoint of a musician also that that may have
helped in easing into the transition as far as writing
the base of a song?
Yeah, I think so. There is a beauty to his simplicity as well,
and he gets it. For a lot of guys, you can’t just write a song
in a dub step, rap kind of form and say this is what it is.
There’s a niche and you have to have a sense of it, and
he has a good grasp of that. Most of his songs now have
three or four words in them, and the crowd waits for those
couple words. I watched some stuff on YouTube recently,
and I was just laughing. Kids just bouncing around and
then there’s the part where it says, “Oh my God, call 911!”
The whole crowd screams it, and it’s so weird. They’re
like the rock stars now.
I’ve been listening to the new album for the past
three days, and the big standouts so far have been
the double-bass heavy “Narcissistic Cannibal” and
the descending progression of “Burn the Obedient.”
Obviously, I’ll find out tonight, but how difficult is it
for the band to translate these songs over to the live
To me they’re heavier, the guitars are crunching more.
We’re coming out of playing these older, more obscure
songs into these; and we still have the energy going on,
so to me it’s pretty cool flying out of this huge PA system.
Trigger-wise I have to watch what I do and can’t play too
many notes. When I hear something on a record, I don’t
like when a band does everything exact note for note live.
There are a lot of bands that will play exactly the same,
and I like to embellish things a little bit and improvise. The
fan that’s heard the record eighty times will see it live and
notice things like a cool guitar sweep or a few extra drum
notes. With the dub step stuff, you really can’t do that
much extra. I’ll do a little something just to give an extra
kick. Sometimes Jon will kind of turn around and I’ll be
like, “Yeah, I know that may have been a bit much.” You
know, the feel of the drums is just so huge.
Live, you’re splitting the set up into three parts with
the new songs being showcased in the middle of the
set. After this initial pre-album release promo tour,
will you still be sticking to this kind of set? How will
things change?
I’m not sure to be honest; Jon usually calls the shots on
the set list. Right now it’s working, but they have such
Pushing twenty years
now you have fans that
are like I can’t believe
you didn’t play this, or
this, etc. We’re trying
to make the fans who
have been asking for
so long about the old
songs – I mean we’re
even playing the demo
version of “Predictable,”
it’s not even the one
that’s on the record. You
have the diehards who
actually have that demo
version and they’re
losing their minds that
version. I was talking
to Fieldy about this the
other day, and we’re
still fans of music. You
know, we get it. When
you go see a band there
are certain songs that
you just have to play
but there’s also certain
obscure songs that you
want to hear played as well. I went to see Iron Maiden
and Bruce Dickenson was like, ‘we have a surprise for
you tonight – we’re going to play our entire new record!’And you could feel the whole audience energy drop, they
were just like what? Because no one had the record yet;
it would be like us going out and playing the whole Path
of Totality record and then play “Blind” at the end and say
goodnight. Its fun playing that old stuff though, the band
was just so on fire at that point. There was nothing but
attitude and they didn’t give a shit about nothing. They
didn’t care about what anyone else was doing, the tuned
their guitar down to like Z flat or whatever and it was
This is Korn’s 10th album - almost twenty years’ worth
of material to choose from. With so many great songs
to choose from between singles, regular album tracks,
covers, How difficult is it for you guys to put together
a set list for a regular show, and for this current tour
that you feel not only satisfies the fans, but the band
as well?
It’s hard. Like I said before, Jon puts together the set lists
most of the time but we definitely put in our requests as
well. There are so many Korn fan sites out there for the
band, I had no idea. I’m still discovering new one’s too.
It’s crazy, you have sites in like Bangladesh, and Austria.
So we try to gather from the fans and find out what they
want to hear. I have people write me who say that they’re
just now discovering the band with Korn III, and since
we’re always out there playing we’re always gaining new
fans too. On top of that you have those older fans who
want to hear the obscure songs too. It’s tough, but Jon
is really good at coming up with the game plan as far as
that goes.
Online, your audition for the band has become
legendary. They asked you to learn five songs and
you came in and knew thirty.
I basically get hired to learn songs. I’m a drum clinician.
The one thing that I learned was when you go to an
audition, what’s going to separate you from those other
150 drummers standing behind you; it takes something.
Maybe one guy has a certain groove or style to the way
that he plays, but the one thing that’s sure is you have to
go in there prepared.
I auditioned once for Britney Spears years ago, and I
learned her first three entire records just because what
if they asked me to play this song; bam, I could do it.
That’s like my advice to any musician trying out for a
band too; never just learn the songs they tell you to
learn. Research and know their catalogue.
I got the Jake E. Lee gig for Ozzy Osbourne in 1994,
which was also my first big tour. He wanted me to learn
three songs, and I went back and learned the Badlands
albums that he was on and the Bark at the Moon and
The Ultimate Sin records. I was like the 50th drummer in
line that day, and they were bored out of their minds; so
I was like, “Hey, you guys want to play ‘Soul Stealer?’”
Jake was like, “We’ll stick to these three songs.” So I
was like, “Yeah, that’s cool, but I really want to play ‘Soul
Stealer.’” So he and the bass player started refiguring it
out; and then there was a whole new energy in the room.
Next thing you know, I didn’t play any of the original three
songs and the drummers outside were like, “How come
you didn’t play any of the songs you were supposed
to play?” I got a call back and they were down to five
drummers. I got the gig and had it for three years. I’m not
saying that that’s the key but it is one element.
People always ask me what’s going to separate them
when they have an audition, and it could be any number
of things: your attitude, the material that you know,
personality; are you on time? With Korn, that’s why I
learned all of those songs like “Divine” and all this old
stuff. I almost forced them to play the stuff I wanted
to play because it actually showcased more of the
drumming than the songs that they originally wanted me
to learn. It helps sometimes, but you don’t want to piss
people off either and lose the gig before you get it.
What are Korn’s plans after this tour into the New
We never stop playing, so touring for sure, especially
since the album is being released on December 6th. As
for summer festivals, I don’t know about the states but
we hit so many of the European festivals like Rock AM
Ring and Donnington so you almost want to give those
a rest just to keep people interested. I was just talking to
the Deleo brothers the other day and they said they were
going to take a break just because they felt like they kept
28 |
hitting the same markets and fans are like, you were
just here like three months ago. You really have to pace
yourself in areas that you play, but that’s a management
call. We just show up and hope for the best [Laughter]
You’ve been in this industry for quite a while and
seen the many changes it’s undergone, especially
in the past ten years. What advice do you have for
unsigned bands trying to be seen and heard locally
and trying to take it to that next step?
What are you saying I’m old?
Yeah, you know, you’re getting up there.
Just checking [Laughter]. Be a lawyer. It’s a hard
business. If you’re not willing to sacrifice family and stay
committed 100%, you should go do something else.
I have a lot of friends who are in cover bands on the
weekends, and it’s okay if that’s all that you want to do.
They have day jobs and they just want to have fun.
When I moved to L.A. 23 years ago, I said, “I’m not going
to do anything but play my drums for a living. I don’t
care if I’m rich or broke; this is what I have to do.” If you
make that kind of commitment and don’t take no for an
answer, then you’re doing the right thing. There are so
many people who will squash you out there; it’s just such
a fickled business. It’s not like if you go and get good
grades and get a doctorate, you’re going to be able to
get a job somewhere out there. The music business isn’t
like that. You can be one of the best musicians in the
world and you may never get a gig.
Do you know how many virtuoso guitar players I know in
L.A. that are working at Starbucks and can’t get a break?
It’s a shame. I’m always trying to get people gigs and
hook them up, especially the ones who work hard and
pound the pavement. It’s more than just practicing in
your room. You have to get out and network. There are
so many elements, I didn’t even know about that. I went
to the Musicians Institute because I wanted to network
and learn more styles, but I didn’t realize how important
networking was because I would stay in my room and
play for six hours a day. My whole mentality was that
I was going to get so good that no one would be able
to turn me down. It turned out to be the wrong thing to
do. My friends who were playing “Back in Black” were
getting gigs because they were out there giving their
numbers out at clubs and meeting people. I’m paying
these fast fills and it was like who cares?
It took me years to get what networking was all about, so
that’s a big chunk of advice right to anybody. I don’t care
if you’re in Tulsa or New York or L.A., just get out there
and be seen and get to know people. That’s half the
game. If you’re playing to eight people on a Thursday
night and three of them are the bar tenders; play your
heart out like that’s the last gig that you’re going to play.
Someone is going to see you and they’re going to start
talking. Somehow, some way if you’re into it 100%; it’ll
Guns N’ Roses
American Airlines Arena, Miami
October 29, 2011
This is the second time that Guns’ N’ Roses has decided to
kick off an American tour in Florida, and fans couldn’t be more
excited about it. Fresh off a string of dates all over Europe and
South America, the band has been in fine form; so to say that
excitement has been building for them to arrive here in the
States is an understatement. This time around, GNR brought
Buckcherry along as an opening act – who is basically a poor
man’s GNR cover band, making them somewhat humorous to
the audience at American Airlines Arena in Downtown Miami
on a Saturday night in late October.
Despite their old school rock posturing, out of all of the times
that I have had the displeasure of seeing Buckcherry, this
is probably the clearest I have ever heard them live. Before
this recent show, they came off as a loud, ear-piercing
mess. Despite vocalist Josh Todd’s attempts at entertaining
the crowd with what his definition of a “Crazy Bitch” is or a
rousing story about the first time he did cocaine, the audience
seemed to have more fun singing along to arena rockers in
the interim while waiting for GNR.
Most people will complain that GNR didn’t go onstage until
midnight with the show lasting until a few minutes after 3AM.
Despite the fact that it ended so late, you honestly did not feel
30 |
tired during the show due to the energy the band gave off.
They kept fans on their feet singing along to every song.
The setlist choice, aside from missing a few choice cuts
like “Civil War” and “Garden of Eden,” which hasn’t been
played live most likely since the band’s original line-up was
together, was solid as the band put on an incredible show.
From show opener “Chinese Democracy” right into the
massive crowd sing-along of the radio staple “Welcome to
the Jungle,” W. Axl Rose and company had the crowd on the
edge of their seats, eating out of the palms of their hands.
This line-up of the band, which also features DJ Ashba of SiXX
AM handling the bulk of Slash’s parts, seems tighter and more
comfortable than the band that last blew us away in 2006.
Each of the band’s three guitarists (Ashba, Richard Fortus
and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal) each had solo spots to showcase
their own personal style. Even former Replacements bassist
Tommy Stinson was given a go as he covered The Who’s “My
Generation.” Most impressively was the always-engaging Axl
Rose, who, if you never saw live in the band’s hay day but
could at least compare to old footage on YouTube, was that
man again, in spirit and in voice. His vocals, for the most
part, sounded spot on such as on the epic ballad “November
Rain,” which bowled fans over. The trippy-to-dirt heavy metal
of “Better” shocked and show closer “Paradise City” gave the
crowd one more adrenaline rush before the band took a bow,
wishing the audience goodnight or good morning – Matthew
Pashalian • Photo: Sayre Berman
Anthrax / Testament
Revolution Live, Fort Lauderdale
November 2, 2011
Most metal shows these days tend to center around chugging
atonal riffs, double bass drumming and vocal fluctuations
between low guttural growling and screaming that resembles
a gorilla being sodomized with a tree. Thank God for Anthrax
and Testament. They play how thrash metal is supposed to
sound like – pummeling riffs, tight drumming and soaring
vocals that would make Rob Halford and Ronnie James Dio
proud. On a cool Wednesday evening at Revolution Live in
Fort Lauderdale, both bands showed why they should be held
in the same esteem as Metallica.
Death Angel opened the night’s festivities with a solid,
workman-like set to an already-packed crowd that responded
loudly – even if they were here to see the two headlining acts.
Testament followed next and played a chockfull of classics
throughout their hour-long set that covered esteemed albums
like 1987’s The Legacy (“Over the Wall” and “Do or Die”) and
1988’s The New Order (“Disciples of the Watch” and “Into the
Pit”). The crowd ate it up as they pushed to the front of the
stage with at least a couple of circle pits brewing throughout
the course of their performance.
If the audience enjoyed Testament’s set, they went ballistic
for Anthrax. Given that this was the first time Joey Belladonna
was back in fold after twenty-plus years, there was more than
enough reason to celebrate. The vocalist has easily fit right
back into the fold with guitarists Scott Ian and Dan Spitz,
bassist Frank Bello and drummer Charlie Benante. Despite
the fact that Belladonna wasn’t originally in the studio when
the band made their long-overdue 10th album, Worship Music
(he did his vocals over the tracks after Dan Nelson abruptly
left), he’s made the songs his own. In fact, you can say that
new tracks such as “The Devil You Know,” “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You
Can’t” and “I’m Alive” were as well received as older favorites
such as “Indians” and “Madhouse.”
But make no secret, people were there to hear the songs that
made Anthrax the band famous, and no one was disappointed
in their hour-and-a-half-long set. Taking heavily from such
classic albums as 1987’s Among the Living, the band were
relentless as the crowd went bananas to kick ass renditions of
“Caught in a Mosh,” “Antisocial,” “Got the Time” and “N.F.L.”
The quintet paid tribute to Dio on “In the End,” where the whole
audience gave devil horn salutes with them.
It appeared that the already-rabid mosh pit grew and grew
throughout their performance as Antrhax churned out stunning
renditions of their best-known songs. By the time they
launched into “Metal Thrashing Mad” from 1985’s Armed and
Dangerous, the crowd exploded into a gigantic hurricane that
stretched across the whole floor. In all honesty, the band could
have kept going after their ripping rendition of “I Am the Law,”
which closed the show. For certain, the band was on, and it
was a joyous return to South Florida after a 7-year absence as
Ian pointed out at one point. Regardless, it was great to have
Anthrax and Testament back in town, and hopefully, not the
last time either – Jeff Noller • Photo Sayre Berman
Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin
Hard Rock Live, Hollywood
November 17, 2011
Not just any musicians can recreate the dramatic pounding
and phenomenal grooves of the mighty Led Zeppelin onstage.
Yet, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience accomplished
the nearly impossible task on a Thursday evening at Seminole
Hard Rock Live in Hollywood. The son of the legendary
drummer, John “Bonzo” Bonham, performed a couple hours’
worth of enduring classics. He told fascinating tales of growing
up in the Zeppelin family. Led Heads and their children, as
well as their grandchildren, all meshed together to enjoy the
heartbreaking blues and timeless melodies of Jason Bonham’s
Led Zeppelin Experience.
The lights in Hard Rock Live dimmed, and the crowd heard
Jason’s voice telling the story of his father’s upbringing in the
heart of the English West Midlands, aka the Black Country.
He described the people’s lifestyle in the 50s, working in the
factories after the war, as a giant monitor above the stage
displayed a montage of authentic photos. Spectators were
entertained by pictures of the Bonham family, including a shot
of Bonzo as a little school boy. Jason discussed the upbringing
of the man who would change the drumming world forever.
The festivities kicked off with a snippet of the fast-paced number
about Vikings, “Immigrant Song.” From all over the stage, blue
and red beams of light shot towards the sky. Trippy images
emerged onscreen, along with close-ups of the band, including
one looking up at Jason under his drum kit. The recognizable
32 |
1937 Hindenburg disaster from the cover of Zeppelin’s 1969
debut album appeared on the snare drum. The drummer
wore black jeans, a black t-shirt, big black sunglasses and a
black hat to cover his hairless head. Also dressed in all black
and a bald scalp, singer James Dylan didn’t look a thing like
Robert Plant. After all, Jason finds it distracting when tribute
bands try to dress the part. Tony Catania supplied the fancy
finger work of Jimmy Page, while Dorian Heartsong handled
the bass work of John Paul Jones, and Stephen Leblanc
played the keyboards.
As Jason hammered his hi-hat and snare drum through the
blues-based “Rock and Roll” from 1971’s Led Zeppelin IV,
the backdrop paraded a number of immortal icons, including
Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, Little Richard, Ray Charles
and Buddy Holly. The lights flicked on and off as JBLZE
earned their first of many standing ovations during the
massive drum conclusion.
Pulling from the classic band’s first two records that were
released in 1969, “Your Time Is Going to Come” led into the
dynamic “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You.” Onscreen, lightning
bolts erupting over picturesque pyramids, the poetry was
emphasized with high-pitched yelps and topped off with a
shimmering gong. Heavy guitar solos and unrivaled tempos
of “The Lemon Song” made for the evening’s highlight.
The percussionist dedicated “Thank You” to his grandmother,
Joan Bonham. Audience members learned that she was
the kind woman who turned his old man onto the music
of Buddy Rich and other American jazz drummers. In fact,
John’s mother bought him his first drum kit when he was a
teenager, and never complained about the loud noise. “This
one is my way of saying thank you,” said Jason.
JBLZE then ripped into “Moby Dick,” featuring an extended solo
that made listeners’ mouths drop. Above the stage, the giant
monitor showed a split screen. A video of John banging away in
previously unseen footage from the 70s played alongside Jason’s
live version of the same beats. 10-feet above his drum set, the
two awe-inspiring artists went eye-to-eye, concentrating on the
seemingly impossible drum routine.
The Led Zeppelin Experience then executed Jason’s favorite song
to play onstage, “When the Levee Breaks.” His intense wails were
complimented by phased vocals and the guitarist’s tricky finger
work. The epic masterpiece “Kashmir” captured the mystical power
of Arabian music with extraordinarily beautiful force. The singlemost requested number in radio history, “Stairway to Heaven,”
entailed the subtle tones of Catania’s double-necked guitar.
Following a brief encore full of cheers, JBLZE reappeared,
claiming, “This goes out to you with a ‘Whole Lotta Love.’” The
psychedelic single was full of complex licks, a smooth bass line
and seductive moans. Drumsticks crashed on cymbals, while
the hi-hat echoed like only a Bonham could produce. Jason
Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience showed why they’re the best
damn cover band in the touring circuit – Story by Todd McFliker •
Photo: Tony Landa
working with dub step DJ’s like Skrillix and Datsik to forge the
next step in the evolution of the Korn sound. Out on a short
trek across the states, road testing a handful of new songs, the
band is definitely surprising fans in many ways.
First, they opened their set with four older songs that the
band probably hasn’t played in a good ten years. This was
followed by performing five songs from The Path of Totality
before going into the hits that we all know and love. Jonathan
Davis commanded the stage with an energy that this fan
hasn’t seen years as the band plowed through a handful of
oldies such as “Lies” and “No Place to Hide,” before they
seamlessly went into their set of dub step-infused tunes.
Most of the crowd’s crazy Korn fans were, most likely,
already familiar with the first two singles from the new album:
“Narcissistic Cannibal” and “Get Up!” But crowd reaction
seemed especially positive towards “Kill Mercy Within” and
“Way Too Far” as well. This proved that the always-innovative
band can pretty much do anything and get the crowd’s approval.
The third part of Korn’s set, “the hits,” composed mostly of the
standards that you would expect to hear from the band.
This current lineup looks and sounds energized and hungry
as new life is breathed into classics like “Here to Stay” and
“Falling Away from Me.” The band’s three-song encore really
floored the crowd. This was especially the case when Davis
reemerged with his bagpipes as guitarist James “Munky”
Schaeffer delivered the low end and dissonance signature
to “Shoots and Ladders.” Everyone was ready to burst from
excitement and disappointment as the band went into the
show closing “Blind.” It was one hell of a way for the end of the
show to go – Matthew Pashalian • Photo: Sayre Berman
The Sounds
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
October 12, 2011
One thing you are always guaranteed when watching the
Sounds is that they deliver the goods night after night. This
was especially the case on an October evening at the Culture
Room in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the Sounds played a
spot on, 18-song set on the first show of their current U.S. tour.
Touring in support of their new album, the dance-happy
Something to Die For, the band didn’t appear to show any rust
as they launched into the one-two punch of “It’s So Easy” and
“Dance with the Devil.” The two songs off the aforementioned
record along with the other four that they played were brilliant
and blended right in with the rest of their setlist – check out
their new album, and you’ll be bopping to “The No No Song,”
the delicious title track, “Yeah Yeah Yeah” and the hard dance
of “Better Off Dead.”
The Fillmore Miami Beach
November 9, 2011
Korn has never been a band that follows trends – they’re the
band that starts them. With their latest offering, The Path of
Totality, the band is stepping up their game once again by
Vocalist Maja Ivarsson continues to play the sharp, charismatic
vixen who had audience such as the one at Culture Room in
the palm of her hand. Jesper Anderberg alternated between
the keyboards and guitars with a fire, while axeman Felix
Rodriguez riffed away on stage. They along with bassist Johan
Bengtsson were dynamic, darting about the stag, keeping
everyone in a frenzy as drummer Fredrik Nilsson kept the beat
The set focused primarily on the new album as well as
2006’s Dying to Say This to You, the Sounds’ most revered
and popular release. The crowd ate up now-classics such
as “Queen of Apology,” “Hurt You,” “Ego,” “Night After
Night,” “Painted by Numbers” and “Tony the Beat.” “Seven
Days a Week” and the title track off of the band’s debut,
Living in America, received also a ravenous response.
Their new wave sound of synthesizers and killer hooks
will never grow old with their fans who have been lucky
to see them play. Even songs off of 2009’s not-as-wellreceived Crossing the Rubicon got a loud response from
the crowd such as “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake” and
“Dorchester Hotel.” The crowd was still screaming for more
by the time the Sounds finished with “Hope You’re Happy
Now” as their encore – Story by Jeff Noller.
Smith Westerns
Hard Rock Live, Orlando
October 7, 2011
Friday is the day everyone looks forward to. For Orlando,
Florida, it meant every British person in the city had to
flock to the Hard Rock to see their favorite band: the Artic
Monkeys. With love for the band being unanimous, every
person in the room is automatically a die-hard fan of them;
so for the Smith Westerns, you would think they face an
obstacle trying to win over a crowd of Brits; not so.
The band has been lauded for their mellow and “boring”
performances, but a lot of these opinions are made by
people who have seen the band in broad daylight, at a
festival. If you’re going to see the Smith Westerns, this is
not the way to experience them. Admittedly, the Chicago
34 |
natives do sound like they have more energy on record,
but the band’s shoe gaze sound is very present. That said,
anyone going into a Smith Westerns show should not
expect a Crystal Castles show.
Lead singer Cullen Omori takes front and center stage, pearlwhite Fender in hand and his jet-black longs flying in every
which direction with even the slightest movement. Brother
Wayne Omori stands stage-left providing extra guitar work,
and the band’s woozy church organ layers as heard on
“All Die Young.” With the remaining half of the band, they
flawlessly perform every song on their set note-for-note
with songs picked from their self-titled debut (“Tonight”, “Be
My Girl”, “Dreams”) having a revitalized sound. Live is the
only time you can hear what these songs truly sound like,
to their lo-fi
b a n d ’ s
d r e a m y
s o u n d
carries over
with nothing
lost, the one
off were the
vocals. The
blissful vocal
“ We e k e n d ”
are not so
p r e s e n t
band’s nonexistent and
stage presence (the band did not speak a word to the
audience during the entirety of their hour-long set), created
a dullness that was hard to shake off. Though, better that
than to see the Omori brothers break out into an Oasis-like
fight with constant bickering throughout the set.
Smith Westerns are not for everyone, but that may be only
because there is currently an over-saturation of “dance” or
“electronic” music right now. As said earlier in this review,
seeing this band in broad daylight is not the way to go.
To truly enjoy Smith Westerns, you have to see them in
an intimate club setting, where the band’s sound can be
complimented by the washes of color from the stage lights.
All that said, the Artic Monkeys crowd danced to every
song of the night, and gave the band a loud cheer after
closing with “Weekend” – Norrel Blair.
and ability to handle
multiple styles of song
him a huge asset to the
core of guitarist John
Petrucci, bassist John
vocalist James LaBrie.
Fans worldwide have
responded overwhelming
positive to the new
addition, and it was just
the same during this show.
With a good portion of the
set focusing on their 11th
album, A Dramatic Turn of
Events, DT played with a
fire and liberation that the
audience ate up such as
on the opening number,
“Bridges in the Sky,” the
well-received “Build Me
Up, Break Me Down” as
well as the long-playing
“Outcry,” “On the Backs
of Angels” and “Breaking
All Illusions.”
Dream Theater
Pompano Beach Amphitheater
October 21, 2011
Whether it’s your tenth time or your first seeing them live,
Dream Theater is a force to be reckoned. As progressive metal
has skyrocketed in popularity throughout the last decade, the
New York five-piece has ridden the wave to greater heights.
Touring in support of their second, consecutive Billboard
Top Ten album with the brilliant, A Dramatic Turn of Events,
DT delivered a knock-out set to the near-packed crowd at
Pompano Beach Amphitheater in Pompano Beach, Florida
on a cool and breezy Friday night in October.
The U.S. tour marks the second with new drummer Mike
Mangini who replaced founding member Mike Portnoy. His
There were some splendid
surprises as well such
as “The Ytse Jam” from
the band’s 1989 debut,
When Dream and Day
Unite, as well as not one
but two cuts from 1999’s
brilliant concept album,
Scenes from a Memory.
DT drew from across
their catalogue during
their 15-song set that
had the audience on their
feet for the majority of it.
Songs like “These Walls”
from 2005’s Octavarium,
“Endless Sacrifice” from
2003’s stunningly-heavy
Train of Thought and “Forsaken” from 2007’s Systematic
Chaos had everyone giving devil signs in the air.
LaBrie and Petrucci took time to give everyone a breather
with a short two-song acoustic set that gave a nice contrast
between all the heaviness with the beautiful “The Silent
Man” from 1994’s Awake album and “Beneath the Surface”
that closes A Dramatic Turn of Events. But the real treat
was with the encore when the band dug out “Under a Glass
Moon” from 1992’s classic Images and Words that put an
explanation point on the night. After over twenty years and a
new drummer, DT shows why progressive metal matters, and
why it will continue to matter as long as there’s an audience
willing to listen. Per the response that evening in Pompano
Beach, it’s guaranteed this will be for a long time to come –
Jeff Noller • Photo: Sayre Berman
Peter Frampton | Hard Rock Live | Photo: Sayre Berman
New Found Glory | Revolution Live | Photo: Tony Landa
36 |
Orlando Calling
Citris Bowl, Orlando, Fl
November 12-13, 2011
Photos: Tony Landa
Black Star | The Fillmore | Photo: Alex Markow
Smith Westerns | Hard Rock Live Orlando | Photo: Norrel Blair
Album Reviews
Ulrich’s drumming is completely crap
on this record, inept of resembling
any kind of coherent beat – a clumsy
that’s incapable of
delivering subtlety that some of the
tracks need such as the 18-minute
“Junior Dad.” In fact, neither artist
seems to gel at all with the other;
contrasts that don’t work.
Lou Reed/Metallica
WARNING: Do not operate heavy
machinery or vehicles while listening
to this album. In fact, make sure there
are no sharp objects, firearms or any
kind of prescription or hard drugs near
you. There is a high possibility that if
you managed to listen to the full four
and a half minutes of “Brandenburg
Gate,” the first track off of the Lou
Reed-Metallica collaboration, Lulu,
you will cause severe if not fatal harm
to yourself and others – the opening
lyrics that Reed says should give an
indicator: “I would cut my legs and tits
off when I think of Boris Karloff and
Kinski in the dark of the moon.”
Considering all the hype and hoopla
going into this album that Metallica
and Reed did together, you would
think this would be some brilliant
tour de force – an ingenious mixing
of creative minds between one of
the Big 4 thrash bands and one of
rock ‘n roll true legends. There was
no reason to think this partnership
wouldn’t be good… That is of course
until you listen to the first 30 seconds
of the aforementioned “Brandenburg
Gate” to realize this is an abomination
let alone should ever be considered
any kind of remote masterpiece.
It is shocking how horrible this record
is. The guitars sound out of tune,
James Hetfield’s backing vocals
come off as tone deaf and Reed’s
spitting of lyrics sound completely
out of place. Forget the fact that Lars
38 |
Yes, this is a Lou Reed album. It’s
important to understand that this is
Reed’s vision, and Metallica is his
backing band. The man has always
delivered challenging albums that
require repeated listening. That is
a known fact, whether it’s Berlin,
The Blue Mask or New York.
However, Lulu takes the cake,
matching Metal Machine Music for
its uncompromising sound. But while
all the aforementioned records were
brilliant once you absorbed them, this
one falls flat from the word, “Go.”
If you read up on how this came
promising at first. The concept of this
record came from a theater project by
Robert Wilson, a fellow collaborator
of Reed’s, who had created an
adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s
plays. Sadly on Lulu, Reed sings,
scratch that, barks and growls like
some nutty old man who needs to
be heavily medicated, from a young
woman’s perspective who has had
some shoddy experiences with men.
For most of the 90 minutes this double
album makes up, it is unrelenting and
puzzling. Only the die-hard Reed-letalone-Metallica fans will be able to
stomach this. Sure, there are plenty
of pummeling guitars, but they are
far from being cohesive in structure
and execution such as on “”Dragon,”
“Frustration” and “Pumping Blood.”
In fact, it sounds like what would
happen if you did a concept album of
William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.
Lulu is a bad science experiment,
a mixing of hazardous chemicals
that would provide catastrophic
for the world if the album was a
biological weapon. Lulu will replace
waterboarding as the hot topic of
torture methods outlawed by the
Geneva Convention – Jeff Noller.
Megadeth’s 13th album, aptly titled,
TH1RT3EN, continues the upward
creative projection that was reignited
with 2004’s superb The System Has
Failed. Since Dave Mustaine relaunched that band that year, they have
now released four albums – each being
better than the one preceding it. Now
whether any of them can be compared
separately to such classics as 1986’s
Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying, 1990’s
Rust in Peace or 1992’s Countdown to
Extinction is another story for another
time. What’s scarily evident is how the
famous axman has released yet another
album of ferocious thrash numbers.
It shows why his band has surpassed
his former one, Metallica, in leaps and
While James Hetfield and company
have taken years in between albums
with their best days at least twenty
years behind them (their recent
collaboration with Lou Reed, Lulu, is
an outright abomination), Mustaine has
consistently released killer material –
2009’s Endgame is among one of their
strongest recordings. On TH1RT3EN,
Mustaine, reunited bassist/founding
member Dave Ellefson, accomplished
7-string guitarist Chris Broderick and
venerable drummer Shawn Drover
deliver some tightly-wound thrash
numbers as showcased in the ferocious
opener, “Sudden Death.”
Producer Johnny K is able to make
Megadeth sound completely wicked
and fresh without compromising their
trademark style. This is evident in the
machine gun riffing of “Public Enemy
No. 1,” “We the People” and “Guns,
Drugs & Money.” Mustaine has lost none
of his lyrical bite as evident in not only
the aforementioned tracks but ominous
numbers like “Never Dead.” The fact
that his imagery has only become more
ultraviolent and apocalyptic with age is
fitting given our country’s current period
of disarray. Even with unreleased older
cuts that Mustaine has pulled from the
archives on this record, the messages
expressed on “New World Order” and
the slow-metallic burn of “Millennium of
the Blind” seem relevant as ever.
Throughout the 13 tracks on TH1RT3EN,
Megadeth is unrelenting, even if they
occasionally sound like their rehashing
old ideas such as on roaring assault of
“Fast Lane,” which recalls “Symphony
of Destruction.” But this is a moot point
where you have such killer rockers
on the album such as “Black Swan,”
“Wrecker” and “Deadly Nightshade.” 13
albums in, Mustaine and his gang are at
the top of their game, and showcasing
which band is looking supreme at out of
the Big Four of Thrash – Jeff Noller.
War.” With that track, the band goes
on a stream of heavy hitters with
the soon-to-be college frat drinking
anthem, “Bottoms Up,” and the dance
worthy “When We Stand Together.”
The band find themselves channeling
a little bit of metallic punk rock and
rockabilly on the fun “Midnight Queen,”
while breaking out some slick solo chops
. It wouldn’t be a newer Nickelback
release without the ubiquitous sexual
references as those made on the
slick-and-heavy “Gotta Get Me Some.”
The piano-touched ballad “Lullaby,”
though musically grand, doesn’t quite
strike the ball out of the park like they
have with past tunes of a similar nature.
However, they do redeem themselves
with the one-two-three punch of the pop
rock “Trying Not to Love You,” “Holding
onto Heaven” and “Everything I Wanna
Do.” Nickelback has once again crafted
another good record of songs that
people will love and probably not admit
to – Matthew Pashalian.
organs, string arrangements and
anthem-styled drumming thanks to
Robert Ackroyd, Chris Hayden, Isabella
Summers, Mark Saunders and Tom
Monger. However, none of this would
have half the potency if it wasn’t for
Welch’s powerful vocals. Producer
Paul Epworth knows this is what drives
Florence and the Machine above
everything else, and uses her voice to
full effect throughout the record.
From the rousing opening two numbers,
“Only If for a Night” and “Shake It Out,”
it’s clear this album makes a quantum
leap over the debut, which was an
impressive one. The neo-soul-meetsBrit-pop sound of the band has made
an indelible impression on both sides
of the Atlantic, where fans of Lungs
will definitely love such larger-than-life
tracks as “What the Water Gave Me,”
“Lover to Lover,” “No Light, No Light”
and the closing “Leave My Body.” Such
a selection of songs is stunning with
its gothic-gospel mix without being too
heavy handed or pretentious.
Where you have a record that contains
no filler and gets better with every listen,
you know you have something special
on your hands. For certain, the 12 tracks
on Ceremonials signal the beginning of
what should be an impressive musical
reign for Florence and the Machine. –
Jeff Noller
Here and Now
Roadrunner Records
Florence and the Machine
Universal Republic
That’s right haters; Nickelback is back
just in time for the holidays with their
latest release, the hard rockin’ Here
and Now. This time around, the band
is really putting a lot on their plate as
they decide to try on a new hat with
twiddling the knobs at the producer’s
chair as well. After one spin of the disc
though, it’s undeniable that they did a
great job and took a few notes from
their last album’s producer, megaproducer Mutt Lange, with the anthemic
and boomy Def Leppard-style drums.
In interviews, Florence Welch was
quoted in saying she wanted her
sophomore album, Ceremonials, to
be a better version of her massivelysuccessful debut, Lungs, with “a more
dark, more heavy, bigger drum sounds,
bigger bass, but with more of a whole
sound.” Florence and the Machine’s
follow up is indeed all that and more.
By the time Here and Now hits stores,
the band will be on their second rock
radio single and third single overall
with the opening track, “This Means
Where Lungs was a bold and fiery debut
from Welch and her band, Ceremonials
elevates everything to the next level
completely. The songs are gargantuan
in approach and delivery with booming
Mylo Xyloto
Coldplay is one of those bands that,
as mainstream as they are, can be
quite the acquired taste. It’s like having
a Shock Top beer: you think it’s pretty
good before finding out Budweiser does
the brewing; leaving you with a bad
taste in your mouth. Given that their
U2 fetishes have grown exponentially
with every record, the target on their
back has only seemed to grow larger –
whether justified or not. To give you an
idea, Brian Eno has produced some of
U2’s most recognizable records such as
Achtung Baby and the more recent No
Line Over the Horizon. He has served
as either a producer or arranger on
every Coldplay release since at least
2005’s X&Y. However, on Mylo Xyloto,
they not only stop sounding like Bono’s
bitches, but they shed the doom and
gloom bullshit that has weighed down
every record.
There’s a strong optimism and sense
of freedom in the way Coldplay
approaches the songs here such as the
Cure-meets-Peter Gabriel rocker, “Hurts
Like Heaven.” Jonny Buckland’s guitars
ring freely while vocalist Chris Martin
sings such lyrics as “Fire from my belly
and the beat from my heart.” “Charlie
Brown” shimmers with echoing electric
guitars, crisp acoustics and a steady
rhythm section from Guy Berryman and
Will Champion. Jay-Z’s influence on the
band seems also to be quite apparent
when you consider numbers such as the
bombastic “Paradise” with its spacious
vocal tracks and string and keyboard
However, like every Coldplay release
over the last few years, many of their
songs are too eager to please. Given
the fact that Martin and company write
songs to be belt out in stadiums, the
cheese factor is quite high throughout
the record such as on the cigarettelighter waving “Up in Flames.” The
anthem-styled “Every Teardrop is
a Waterfall” is another example of
this with its opening icy synthesizers
and acoustics arrangements before
exploding into an epic rocker. It’s a bit
too predictable five albums in, even if
audiences are guaranteed to be hand
clapping as Martin sings “I turn the music
up, I got my records on; I shut the world
outside until the lights come on; maybe
the streets alight, maybe the trees are
gone; I feel my heart start beating to
my favorite song.” Their fans will eat it
up, but the songs here are showing that
the band’s shtick is showing signs of
Even though the the Rhiannacollaborated “Princess of China” is not
as bad as it appears on paper, the synthpop number seems a bit out of place
here. And that’s one the major problems
with Mylo Xyloto, there are too many
moments that seem out of place or try
too hard to satisfy the masses. When
you have musical interludes in between
songs such as “M.M.I.X.” and “A Hopeful
40 |
Transmission” as well as pleasant but
ultimately dull acoustic ballads such as
“Us Against the World;” you have an
album that’s ultimately too lightweight
to make an impact artistically. Coldplay
may sound more comfortable in their
shoes as good-natured pop artists,
but it doesn’t translate into something
worthwhile by any means of the
imagination – Jeff Noller.
The Hunter
Sure, Mastodon has their fans; but it’s
questionable after five albums how they
managed to keep them. Their sludgy,
drop-D guitar dynamics are mindnumbing and pummeling to the point of
insanity. There’s no rhyme and reason
to them, especially where every record
seems to have the same turgid and
murky production where all the guitars
are mixed together.
If you couldn’t see what was so great
about albums like Leviathan and Crack
the Skye, you are going to feel the same
about The Hunter – even if it’s their
most accessible record. I use this last
term lightly as your ears about to pop
off your head, give you the finger and
walk away in disgust by the time you get
to the riff-assault of “Blasteroid.” It’s not
that they’re a bad band; it’s just that…
damn, I’d rather listen to Lou Reed’s
Metal Machine Music all day in a room
with padded walls, wearing a strait
Songs like “Stargasm” and “Black
Tongue” will I’m sure go over like a “Lead
Balloon” in the immortal words of Keith
Moon as well as tracks like “Octopus
Has No Friends” and “The Sparrow” –
the epic track that closes the album,
and is the best one out of all of them.
Elsewhere, songs like “Spectrelight,”
“Creature Lives” and “Curl of the Burl”
are just horrific and exhausting to listen
to if you have no patience for sludge
metal… or a lead singer that irritatingly
reminds you of Ozzy Osbourne in a bad
way – Jeff Noller.
Noel Gallagher
Noel Gallagher’s High
Flying Birds
Sour Mash
From both sides of the Atlantic,
anticipation was high for what Noel
Gallagher would deliver with his solo
debut. Since Oasis broke up two years
ago, his younger brother Liam and the
rest of that group formed Beady Eye
and put out a swaggering rock ‘n roll
record, Different Gear, Still Speeding.
While that was self-assured and proved
they could be on their own without
Noel, the fact remained that the latter’s
songwriting was what drove the nowdefunct band. Noel Gallagher’s High
Flying Birds shows once and for all that
it is he that has the creative longevity.
It was reported that some of the songs
on this record were written by Noel while
still in Oasis, but never saw the light of
day due to Liam’s stand-offish attitude
toward them in style and substance. It’s
a shame that the younger brother felt
that way because Noel Gallagher’s High
Flying Birds is a smashing record. This
is the sound of an artist who no longer
has to cater to anyone but himself. In
fact, the songs on this record are the
strongest batch that he has written since
his former band’s Definitely Maybe/
Morning Glory heyday 15 years ago.
However, one thing must be made
clear: this is not a loud, bombastic rock
record like the first two Oasis records,
far from it. What this sounds like is a
strong singer-songwriter record that’s
built around tight choruses and hooks.
And there are plenty of them starting
with the opening anthem, “Everybody’s
on the Run,” which serves as Noel’s
mission statement that he’s doing things
his way going forward.
The upbeat stomp of “Dream On,” the
slow-building “If I Had a Gun” and the
bonanza of brass-band arrangements
on the poppy “The Death of You and
Me” display Noel’s independence from
his former group; while the guitar and
string production-led epic of “(I Wanna
Live a Dream in My) Record Machine,”
the mean dance beats on “What a Life”
and single-ready melodies of “Broken
Arrow” are pure ear candy.
Although the album does have a couple
of filler tracks like the bland “The Wrong
Beach,” Noel Gallagher’s High Flying
Birds is the man’s finest work in a long
time. A sharp, focused record: it’s a clear
indicator that Noel will be just fine on his
own for years to come – Jeff Noller.
The Path of Totality
Roadrunner Records
Korn is definitely no strangers to musical
experimentation. After all, this is the
band that is partly responsible for the
current sound of alternative rock in the
past ten years with down-tuned guitars,
hip-hop beats and classic songwriting
sensibility. So as soon as it came out
earlier this year that Korn was going
to be releasing a dubstep style album,
many were sure the band had lost it.
After hearing the band’s first experiment
with one-time-hardcore-vocalist-nowDJ Skrillex on “Get Up!,” this may be an
avenue worth exploring further. The end
result is the band’s latest tenth release,
The Path of Totality.
Though some may be a bit skeptical
regarding Korn experimenting with
Dubstep, after listening to the first few
tracks on The Path of Totality (“Chaos
Lives in Everything” and “Kill Mercy
Within”), it becomes very obvious that
the band is still who they’ve always
been. Experimenting with Dubstep
really doesn’t change who they are
because at the core of each song,
the band still retains their signature
sound. While listening to the chugging
riffs and double bass of “Narcissistic
Cannibal,” you can’t help but imagine
just how monstrous this song must be
when it’s performed in the live arena.
If you’re a longtime Korn fan, you can’t
help but feel drawn to the familiarity of
vocalist Jonathon Davis’ vocal delivery
in the verses of “Illuminati,” while the
descending progression of “Burn the
Obedient” is devilishly addicting. The
first album single, “Get Up!” still takes
the lead for the albums standout track,
but “Let’s Go!” doesn’t trail too far
behind it.
At the end of the day, whether you like
Dubstep or not, The Path of Totality is
actually a pretty decent album. Adding
the element of DJ’s Skrillex, Noisia,
Downlink and others to the mix, the
band is still the powerhouse that they
have always been. If anything, over
the years the band has become better
songwriters. They deserve to be
applauded for, once again, being at the
forefront of pioneering a new style that
could most likely soldier on and influence
even more – Matthew Pashalian.
Worship Music
Out of the Big Four of Thrash, Anthrax
has been the one that has appeared
the least accomplished – Metallica,
Megadeth and Slayer are the other
three for those not familiar. This is
not a knock on the group, but the fact
remains that they have struggled to find
a musical identity since lead singer Joey
Belladonna was let go twenty years
ago. Between line-up changes, the
inability to write memorable songs and
attacks on their name following 9/11, it’s
a miracle that they are still together. As
most people know, time has a way of
not only bringing a band full circle but
creating an appreciation for their body
of work. Worship Music is the first one
to do both and re-capture the magic
since 1990’s Persistence of Time.
Granted, Scott Ian and company wrote
and recorded the album with former
vocalist Dan Nelson before the two
camps parted ways; but Belladonna’s
vocals work effortlessly into the
mix. If you didn’t know this fact, you
would assume that the reunited band
members hit pay dirt in the studio with
a re-found chemistry. This is a fantastic
return to prominence. It helps that
the quality of their songwriting is high
with such powerhouse cuts as “The
Devil You Know,” “Fight ‘Em Till You
Can’t,” “I’m Alive” and “In the End.”
Ian’s jackhammer riffs permeate with
precision while Frank Bello’s bass work
and Charlie Benante’s drumming give
the tracks punch.
Unlike their brethren in the Big Four,
Anthrax’s music follows a more
traditional form of 80s thrash metal,
more in kin to Dio and Judas Priest –
hell, they named a song after the latter
on this record! When you do listen
to the tracks, it’s hard not to feel like
you’re at a concert alongside mulletstyling metalheads with denim jackets
covered in Motorhead and Iron Maiden
patches. Of course, having Belladonna
back in the mix doesn’t hurt. Simply put,
Worship Music is their best album in 20
years. It’s good to have them making
great records again – Jeff Noller.
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The Whole Love
As critically acclaimed as Wilco has been over the last 15 years,
they’ve never sounded as carefree and happy as they do on The
Whole Love. Part of this is due to having a stable line-up finally
after years of players coming in and going out since 1996’s
Being There. The other part is that although albums such as
1999’s Summerteeth, 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and 2004’s
A Ghost is Born were classics; they felt incredibly labored. This
latter point you can credit to band leader Jeff Tweedy’s desire to
shed his Uncle Tupelo past and write music that wasn’t trapped
in the alt-country genre.
Whereas 2009’s self-titled album found Tweedy and company
finally settling down into a comfortable groove, The Whole Love
finds them bursting with confidence. Here, the weight sounds
completely off Tweedy, writing a beautiful batch of songs that
showoff all the band’s loves and influences. The 7-minute “Art
of Almost” has an icy cool resonance that goes from post-rock
experimentation to guitar freak-out. It serves as the album’s
mission statement – loose and fearless.
From there, Wilco jump from killer rockers that echo Travelling
Wilburys such as “I Might,” “Dawned on Me” and “Born Alone”
to slow-burning, contemplative numbers like “Sunloathe,” the
country-tinged “Open Mind” and ragged beat of “Capital City.” The
cocky-swaggering “Standing O” is one of the best moments with
its brash guitar work and cool lead vocals by Tweedy, perfectly
contrasted against the rolling acoustic melodies of “Whole Love”
that would sound good on a road trip.
This is a warm, welcoming record that you can listen to over
and over again. It’s captivating and engaging, which you can
credit to keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen, guitarists Nels Cline and
Pat Sansone, bassist John Stirratt and drummer Glenn Kotche
who collaborate brilliantly with Tweedy throughout. Whereas
past records took multiple listens to realize their brilliance; here,
the results are immediate. The Whole Love showcases Wilco
having fun and displaying genius simultaneously; an amazingly
beautiful record that shows why Wilco is one of the best bands
so far this century – Jeff Noller.
42 |
Live from Soho
I know what you’re thinking; another live release from
Incubus? Yes, but at least the band hasn’t gone the way
of Pearl Jam – yet. Incubus’ Live from Soho is an iTunesonly live release that, though may not be a full show, is
great for both the casual fan and the one who has to have
absolutely everything. The handful of songs chosen from
the band’s set is one that is definitely more enjoyable as it
showcases more of the high-flying, heavier rock the band
is rather than the mellower, teetering indie rock one that
they have been becoming over the past few full lengths.
This disc wouldn’t be complete without the massive radio
singles like “Megalomaniac,” “Wish You Were Here” and “Anna
Molly.” Newer cuts like the piano ballad “Promises, Promises,”
“In the Company of Wolves” and “Adolescents” actually fit in
quite nicely with the rest of the heavier rocking cuts. Before
driving the crowd wild with “Nice to Know You,” the band goes
into a fun little jam of effect madness led by guitarist Mike
Einziger. With the crossover hit “Drive,” the band start it out with
Einziger supplying a gritty electric guitar in place of the acoustic
to accompany vocalist Brandon Boyd’s voice, before the rest
of the band comes in to lift the song up to its pop potential.
Live from Soho ends this ten-track live compilation with the
song that first put the band in people’s scope; “Pardon Me,”
a great closing song – one the band should have used to
close their sets on this album’s tour cycle. As far as the
songs chosen for Live from Soho, all are great. The only
complaint that could possibly be made would be, “How come
(insert song title) here didn’t make it?” Of course, those are
the people who you could never please anyways – Matthew
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