Simply put, DISTURBED are one of the most successful rock bands in modern history. The multiplatinum-selling quartet accomplished the rare feat of achieving five consecutive number one debuts on the Billboard Top 200. That accolade historically elevated them to rarified air alongside Metallica, the only other hard rock group to do so in the history of the chart. Immortalized (2015) received a platinum certification and spawned the triple-platinum crossover smash “The Sound of Silence,” which garnered a nomination at the 2017 GRAMMY® Awards in the category of “Best Rock Performance.” Since their formation in 1996, the band has sold 16 million albums globally and scored twelve No. 1 singles at Active Rock Radio. Their quadruple-platinum 2000 debut, The Sickness, formally announced their arrival as hard rock leaders, with that status solidified by subsequent GRAMMY® Award nominations as well as gold-, platinum- and double platinum-certified records, as well as countless sold-out shows around the globe. Named “Best Rock Artist” during the 2017 iHeartRadioMusic Awards, Disturbed continue to boldly forge ahead with the release of their aptly titled seventh offering, Evolution.
KORN changed the world with the release of their self-titled debut album. It was a record that would pioneer a genre, while the band’s enduring success points to a larger cultural moment. The FADER notes, “There was an unexpected opening in the pop landscape and KORN articulated a generational coming-of-angst for a claustrophobic, self-surveilled consciousness. KORN became the soundtrack for a generation’s arrival as a snarling, thrashing, systemically-restrained freak show.”
Since forming, KORN has sold 40 million albums worldwide, collected two GRAMMYS, toured the world countless times, and set many records in the process that will likely never be surpassed. Vocalist Jonathan Davis, guitarists James “Munky” Shaffer and Brian “Head” Welch, bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu, and drummer Ray Luzier, have continued to push the limits of the rock, alternative and metal genres, while remaining a pillar of influence for legions of fans and generations of artists around the globe. The level of KORN’s reach transcends accolades and platinum certifications. They are “a genuine movement in a way bands cannot be now,” attests The Ringer. They represent a new archetype and radical innovation, their ability to transcend genre makes barriers seem irrelevant.
Imagine, for a moment, a world in which Jane’s Addiction never existed. Nothing’s Shocking was never released in the summer of ’88. Lollapalooza never launched three summers later. Perry Bernstein remained on the East Coast, never boarding that Greyhound Bus and heading across country to Los Angeles like so many dreamers and visionaries before him did. What kind of world would that be?
No kind of world we’d want to live in.
Without Jane’s Addiction, there might still have been a Soundgarden, an Alice in Chains, a Nine Inch Nails, a Rage Against the Machine, and even a Nirvana, but they wouldn’t sound the same. As Tom Morello said when inducting Jane’s into Guitar Center’s Rock Walk of Fame in June 2011: “Nirvana often gets credit for being the first ‘alternative’ band to break through, the band that changed music and led rock out of the hair metal wilderness of the ’80’s. That’s just not true. It was Jane’s Addiction.”
As the years have passed, Jane’s Addiction have kept pace in a modern culture that the band helped to expand and progress. They didn’t invent the metal fan who also loves rap. That kid already existed. So did the Goth kid who also owned Zeppelin records. But before all music and information was instantly available, Jane’s did enlighten the metal fan who’d never even had a chance to hear rap — or industrial or prog or British indie — and that metal fan is better and more open-minded for it. And now, so are their children. “In 1988, Jane’s Addiction saved my life,” Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins has said. Jane’s didn’t invent modern rock, but they turned modern rockers into an enduring and inclusive tribe. “Jane’s was the only band I saw in those times who had that ‘I-will-follow-them-anywhere type’ of crowd. There were a lot of great bands around at that time,” Henry Rollins told Spin, “but Jane’s had this tribal thing happening with their fans. It was very powerful.”
August 2013 marks 25 years since the release of Nothing’s Shocking — an album like no other then, and like few others now, as influential as it is. Many critics were puzzled in ’88 upon first hearing those 11 songs. “A classic love ’em or hate ’em outfit,” Rolling Stone observed. “The band is great. And it is also full of shit. Often at the same time.” The music runs from proggy pomp (“Up the Beach”), to stripped-down, barking punk (“Idiot’s Rule,” “Had A Dad”), to thundering hard rock (“Mountain Song,” “Ocean Size”). It’s dubby and doomy one moment (“Ted Just Admit It,” which features samples of dialogue from serial killer Ted Bundy) and sweet and pastoral the next (“Summertime Rolls”). There’s whimsy inside (“Standing in the Shower Thinking”), hilarity, too (the faux lounge-jazz of “Thank You Boys”), and… there’s “Pigs In Zen.” How does one even describe “Pigs in Zen” except to ask, “What other songs are like ‘Pigs in Zen?’” Oh, yes, and it also contains modern rock’s “Free Bird” — the sad, sweet, and eternal “Jane Says,” a steel-drum-driven pop gem that everyone can sing along to. The riff and the chorus are in our DNA a quarter-century on.
Nothing’s Shocking is one of those once heard, never forgotten albums that bands don’t even pretend to make anymore; easily on par with other titanic releases that came out of L.A. in the ’80s and early ’90s: Appetite For Destruction, Straight Outta Compton, Paul’s Boutique, and The Chronic. And yet, the Jane’s oeuvre and myth doesn’t feel aged, or classic. If anything, it’s still a live wire; dangerous and dark in spite of the passage of time. “My sex and my drugs and my rock n’ roll,” Perry Farrell sang back in 1990 on the Ritual De Lo Habitual album, “are the only things that keeps me here.” Two decades later there’s not one note of corniness or kitsch to Jane’s. While the band never said, “Hey kids, drugs are cool,” they made no apology for exulting in substances stronger than pot. Sex, as Jane’s portrayed it, was bold as well; a ritual, with candles lit, altars built, spirits stirred. It’s part of what bonded them to a devoted fan base and let’s face it, what kept them interesting.
Lyrically, Jane’s made sense of a rapidly changing world — a time when mutually assured nuclear destruction and the AIDS crisis were looming realities, racial tension was at a modern peak, and a generation gap between the Baby Boomers and a still-unnamed Generation X was growing increasingly wide and hostile. Jane’s didn’t shrink from any of this. They celebrated it. Their music was something to wrap yourself in and, certainly in the ’80s, it protected you from the elements in the sometimes terrifying new age. Jane’s would not be bullied. When MTV refused to play the video for the single “Mountain Song,” the band simply added some footage to it and sold it in stores (a few years before Madonna had the same “idea”). When several stores wouldn’t stock their 1990 album Ritual De Lo Habitual (as good as Nothing’s Shocking and anchored by the epic “Three Days”), Jane’s re-issued it with a white sleeve and the First Amendment printed on it. Here was a band who knew how to give the finger constructively and with a little mischief.
Jane’s Addiction passed into legend early and by design. They broke up after six years together in 1991 at the height of their popularity: headlining the inaugural Lollapalooza tour. ”That first Lollapalooza, we were in Los Angeles recording Nevermind,” Dave Grohl told Time Out Chicago. “We heard about the show and Kurt and I got tickets somehow and decided to go down. And when we arrived, there were more piercings, more tribal tattoos and more Rollins Band T-shirts than I’d ever seen in one place at one time. That was early summer. By that fall, radio and MTV and music had changed,” Grohl said, adding, “I can’t even count how many people Perry’s opened the doors for.”
Next year, Jane’s Addiction will be eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll of Fame and could join other acts who are credited with bringing the college-rock sensibility into the mainstream, like R.E.M. and the Beastie Boys. While Jane’s Addiction absolutely deserve to be there, in a way, like most larger-than-life inductees, they’re more than a band: They’re a tool for challenging your dreary reality. Perry Farrell saw the country (and the record industry) and asked, “Why is it this way, when it should be that way?” Then he changed it.
Jane’s Addiction is still a frighteningly powerful live band and an ever-exploring recording act. Original members Farrell, Dave Navarro, and Stephen Perkins reunited in 1997, then again in 2001, and released a third studio album (fourth if you count the live 1987 self-titled release, known to most fans as “Triple X,” for the indie label that released it) Strays, which features current Jane’s bassist, Chris Chaney, and was produced by the legendary Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd’s The Wall). In 2008 founding bassist Eric Avery rejoined. In 2011 The Great Escape Artist was released to critical acclaim. “It sounds like a band re-vitalized,” Spin raved, while Billboard called the album “a dynamic collection that features some of the band’s best work.”
Farrell, Navarro, and Perkins, it should be said, still look almost exactly as they did in the ’90s. How on earth is that the case? Are they ingesting whatever it is David Bowie ingested up to 2004? This eternal youth visage must make it easier for their new fans to attend shows and imagine it’s still 1988 or 1991, but trust us, the rock world — it’s politics, business practices, and factions — were very different back then. Not to mention the music.
So again, take a moment and imagine a world in which Jane’s Addiction never existed. It’d be a less exciting place to live, wouldn’t it? Here is a band that helped keep rock and roll unpredictable, inspiring, dangerous, and constantly moving forward. As it should be.
Machine Gun Kelly
It seems like only yesterday, but it’s been more than a decade since Staind first exploded onto the hard rock vanguard. In that time, the Massachussetts-based quartet has staked a claim as one of modern music’s most powerful and provocative outfits, combining aggressive hard rock energy with singer/songwriter Aaron Lewis’s raw, heartfelt lyricism and gift for undeniable melody resulting into a magnificent, multi-platinum career. Marked by 15 million album sales worldwide, eight top ten singles across multiple formats with three songs hitting number one, and the most-played rock song of the past decade, “It’s Been Awhile,” Staind has solidified their name as a top hard rock act with three out of seven albums—Break the Cycle, 14 Shades of Grey, and Chapter V—debuting at #1 on the Billboard Top 200.
Lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Aaron Lewis, guitarist Mike Mushok, and bassist Johnny April united as Staind in February 1995, and since then have ridden an endless wave of continual artistic growth and escalating success; all accomplished without the petty personal dramas and ego-driven power plays that traditionally mark such an incredible career. Staind’s self-released 1996 debut, “TORMENTED,” along with near-constant shows throughout the New England area, spawned the birth of the band’s fervent fan following. Word about the band spread like wildfire through the music industry, ultimately attracting the attention of Flip Records, who in 1999 unleashed Staind’s initial breakthrough, “DYSFUNCTION.” Fueled by tracks such as “Mudshovel” and “Home,” the album proved a true sensation, going on to achieve double-platinum certification for sales exceeding 2 million.
In 1999, Staind hit the road as part of the Family Values Tour, joining a line-up that included such stars as Limp Bizkit, Korn, and Primus. The band’s original set quickly became the highlight of each night’s show, due especially to a poignant new song performed by Lewis and headliner Fred Durst. “Outside,” as eventually included on “THE FAMILY VALUES TOUR 1999” companion CD, launched Staind to the head of the hard rock pack. 2001’s “BREAK THE CYCLE” sealed the deal, entering the Billboard 200 at #1 with first week sales of over 700,000.
The RIAA gold-certified “MTV UNPLUGGED” DVD was released in 2002, followed the next year by the critically-acclaimed “14 SHADES OF GREY.” The album was Staind’s second consecutive #1 debut, going on to double-platinum status via the success of the singles “Zoe Jane,” – written for Lewis’ first daughter – “Price To Play,” and “So Far Away,” which topped Billboard’s “Mainstream Rock” chart for 14 weeks.
Staind toured hard behind “14 SHADES OF GREY,” playing sold-out shows around the world into 2004. After a brief – and well-earned – break, the band hit the studio and in August 2005, unleashed “CHAPTER V,” their third consecutive release to arrive in the pole position on the Billboard 200. Their most evocative and inventive work to date, the album spawned yet another “Mainstream Rock” #1 hit in “Right Here,” along with further radio smashes in “Falling” and “Everything Changes” (a new acoustic version of which is a highlight of “THE SINGLES: 1996-2006”).
“CHAPTER V” was followed by hard touring, including headline treks and Aaron Lewis solo shows that featured a number of compelling new songs and provocative covers of artists which inspired Staind from the very beginning. With the release of “THE SINGLES: 1996-2006,” Staind closed the book on their amazing first decade.
Staind’s sixth studio album “The Illusion Of Progress,” contains an array of Staind “firsts” that earmarked the release: It’s the first album where guitarist Mike Mushok wrote and recorded on a standard guitar rather than his customary baritone. Despite the band’s heralded run of ten Top 10 hits at radio – including four No. 1 singles – it’s the first time that they have recorded a song that they almost feel can be classified as a pop song, and it is also the first time that front man Aaron Lewis has taken a political stance lyrically. On that same lyrical front, Mushok is proud to point out (with a laugh) that “Consciously, I don’t think Aaron says the word ‘pain’ once throughout the record!”
For their seventh studio album, the band decided to dive into bleaker recesses than ever before and surfaced with their heaviest and most hypnotic album to date – the self-titled, STAIND, which debuted at #5 on the Billboard Top 200 charts.
Multi-platinum band Breaking Benjamin has amassed a sizeable and diehard fan base, both through their chart-topping music, as well as their electrifying live performances. Their latest release, Dark Before Dawn certified GOLD (selling over 500K copies) debuted #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart and spun off two #1 rock tracks, “Failure” and “Angels Fall.” “Failure” was also named the most played song at Active Rock for 2015. 2009’s Dear Agony, certified PLATINUM (selling over 1MM copies) debuted #4 on the Billboard Top 200 and #1 on the iTunes Rock Album Chart. Dear Agony also spun off the platinum selling and #1 Active Rock single “I Will Not Bow” where it stayed #1 for five weeks straight. Their discography also includes 2002’s Saturate, 2004’s We Are Not Alone (certified PLATINUM) 2006’s Phobia (certified PLATINUM.) We Are Not Alone spawned a pair of #1 radio hits (“So Cold” and “Sooner Or Later.”) Phobia debuted at # 2 on Billboard’s Top 200, hit #1 on the Rock Album Chart and was one of the top 50 selling rock albums of 2006. It featured one #1 and two Top 5 rock radio hits (“Breath,” “Diary of Jane” and “Until The End”.)
On their new album, Nowhere Generation, due out June 4 (Loma Vista Recordings), the multi-Gold and Platinum band RISE AGAINST draws a line in the sand with its blazing and aggressive punk rock and lyrics that shine a spotlight on the social and economical deck that has been stacked against our younger generations’ pursuit of The American Dream.
“There’s this idea that we all are raised on, believing that your generation will be a continuance of your parents’ generation — if not even a more fruitful era,” said singer/guitarist/lyricist Tim McIlrath. “And it seems like the American Dream isn’t turning out the way it’s supposed to for a lot of people. Young people aren’t quite climbing that ladder the way they were in the past. I feel for this generation and think it’s something that should be recognized.” Lyrically, much of the band’s upcoming ninth studio album was inspired by listening to his young daughters and a community of fans, seeing firsthand the generation gap growing quicker than ever before while mired in chronic social, economic, and political instability. “Our hope on this record,” continues McIlrath, “is to jostle people awake, even if it makes you uncomfortable.”
The band — McIlrath, Joe Principe (bass), Brandon Barnes (drums), and Zach Blair (lead guitar) — sounds those alarms on Nowhere Generation’s unabashedly outspoken songs that speak to a sea of disenchanted youth about both the struggles and the solutions, while sonically continuing to blur the lines between astute punk rock and melodic-driven pop. In addition to the communal call to arms embedded in the aggressive title track, there’s the fast and furious anti-establishment manifesto “Broken Dreams, Inc.,” the moody ballad “Forfeit,” and the surprise pop candor in “Talking To Ourselves,” a standout song about wanting to be heard and wondering if anyone is listening. “It describes a lot of what Rise Against does,” says McIlrath, “to speak and scream when we feel there are things that are happening that aren’t being addressed. And I think that’s a lot of what our fans feel too — the people in that front row all over the world want to be heard and listened to. I wanted to tap into that sentiment.”
The album’s stunning visuals also reinforce this sentiment, with a cohesive cross-campaign design created by Rolling Stone’s 2009 Album Designer of the Year Brian Roettinger, a Grammy nominee for his unique designs for Jay-Z and Florence and the Machine and Grammy winner for his work on St. Vincent’s campaign.
Nowhere Generation is Rise Against’s first release under a new agreement with Loma Vista Recordings and comes three years after their 2017 blockbuster Wolves that became their fifth straight top ten record on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Nowhere Generation was recorded at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado under the tutelage of Jason Livermore, Andrew Berlin, Chris Beeble, and long-time producer/engineer Bill Stevenson (Black Flag, The Descendents), who has worked with the band on nearly all of their acclaimed releases since their sophomore effort, 2003’s Revolutions Per Minute. Often described as Rise Against’s fifth member, Stevenson “is our not-so-secret weapon at this point,” says Principe. “Bill really has shaped the band. He always gets what we want to do and will go with us when we think outside the box, and he’s the perfect producer for the style of music we play because he has an insane pop sensibility and the hardcore side to him as well.”
The band was admittedly intimated to work with Stevenson at first, having grown up during the ’80s Reaganomics era worshipping albums like Black Flag’s My War alongside classics from Minor Threat, Fugazi, 7 Seconds, Bad Brains, and The Clash. “It’s almost hard to acknowledge that there’s someone out there that feels that what Fugazi was to me, Rise Against is to them,” says McIlrath. “But when I think about it through that filter, I feel there’s a responsibility of what we are doing. There’s somebody out there really counting on us to put how to feel into perspective. We are speaking the same language and have to be there for them. That’s what music is now more than ever, this great communicator.”
“When we first started Rise Against, we just wanted to be a dirty punk band, write some songs, play a bowling alley, and see how many mosh pits we could get going,” McIlrath jokes. “We did not anticipate it to snowball or that there was this audience for what we were doing. But we’ve come to realize people want honesty and that music can be a catalyst for change. I think in many ways, we’ve been on a mission to rile people up, and I feel very lucky to be able to do that. Every single song that comes and materializes, I feel lucky that those antennae are still up and getting a signal.”
After putting out their 2001 debut, The Unraveling, which Exclaim! hailed as “hardcore salvation,” Rise Against would find further success with 2006’s The Sufferer & The Witness that drew in an international crowd for the first time, and 2008’s Appeal To Reason that brandished the Gold Certified hit single “Savior” that to date has garnered half-a-billion streams and become one of the band’s six top ten singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Future albums have touched on issues of LGBTQ rights, animal rights, voting rights, environmental causes, and modern warfare, leading UK rock bible NME to herald Rise Against as “maybe the most important punk band on the planet.” Perhaps most important for the way in which they wholeheartedly engage with fans, whether in an explosive live show setting or on record.
“I would just hope that fans pick up on the fact that we are in this together, and if you are down in your life, you are not alone and there are people out there that are like-minded and there to help,” says Principe on the feeling he hopes listeners ultimately get from listening to Nowhere Generation. “It doesn’t all have to be shit; you can inspire change in your own personal life if you stand up and speak up.”
Gojira tends to operate in polar extremes. “I can’t help but see humanity as a parasite,” Gojira’s
co-founding guitarist and principal songwriter Joe Duplantier explains, “and yet the most
beautiful things come out of humans.” To that end, the French quartet—Duplantier and his
brother Mario [drums], Christian Andreu [guitar], and Jean-Michel Labadie [bass]—have spent
the past 15 years translating this duality into a distinctive sound: dark, crushing metal brightened
by triumphant arena-rock melodies, contrast-heavy and emotionally charged.
Enter 2016’s Magma, whereupon Gojira found strength—and crossover success—through a
singular commitment to self-reflection. The intensely personal record, penned in memory of the
Duplantier brothers’ late mother, was a painful significant turning point for the French group. It
debuted at No. 24 on the Billboard 200 chart, topped the Billboard “Hard Rock Albums” chart (a
first for a French band), and netted nominations for Best Rock Album and Best Metal
Performance (for “Silvera”) at the 59th annual Grammy Awards. Numerous global headlining
tours, including a stint with Metallica, followed. Coming out of Magma, Gojira weren’t just one of
the biggest metal bands on the scene—they were one of biggest rock bands in the world,
unified and self-emboldened.
Humbled and honored as he was by Magma’s success, Duplantier came out of that victory lap
feeling exhausted—and eager to move on. “Magma marked a sad moment in our lives,” Joe
says of the record. “We were expressing grief, so it was a bit heavy: not only to the process of
making that album, but also talking about it, and playing the songs, and doing all of these
interviews around a difficult time in our lives.”
And so, Gojira made a group decision: for album number seven, Fortitude, they’d have some
damn fun. In late 2019, the brothers Duplantier returned to Silver Cord Studio, their Ridgewood,
Queens, headquarters, to begin work on new, self-produced Gojira material, culled from ideas
they’d developed over the past two years. “With this album, we wanted to come back with more
joy, more power, and more positivity about life in general,” Joe explains. “We’re so lucky to do
what we love; it’s not like we were depressed or anything, but we had something in our system
to express—Magma—and we felt like it was time for something else—something that is all
“The writing process was very thrilling and exciting,” Mario adds. “Joe and I really dug deep into
every song, paying particular attention to the structures and arrangements. Every idea, every
single riff, was analyzed with a fine-tooth comb: everything from the tonality of each instrument
and scales used, to the dynamics, interpretation, and tempo. We left nothing to chance.”
Of course, 2020 had other plans. Just as Fortitude was nearing completion—halfway through
the mixing process, to be exact—COVID-19 hit, bringing Gojira, along with the rest of the
world—to an abrupt halt. While waiting out the lockdown back home in France with his family,
Joe re-examined the songs from a post-pandemic perspective; not only did they fit the turmoil of
the time, in hindsight, they were downright prophetic. “In a way, I saw these songs being born
again with a new meaning,” he says. “Every single song ever written resonates differently these
days, but it’s almost like we felt like this was going to happen.”
To be clear, Fortitude isn’t intended as a musical escape hatch from all this unending global
misery. Actually, it’s the opposite: a series of searing motivational speeches urging humanity to
imagine a new world—and then make it happen. “Come on! Get back on your feet! Go for it!”
Joe says of the album’s themes, briefly stepping into the role of life coach. “Everyone wants to
hear that once in a while, and we want to be that to people: the little voice in your head that says
you’re a fucking badass, and that you can do it.”
First single “Born For One Thing” kicks off the album in typical Gojira fashion: hyper-focused but
unhinged, confrontational and yet compassionate. “We have to practice detaching ourselves
from everything, beginning with actual things,” Joe says of the song’s anti-consumerist
message, which was partially inspired by the Tibetan and Thai philosophers he read in his youth
back in France. “Own less possessions, and give what you don’t need away, because one day
we’ll have to let everything go, and if we don’t, we’ll just become ghosts stuck between
Gojira pivot to more earthly concerns on “Amazonia,” a lush ripper interwoven with indigenous
folk instruments and Sepultura-inspired groove-metal rhythms. The soundscapes skew verdant,
but the themes prove anything but idyllic, as Duplantier surveys the endangered Amazon
rainforest, concluding: “The greatest miracle/ Is burning to the ground.” Proceeds from the song
will benefit the indigenous Guarani and Kaiowa tribes, continuing Gojira’s career-long tradition
of harnessing their music as a vehicle for environmental activism (their partnership with the Sea
Shepherd Conservation Society goes back over a decade). “We don’t want to just release a
song called “Amazonia”—we want to do something on top of that,” Joe explains. “We feel a
responsibility as artists to offer a way for people to take action.”
The album-long call to action comes to a head with “The Chant,” a slow-burning track singled
out by Mario as Gojira’s most melodic material to date. Where past anthems were driven by
nuanced dynamics and technical guitar arrangements, “The Chant” is a self-described “healing
ritual” emanating primordial warmth, culminating in a harmony-stacked chorus that bridges the
gap between ancient hymnals and contemporary rock. Consider Joe’s two-word rallying cry in
the refrain—“Get strong!”—Fortitude’s mantra, as well as the band’s mission statement heading
into this new, uncertain decade. Gojira struggled; Gojira persevered; Gojira rose. Now, it’s our
turn…and the soundtrack is at the ready.
DVX, the original incarnation of Cypress Hill, formed in 1986 when Cuban-born brothers Sen Dog (born Senen Reyes, November 20, 1965) and Mellow Man Ace hooked up with fellow Los Angeles residents Muggs (born Lawrence Muggerud, January 28, 1968) and B Real (born Louis Freese, June 2, 1970). The group began pioneering a fusion of Latin and hip-hop slang, developing their own style by the time Mellow Man Ace left the group in 1988. Renaming themselves Cypress Hill after a local street, the group continued to perform around L.A., eventually signing with Ruffhouse/Columbia in 1991. With its stoned beats, B Real’s exaggerated nasal whine, and cartoonish violence, the group’s eponymous debut became a sensation in early 1992, several months after its initial release. The singles “How I Could Just Kill a Man” and “The Phuncky Feel One” became underground hits, and the group’s public pro-marijuana stance earned them many fans among the alternative rock community. Cypress Hill followed the album with Black Sunday in the summer of 1993, and while it sounded remarkably similar to the debut, it nevertheless became a hit, entering the album charts at number one and spawning the crossover hit “Insane in the Brain.” With Black Sunday, Cypress Hill’s audience became predominantly white, collegiate suburbanites, which caused them to lose some support in the hip-hop community. The group didn’t help matters much in 1995, when they added a new member, drummer Bobo, and toured with the fifth Lollapalooza prior to the release of their third album, Temples of Boom. A darker, gloomier affair than their first two records, Temples of Boom was greeted with mixed reviews upon its fall 1995 release, and while it initially sold well, it failed to generate a genuine hit single. However, it did perform better on the R&B charts than it did on the pop charts. Instead of capitalizing on their regained hip-hop credibility, Cypress Hill slowly fell apart. Sen Dog left in early 1996 and Muggs spent most of the year working on his solo album. Muggs Presents the Soul Assassins was released to overwhelmingly positive reviews in early 1997, leaving Cypress Hill’s future in much doubt until the release of IV in 1998. Two years later, the group released the double-disc set Skull & Bones, which featured a disc of hip-hop and a disc of their more rock-inspired material. Appropriately, the album also included rock and rap versions of the single “Superstar,” bringing Cypress Hill’s quest for credibility and crossover hits full circle. The ensuing videos for both versions featured many famous rap and rock musicians talking about their profession, and the song was a smash on MTV because of it. In the winter of 2001, the group came back with Stoned Raiders, another album to heavily incorporate rock music. Three years later, the band issued Till Death Do Us Part, which incorporated several styles of Jamaican music. In 2010 they announced their signing to Priority Records thanks to the label’s creative director, Snoop Dogg. The label released their eighth studio album, Rise Up, that same year.
In 2016, Cypress Hill celebrated their 25th anniversary with the release of a limited-edition, ultra-deluxe “25th Anniversary Skull” reissue of their classic 1991 debut. The entire set is housed in a unique, hard resin black skull – a faithful, 3-D physical recreation of the group’s 1991 logo and features a CD with remastered audio, a 100-plus page hardcover book that includes extensive liner notes with input from the group.
Cypress Hill will be touring throughout 2017. Dates include Snoop Dogg’s “Mount Kushmore Wellness Tour” in April before heading to Europe this summer. The group has also been in the studio and has plans to release new music later this year.
The saying goes that while we may be through with the past, the past is never really through with us. For their seventh album, Rewind, Replay, Rebound, the multi-platinum selling Danish rock band Volbeat — Michael Poulsen (guitars/vocals), Rob Caggiano (guitars), Kaspar Boye Larsen (bass), and Jon Larsen (drums) — have built upon the DNA-distinct, psychobilly punk ‘n’ roll sound they are known for. They have made their sound fresh for themselves and for their diehard legion of fans by distilling from and paying homage to rock ‘n’ roll’s rich, storied past. The end result finds the band reaching a creative summit.
With their own nearly 20-year history, which includes tours with Metallica, Motorhead Slipknot and beyond, over one and a half billion streams, a 2014 Best Metal Performance Grammy nomination for “Room 24” from Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies, and multiple Danish Music Award wins, Volbeat return with an album that, when all is said and done, will help usher in the rock ‘n’ roll surgence that is both long overdue and inevitable. It also aims to bring rock back to the forefront.
“The whole point for us, and a lot of other bands, going into the studio, is because you still have something to prove — not just for the fans, but mostly for yourself,” says Poulsen. “You are still eager and have that desire when it comes to music and lyrics. As long as you are inspired and you are satisfied with what you come up with… I will say this is our best work because it has to be our best work until the next records comes. But we would not be able to do this record if it wasn’t for the work we have done in the past. No matter how old the band gets or how many records we do, there is always going to be that signature sound.”
The stakes are not only professionally higher for Volbeat and Poulsen. They are elevated personally, as well. The frontman became a father two years ago, and in order to be away from his family by making music and touring, he has be firing on all musical cylinders and playing music he and the fans love.
To keep things interesting and in order to remain true to their sonic identity, Poulsen and his bandmates knew they had to dare to try other things and to introduce “new elements that haven’t really been touched upon on previous albums. The balance and challenge was to incorporate these new ideas into what is typical Volbeat,” and that meant mining their own personal pasts and that of the genre they traffic in. All of those elements and contrasts combined are ultimately the connective tissue that will bind the album to its listeners.
“There is a side of it where people will go, ‘Oh, wow, we didn’t know you could sing like that,’” Poulsen says with a laugh. “Yeah, me either!’ The album has a hint of going back in time to your childhood. If you listen to the lyrics, the listener can go back in time and think of his or her own childhood. Whether it’s a certain smell, a color, a location, a feeling, or something that happened in the summer that made you feel good, or when you were really struggling, but you found your way through to the other side and continued being inspired by life and the challenges therein. The songs are personal but they are relatable.”
With the album, everything is cyclical. “With the lyrics, you go back in time to your own childhood and fly away to what you did as a kid,” Poulsen continues. “When you do that, you replay that when you grow up. If you’ve been going through something and you have been down, and then rise up and get stronger, that’s the rebound. But it also references the music. Some songs could easily be on our first two or three records — that is where we rewind. Now, in 2019, we replay it, and we even become stronger.”
On Rewind, Replay, Rebound, the band invited several guests appear and to give the record a thick and varied rock ‘n’ roll vibe. In addition to working with backing vocalist Mia Maja on several tracks, Volbeat once again recruited the Harlem Gospel Choir, who appeared on the song “Goodbye Forever” on a prior album, to feature on three songs, including the single “Last Day Under the Sun.” Weaving the choir into the Volbeat sound was a seamless process, with Poulsen saying, “I didn’t have to think about it. I knew they would fit. They are on three songs when they could have easily been on more.”
Clutch vocalist Neil Fallon is featured on “Die to Live,” the result of touring together and a love for the singer’s gruff and powerful style. Raynir Jacob Jacildo (piano) and Doug Corocran (sax) of JD McPherson’s band also appear on the song. Poulsen explains, “I wanted that Jerry Lee Lewis-like piano playing. We knew these guys would be able to do it, with the sax on top, with a sort of a Little Richard feeling. They nailed it.” Exodus and Slayer guitarist Gary Holt also performs on “Cheapside Sloggers,” with Poulsen explaining, “I wanted to add something new and not typical, so why not bring in Gary Holt? He is a great guitar player, and the solo sounds great.”
While the songs are riff-driven and room-filling, the topics Poulsen tackles lyrically give the album additional depth and dimension. “Last Day Under the Sun” was inspired by Johnny Cash. “When I read his book, he went through tough times with alcohol and drugs… He walked into a cave to lay down to die. But he wakes up and feels like he has been given a second chance, and becomes a believer of God. You can hear it in his music — something very strong happened to him in that cave when he came out. That’s something every one of us goes through in life — we struggle with depression and demons. Every one of us steps into that cave and comes out a new person with a new mindset or new hope or new meaning.”
“Pelvis on Fire,” with its cheeky title, nods to the fun and frivolous rock of yore. “It’s a pure rock ‘n’ roller,” according to Poulsen. “When you hear songs from the ‘50s and ‘60s, and read the lyrics, they are not that deep. What the fuck is ‘Tutti Frutti, oh Rudy?’ [laughs]. That doesn’t make sense. But it sounds great. It is a feeling. It’s a movement. It’s sexuality. It’s emotional and that thing we feel when we hear good rock ‘n’ roll.”
“Rewind the Exit” and “Die to Live” both explore how the pursuit of perfection can be a hollow goal. About the track, Poulsen muses, “Perfection, if you ask me, doesn’t exist, and it fucks up a lot of people to think that they need to be perfect to have a good life. What would you do with perfection if you reach it? What’s left? If you don’t have something in front of you, where will you go? If you stay on the top, how boring would it be to walk backwards?”
“When We Were Kids” finds Volbeat ruminating on the immortality and innocence we all naively experience in our youth “when you think you can live forever and had your whole life ahead of you,” while “Leviathan” revisits the childhood fable about the wonder of a little boy who thinks he can fix the world’s problems by communicating with a sea monster.
“Sorry Sack of Bones” wanders into less serious territory and gives itself over to multiple interpretations. “It’s like when you have the worst hangover, and you feel like a sorry sack of bones,” Poulsen explains. “But there is another side of it, like a horror script,” where you wake up in the woods and feel your body deformed, crushed, and you have a flashlight and there are tons of bags of body parts, and you are left to wonder how you got there. “Cloud 9” explores the idea of keeping the memories of loved ones alive and close, while “Maybe I Believe” is about learning to trust in yourself and others to achieve great things. “Parasite,” which was penned in a few minutes, looks at those people whose sole function is a parasitic existence.
“The Awakening of Bonnie Parker” is the band’s take on the classic Bonnie & Clyde tale. “Bonnie had a great desire to be a movie star and she wrote tons of letters to the movie studios, who would always write back saying they couldn’t use her. Clyde was also a saxophone player who carried around a sax in the back seat of the car while they were robbing banks. In our story, Bonnie wakes up from the dead and is convinced that Columbia Pictures has been calling and she is the next big thing. She picks up Clyde’s saxophone and brings it to his grave and tries to convince him to join her on her trip to Hollywood, but he is content and has found peace in his coffin.”
“The Everlasting” is an ode to that fire that burns upon cremation and can take you anywhere you want to go before the last farewell, while “7:24” is an autobiographical celebration of becoming a father and references the exact time of the birth of Poulsen’s daughter. He finished performing on a North American Metallica date and flew home to Copenhagen to welcome his newborn child. He then hopped a flight back to the U.S. for the next show.
The deluxe edition of Rewind, Replay, Rebound features unheard demos from the album’s pre-production, an alternate version of “Die To Live,” and two new songs. The first, “Under The Influence,” Poulsen says “is a song for my girlfriend. It’s about me being high on love for her and becoming a fan of her personality.” The second, “Immortal But Destructible,” “ is about being a young kid where you have all the time in the world in front of you and feeling immortal but at the same time fragile.”
Ultimately, Volbeat have not lost the musical fire in their veins or their passion to create and progress. They strive to outdo themselves and their previous output. It’s that which keeps them hungry — and musically honest — on Rewind, Replay, Re
FALLING IN REVERSE
The fine line between genius and insanity, self-seriousness and self-deprecation, implosion and explosion: that is the phantom zone where Falling In Reverse thrives.
Falling In Reverse founder, frontman, and Machiavellian heroic supervillan / villainous superhero Ronnie Radke is the walking, talking, breathing, spitting, screaming, singing, fighting, loving, hyper-confident, sensitive, and vulnerable embodiment of a generation’s id. He’s the ego and super-ego in the classic Freudian sense, “slipping” all over the place with vicious bite and playful innuendo. With his music, art, and life, he is the living embodiment of broken homes, the frustrated contradiction of self-destruction, and everyday single-minded defiance against a world gone mad.
Coming Home is his latest reinvention, coming full-circle back to the start, reinvigorated as mad scientist conductor of soaring, transcendent, engaging alternative pop-rock with massive radio hooks and a still-beating heavy metal hardcore heart. ‘Broken,’ ‘Loser,’ ‘Hanging On,’ ‘I Don’t Mind’ and ‘Coming Home’ are shocking in their epic scope, vibrant authenticity, and unrelenting dedication to personal truth.
He shoved the world of Warped Tour kicking and screaming into the vintage decadence of the hard rock scene with the band he formed with his childhood best friend in Las Vegas. Then, even as countless bands followed in his wake, he was on the stylistic move, dominating the social media conversation and crowd sing-alongs with Falling In Reverse’s debut album, The Drug in Me is You, now based in Southern California.
As Revolver, Kerrang!, Alternative Press, and the rest of the rock and metal press anointed him the scene’s new king on the strength of playful self-examinations-turned-anthems like ‘Raised By Wolves,’ ‘Tragic Magic’ and ‘I’m Not a Vampire,’ Radke and his crew shook up conventions once again, dropping the ironically titled Fashionably Late years before the audience at large had any suspicions about what would hit ‘em.
What began as the “worst music video of all time” (according to media tastemaker VICE) turned into another 20 million YouTube views (for a band closing in on roughly 100 million views total) in ‘Alone.’ Like many parts of the eclectic album, it’s a rap-metal hybrid with a forward thinking step into modern electro beats. Like the best of Radke’s work, the song serves as both hyper masculine anthem and anxiety confessional. The press and fans followed the band’s every move, documenting each twist and turn.
Just Like You mined similar territory with even more precision, from the title track to undeniable metalcore bangers like ‘Chemical Prisoner’ and ‘Guillotine IV (The Final Chapter)’ to the poppy crowd-mover ‘Sexy Drug’ and heartbreaking ballad ‘Brother.’
Coming Home is the most focused Falling In Reverse album, thematically and artistically. Crafted once again with Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Alter Bridge, Slash, Trivium), who has worked on every one of Radke’s records going back to the now-classic debut album from Escape The Fate, the record sees the group at their most atmospheric. It’s the latest bold step for a frontman who has defined himself by a mixture of courage and vulnerability, of bravado and introspection. He’s tightened his personal inner circle and withdrawn from the antics of the past as he’s poured even more of himself into his art.
Coming Home is the album Radke dreamed about making as a kid, teaching himself to play guitar with Blink-182 and Green Day songs, rapping along to Dr. Dre and Eminem, skipping school, going to shows, and doing whatever it took to redefine his life beyond the hardscrabble circumstances of his upbringing, even when the obstacles were of his own design. Now it’s time to get Coming Home to as many people as possible.
Falling In Reverse continues to champion the outsider, the cast aside, the underestimated, making music to empower and inspire life’s underdogs.
Seether, the multiplatinum rock radio anthem-making machine, serves up albums, songs and live performances armed with big riffs, bigger melodies, crunchy tones and atmosphere. Backed up by musicality, playing loud, and the importance of having something to say that you can stand behind, Seether continues to create modern, urgent and memorable music nearly twenty years into an illustrious and highly successful career. The South African band has amassed over twenty Top 5 singles, three platinum and four gold records, a fan-beloved gold-selling DVD and nineteen #1 singles (including “Bruised And Bloodied” and “Dangerous” off their most recent album Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum). The relentlessly hard working outfit has averaged 90 performances a year, crisscrossing the globe as headlining mainstays and featured performers on many of the world’s biggest rock festivals.
It’s rare that a career gets a second shot, let alone a whole second act, but then Anthrax isn’t your average band. Formed in New York in 1981, the group that would go on to sell over ten million records and become the living embodiment of America’s hi-top wearing, riff-spitting, ear-thrashing answer to the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal has undergone not one, but two complete eras – but that isn’t their real achievement. More than the group who let a fledgling Metallica crash on their studio floor in 1983, who became a lightning rod for geekdom by immortalizing Judge Dredd with “I Am The Law” in 1987, who enthusiastically raised a middle finger to the critics and unimaginative fans alike by collaborating with rappers Public Enemy in 1991, and who – in 2011 with the release of Worship Music – proved that classic albums aren’t a bygone concept, the story of Anthrax is one of gritty determination in the face of outrageous odds.
The liveliest fourth of the Big Four, they’re arguably the only member of that legendary fraternity who’ve kept their eyes so firmly focused forward and who’ve so consistently delivered the goods, both on stage and in the studio. Ironically, it was on stage alongside those immortal co-conspirators where the story of Anthrax’s 11th studio record began. Seeing their names in lights next to Slayer, Megadeth, and Metallica had a catalyzing effect on the band weary from years of toil and changing times. According to bassist Frank Bello, it wasn’t just a potent reminder of what they did back in the 80s, but also of how far they’ve come.
“Charlie, Scott and I have talked about how we have to credit Metallica with what we’re doing right now,” he says. “When the Big Four got back together back in 2009, it kinda reminded us that we belonged, that we really were part of that group of bands. We didn’t forget it but maybe people did – it suddenly made sense. It was like, ‘wow, we’ve been busting our asses for all those years,’ and then we released Worship Music – that was the catalyst. We knew we had something awesome, but it was about everybody giving it a chance – we sold a lot of records. It’s testament to how great metal fans are, because they came back.
“We’ve been doing this for 35 years now,” Frank continues. “We are who we are, we can’t be something we’re not, we can’t bullshit people…that’s just a New York mentality.”
As with any band, Anthrax has its creative turbulences, but those add up to their unique chemistry. While all five members contribute ideas and make suggestions to pretty much every song, drummer Charlie Benante makes early writing inroads with foundation riffs and other ideas, rhythm guitarist Scott Ian has a very particular way of incorporating his intense lyrical ideas into the band’s music, Bello has proven to be a very talented melody writer, something that has helped set the band’s music apart from others in the same genre, Belladonna crafts his vocals to best utilize that soaring voice of his, and guitarist Jon Donais brings crushing leads. In the end, the five bring it all together to create what simply is Anthrax music.
Scott will be the first to admit that the For All Kings (Megaforce/North America • Nuclear Blast/International) backstory hasn’t exactly been conventional or without its setbacks. In the summer of 2012, Charlie realized that due to his ongoing carpel tunnel syndrome, he would be unable to join the band on all tour dates going forward. But Charlie wasn’t about to just sit around at home, so began writing riffs for the new album.
“When the Mayhem tour was over,” said Scott,” Frank, Charlie and I got together in the Jam Room in my house in L.A. and started arranging, and out of those first sessions, we had like four skeletal arrangements. Those first sessions were unbelievable.”
Crucially, Charlie would employ a secret weapon that would become central to the process of creating an album that would stand tall in a back-catalogue bejeweled with some of the most important and influential releases of all time: a mutant guitar called The Shark.
“It’s a weird story,” he says. “Paul Crook, who used to be our guitar player (1995-2001), hooked me up with a good friend of his from Las Vegas, Mark Katzen, who spent all his time making custom guitars. I wanted this Eddie Van Halen replica of his, which is taken from an Ibanez Destroyer but it kinda looks like an Explorer now. Mark made an exact replica for me and from the time I got it, there was just something strange about it – it’s like I just wanted to keep playing it. About a year later I heard that Mark had passed away, and I had this weird feeling about the guitar, like he packed it with riffs and went, ‘here, take this and do something great with it.’”
The result, in short, is a record that’s as diverse as it is satisfying: a feast for the ears, and something of a victory lap for a band that bears the unique distinction of inventing what they do while still being the best at what they do. From the straight-ahead, no-nonsense fury of “You Gotta Believe” and “Evil Twin” to the sprawling, heavy-riffing masterpiece of “Blood Eagle Wings” (original working title, “Epic,”) to its stately title track, “For All Kings” was – as Joey reveals – as much fun to record as it was to listen to. Chalk it up to the masterful efforts of Grammy-nominated Worship Music co-producer Jay Ruston, whose credits span the likes of Stone Sour, Killwswitch Engage, and Steel Panther, among others.
“It’s awesome working with Jay,” says Joey. “It’s like we can just nail a track and move on. I love that confidence, and we’re doing some crazy things. ‘Listen to Zero Tolerance,’ man – that song is so fast!”
There have been other changes, too. In 2013, it was announced that Rob Caggiano, longtime lead-player who’d become known for his startling solos as well as his backstage antics, left the band to resume his role as a producer, but not before he’d introduced the band to highly respected shredder Jonathan Donais from New England bruisers Shadows Fall.
It would be an emotional experience for Jon, who confesses to the unique problem of simultaneously being a fanboy of a band in which he’s now a full-time member.
“I grew up with them,” says Jon. “I still remember being in junior high, on a beach trip in Maine and my parents got me State of Euphoria. I just loved it as soon as I heard it. Anthrax was a huge influence on me and my other band so it’s still kinda weird for me. I mean, Scott is just a top-notch rhythm player – there are a lot of classic riffs going on! I was working most closely with Charlie. He’d go, ‘alright, gimme some Dimebag, no – go for Randy this time. Ok, now gimme some Eddie.’ It was intimidating, I mean these guys are legends.”
It’s about more than just the music though, and true to Anthrax form, For All Kings isn’t just infused with pop-culture references, but deeper subtexts that bespeak the thoughtful artistry that underpins everything that they do. As Charlie explains, while Anthrax’s 11th studio record doesn’t have a running theme, there’s a significance to it all that comes straight from the heart.
“A king to me doesn’t mean King Henry the Eighth,” he says. “My Dad passed away when I was five years old, I never really had that Dad relationship so I looked elsewhere for role model and inspirations. KISS was a big thing for me, they were like kings to me. And that’s who this record is dedicated to – those people, maybe they’re sports figures, family members – the people that are big in your life.”
Look closely at the album artwork, and you’ll notice the fingerprints of one such hero in the band’s life – the inimitable work of godlike comic artist and longtime Anthrax supporter Alex Ross, whose immortal depictions of classic DC and Marvel characters are in a league of their own.
There’s an interesting parallel there, because there’s little that Anthrax does that doesn’t have a story or thought-process behind it. Take “Blood Eagle Wings,” for instance, and consider the wide-eyed imagination that inspired it. Says Scott:
“I was sitting in my hotel room in London the day before hosting the Golden Gods, specifically with the intent of needing to write – I was so behind, and when I’m at home with my wife Pearl and my son Revel I just don’t have the discipline. I can’t go, ‘Daddy’s gotta go write!’ If I here him playing, it’s like, ‘alright, I gotta go play, there’s some Lego Star Wars shit I gotta be a part of.’ So I was sitting there in London banging my head against a wall, and Pearl goes, ‘go get out for a walk,’ so I did, and I started thinking about London and the blood that every great city has been built on – the murder, the bones and the blood of so many millions of people. Any great city is built on the blood of the innocent: Rome, New York, Los Angeles, London, or go watch Chinatown. The last season of ‘Hannibal’ also happened to be on TV at the time, where I learned about the Viking practice of slicing a person’s back open and pulling the lungs out, so…”
“Evil Twin” isn’t just influenced by the shocking state of international affairs, but by the emotions accompanied by the realization that you suddenly have everything to lose.
“Lyrically there’s no overall concept,” Scott adds. “I have a child now, and this is the first record I’ve ever written lyrics for since I’ve had a son. That’s how I view the world now. You bring a child into the picture, and it makes everything so much scarier. Out of fear comes anger and it makes you hate the world that much more. You’ve got this human being you would take a bullet for – I would do anything to protect my son – so most of the album comes from that place. I don’t write happy lyrics, but to have a child in this world and then tell me that I shouldn’t be angry? That was a huge well of fear in my belly to draw from.
The result is an album that’s as ferocious as it is sublime, as current as it is classic. From the straight-ahead thrashing brilliance of opener “You Gotta Believe” and “Breathing Lightning” to the seven-minute majesty “Blood Eagle Wings,” For All Kings is the quintessential Anthrax record, and proof positive that you can’t keep a good band down.
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE exists deep within the eye of the storm, wielding the thunderous power of the elements like metallic alchemists, touching a nerve with the disenfranchised, and crafting populist anthems that both challenge the status quo and rally those who society casts aside. Across multiple albums, videos, and worldwide tours, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE forged a musical foundation steeped in classic heavy metal, melodic death metal, and early punk/hardcore, and built a following across economic, political, religious, international and social divides.
No matter the climate, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE makes trend-resistant, timeless heavy music that has elevated them to the critical and community status of the greatest of American metal bands. The fiercely individual yet collaboratively resilient New Englanders have also commanded respect and appreciation from all corners. Having shared the stage with acts ranging from Rise Against to Slayer, the diversity and versatility of their touring reach is unparalleled. As headliners on celebrated tours like Ozzfest, Vans Warped Tour, Taste of Chaos, Rockstar Mayhem, and countless international festivals, their influence reigns on a worldwide scale.
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE anthems, singles, and live staples, like “Fixation on the Darkness,” “My Last Serenade,” “A Bid Farewell,” “My Curse,” “Always,” and “In Due Time,” have had staying power and appeal to all generations of metal fans worldwide.
The band’s seventh studio album, INCARNATE, possesses a stack of new KILLSWITCH ENGAGE anthems certain to set the heavy music world ablaze once more. A defiant cry to let go of the past, to keep away from scars that resurface, “Cut Me Loose” will resonate with anyone who struggles with anxiety or depression. “Hate by Design” also challenges our habit of tearing down when we should be building up, while “It Falls On Me” was penned during singer Jesse Leach’s solitary trips into the wilderness, where deep reflection and meditation resulted in the most intense of spiritual yearning. “The Great Deceit” is the heaviest song on the record, a scathing screed against the corruption that exists within government, organized religion, and other institutions. It’s not so much choosing a side as calling “bullshit” across the board, enlivened by the spirit of The Clash and Bad Brains that’s also a vital part of the Killswitch DNA.
“I find myself not in the light and not in the darkness, but dead in the middle, pleading to both sides, trying to find balance and peace,” says the singer, with characteristic honesty and humility. “I haven’t lost my faith, per se. But I’m not swallowing the contradictions or the dogma of everything we were all taught.”
As cofounders of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, lead guitarist/backing vocalist Adam Dutkiewicz, rhythm guitarist Joel Stroetzel, bassist Mike D’Antonio, and Leach (who returned four years ago after a decade-long absence) together with longtime drummer Justin Foley employ unrelenting determination to continually release powerfully potent work. Ever the technician, Dutkiewicz’s impressive skills as a producer (a discography that includes work with August Burns Red, Every Time I Die, and Parkway Drive) is part and parcel of the KILLSWITCH sound. Foley’s power and dexterity has been evident since he first emerged in the band Blood Has Been Shed. In addition to his undeniable stage presence and rhythmic heft, D’Antonio works behind the scenes most of the band’s cover artwork, merchandise, and web presence. Stroetzel is the most dyed-in-the-wool metalhead of the bunch.
Leach wears his heart on his sleeve like never before, coming out of the experience of making INCARNATE a brand new person. It’s an album of reclamation and redefinition, from a band that still rules the scene.
Leach sounds more confident and inspired than ever on INCARNATE. But this was no easy feat to achieve. He came back into the band he cofounded after the writing process for Disarm the Descent was largely finished. The band was quickly on the road behind the well-received album. Following the long touring process, Leach was determined to put a definitive stamp on this new album.
“I really wanted to make sure that where I was at in my life was really represented properly on the record. I took a couple weeks to just soul search. I fell into a bit of a depression and because of that I came up with some pretty dark stuff,” he confesses. “By the time the record was done, I realized I’d changed. I was a different person. That has never happened to me before with a record.”
The closest he’d come to this type of transformative experience was with Times Of Grace, the project where he first reconnected with Dutkiewicz after years of estrangement. The record the pair made together under that moniker reignited their electric songwriting and their honest give-and-take in the studio.
“Jesse is a very passionate dude with a lot of things to say,” notes his longtime friend and collaborator. “Vocal tracking is probably my favorite part of the recording process. We’d end up having deep conversations about life, politics, religion. The kind of conversations old friends might have over a cup of coffee.”
Leach pins much of the creative confidence of INCARNATE on the band’s defiance of compromise. “As a creative individual I refuse to phone in anything. I refuse to let stuff slide. I don’t care about deadlines or the business side of things,” he says. “If we don’t deliver a record that’s got our souls on it, then we’re doing ourselves a total disservice. And we’d be doing our fans a disservice, too.”
All of it has kept them enveloped in the most excitingly relevant pop culture touchstones of any given era since, ever since they formed back in 1999.
Alive or Just Breathing (2002) was certified silver in the United Kingdom as were The End of Heartache (2004) and As Daylight Dies (2006), both of which were certified gold in the United States for sales in excess of a half million copies. Each of the band’s most recent albums, Killswitch Engage (2009) and Disarm the Descent (2013), debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 Albums chart.
INCARNATE arrives as one of Rolling Stone’s Most Anticipated Metal Albums of 2016. “Strength of Mind” premiered via postmodern content network and powerhouse brand Nerdist, even as the band graced the cover of Revolver in Star Wars regalia, just before The Force Awakens smashed box office records. This is nothing new for KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. They’ve always been present in the heart of the culture with invitations to contribute to HBO’s Game of Thrones, WWE, God of War, Guitar Hero, Resident Evil, and even Freddy vs. Jason.
Two Grammy nominations, three Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards, and two Boston Music Awards are just a small part of the fruit of their labor. The real evidence of the band’s impact lies in their fiercely devoted fans around the world.
The reckless abandon of creative passion, the search for higher truths and personal justice, and the authentic reality of the duality within all people – the light, the dark, the playful, the deadly – these are the components that comprise KILLSWITCH. They are the elements of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, INCARNATE.
Skillet lets their music speak the loudest. That’s how the quartet has cemented its place as one of the 21st century’s most successful rock bands. Selling over 11 million units worldwide, the Wisconsin quartet—John Cooper [lead vocals/bass], Korey Cooper [guitar/keys], Jen Ledger [drums/vocals], and Seth Morrison [lead guitars]—have received two GRAMMY® Award nominations and won a Billboard Music Award for the platinum-certified Awake. Their double-platinum single “Monster” is “the eighth most- streamed rock song of 2015” with a total of 57 million plays (and counting) on Spotify and would earn the distinction of becoming “the best-selling digital single in the history of Christian Music.” 2013’s Rise bowed at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 upon release and received resounding and eclectic acclaim from the likes of USA Today, New York Times, Revolver Loudwire, and more.
The group’s ninth full-length album, UNLEASHED [Atlantic Records/Word], sees them turn everything up louder, amplifying all aspects of their signature hypnotic sound. Channeling an intense muse, John immediately commenced writing just months after Rise hit shelves.
“By the time Rise came out, I could take a little bit of a breather and experience it,” he explains. “I remember thinking, ‘this feels important to me, but I need something a little more urgent.’ I didn’t want whatever we did next to be so emotionally heavy. I wanted to make a record that made people feel the music – an album that would connect people to the music as well as to each other. An album, like some of my favorites, that’d be like a party to listen to – where people could sing along – together.
That idea solidified as Skillet toured Europe in 2013 with Nickelback. Night after night, John watched the non-English speaking audience sing every word back to him. It left an indelible mark on his writing process.
“It struck me, how music is much bigger than a language,” he affirms. “There’s a universal feeling. We wanted to get that emotion across more through the music than with the words. I aimed to write songs people could easily relate to anywhere and everywhere.”
Getting off the road in 2015, John headed to Los Angeles to begin recording what would become UNLEASHED with producer Brian Howes—who helmed the 2006 platinum- selling Comatose and co-wrote the platinum No. 1 smash “Awake and Alive.” Cutting half of the album with Brian, John tapped the talents of multiple producers for the first
time in Skillet history, working with both GRAMMY Award winning producer Seth Mosley in Nashville and Kevin Churko [Five Finger Death Punch, Ozzy Osbourne, Disturbed] in Las Vegas.
“Comatose was a very special album for a lot of reasons,” he continues. “We wanted to record with Brian again and when the chance came up we were both ready to go. I’m also a huge fan of Kevin Churko, and it was amazing to have the opportunity to write with him. When I met Seth we just clicked. The entire process with each of them was such a great experience.”
The first single “Feel Invincible” explodes to life on a swinging guitar chug transitioning to sweeping electronics and a theatrical vocal call-and-response. Everything culminates on a towering chant that’s impossible to shake just as a melodic guitar lead takes off.
“It’s a fight song,” says John. “Sometimes, everything in the world makes you want to give up. This is a reminder not to. I think, ‘This is my life. This is my family. I can’t go around being scared all the time.’ I have the strength to face what’s happening.”
On the other end of the spectrum, “Stars” shines with a passionate and poetic refrain, “Here I am, lifting up my heart to the one who holds the stars.” Amidst the shimmering electronics and orchestration, it carries a message that John hopes will be easy to understand.
“It goes along with wanting to speak to as many people as possible,” he continues. “On a deeper spiritual level, for those who may not believe, it’s saying that there’s something bigger out there—whether it’s your community, family, or friends. Basically that we’re not, and don’t have to be alone.”
Whether it’s the snapping crunch of “Burn it Down” or the skittering crash and burn on “Out of Hell,” the record exudes a propulsive energy that can speak to both sides of the band’s audience, whether they’re sharing a bill with Disturbed or Lecrae.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” John leaves off. “The fans, the Panheads, means everything to us. They’re the reason we’re here. They make our shows what they are. We wanted to give that energy back to them in UNLEASHED.”
Ultimately, this is Skillet at their most potent, pure, and powerful.
Judging from their name, Suicidal Tendencies were never afraid of a little controversy. Formed in Venice, California, during the early ’80s, the group’s leader from the beginning was outspoken vocalist Mike Muir. The outfit specialized in vicious hardcore early on — building a huge following among skateboarders, lending a major hand in the creation of skatepunk — before turning their focus eventually to thrash metal. Early on, the group (whose original lineup included Muir, guitarist Grant Estes, bassist Louiche Mayorga, and drummer Amery Smith) found it increasingly difficult to book shows, due to rumors of its members’ affiliation with local gangs and consistent violence at their performances. The underground buzz regarding Suicidal Tendencies grew too loud for labels to ignore though, as the quartet signed on with the indie label Frontier; issuing Muir and company’s classic self-titled debut in 1983. The album quickly became the best-selling hardcore album up to that point; its best-known track, “Institutionalized,” was one of the first hardcore punk videos to receive substantial airplay on MTV, and was eventually used in the Emilio Estevez cult classic movie Repo Man, as well as in an episode for the hit TV show Miami Vice (for which the group made a cameo appearance).
Suicidal Tendencies proved influential for future speed/thrash metal bands, but despite their early success, their reputation preceded them, as no other record label was willing to take them on (in addition, Los Angeles banned the group from playing around this time, lasting until the early ’90s). Not much was heard from the group for several years afterward (leading many to believe that Suicidal had broken up), but Muir and company eventually found a home with Caroline Records. By this time, half of the original lineup had left; Muir and Mayorga were the only holdovers, while guitarist Rocky George and drummer R.J. Herrera rounded out the group. The year 1987 saw the release of Suicidal’s sophomore release, Join the Army, which spawned another popular skatepunk anthem, “Possessed to Skate,” as more and more metalheads began to be spotted in Suicidal’s audience. Soon after, Suicidal were finally offered a major-label contract (with Epic), as another lineup change occurred: Mayorga exited the band, while newcomer Bob Heathcote took his spot, and a second guitarist, Mike Clark, was added as well. This Suicidal lineup’s first album together, 1988’s How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today, showed that their transformation from hardcore to heavy metal was now complete, as did a compilation of two earlier EPs, 1989’s Controlled by Hatred/Feel Like Shit…Déjà Vu.
Suicidal’s first release of the new decade, 1990’s Lights, Camera, Revolution, was another success; its video for the explosive “You Can’t Bring Me Down” received repeated airings on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball program, while the album (in addition to the Controlled by Hatred comp) would be certified gold in the U.S. a few years later. The release also signaled the arrival of new bassist Robert Trujillo, whose penchant for funk added a new element to the group’s sound. The group tried to broaden its audience even further by opening a string of arena shows for prog-metalists Queensrÿche during the summer of 1991. Their next release, 1992’s The Art of Rebellion, proved to be one of the most musically experimental albums of their career. Muir and Trujillo also teamed up around this time for a funk-metal side project, Infectious Grooves (including several other participants, such as Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins) and issued a debut release, The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move. Upset that the group’s classic debut had been out of print for several years by this point, Muir decided to re-record the entire record with Suicidal’s ’90s lineup under the title of Still Cyco After All These Years.
But after one more release, 1994’s Suicidal for Life, Suicidal Tendencies decided to hang it up. A pair of compilations were issued in 1997: a best-of set, Prime Cuts, plus Friends & Family. Muir and Trujillo continued to issue further Infectious Grooves releases (Sarsippius’ Ark and Groove Family Cyco), in addition to Muir pursuing a solo career under the alias of Cyco Miko (Lost My Brain Once Again) and Trujillo touring and recording as part of Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band (appearing on Osbourne’s 2001 release Down to Earth). Muir formed a new version of Suicidal Tendencies in the late ’90s (with Clark being the only other familiar face), resulting in such further studio releases as 1999’s Freedumb and 2000’s Free Your Soul and Save My Mind. Muir and Trujillo joined forces once more for a fourth Infectious Grooves studio release in 2000, Mas Borracho, while another Cyco Miko release surfaced, Schizophrenic Born Again Problem Child, along with a follow-up to their earlier compilation, Friends & Family, Vol. 2.
Busy with myriad side projects, the band wouldn’t release another studio album until 2013. The aptly named 13 was recorded over a ten-year period, and would be the group’s only studio album with guitarist Nico Santora, bassist Steve Bruner, and drummer Eric Moore. Muir brought in guitarist Jeff Pogan, bassist Ra Díaz, and drummer Dave Lombardo for the band’s 12th studio long-player, 2016’s World Gone Mad. March 2018 saw the band issue the EP Get Your Fight On!, with plans to release a full-length outing later that summer.
Like few rock bands today, BEARTOOTH harness the sacred and profane, and purge inner darkness with a dizzying light. Steadily, without pretension, the fearlessly determined and boundlessly creative Midwest powerhouse perfects a sound sought by a generation of bands, equal parts solitary musical confession and celebratory exorcism. Their marriage of colossally catchy choruses and post-hardcore- soaked-in-sweaty-metal is without rival. Its effect is evident by their deeply engaged audience; tours with Slipknot, Bring Me The Horizon, and A Day To Remember; and a RIAA-certified gold plaque. It’s all a testament to the purity of intention manifested by frontman Caleb Shomo from the start.
A handful of bands play the “devastating riffs and catchy hooks” game, but for BEARTOOTH, this music is the difference between life and death. As easygoing, charming, and outgoing as these young men may appear, there’s an inner turmoil churning away, only satiated by the savage music they play. Suicidal ideation, emotional desolation, and desperate dark nights of the soul are chewed up and spat out in song after song; cathartic singalong anthems like “Body Bag,” “Sick of Me,” and “In Between.”
BEARTOOTH’s blistering fourth album, Below, is a pure distillation of rage. A savage attack against mental illness and an outright refusal to suffer in silence, Below weaponizes its deceptively radio-ready bombast to deliver stone cold truth missives, each packed like a bomb with noisy rock chaos. Songs like “Fed Up,” “Dominate,” “Hell Of It,” and the expansive album closer “The Last Riff” are destined to stand beside the strongest of BEARTOOTH’s catalog and moreover, in metal’s pantheon.
When Rolling Stone introduced BEARTOOTH as one of 10 New Artists You Need To Know, the sound was rightly described as “like a nervous breakdown, usually with enough optimism to push through.” As the band grows (grabbing trophies at genre events like the Golden Gods and Loudwire Awards), the raw nerve simply becomes more exposed, sounding crazier yet accessible all at once.
Back in Black was the first album Shomo ever bought with his own money, and the straight-to-the-point stomp of AC/DC’s multi-platinum masterpiece remains entrenched in the BEARTOOTH backbone. Motörhead’s fast-paced groove and “let it rip” attitude is another part of the anatomy, central to what separates the Metallica/Slayer-worshipping crew from their Warped Tour comrades.
Shomo delivers his confessional catchy-metal on the stage with guitarists Zach Huston and Will Deely, bassist Oshie Bichar, and drummer Connor Denis. The five friends converge as an explosive, formidable live unit. Their shared commitment to leave everything they have on the stage, each and every time, earned consistent accolades in tastemaker publications like Kerrang! and Revolver.
Below was written, performed, produced, engineered, mixed, and mastered by Caleb. Like Nine Inch Nails, Tame Impala, and the first Foo Fighters album, BEARTOOTH is a one-man band in the studio. It began as musical exorcism, conceived and constructed in Shomo’s home recording sanctuary, a means to tame the demons of debilitating depression and anxiety he’s suffered since childhood.
BEARTOOTH’s 2013 Sick EP was an emotionally-stranded Shomo’s “message in a bottle,” tossed into a figurative ocean. The message was received, and the throngs of likeminded people who responded became his lifeboat. Disgusting (2014), Aggressive (2016), Disease (2018), and Below (2021) expanded those themes of desperation, each sonically getting a step closer to the magical balance between the blood, sweat, and tears of classic recordings and the smooth gloss of modern production.
Below revels in the darker underbelly of traditional metal, soaked in stoner rock tones and doomy dirge. BEARTOOTH offer no cure. The recovery comes in the process; the journey is the destination. As long as the dueling dichotomy of mental health anguish and cathartic creative expression remain bound together, Shomo and his mates will be here to oversee the show. So please, enjoy the ride.
Visionary media collective STARSET have carved out a unique path as part cinematic rock band, part conceptual storytellers, weaving an intricate narrative through multimedia and redefining the concept of a truly immersive entertainment experience. Led by enigmatic frontman and PhD candidate Dustin Bates, the band have made it their mission to take fans on a journey through music, video, AR-integrated performances, a Marvel graphic novel and online experiences, blurring the lines of science, fact, and fiction. The band’s third album DIVISIONS provides the soundtrack to the next chapter of their overarching narrative – one of a dystopian future world divided by the technology that has taken over in a war for human consciousness – those obeying and implementing it, and those fighting against it. Clues have been left behind by The Starset Society through a series of transmissions of what will occur in the future. These have been seeded throughout the campaign for fans to find and for them to become part of the story itself in a search for knowledge and to reveal new music.
Asking Alexandria have earned a place among the most streamed, downloaded, watched, and altogether listened to bands in a generation, combining the innovation of modern active rock with the traditional attitude of the culture’s trailblazers.
They’ve shared the stage with Guns N’ Roses, Green Day, Alice In Chains, and Avenged Sevenfold, and Slipknot; co-headlined with Black Veil Brides; joined Warped Tour and Rockstar Mayhem; played every major rock festival in the world; and headlined sold out theater tours.
“The Final Episode” and “Not the American Average” were both certified gold by the RIAA for single sales in excess of 500,000 each. The music videos for those two singles alone amassed over 100 million views on YouTube. Their third full length album, From Death to Destiny (2013), shot to #1 on the Rock and Metal charts in the U.K. and cracked the Top 5 of the Billboard 200 in the United States upon its release.
Made with producer Matt Good, Asking Alexandria’s self-titled fifth album is an unbridled celebration of acceptance, of the strength of diversity and the freedom of “leaning into the crazy” (as Worsnop puts it), instead of struggling for conformity.
“Into the Fire” offers a beautifully combative, contradictory, and unrelentingly powerful message to the true believers who have stood by this band through thick and thin. “I wouldn’t take back a moment / Not one miserable moment / I’ll give it all ‘till there’s nothing left,” Worsnop sings. It’s most assuredly a genuine promise.
In 1994, Sevendust first forged a familial tie amongst each other that translated into one of the most diehard audiences in the game. To this day, the connection between fans and the GRAMMY® Award-nominated gold-certified hard rock outfit only grows stronger. For their twelfth full-length and first release for Rise Records All I See Is War, the quintet—Lajon Witherspoon [lead vocals], Clint lowery [lead guitar, backing vocals], John Connolly [rhythm guitar, backing vocals], Vince Hornsby [bass], and Morgan Rose [drums]—did the best thing they could possibly do to combat all of the division in the streets and on social media; they went and made a Sevendust record—just bigger, ballsier, and bolder than before.
A trifecta of now-classic gold albums—Sevendust , Home , and Animosity — ignited their journey. Known as an equally intense and unforgettable live force, they’ve consistently packed houses around the world and decimated stages everywhere from Rock on the Range and Woodstock to OZZfest and Shiprocked! 2015’s Kill The Flaw represented a high watermark. Bowing at #13 on the Billboard Top 200, it scored their highest debut on the respective chart since 2010 and marked their fifth consecutive Top 10 on the Top Rock Albums Chart and third straight Top 3 on the Hard Rock Albums Chart. Most impressively, the lead single “Thank You” garnered a nomination in the category of “Best Metal Performance” at the 2016 GRAMMY® Awards, a career first. All I See Is War represents yet another new beginning.
For some it was all of the live energy, for others it may have been the massive sleeper success of their 2016 LP but whatever it may be, Knocked Loose’s arrival in the general public consciousness transcends metal and hardcore and into a new arena entirely.
Due on August 23rd, 2019 via Pure Noise Records, A Different Shade of Blue is the mammoth and hotly anticipated follow-up to their 2016 debut, the head-turning Laugh Tracks. Recorded by producer Will Putney, the new LP was approached slower and more methodically than the band’s last smash effort, abandoning the previous “live in studio” recording approach for something more deliberate. Under Putney’s direction, the band cranked out twelve new tracks that deal with all manner of anger, especially loss in lieu of absence. Vocalist and lyricist Bryan Garris initially felt blocked heading into the studio but eventually found catharsis, as well as some of his most intensely personal lyrics to date.
Forged on musical bonds built at an early age, Knocked Loose came together in the small yet relatively formidable hardcore / punk scene of the greater Louisville, KY area– the same that gave birth to bands ranging from Slint to Breather Resist to Endpoint to Coliseum. And though said scene was relatively strong, a lack of available bands, touring parties and scarcity of gigs forced diversity– mixing genres and challenging young ears with new ideas, approaches and styles. That diversity – death metal bands mingling with youth crew, screamo on the same bill as Am-Rep-style bands and on and on– created the basis of Knocked Loose musically and the genesis for their approach, an amalgam of heavy influences that never commits to any singular style but maintains a loyalty to the hardcore tradition.
While A Different Shade of Blue reflects the diverse musical influences and backgrounds of Knocked Loose, it also ups the ante. On the new effort, the quintet come harder with a more fine-tuned approach toward songwriting, riffs that would make Trey Azagthoth blush and an added level of vein-bulging fury to tie it into one nasty package. Featuring guest vocals from Emma Boster of Dying Wish and Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die, A Different Shade of Blue is not only a step forward for the band, but for hardcore as we know it. While some musical influences are easily identified–Pantera, Hatebreed, Obituary and more– the band’s palette and canvas has expanded by leaps and bounds, incorporating Gothenburg-style death metal (At the Gates, early In Flames), slam metal (Devourment,
Dying Fetus), blood-thirsty thrash (Sodom, Kreator), black metal (Craft) and the mind-boggling complexity of latter noisy hardcore like Snapcase and Bloodlet. Spanning twelve tracks, including the massive single “Mistakes Like Fractures” which reared its ugly head in April via 7” single, A Different Shade of Blue clocks in at a lean and mean 37 minutes, grabbing the listener by the throat from the jump and slowly tightening that grip for the duration.
Knocked Loose is the obvious evolution to decades of bands like Integrity, Disembodied, Botch and others– total and complete integration between metal and hardcore into a singular, seamless entity. Since its inception, hardcore has evolved from the germ of “Slayer actually has punk parts” to crossover to the addition of everything from death metal to rap to shoegaze. Knocked Loose is the proverbial fish walking on land– the end of the evolution, and possibly the apex of the metallic hardcore punk movement thus far. Ably combining the teeth-clenching hatred of a hardcore band with the unmitigated technicality and ferocity of metal, Knocked Loose have conceived state of the art hatred– a true melting pot of ideas that combines pit-ready riffs, memorable songwriting and deviously clandestine melody into a boiling-over pot of vitriol.
Since 2016’s Laugh Tracks, Knocked Loose, comprised of the young Cole Crutchfield (rhythm guitar), Bryan Garris (vocals), Isaac Hale (lead guitar), Kevin Otten (bass) and Kevin Kaine (drums), have taken a huge leap, moving from upstart hardcore-influenced favorites to bonafide key figures of the genre. Their debut offering was a revelation, taking the world by storm and establishing the band as a major force within metal, hardcore and beyond. Following the well received effort, Knocked Loose hit the road and hard. The band is quick to single out turning point tours such as Warped Tour 2017, a stellar showing at This is Hardcore 2018, headlining gigs over the legendary Terror and Australia/Japan tours as crucial to their growth, and while that may be partially true, the real key component to their success lies beneath all of that– a strong attention to excellent songwriting and a near-undying work ethic.
Knocked Loose have doubly proven their ability to write a cohesive and compelling record, and the band is looking forward to proving themselves yet again at live gigs across the globe, fan by fan. It’s this single-minded, borderline-stubborn attitude to take the songs directly to the people that has driven this band from the get-go.
From the release of their 2010 demo to their 2011 Pressure to Succeed EP, Turnstile have walked a path all their own. A path that has quickly brought them a rabid following based off of their groove driven melodic energies and insane live shows. Having shared the stage with bands like Bane, Trapped Under Ice, Title Fight, Backtrack, and many more, Turnstile have continued to travel and grow. As many attendees to these events can attest, Turnstile is a group that when they play live, no one can sit still. The spirit of Turnstile’s music is constantly creating converts by their vital and overpowering live shows.
The Reaper Records release of the Step 2 Rhythm EP in early 2013 drew from NYHC influences such as Madball and Breakdown, but also delivered a new alternative sound that only added more fuel to this growing fire – now, they’re ready to pour on the gasoline. The release of Turnstile’s first full-length record Nonstop Feeling is going to give fans so much more than they’re anticipating and draw in a whole new wave of maniacs to the Turnstile tribe.
The record was recorded in Baltimore with Brian McTernan (Circa Survive, Hot Water Music, Thrice) at Salad Days studio. Having a personal and musical history with McTernan, they came together to make a record that sounded bigger and louder than anything previous. The bright color scheme represents the idea of raw, unbridled expression, positive or negative, that is delivered in each of the twelve tracks. From the signature artwork to the energy infused tunes, this record creates a vibrant slam of emotion that defines Turnstile more than ever as a band leading their own way.
Rhymes and riffs incite more change than bullets and bombs ever could.
Not long after the Vietnam War, Bad Brains rallied a Rastafarian punk spirit against the international blight of apartheid and the coked-out corporate greed synonymous with eighties America. Taking aim at endemic and institutional racism, Public Enemy spoke up against the Fear of a Black Planet only four months before Operation Desert Shield descended on the Middle East. Bringing blue brutality to the forefront of the zeitgeist, N.W.A. chanted “Fuck Tha Police,” and Body Count went primal on the whole program via “Cop Killer.” Rising from the same streets that gave the world Dr. Dre and eventually Kendrick Lamar, Fishbone tackled poverty and urged for social justice. The list of sonic rebels goes on and on…
In 2018, the United States of America feels ripe for a musical uprising. Divided more than ever in its 242-year history over systemic issues of immigration, race, class warfare, inequality, and misogyny, the time for change is now. The band is The Fever 333.
Comprised of vocalist Jason Aalon Butler [ex-letlive.], drummer Aric Improta [Night Verses], and guitarist Stephen Harrison [ex-the Chariot], the Los Angeles trio lock and load gnashing guitars, guttural beats, and brazenly bold bars and then pull the trigger on a hard-hitting hybrid of hip-hop, punk, and activism.
“The movement is much greater than the music,” exclaims Butler. “The art is only a contingent piece. We want to make sure we’re just as involved in the activism and actual activation. By no means do we expect other artists to take on this task. Most of the people who made big improvements were either assassinated or just called crazy. We make it ostensibly clear that everything we do is in an active effort for change. It’s about bringing back that socio-political mindfulness. We’re trying to write the soundtrack to the revolution that we know is about to happen.”
In the midst of America’s 2017 socio-political upheaval, the singer—a self-described “bi-racial double agent who’s got a black father and a white mother”—could feel the weight “of the divisions we’ve created because of race.” After meeting Travis Barker of blink-182 by chance, he spent Super Bowl Sunday with the iconic drummer and mutual friend producer John Feldman. That day, this unholy triumvirate’s conversation inspired the songs that would eventually comprise The Fever 333’s 2018 debut.
“We started talking about black punk rock,” he recalls. “Punk rock and hip-hop are one-in-the-same. They’re always flying the flag of channeling art from discord. Travis and John supported my desire to create something a little dangerous that was subservice: musically and in ethos. We opened the floodgates together.”
Around this time, the frontman made a conscious decision to disband letlive., which he founded 15 years before. Equally inspired by the teachings of Angela Davis and the words of “hood prophets” in his native “Section 8 Inglewood,” Butler’s future agenda became etched in stone.
“I appreciate my accomplishments in letlive.,” he says. “I wanted to move forward towards a very clear-cut and specific vision. Personally, artistically, mentally, emotionally, and politically, I’m very radical, left-leaning, and unapologetic in what I believe. That’s the only way to accomplish anything, whether contemporary or long-term. letlive. had done what it was supposed to. It was time for a new era.”
Feverishly writing, each session yielded more tunes. Last summer, The Fever 333 made their live debut—quite appropriately—on July 4, 2017. They hijacked the parking lot of infamous L.A. staple Randy’s Donuts (Notably, it’s a stone’s throw from South Central where the vocalist grew up). This “Political Pool Party” preceded the storm to come.
Every element made a statement—even the lineup.
“We’ve got a black guitar player, mixed race singer, and white drummer,” he goes on. “There’s a purpose.”
On their upcoming EP, that purpose can be felt loud and clear. Fittingly, their sonic declaration of independence, “We’re Coming In,” culminates on the sharp scream, “We’re coming in, motherfucker!”
“It’s about pulling the fuck up at The White House and having a discourse with our current administration and cabinet about how what they’re doing affects us,” he sighs. “The middle class will soon be eradicated. We’re showing face in hopes to create an empathetic capsule.”
“Hunting Season” stands among a long lineage of anthems for “people of color versus the authority and that vicious cycle.” “Made In America” ignites a clarion call of buzzsaw riffing, a volley of vicious verses, and another powder keg chant.
“This country’s wealth and success were built on the backs of slaves,” he sighs. “We’re all immigrants. It’s about the fucking facts. The people in power benefit from that.”
“Walking In My Shoes” doesn’t just title another banger; it serves as the banner for The Fever 333’s activism. The Walking In My Shoes Foundation will host speakers, launch art installations, promote storytellers, and benefit partner charities such as Downtown Los Angeles-based Inner City Arts, The ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and more.
In the end, the revolution truly starts with The Fever 333.
“‘The Fever’ involves self-possessed autonomous human beings spreading an idea of understanding and empathy from one mind to another,” he leaves off. “It’s infectious. Three is the magic number. The strongest shape in geometry is the triangle with its three points. ‘C’ is the third letter in the alphabet. The ‘Three C’s’ are ‘Community, Charity, and Change.’ The people who want to invest in this are as fucking important as we are. By invest, I don’t mean sales or awards; I mean success towards making this revolution a reality. Our generation has so much power. We have these systems in place that are completely fucked, but we’re up next. If we can rally together and cultivate this strength and solidarity, I believe we can be the change.”
Everyone leaves a legacy behind. No matter how big or small, our words and actions echo forever and make a lasting imprint.
Two decades since their 1999 formation in Southern California, that truth weighed heavy on the members of gold-selling metal mavericks Atreyu—Alex Varkatzas [vocals], Brandon Saller [drums/vocals], “BIG” Dan Jacobs [guitar], Travis Miguel [guitar], and Porter McKnight [bass].
Of course, their musical legacy speaks for itself. 2002’s Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses established them as an influential force, while 2004 follow-up The Curse sold 450,000-plus copies as the group rose to global renown. A Deathgrip on Yesterday and 2007’s Lead Sails Paper Anchor both bowed in the Top 10 of the Billboard Top 200 with the latter garnering a gold certification from the RIAA—a highly rare accomplishment for a 21st century rock band.
Following a hiatus post-Congregation of the Damned in 2009, the musicians returned firing on all cylinders with Long Live during 2015. It crashed the Top 30 of the Billboard Top 200 and earned widespread acclaim from Revolver, Loudwire, AXS, and Kerrang! who dubbed it “a hell of a return.” Along the way, the boys sold out countless headline shows in addition to sharing the stage with everyone from Slipknot and Linkin Park to Chris Cornell and Avenged Sevenfold.
As they commenced writing for their seventh full-length, In Our Wake [Spinefarm], the band posed an important question…
“What are you going to leave behind?”, asks Brandon. “We named the album In Our Wake, because a lot of the concepts address this question. There are lyrics about dealing with your own personal demons and darkness. Some of it is about our children, which his who we live directly in our wake. Others are about the general public and the outpouring of hate and fear—especially in our country. We created something of a concept record without even trying.”
“Everything we do causes a ripple or a wake,” adds Alex. “It can be positive and good, or it can be fucked up and horrible. However, we are the masters of our own destiny. We want to leave something good behind.”
Following a two-year tour cycle for Long Live, Atreyu regrouped in Southern California and started sharing ideas for what would become offering number seven. Ceremoniously, they all agreed it would be the right time to reunite with producer John Feldmann who famously helmed Lead Sails and Paper Anchor.
“Long Live was really heavy and reminiscent of our early material,” continues Brandon. “While we were on the road, fans kept asking to hear more from Lead Sails and Paper Anchor. It made us revisit that era of the band. It was a fun, experimental, and explorative time for us, which is so fun. We wanted to give ourselves and the landscape of heavy music a jolt, so we reached out to Feldmann.”
The band recorded in two chunks bookended by Brandon’s touring obligations for Hell Or Highwater. Working out of Feldmann’s Los Angeles studio, they embraced this new approach as the producer still made them “wonderfully uncomfortable and willing to push harder,” according to Alex.
“Every song with the exception of two was fully written in the studio,” says Brandon. “We’d split off into groups and crank out two ideas per day. We’d never written a fresh idea from scratch every day. Spontaneity makes things flow so much better though. We also never spread an album out like this either. We laid the foundation with five recordings, sat with them, and finished with a better picture of where we wanted to go.”
As a result, the record sees Atreyu once again evolve. The first single and title track “In Our Wake” hinges on a slow burning, but bombastic percussive buildup before charging ahead with an undeniable chant and fiery fretwork.
“It’s a deep one,” admits Alex. “We looked up to Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, and their deaths were fresh during the writing process. It made us think of what we’ll leave in our wake. We have a choice to change the lives of others for the better.”
A ticking clock gives way to a stadium-size chant on follow-up single “The Time Is Now.” It seesaws between a robust beat and scorching call-and-response by Alex and Brandon as they carry the carpe diem chorus.
“It’s all about just grabbing life by the balls, picking yourself up by your bootstraps, and realizing you only have one shot at this,” Brandon goes on. “That was very reminiscent and reflective of this album. In our heads, there’s no time to fuck around or just do what we’ve always done. We have to really fucking go for it. Tomorrow isn’t promised, so we went for it.”
Meanwhile, “Terrified” swings from a hypnotic refrain into an acoustic bridge, illuminating the diversity at the heart of In Our Wake. Closer “Super Hero” [feat. M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold & Aaron Gillespie of Underoath] conjures visions of “Atreyu meets Queen meets Disneyland meets E.L.O.” with its cinematic orchestration, horns, flutes, and grandiose production.
“It’s about being your kid’s superhero, so we invited other singers who are fathers to join us,” Brandon explains. “Everyone wrote his own respective part and gave perspective on what fatherhood meant to him. I wanted it to feel like the music from the Soaring Over California ride at Disney’s California Adventure park. It ends on such a huge note and offers a breath of fresh air.”
In the end, In Our Wake doesn’t just reaffirm Atreyu’s legacy, it expands it like never before.
“We want to give listeners an experience,” Alex concludes. “Every track functions as its own moment. There’s something that you can hopefully come back and listen to again and again.”
“I feel like this is the record that people will remember our band by,” Brandon states. “I’m saying that because the best parts of Atreyu happened on it. We’re continuing something we began a long time ago. This band means everything to me. We’ve been through incredible highs and incredible lows. We’ve loved each other, and we’ve wanted to kill each other. Somehow, twenty years later ,it’s reached a whole new level. I feel like we’re alive, and Atreyu has never been more on fire than we are now.” – Rick Florino, July 2018
The heavy metal-n’-roll dark madcap visionaries collectively known as AVATAR didn’t
pick their moniker by accident. An “avatar” is defined as either a manifestation of a
deity in bodily form or an icon representing a separate being in another realm. Both
meanings perfectly describe the Swedish rock sensations, as they’ve built something
larger than life.
Ambitious sorcerers of the highest order, AVATAR smash the boundaries between band,
theater troupe, and cinematic masterminds, with a series of celebrated albums and
videos, and the immersive world of Avatar Country, a fantastical land where metal rules
The AVATAR cultural infiltration encompasses both commercial rock radio and
streaming services, where songs like “The Eagle Has Landed,” “Hail the Apocalypse,” and
“Let it Burn” have amassed more than 100 million streams, as new “citizens” enter into
Avatar Country (2018), released via Entertainment One, was the second-largest
independent album in North America upon its debut. Already a Breakthrough Band
(Metal Hammer) award winner and Top 40 act overseas, the band’s seventh record
debuted at No. 4 (Hard Music Albums), No. 8 (Rock Albums), and No. 25 (Billboard 200
Current Albums). One major rock outlet even declared Avatar Country a heavy metal
AVATAR returns in 2020 with a bold manifesto called Hunter Gatherer. The band’s
eighth album is an unflinchingly ruthless study of a clueless humankind’s ever-increasing
velocity into an uncertain future, furthering the reach of the band’s always expanding
dark roots. Songs like “A Secret Door,” “Colossus,” and “Age of Apes” are ready-made
anthems for the modern age, each struggling for a collective meaning amidst the
savagery of technology.
Casting themselves as “gods in disguise,” guitarist Jonas Jarlsby and drummer John
Alfredsson combined forces as teenagers, determined to manifest their creative
strength into the world. Soon, they recruited vocalist Johannes Eckerström, bassist
Henrik Sandelin, and guitarist Simon Andersson, recognizing them as fellow visionaries
Before any of them had turned 20, they financed a blistering debut album, Thoughts of
No Tomorrow (2006), by themselves. Riding on a wave of youthful intensity, AVATAR
unleashed a sophomore set, Schlacht (2007), cracking the Top 30 on the Swedish album
charts. Avatar, the self-titled third album, followed in 2009, as the band’s unrelenting
touring schedule saw them on the road with acts like In Flames, Helloween, and
Guitarist Tim Öhrström replaced Andersson in time for the release of Black Waltz
(2012), cementing Avatar as an unstoppable five-headed hydra poised to spread fire like
a burning plague across the world. During this period, the band began to come into their
own in the visual medium as well, with a sinister dark precision and a sense for the
spectacular. AVATAR showcased their expansive visual flair on tour with Avenged
Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch, followed by their first American tour, with
Lacuna Coil and Sevendust.
Hail The Apocalypse (2014) smashed into The Top 10 US Top Hard Rock Albums.
Loudwire declared the engaging and inventive clip for “Vultures Fly” the Best Rock Video
of 2015. Produced by Sylvia Massy (TOOL, Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers),
Feathers& Flesh (2016) was an astonishing concept album, spinning a fantastical tale of owl vs.
eagle, and producing several songs that continue to resonate as signature Avatar
Following the release of Avatar Country (2018), the group broadened its horizon into a
feature film. AVATAR blew past a $50,000 Kickstarter campaign goal in less than 90
minutes, eventually collecting close to $200,000 to finance Legend of Avatar Country.
It was demonstrative of the feverish dedication of the band’s audience; the same fans
who propelled them into the Rock Radio and Billboard Album charts since the band
formed as teens in Gothenburg. Legend of Avatar Country serves as both companion
piece and natural expansion of the Avatar Country album’s rich story blueprint. As
Kerrang! rightly observed, “The insanely rabid fan response to the [movie]
announcement is a testament not only to the band’s connection with its fans but to the
strength of the concept itself.”
Hunter Gatherer (2020) shares the determined focus of the conceptually driven Feathers
& Flesh and Avatar Country while decisively emphasizing the individual songs above any
overarching story. At the same time, there are thematic threads throughout the album,
reflecting the members’ shared state of mind. Hunter Gatherer is the darkest, most
sinister version of Avatar, with deep studies of cruelty, technology, disdain, and
In 2019, Avatar reunited with producer Jay Ruston (Stone Sour, Slipknot, Anthrax) at
Sphere Studios in Los Angeles, California, where the foundation for each song on Hunter
Gatherer was laid with the band performing altogether, as they’d done only once
before, on Hail the Apocalypse. The old-school method of playing as one in the studio,
more akin to how they are on stage, captured the essence of Avatar. Recorded entirely
to two-inch tape, something you don’t hear about much in 2020, Hunter Gatherer
exhibits everything that makes AVATAR standouts in the vast, rich landscape of heavy
metal’s past and present.
Not since the initial cultural disruption of MTV has the combination of ambitious
compositions and visual storytelling merged with such vibrance. Like Rob Zombie,
Rammstein, and KISS, AVATAR seamlessly blur the line between sights and sounds.
AVATAR songs are new anthems for the ages, precision heat-seeking missiles targeting a
cultural landscape ready for fresh songs to champion from a band with a giant persona
to rally behind. The AVATAR experience is challenging, daring, and altogether
As the more than 200,000 subscribers to the band’s YouTube channel will attest,
AVATAR conjures the flair for the dramatic of old school Hollywood, the macabre
moodiness of modern adventure films, and the adrenaline-fueled thrills of Halloween
Through an unwavering dedication to progression, Wage War sharpen their patented hybrid of heavy pit-starting technicality and hummable hypnotic melodies with each subsequent evolution. Look no further than the aptly titled third full-length from the Florida quintet, Pressure [Fearless Records]. The band—Briton Bond [lead vocals], Cody Quistad [rhythm guitar, clean vocals], Seth Blake [lead guitar], Chris Gaylord [bass], and Stephen Kluesener [drums]—drove themselves to fully realize their ambition by pushing harder. A whirlwind four years set the foundation for such a statement. The group’s 2015 debut, Blueprints, yielded multiple fan favorites with “Alive” cracking 12 million Spotify streams and “The River” exceeding 8 million to date. Meanwhile, 2017’s Deadweight established the boys as a rising force. Totaling nearly 50 million cumulative streams in two years, the single “Stitch” racked up 14 million streams on Spotify as Deadweight received widespread praise from MetalInjection, New Noise, Metal Hammer, and Rock Sound who dubbed it, “a relentless, genre-evolving treat.” Meanwhile, they toured alongside everyone from I Prevail and Of Mice & Men to Parkway Drive and A Day To Remember, logging countless miles on the road. In order to approach their next evolution from a different angle, Wage War enlisted the talents of producer Drew Fulk (Motionless in White, Lil Peep, IDKHOW)and recorded in Los Angeles for the first time, delivering a bold body of work.
Grandson is a 23-year-old alternative artist hailing from Canada. Born in the small town of Englewood, New Jersey, he relocated to the cultural melting pot of Toronto at a young age, and grew up surrounded by music ranging from jazz to rock & roll to rap, dancehall and R&B.
At 17, he moved to Montreal to attend university, and began working in nightclubs cleaning tables and DJing. He started writing music at this time, incorporating the unique blend of sounds he grew up surrounded by. He started experimenting with music production and rapping in 2013, dropped out of school and headed to Los Angeles to pursue music full time.
Adopting the “grandson” moniker while living in LA, he dove deeply into rock influences such as Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana and Led Zeppelin, while keeping an ear on the rap/R&B music emerging out of Toronto and alternative acts such as Twenty One Pilots and Hiatus Kaiyote. He found a small community of musicians to work and perform with in LA and eventually formed his band. Reminiscent of early punk and grunge music, grandson’s live set attempts to create a frantic, mosh pit-inducing cathartic release of energy for fans.
Searching for his voice and for meaning in today’s divisive, chaotic world, grandson’s songwriting confronts the most pressing issues of his generation, such as financial inequality, governmental and environmental accountability and social justice, giving these topics a soundtrack with a genuine sense of urgency and frustration, while simultaneously touching on adolescence, relationships, and the insecurities and difficulties of growing up through your 20s. When asked about today’s music scene, he says “I genuinely believe the world needs honest rock and roll, now more than ever.”
Ice Nine Kills
In a landscape littered with celebrity fakes and would-be influencers, ICE NINE KILLS stand apart. Visionary trailblazers and multimedia raconteurs, INK has steadily built a thrilling new underworld for a growing legion of devoted true believers, with theatrical shows, high-concept videos, and inventive band-to-fan communion.
Ice Nine Kills summon the most captivating elements of metal, punk and hard rock and combine it with melody, cinematic obsession, and a literary fascination.
Loudwire hails them as “one of the most unique acts in metal right now,” a declaration supported by the band’s Billboard Hard Rock Albums chart topping slab, The Silver Scream. 13 songs of devilishly devious odes to classic horror, The Silver Scream generated anthems for the disenfranchised and subculture obsessives, like “The American Nightmare,” and broke them into Active Rock radio.
After a decade of studio wizardry and live theatricality, ICE NINE KILLS draws favorable comparisons to rock icons like Slipknot, Rob Zombie, and Marilyn Manson, via a likeminded synergy of music, lifestyle, and cult following reverence.
ICE NINE KILLS is at the forefront of the natural crosspollination of subcultures. “Heavy music and horror are both escapes from our mundane struggles,” singer Spencer Charnas points out. “You could be having the worst day, then you put on a great metal record or horror movie and forget about all of your problems.”
Badflower don’t care what you think about them. They don’t care whether you get what they’re doing, because their thoroughly modern rock is more ahead of the curve than anyone else you might try and pigeonhole them with. And they really don’t care whether you like the messages in their songs, because what they sing about is important, if uncomfortable.
That attitude might seem misguided for a band who have yet to release their debut album. In this age where music’s money comes largely from touring, fans are more important than ever – they’re the ones who buy the tickets to shows and ultimately give artists the opportunity to keep playing and progressing. But the LA four-piece aren’t complete beginners – since forming in 2013, frontman Josh Katz, guitarist Joey Morrow, drummer Anthony Sonetti, and bassist Alex Espiritu have toured relentlessly across the US and beyond, building up a reputation as a formidable live force as well as an ever-growing mass of loyal followers and praise from the likes of Billboard, Forbes, and Consequence Of Sound.
Though the band credit their years of gigging with giving them the life experience to write their debut album, ‘OK, I’M SICK’, it’s also had its downsides, especially for Katz. The singer and guitarist suffers from anxiety and panic disorder – something that he’s had to learn how to cope with on the road. “I once ran off stage mid-song and just had to take a beat and was very confused,” he says, offering an example of how the problem can affect him. “I wasn’t sure if I should be throwing up or sitting down. Typically, it’s just clenching every muscle in my body until it hopefully goes away. I can barely stand up, barely get notes out. It’s all of these feelings at once.”
It’s that problem that inspired ‘Ghost’, the band’s big breakthrough single. After coming home from tour, Katz was so fed up with what he had to go through to get on stage every night, he was in two minds whether to carry on with music. “If I’m miserable every night, why am I doing it?” he asked himself. It was that song, which reached the top of the US charts, that saved Badflower.
Despite its success, the group was initially sceptical about it being more than an album track. In its often graphic lyrics, Katz plays out a dark, suicidal fantasy – “This life is overwhelming and I’m ready for the next one,” he sighs resignedly at one point. They worried listeners would think they were glorifying suicide, cynically using a very real and serious problem for their own gain. “But people got it immediately and we realised how many people are affected by depression, panic disorder, and anxiety issues,” Katz explains. “You hear about it all the time, you see it on every commercial – there’s some anti-depressant being sold to you because everybody has these issues – but people don’t like to talk about it that much.”
While ‘Ghost’ is a somewhat harrowing take on mental health issues, not all of ‘OK, I’M SICK’ is as serious. Opener ‘x ANA x’ (inspired in part by Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre documentary The Defiant Ones) tackles a similar topic but with a far more sardonic tone. An ode to the helpful qualities of Xanax, it’s eyebrow-raising, incredibly self-aware and rife with meta moments (in one breakdown Katz cheerily asks: “Hey, wanna see what happens when I mix Xanax, blow, and a MacBook Pro?”). Along with the constantly changing music – be it speeding up, stuttering almost to the brink of collapse, or weaving even more claustrophobic layers together – it adds up to something completely manic.
“The whole song is meant to feel like a panic attack – unexplained chaos happening within you,” Katz says. “We wrote that song together and then I took what we had to our house in the desert and stayed awake all night and, like a mad scientist, destroyed everything and chopped it up. I didn’t feel like it was manic enough. It’s making fun of anxiety but it’s also making fun of itself.”
As a band with plenty to say, mental health isn’t the only message Badflower share on their debut. ‘Murder Games’ is the album’s most intense and urgent sounding cut, metallic, guillotine-esque swishes entwined with a punishing guitar line that sets you on edge. Its lyrics speak about veganism (Katz has been vegan for four years) in uncompromising terms. “That’s gonna alienate our band like crazy,” the frontman shrugs, unbothered. “We think it’s something important that needs to be talked about so we’re gonna talk about it. It’s about getting the conversation started. It’s about getting people to look at it in a different way and not be so passive about the idea that something in society that you grew up hearing was right might not be as right as you think.”
‘Die’ also has the potential to cause controversy. Partly a damning assessment of Trump’s position on the environment (Morrow is keen to point out the President is not the only target of the song), it features Katz screaming the title as if his own life depends on it. But his sentiment is not what you might immediately assume. “It doesn’t mean, ‘Hey, go get murdered’ or ‘I’m gonna kill you’,” he clarifies. “It’s more all of those people who are so stuck in their ways, who are afraid of change and afraid of evolution, need to get old and die off so the next generation can come up and make some change and do something good.” Despite first appearances, it’s intended as a statement of progression. “We’re meant to move forward, not stagnate,” Espiritu notes.
Elsewhere, the album navigates subjects like abuse (‘Daddy’), depression in the face of success (’24’), and social media stalking (‘Girlfriend’). The latter merges old and new, layering lyrics about Instagram filters and the internet over a big blues-rock jam. “We’ve always wanted to write about that anyway,” says Katz, “and it was the perfect, wacky blues riff to write that over. I think we came up with something very special.”
Badflower’s focus might be on big conversations but that doesn’t mean they aren’t happy to turn their attention to less weighty subjects too. ‘Promise Me’ is the only traditional love song on the record but not even it can escape the band’s entrenched darkness. “That’s my proudest moment on the album,” Espiritu says. “We talk about doing what we want and what the spirit of rock and roll is, and then we have ‘Promise Me’, which is this leftfield, beautiful, romantic love song, and we’re able to spin it and make it our own.” The making it their own, Katz explains, involves one of the song’s characters meeting their maker.
Produced with Noah Shain (Atreyu, Dead Sara), ‘OK, I’M SICK’ represents a band full of ideas and submerged in the most modern of sounds. The band’s intention was to make the most 2018 album they possibly could, unfazed by the idea it could sound dated a few years down the line. “Timeless music is amazing but everybody’s trying so hard to make timeless music that they’re making vague, cookie-cutter shit,” Katz says. “It sounds like everything else and I don’t think there’s really many rock bands who are trying to write anything current. We wanted to make something for this generation.”
You might have realised by now this band isn’t one to limit themselves. “We don’t even consider ourselves a rock band,” Katz says defiantly. “If we decide to put out a rap album next week, we’re gonna do it. Watch us. We don’t fucking care. We do what we want. Rock and roll used to be about that spirit and that got lost somewhere.” You can count on Badflower to put it right back in the heart of things, whether anyone else likes it or not.
The HU is a band from Mongolia that blends heavy metal and traditional Mongolian throat singing. Their first two videos (“Yuve Yuve Yu” and “Wolf Totem”) immediately went viral garnering the band over 100 million views. The explosive reaction to The HU resulted in a number of features about the band in international media such as NPR, ET India Times, Playboy Mexico, Jack Canal+Fr, Hong Kong 01, DW News Germany and others.
The band’s name The HU, is the Mongolian root word for human being. They call their style “Hunnu Rock”…inspired by the Hunnu, an ancient Mongolian empire, known as The Huns in western culture. Some of the band’s lyrics include old Mongolian war cries and poetry.
Founded in 2016 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia by their producer Dashka, along with the members Gala, Jaya, Temka, and Enkush. The HU combines Rock Music with traditional Mongolian instrumentation like the Morin Khuur (horsehead fiddle), Tovshuur (Mongolian guitar), Tumur Khuur (jaw harp), guttural throating singing and the bombastic bass and drums of rock. All four members have earned Bachelor’s or higher degrees in music and have several years of touring experience throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim.
Since the formation of the band, they’ve been working on their first album, The Gereg. The word Gereg was used as the first Diplomatic “Passport” by the Mongol empire during the time of Genghis Khan. The album contains nine songs including viral hits “Yuve Yuve Yu” and “Wolf Totem”, and was released on September 13, 2019 via Better Noise Music (f/k/a Eleven Seven Music).
FROM ASHES TO NEW
The future is something that all of us must deal with yet it’s often uncertain and that was the case when it came to the making of From Ashes To New’s sophomore full-length The Future.
When the band’s vocalist/keyboardist/programmer Matt Brandyberry rhymes on the title track “The Future”, “Day One is over, The Future’s approaching, the embers are glowing, we’re spreading the ash,” it’s not only verbal wordplay about moving forward from their most recent album Day One, it also serves as a declaration of From Ashes To New’s mission statement for this album: The Future Is Hear.
The follow-up to the 2016 debut album Day One, which saw the band break into the Top 10 Active Rock Chart with the track “Through It All” and featured streaming hits “Breaking Now” and “Lost and Alone”, The Future sees the Lancaster PA-based group embracing a new path, revealing a new lineup, and marking a massive step forward. “We went through an extreme level of adversity while creating this album, explains Brandyberry. “Pretty much anything that could go wrong to slow down the process and throw you a curveball happened, but we came out on the other side.”
Following the success of Day One and extensive touring, the group’s drummer and co-vocalist decided to step away. Instead of focusing on setbacks, Brandyberry focused on a path forward for From Ashes To New. In March 2017, he began working on the new album with drummer Mat Madiro (Trivium) and guitarist Lance Dowdle—but finding a vocalist who could complement Brandyberry’s rapping was a complex process – it had to be the right fit! – so the group decided to begin writing The Future as a trio. “I was in a bad mind frame because of what was happening with the other members leaving and the anxiety made it difficult to write at times but ultimately we came together and decided we were going to write the best music we possibly could and see where that took us,” Brandyberry recounts.
Once this collection of songs started coming together the group starting auditioning vocalists and Brandyberry kept coming back to Danny Case even though the singer didn’t necessarily have the same amount of experience as some of the seasoned pros who wanted the gig. “We asked our fans to help us find a great vocalist, and we kept coming back to Danny because he has such a dynamic range. Being able to go across that spectrum with his voice was a huge selling feature—and not only that but the dude is driven,” Brandyberry explains. “We were looking for someone who wants it, he’s hungry for it and he wants to work hard and earn their success… and Danny is that guy.”
From Ashes To New’s chemistry lies at the core of The Future, an album that sees the band expanding their music palette and taking their blend of rock, hip/hop, pop and metal to new heights. From the relentless, syncopated groove of the opener “Wake Up” to the arena-ready anthems like “Gone Forever” and Current Single “Crazy”, to the hip-hop/electronica-influenced hybrids like “My Name,” The Future is a unique album that fans will undoubtedly relate to with regardless of what type of musical scene they usually embrace.
The album was written at Brandyberry’s home studio and then recorded at Atrium Audio with producers Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland (August Burns Red) eventually mixed by Josh Wilbur (Korn, Lamb Of God). A last-minute experiment brought about “Nowhere to Run” recorded with Nick “Raz” Furlong and Colin Brittain (Papa Roach, Blink-182). With all this, The Future became a collaborative album in the truest sense of the phrase.
“This is the first record that other members really got a chance to put their stamp on and I think you can hear that influence on every song,” Brandyberry explains, adding that he and Lance, an accomplished programmer, were able explore new sonic textures by combining the organic and electronic aspects of From Ashes To New in a way they’ve never fully realized in the past.
Speaking of which, The Future also sees Brandyberry taking everything to an entirely new level in a way that perfectly complements the bands roots and the impassioned singing of Case. “Songs like (the album’s stellar title track)‘The Future’ is the best rap I feel I’ve ever written and features a children’s choir “I think that song in particular has a perfect blend of everything that we do. I really love the raps on that track because I feel like it really challenged me and hopefully shows how I’ve been able to grow and find new ways of executing ideas as an artist and a writer with this record.”
“The concept is obviously about the future of the band but it’s also the future of our world,” Brandyberry continues. “We’re actually happier now with what we are putting out than we’ve ever been, so we look at everything went through as a blessing in disguise.” Whether you’re a longtime supporter of the band or a recent convert to their innovative sound there’s no question that The Future established them as one of the leaders of their genre. Now it’s time to make that future a reality.
Helmet was formed in New York City in 1989 by founding members Page Hamilton, Henry Bogdan, Peter Mengede and John Stanier. The group signed to Amphetamine Reptile Records and released their first full-length album, Strap It On, in 1991. A year later, they signed to Interscope Records.
The band found mainstream success with their Interscope debut, Meantime, which debuted at number 68 on the Billboard 200 and spawned the hits “Unsung” and “In the Meantime.” In 1994, Helmet explored new sonic territories with the fan favorite and critically acclaimed Betty, which incorporated elements of jazz and blues into their “thinking man’s metal.” Following an additional album, Helmet broke up in 1998, while Hamilton explored other projects, including various collaborations and film scores.
In 2004, Hamilton reformed Helmet with a new lineup, releasing the album Size Matters that same year. In 2006, they released Monochrome on Warcone records and then released their most recent album, Seeing Eye Dog, via Work Song in 2010.
Since the 2004 revival, Helmet has toured extensively all over the world. In 2012, they toured Europe in light of the 20th anniversary of Meantime and, most recently, embarked on a similar tour for the 20th anniversary of Betty.
Tremonti, founded by Grammy award-winning Mark Tremonti, is an American heavy metal band. In 2012, Mark teamed up with long-time friends and fellow musicians Eric Friedman (backing vocals / guitar / bass) and Garrett Whitlock (drums) to record Mark’s debut solo album. “All I Was”, featured Mark’s trademark metal-root guitar riffs coupled with infectious melody, and most impressively – the debut of Mark Tremonti as lead vocalist.
Since the beginning, Fozzy has been about hard work, dedication and delivering great rock n roll to their devoted fans worldwide; reminding them that music is all about invoking dirty, sweaty jubilation and doing it LOUDLY!
However, calling them just “entertainers” would be abridging their talent as Ward is one of the most versatile, underrated riffers in rock n roll and Jericho’s vocal range and passion for music makes one wonder just how he is able to excel in pretty much everything he does. Throw in the powerhouse rock solid drumming of Frank Fontsere, the blazing leads of Billy Grey and the genius & energy of returning bassist Paul DiLeo and it’s no surprise that Fozzy has skyrocketed into becoming one of the hottest rock acts in years.
The band inched up the ladder after releasing four progressively popular studio albums. However, it was 2012’s Sin & Bones, which featured the hit single “Sandpaper” (over 3 million views on YouTube) that found the band reaching a level of legitimacy that drew a mass audience to drink in their trademark heavy melodic groove. Sin & Bones eventually reached #143 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart, but it was their next album, Do You Wanna Start A War (produced by Ward), released in the summer of 2014 that really blew the door open, debuting at #54 on Billboard and giving the band their first top 30 single in “Lights Go Out” (which was also the theme for the 2014 WWE Summerslam PPV and blared in sports arenas nationwide), along with the live favorite title track and the ABBA cover (your eyes do not deceive you),“SOS”.
But as much success the band had enjoyed, nothing compared to the juggernaut known as “JUDAS”. Released in May 2017, the song spent 5 WEEKS at NUMBER ONE on the highly influential ‘Big Uns Countdown’ on Sirius/XM’s Octane channel, amassed over 18 MILLION views for its video on YouTube and cracked the TOP 5 on the US Rock Radio Charts. With that giant hit song in their arsenal, Fozzy is now back on the road on their wildly successful Judas Rising Tour. After sharing the stage over the years with Metallica, Kiss, Avenged Sevenfold, Slash, Saxon, Theory Of A Dead Man, Drowning Pool, Steel Panther, Hardcore Superstar & Buckcherry, Fozzy is back on the stage to bring good times and great tunes to their fans around the world and elsewhere! Add in the arrival of their new album also named “Judas” on October 13, 2017, it’s the perfect time to remind the world that not only is Judas Rising, but so is Fozzy!
When Ayron Jones wrote the haunting lyric, “Got me on my knees / too much smoke, can’t breathe,” heard in his new single “Mercy,” he meant the words quite literally. It was August of 2020 when he penned the song along with Marty Frederickson and Scott Stevens, and by that point, during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, the whole world appeared to be on fire.
“I just felt like the line epitomized where we were in America,” Jones says. “It was like taking a telescope and giving people a perspective of America from an outsider and what it felt like to experience this time. It was a rough story about what was really going on here in this country—and particularly for me, as a Black man.” Full of charged lyrics and melodies, “Mercy” strongly captures a collective consciousness of the time. It is also, though, underscored by a vision of hope and endurance: through it all, we persevere.
Jones’ own personal story—from the streets of Seattle to full-blown rock star—is no less rough, yet also one filled with perseverance and determination. His parents both battled drug addiction, and at a young age Jones was taken in by his aunt and uncle. Money was tight, and Jones struggled to understand both his place in the world and how to overcome his tumultuous youth. Yet, these very elements became the fuel to drive his early career.
Doubling down on his uniqueness with an album that harkens back to Jones’ beginnings, CHILD OF THE STATE is slated for release on May 21 via Big Machine / John Varvatos Records. “Having faced the abandonment I did as a child, and how that affected me in life, is really what this album is about,” he explains of the title. “It’s the triumph of overcoming all of that and still being that person. I’m the same kid looking for his parents, that longed for the love and support. A lot of people have faced adoption and abandonment, but it’s not really talked about as to how that affects people and I thought it was important to be a beacon of hope for those people. To stand for something and prove not everyone has to be a stereotype or statistic.”
Jones was 13 when he first picked up the guitar that belonged to his friend—one that he began visiting more frequently just so he could spend more time with the instrument. Recognizing his raw talent, his aunt and a neighbor eventually gifted him guitars, and all the while he taught himself to play, picking and strumming until the strings felt like a second skin. “I had a lot of conflicting emotions about my identity and my childhood,” explains Jones, “and until I found the guitar, I didn’t have an outlet. Writing and playing became a channel to express everything that I had been feeling, and then it just became my obsession.”
That self-sufficient tenacity continued to buoy Jones when, at the age of 19, he began releasing music independently. His talent and diligence earned him opportunities with iconic artists such as BB King, Guns N Roses, Janelle Monae, and many more; he forged a path to continuously widen his audience, and broke barriers as a Black artist in the Rock industry. Jones tells “in the early days, we would walk into clubs and be treated poorly because we didn’t look like the usual Rock band; but, after leaving the stage we had won over the hearts and minds of the crowd. We knew that we were doing something to open the door for other artists like us, not just in Seattle but across the world. Fast forward to today, and Seattle has become a Black rock city – prominent Black artists are leading the scene. I’m proud to have endured the hardships and challenges that I did as a performer, in order to open the door for those coming next.”
Jones cultivated a robust following in the Pacific Northwest, earning the embrace of the city’s musical royalty including Duff McKagan, Mike McCready, and more. His independent rise allowed him to hone his creative vision, and the partnership with Big Machine / John Varvatos Records was the next step in his musical and creative journey. Jones explains: “Had I stayed independent, I don’t think I would’ve had the opportunity to be where I am now, as a chart-topper and moving into my first major record,” he says.
CHILD OF THE STATE will feature “Mercy” as well as his Top 5 debut “Take Me Away,” which proved that there’s definitely a market for Jones’ genre-blending sound. His life is sprinkled throughout the full album, with lyrics tackling controversial subjects, and stories that listeners can relate to.
Jones weaves together complex issues of addiction and relationships, in “Spinning Circles” – You’re the want that I need / Like that cough from good weed / And those lines that you toe / That slow drip down your throat. For him, the song is autobiographical in the sense that “we have all been in relationships that were very unhealthy, where we couldn’t get rid of the person and there was something there that kept drawing us back and forth, going in circles.”
“Supercharged” stands as an anthem for his love for female energy and past muses. Jones admits, “I love love and for better or worse the abandonment in my childhood has fueled that emotion.” Masterfully upending preconceived notions of music and lyrics, the album also feeds on a palpable passion: from the bluesy “Baptized In Muddy Waters,” evoking Muddy Waters both literal and figurative, to the stripped-down and pensive “My Love Remains,” and the hard-driving soulful melody of “Boys From the Puget Sound.”
From one song to the next on the album, Jones’ love affair with the guitar and his versatility on the instrument shines through. He also played a heavy role in production on Child of the State, collaborating with producers to craft his sound and vision. “The experience of working with various individuals on the project both allowed me to express myself and my experience in the studio, plus to further my own knowledge of production.”
“I’m this cat that is playing Rock, and I probably look like I came from the hood—which I did,” Jones adds. “But I’m not the stereotype, and I want people to be taken aback. I want people to think about what CHILD OF THE STATE means. And when they open up this record by a hoodie-wearing Black man from the worst of circumstances who’s creating this sonically gorgeous music, I want people to think about that, too.”
Escape The Fate
ESCAPE THE FATE is a three-word phrase synonymous with heavy rock n’ roll and hooks, post-hardcore with weight, and unrelenting genre-redefining anthems built for diverse audiences. Over a decade into their young career, they have proven to move crowds equally at major rock radio festivals, the legendary Vans Warped Tour, or on the road with Five Finger Death Punch.
CHEMICAL WARFARE is the sound of a band that’s more comfortable in their own skin than ever, recharged for the next era of their career, reinvigorated, and redefined, without losing any edge.
“I hope that people think of Escape The Fate as a good time, but a good time in a better way,” singer Craig Mabbitt explains. “We want people to connect deeply with the music and disappear in it. Get lost and then return from the album, or show, feeling inspired about themselves. We want to make people feel better about life, to know they can take on all of its hardships. That’s what the music does for us as a band. That’s what we want it to do for the audience, too.”
Mabbitt, Thrasher, TJ Bell, and Robert Ortiz have each been making music, and on the road, before they were old enough to drive. ESCAPE THE FATE is poised to shatter all preconceived notions about the past, with a bold step forward into their future. It’s not their storied and beloved music, which regularly captures roughly 2 million listeners across streaming services each month, that requires any distance. It’s the decadence, drama, and retrograde “bad boy” image that they’ve left in the dust.
An authentic, visceral, and electric connection with the audience is the heart of what ESCAPE THE FATE is about. The guys in the band understand what it means to be broken, from childhood trauma, to the tumultuous downsides of the music business. They know how music can heal.
It’s what has made the band’s message transcend any sense of “difference” in genre, all around the world, touring with Avenged Sevenfold, Godsmack, Papa Roach, I Prevail, Bullet For My Valentine, Hollywood Undead, HELLYEAH, All That Remains, and on multiple Vans Warped Tours. The tangible passion and energy of the music and lyrics transcend language and culture, whether ESCAPE THE FATE performs at Rock on the Range, Graspop Metal Meeting, or Rock am Ring.
Smashing forward with the momentum from Billboard Top 5 Independent Album Hate Me (2015) and I Am Human (2018), which produced the Top 20 Billboard Mainstream Rock single “Broken Heart,” the four men of ESCAPE THE FATE have crafted an ambitious third entry to what could certainly be described as their most powerful trilogy of albums. Made together with A-list producer John Feldmann (Panic! At The Disco, 5 Seconds Of Summer, The Used) and co-produced by Kevin ‘Thrasher’ Gruft (ETF guitarist and production pro in his own right), CHEMICAL WARFARE delivers an arsenal of driving bangers and melodic ballads, among the best of the hard rock world. Thrasher has been working with the likes of Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker on other projects and running from studio to studio to create new music. His packed production schedule in recent times has greatly sharpened his skill set, making CHEMICAL WARFARE a real show of his musical strength.
Ortiz is a big fan of megastar violinist Lindsey Stirling, so the band were elated when she accepted their invitation to contribute to one of their songs. “She is an angel – she has so much light in her. But the primary reason I wanted to work with her… strictly speaking musically, she is gnarly – her music is epic,” adds Ortiz. Travis Barker, best known as the drummer for blink-182, makes a handful of appearances as well. Songs like “Lightning Strike,” “Not My Problem,” “Hand Grenade,” and “Invincible” are destined to take their place alongside classic ETF anthems like “One for the Money” and “The Flood.”
ESCAPE THE FATE have always emphasized diversity in their sound. Each record seamlessly blends soaring melodic hooks, powerful riffage, shredding solos, and some of the most instantly recognizable drumming in the genre, with Mabbitt’s heartfelt, authentic, lyrical missives on top.
ESCAPE THE FATE conquered the burgeoning metalcore scene on the strength of their breakout album, This War is Ours (2008), which led to a major label deal and the rock crossover success of Escape the Fate (2011), produced by hitmaker Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Korn, Avril Lavigne). The album hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hard Rock Albums, the first of three ESCAPE THE FATE records to debut at No. 1 or two on that chart. Ungrateful (2013) boasts the roaring “You’re Insane.” Hate Me is equally defined by stunning singles like “Just a Memory” and “Remember Every Scar.”
I Am Human, released in 2018, marked the band’s second collaboration with GRAMMY® Award-nominated producer Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, Skillet, Seether). That album saw fan-favorite songs like “Empire” and “Do You Love Me?” added to the ETF songbook, but it was the title track that really blew down the doors, heralding the new chapter begun on CHEMICAL WARFARE.
“I started doing this because music was my ‘escape’,” says Mabbitt. “I was running from unresolved feelings or chasing things away with a bottle. But music was always there for me. The whole experience of making CHEMICAL WARFARE, while reflecting on the other records; it was a beautiful realization to contemplate the power of music. It’s been such an escape for so many people that it puts me in my place. I become so humbled. I’m so grateful, not only that I’m still alive, but that I can get this music out of my head and that it will hopefully help some other people, too.”
It may be the same guys, with the same name, but it’s a brand-new ESCAPE THE FATE. “We get up on that stage, we go into the studio, for different reasons now,” Mabbitt insists. “Throw out everything you thought you knew about this band. CHEMICAL WARFARE is a new beginning for us.”
“Spiritbox is where serene art-rock and metal savagery meet.” – Loudwire
The existential dread of isolation and the wondrous alchemy of artisans, ensconced in a self-imposed enclave of creativity, have converged in the music of SPIRITBOX. Part post-metal band, part art collective, SPIRITBOX makes magic in the musical and visual mediums, evoking spirits like that other type of “medium.” Not unlike the arcane occult technology of their namesake, SPIRITBOX communes with people all around the world, via broad emotional outbursts of sound.
Conjuring spirits through music and video as do-it-yourself artists from their remote place of worship, the burgeoning arts community of Vancouver Island, the husband and wife duo of Courtney LaPlante and Mike Stringer inspired a cult following from their first emergence in 2017. It wasn’t long before bassist Bill Crook was baptized into the fold, expanding the outfit to a trio.
A self-titled EP introduced SPIRITBOX to the world, enchanting an even broader spectrum of the esoteric minded sort. Singles Collection, the five-song set that followed in 2019, documents LaPlante’s struggle with depression, while emphasizing the band’s genre-transcending musical prowess. From melancholy to madness, from hopelessness to redemption, SPIRITBOX is a complete extension of its creators. As Revolver Magazine pointed out in a glowing profile, the band’s 2020 breakout single, “Holy Roller,” is both “insanely catchy and totally crushing.” Most strikingly perhaps, like everything SPIRITBOX, “Holy Roller” was fashioned free from compromise.
There is nothing pandering or remotely insincere about this band. That authenticity is what attracts its religiously devoted adherents, an ever-growing “denomination” of diverse people. The obsessive nature of the burgeoning fandom is a testament to the immersive quality of SPIRITBOX. As the ghostly phrase from the late ‘80s baseball movie goes, “If you build it, they will come.”
How much noise can two people make? ‘68 is the sound of simultaneous implosion and explosion, of destruction and creation unbound. These are songs that could almost fall apart at any moment, yet never do, devilishly dancing between life and death. It’s a primitive impulse
delivered with postmodern purpose; a blacksmith’s resolve with an arsenal of electric distortion and raw nerve.
Josh Scogin kickstarted his small band with the big sound in 2013, naming the two-man
outfit he modestly undersells as “a little rock, a little blues, a little hardcore” after his father’s
old Camaro. And there’s a muscle car-sized rumble beneath the hood of what the Atlanta,
Georgia native and his percussive partner-in-crime, Nikko Yamada, unleash with an array of
guitar, bass, drums, keys, and pedals, careening between swinging barnburners, wild haymakers, and moody atmosphere.
Like a Delta Blues reimagining of Bleach-era Nirvana or the disgraced punkish cousin of The
Black Keys, ’68 adheres to a single ethic: unbridled authenticity. There’s not a “plan” with
’68 so much as a ride, with the duo hanging on for dear life in the eye of the storm every bit
as much as the audience. The obstacle is the goal. The journey is the destination. Inventive,
disruptive, frantic; even when dipping into a bit of Otis Redding or James Brown style funk,
’68 sound urgent.
The ’68 roadshow has taken them from Moscow to Tel Aviv, across Europe and Australia and all-over North America, often splitting up 20-hour drives between the two guys. The passion, the hunger, the good humor, it all connects with diverse crowds. Deliciously
stripped down and vibrant, ’68 excels in intimate environments, to be sure, but is no less
unignorable on giant festival stages or on the road with Bring Me The Horizon, Stone Sour,
Beartooth, Avatar, August Burns Red, The Amity Affliction, and Underoath, where they’ve
earned new converts every day.
In Humor and Sadness, the first album by ’68, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard New Artist
Chart. Two Parts Viper followed in 2017. “[‘68] bring the noise in the most righteous ways,
caring less about the scene they came up through, the bloodless drivel that passes as
‘indie’ and the boring earnestness currently permeating ‘punk,’” declared Alternative Press.
“Two Parts Viper is the best record of the year. Throw a copy in my casket, because I’ll never
be done listening to it.”
Grammy-winning producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Rush, Alice In Chains) became
a believer after just a few songs of a ’68 set. On GIVE ONE TAKE ONE, crafted with Raskulinecz in Nashville,
the band’s high intensity bombast threatens but never swallows the underlying groove.
With the same spirit of scrappy “winging it” and punchy minimalism that powered the Flat
Duo Jets and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, ’68 push forward the pure rock traditions of
audacity and disruption. Scogin gives everything to the microphone, as if singing to redeem
his soul. He wields his guitar and keys like weapons, pulverizing away any false pretenses.
It’s about the riff and the kick. It’s immediate. It’s alive. And it’s fun. Sweaty catharsis, cutting
missives, surrendered by ’68 as if the world depends on them. Because in ’68, less is more.
Oh, so much more
Grammy-nominated RED returned in 2020 with their 7th studio album, DECLARATION, “A statement, a culmination of all that we’ve seen and learned, everyone with we’ve met and connected with over the past 15 years,” says guitarist/writer Anthony Armstrong. “All these experiences shaped our approach to making this statement.” The result is a tour de force for a band at the height of its powers, with Michael Barnes best vocals to-date crisscrossing from anthemic new singles (“The War We Made”, “Sever”), to thundering precursor tracks (“The Evening Hate”, “From The Ashes”), and soon-to-be classic album cuts (“Cauterize”, “All For You”). With touring plans set back during the Covid pandemic, the band are now just as excited as fans to bring DECLARATION to the stage for numerous shows already popping up in 2021 and 2022.
21-year-old Philly native Zero 9:36, brings his angsty, power-fueled spirit to a roaring peak in his debut EP, You Will Not Be Saved available now on all streaming platforms. Growing up in the city of Brotherly Love, Zero 9:36took to music at an early age. He entered his first studio at 10 years old and never looked back. The alternative artist has since amassed over 10 Million streams and collaborated with artists such as Tory Lanez, PnB Rock and grandson. Defying genre lines and norms, Zero 9:36 toes the line of alt-rock and hip-hop. When asked about this new iteration in his career he says “This project represents a major transition in my life. Going through this process taught me that, as both an artist and human being, you have to take risks and be willing to fail in order to truly understand who you are.
HYRO THE HERO
In any cultural movement there are leaders and there are followers. But most importantly, there are those uniquely innovative provocateurs that take the familiar, turn it upside down, and burn it with new creative fire.
Like a b-boy mad scientist smashing the windows of the mainstream with a Molotov cocktail of passion and inspiration, Hyro The Hero takes the fusion of rap and rock and resurrects it. His combustible concoction is one part The Clash, one part Bad Brains, and several doses of reverence for hip-hop relevance. It’s the most punk rock rap and the most hip-hop punk.
cleopatrick (yup, the ‘c’ is lowercase) are a heavy alt-rock duo from the tiny town of Cobourg, Ontario.
A quick listen reveals devastating riffs and hip-hop inspired grooves, but closer inspection exposes the core mission of lifelong best friends Luke Gruntz (guitar/vocals) and Ian Fraser (drums): to restore the outspoken provocation of rock & roll through raw, abrasive honesty.
And the craziest part? It’s working.
To date, cleopatrick’s song “hometown” has independently amassed over 60 million streams without the help of a record label or marketing campaign. The band has been featured on the front cover of Spotify’s massive “Rock This” playlist, performed at Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits– and done it all from their parents’ basements in a small town you’ve never heard of.
Fuck whatever you think rock is, because cleopatrick is about to change it all.
The songs we can’t stop singing last forever. They soundtrack life’s most important moments and stay with us through good times and bad.
Los Angeles alternative rock band Dead Sara set out to write those kinds of songs on their 2018 EP and first release for Atlantic Records, Temporary Things Taking Up Space. The trio —Emily Armstrong [vocals and guitar], Siouxsie Medley [lead guitar] and Sean Friday [drums]— doubled down on the brash and bluesy bravado that made them a fan favorite, while sharpening the songcraft to knifepoint precision and simultaneously widening the sound’s scope.
“You listen to some songs and think, ‘Oh my God, I want to hear that again’,” says Armstrong. “After ten years of doing everything on our own, we’ve learned so much. However, we were stuck in our ways- the way we’d always done things. Why should anything be off limits? I realized we’d been too afraid, and I was hiding in my own world. I’m ready to open that world up. When we started scaring ourselves, it was the best thing possible. For the first time, I was exposing myself lyrically in a way that I’d never done before. We got more vulnerable overall. Then again, isn’t that what songwriting is all about?”
“We took the time to figure out what we wanted and how to grow as individuals,” elaborates Medley. “Then, we did that.”
Most importantly, Temporary Things Taking Up Space marks a natural step. Since the release of their 2012 self-titled debut, Dead Sara have quietly carved a foothold at the forefront of the 21st century rock vanguard through a one-two punch of raucous riffing and sky-high vocals. Along the way, the musicians earned high-profile fans such as Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick who namechecked them in The Wall Street Journal, Muse’s Matt Bellamy who invited them on tour, and Dave Grohl who proclaimed, “Dead Sara should be the next biggest rock band in the world.” Between releasing their acclaimed 2015 sophomore offering Pleasure to Meet You and endless touring, they repeatedly lit up the small screen, performing on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and during an episode of The Vampire Diaries.
In hindsight, it feels as if everything was building towards Temporary Things Taking Up Space.
“We started to open up a new chapter,” comments Friday. “We were bringing in so many different sounds.”
“Oh boy, I believe this has been a long time coming,” exclaims the frontwoman. “We had the energy, we had the passion, and we had the love for music. We were missing that one thing. We had to change in order to find it.”
Embracing an adventurous spirit, the group’s process started morphing in 2016. Rather than hit the studio with loose ideas to quickly cobble together an album, they dedicated nearly a year to writing and perfecting the new music. Another first, they welcomed collaborations with writers such as Simon Katz, and Tommy English, while enlisting Tony Hoffer [Beck, M83, Air] as producer. Musically, they further incorporated synthesizers and electronic percussive elements, confidently expanding the sonic palette.
“We went outside of the box in the approach to this EP,” Medley remarks. “The creative process was definitely different from what we’ve done in the past. We tried every avenue and didn’t limit ourselves in any way. We tried more synths and programming—which Sean really drove.”
“We’ve never spent this much time writing,” Armstrong continues. “I stopped taking work. I stopped everything. I decided the only way this was going to happen was if I dedicated my all to it. I was obsessed. I just wanted to get better. It opened the floodgates. It’s a bridge to what’s next for Dead Sara.”
“We devoted a month to hashing out the songs and making them the best they could be,” adds Friday. “In addition to the synths, we tried a lot of direct-input guitars to make it sound really gritty. It’s tighter. With all of that experimentation, we went into the studio.”
The trio ignites this next chapter with the 2018 single “Anybody.” Propulsive guitars curl around an arena-ready beat punctuated by heavenly synths programmed by Friday before the seismic refrain, “Come on and touch me. Do I belong to anybody?”
“I was going through a breakup,” recalls Armstrong. “The world seemed like it was imploding. Donald Trump had just gotten in. It was as if everything shifted. I felt like I didn’t belong. There was nothing I could hold onto, grab, or be a part of. Life went dark. We captured something really raw in the moment.”
“Siouxsie added these really cool guitar parts to it,” recalls Friday. “We built it organically like most of this material.”
Elsewhere on the EP, an arsenal of Medley’s vintage guitars wail wildly on the stomping shuffle of “Heaven’s Got A Back Door” before spiraling into a cathedral-size chant.
Thinking “What would Keith Richards do?” (after a few tequila shots), “UnAmerican” sarcastically skewers stereotypes with lyrical barbs, a lively scream, and a clever and catchy chorus explosion, “I guess I’m UnAmerican.”
The spacey six-string echo of “What It Takes” resounds as Armstrong delivers one of her most personal performances to date.
“‘What It Takes’ is essentially about coming out,” she states. “That’s something I was never able to speak on. I was living this life where I felt like if I said something I was going to die, but by not saying anything, I was already dying. Again, I was scaring myself with this song. It’s about realizing that it’s ok to just be yourself, because honestly, nobody really cares but you.”.
In the end, Dead Sara unleash a body of work befitting their ambition, drive, and decade-plus grind.
“We finally have the music we’ve been looking for,” Armstrong leaves off. “We rebuilt everything to get here. There’s a lot of growth. Now, it’s so exciting to see how this unfolds. I think we can reach a whole new level with these songs.”
It takes over a billion years for a diamond to form, and yet in just 24 years, Diamante has really begun to sparkle. With iridescent sapphire hair, a show-stopping voice, runway-ready fashion swagger, and an empowering message, the Boston-raised and Los Angeles-based Mexican-Italian-American siren brings a new (and blue) fire to rock and alternative music.
Diamante spent her teenage years cutting her teeth at local gigs on the Sunset Strip to become the powerhouse performer she is today. A disciple of both P!nk and Guns N’ Roses who doesn’t fall into rockstar excess or even sport tattoos, she devoted every waking minute to honing a signature “hard rock sound with a modern alternative edge.” This unique and undeniable approach caught the attention of Better Noise Music who signed her in 2015. She hit the studio with super producer Howard Benson [My Chemical Romance, Halestorm, Kelly Clarkson] to record what would become her full-length debut, Coming In Hot. With the release of her first album, Diamante undeniably stormed the scene in 2018 with a #1 song at rock radio (her collaboration of “Hear Me Now” with Bad Wolves), along with a top 15 song with her own single “Haunted”.
Now three years later, and after extensive touring with bands like Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, Chevelle, and Shinedown… Diamante is in full force shining brighter than ever before. In 2019, Diamante parted ways with Better Noise and soon after teamed up with Howard Benson and Neil Sanderson of Judge & Jury as an independent artist to make her sophomore album, American Dream. Diamante capitalized on her newfound ultimate creative freedom and independence by being her own CEO throughout every facet of the album process. On working with Benson and Sanderson, Diamante praises that they were instrumental in “bringing my stories to life and pushing me to embrace my vulnerabilities”.
American Dream shows exponential growth from Coming In Hot sonically and in its raw authenticity, proving now more than ever that Diamante’s fearlessness to bear her soul in her music is what truly sets her apart.
The world may seem like a pretty strange place right now, but if nothing else that’s forced us
into realizing that being human is a shared experience. That sentiment lies at the core of Earth
Is A Black Hole, the second full-length from the Los Angeles rock act Teenage Wrist. The album
also marks the group’s first release since the departure of former bassist/vocalist Kamtin
Mohager last year and sees the duo of guitarist Marshall Gallagher stepping up as frontman,
with longtime drummer Anthony Salazar backing him up in spectacular fashion. “As soon as we
found out Kam was exiting, I just started writing,” Gallagher explains. “I wanted to keep this
band going and we didn’t know exactly what that would look like, so I wrote two songs and
demoed them myself to see if everyone was still on board.” Those songs turned out to be the
jangly power ballad “Yellowbelly” and spacey rocker “Wear U Down”—and with that, a new era
of Teenage Wrist was born.
The artistic liberation of this lineup change, coupled with the past two years the band spent
touring alongside genre-smashing acts such as Thrice, allowed Teenage Wrist to expand on the
shoegazing sound that helped establish them as one of the most exciting rock bands around
today. While they are still influenced by bands like Swervedriver and My Bloody Valentine—most
evidently on the swirling anthem “Silverspoon,” which showcases Salazar’s drumming prowess
— Earth Is A Black Hole sees the band shifting their songwriting focus to a more modern sound
that showcases the limitless potential of the band. “With this record we wanted to incorporate
some more expansive elements such as synths, drum samples and electronica,” Gallagher explains.
“When we started making music in 2014, we found ourselves in the middle of this
grunge revival which was really cool. But for this record we felt like we needed to push past that
in a way and get a little more aggressive. We wanted to be more of a rock band this time
In order to capture this sound, the band enlisted Colin Brittain (Basement, A Day to Remember),
whose production style merged perfectly with what Teenage Wrist were trying to accomplish
with this album. “Before Colin signed on as the producer, we had worked with him in a co-writing
capacity and turned out two pretty cool tunes,” Gallagher explains. “We thought, ‘We’re
obviously vibing with this guy from a writing standpoint, so maybe he should just produce the
record.’ He works really quickly; we like his philosophy and he added quite a bit to the writing
process as we were working together in the studio.” Although Teenage Wrist had never worked
with outside writers in the past, this experience allowed them to broaden their songwriting
perspective, a fact that is evident on Earth Is A Black Hole. Since Brittain was such a close
collaborator with the band, he was also able to analyze the best ways to record these songs and
push the dynamic range of the album into bold new sonic territory.
From lush, guitar-driven songs like “Taste Of Gasoline” and “High Again” to the atmospheric
ambience of “Stella” and syncopated aggression of “Earth Is A Black Hole,” any of these songs
could crossover into the mainstream without alienating Teenage Wrist’s fervent fanbase. “I feel
like a lot of modern rock music is trying to be something between pop and hip-hop and that’s not
what we wanted to do at all,” Gallagher explains. “We wanted to make something big and
aggressive that also had melody and immediacy,” he continues, adding that he hopes explosive
experiments like “Taste Of Gasoline,” “New Emotion” and “Wasting Time” will inspire future
Gallagher started writing the lyrics for Earth Is A Black Hole prior to the pandemic, however as
issues like the Coronavirus and racial justice started coming to the forefront of our collective
consciousness, those ideas also became embodied in the writing. “It’s funny because we
started writing these songs and reality started to develop around them; it was a self-fulfilling
prophecy,” he explains. While in some ways these songs catalog the transformation that
Gallagher has made in his personal life, it’s more than a postscript to 2018’s Chrome Neon
Jesus. “The difference between these two albums is that our last album was more nostalgic in
the sense of growing up and starting to see the world the way it was—and this album is more
about attempting to push through to something new and better.” The band also want this Earth
Is A Black Hole to challenge the way their lyrics have sometimes been misinterpreted as
apathetic because ultimately these songs are about the potential that we all have to transmute
our past into something positive.
This concept is paralleled in the collage-style artwork that accompanies Earth Is A Black Hole,
which acts a visual representation of the album’s central theme. “The idea for the title came to
me during lockdown while we were in the recording process and what initially felt nihilistic
started to feel more transient in the context of my life and this entire record,” Gallagher explains
of the seemingly bleak-sounding title. “Everything will eventually disappear into nothing and that
can make you feel small and insignificant. But that same fact should be motivation to tell the
people who are important to you that you love them and savor these beautiful moments in your
life because they’re never coming back,” he summarizes. “All we have is this moment and that’s
the most important thing: To be present and be positive and transcend the black hole bullshit
because it’s all going to end one day.” That dichotomy between hope and hopelessness is what
lies at the core of this album—and it’s part of what makes Earth Is A Black Hole such a
South of Eden
“We’re a band that writes, records, and plays like the pioneers of rock before us. We aren’t looking to bring anything back, but instead to remind people what rock n roll means. No rules. This music represents what we believe is real, raw music. No click tracks and triggers or copy and paste bullshit. Just a bunch of hippies in a room.”
South of Eden (formerly Black Coffee) are: Ehab Omran [lead vocals, acoustic guitar], Justin Young [lead guitar, vocals], Tom McCullough [drums], and Nick Fratianne [bass]. The Columbus, OH quartet have already performed alongside everyone from the Foo Fighters to System of a Down, and invite you to join them on their journey of looking at rock ‘n’ roll through a modern lens.
“We want to open up the doors for rock in the modern era,” exclaims Ehab. “We want to sound the way we hear rock in our heads—vintage with a sprinkle of today. We try to give listeners the feeling of discovering the genre for the first time. We think now is the moment to be a rock band.”
The band has already paid their dues to reach this point. Growing up in Columbus, OH the band formed by combining their passions and uniting over their love of music. Originally from the country of Jordan, Ehab primarily listened to the Arabic music his parents would play, in addition to superstars like Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, and James Brown. After coming to America, he was introduced to a wider range of music that inspired him: eighties and nineties rock including Guns N’ Roses and notably Queen. Just like Freddie Mercury’s parents, Ehab’s parents didn’t agree that a life in rock ‘n’ roll was the best thing for their son. However, as he met the rest of the band, his dream became a life affirming reality.
Ehab and Nick performed together in various bands (channeling Iron Maiden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Alice In Chains) and eventually joined Justin and Tom who had been working on their own band (influenced by Van Halen and Black Sabbath). Justin, who was at the time attending Berklee College of Music, describes first writing with Ehab and noted “The first jam was crazy. He came over with Tom and just listened for a while. We had the riffs to songs, and he just immediately started singing. Here I had gone to music college to find people I could mesh with stylistically, only to come back home and find that my best friend and a singer that I had already known about were all I needed!”
This newfound discovery lead to a fast-paced evolution. As Tom noted, “We didn’t have a bass player, bass amp or a bass! Ehab wrote most of the bass lines on guitar and we grooved so well. We were a band for like a week before we had booked our first show two weeks out. We ended up borrowing equipment and we became a band.” As they continued to tour, they crossed paths and shared bills with Puddle of Mudd, Red Sun Rising and recently graced the main stage of Sonic Temple and Epicenter in 2019. That very same year Jason Flom caught wind of the band and signed them to Lava Records.
When it came to recording, they honor the methods of those who come before them and “tape in a vintage way, with no click track, pitch correction, copy-paste, or any of that nonsense.”
The musicians headed to Los Angeles to record with legendary GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Greg Wells [Adele Twenty One Pilots, Deftones]. “When I first heard the band, it had its own original identity,” explains Greg. “That was something I had waited years to find. I emailed them back saying, ‘I want to be your Mutt Lang’.”
Ehab notes “It’s a mixture of a lot of things. We’re ‘classically rock’ influenced, but listen to so many different genres and eras that there are a lot of different feelings in our music.”
On the lead single Ehab describes “We knew we wanted our first release to showcase our personalities, both in the music and the visual. “‘Dancing With Fire’ is just that; personality. It’s a song about conflict, and to us that conflict is being a bunch of twenty-two-year-olds attempting to make it as a rock band in unprecedented times. We’re excited to see how people interpret the song into their own lives.”
“When you hear us, I want you to walk away thinking, ‘That was honest and different’,” Ehab leaves off. “We’re just doing what we do. We’re proof you can do anything you want and shouldn’t compromise your dreams.”
Exploding out of Seattle, WA, hotly-tipped hard rock five-piece AVOID have been rapidly making a name for themselves thanks to their electrifying live show and an unabashed experimental approach to their music. The result is an alchemistic audio dose of heavy hedonism the stamp of a young act unafraid to equally embrace both their innovation and individuality.
Forming in 2017, AVOID’s Revival Recordings debut album ALONE (2018) has garnered over 1.5 million streams, debuting at #3 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Pacific Chart.
With new release The Burner, the band are poised to truly make their mark. Having already secured two new AVOID tracks – “Song For James” and “HEAT” – in video game NASCAR Heat 5, it’s a kickstart to a creative campaign incorporating impressive partnerships that at once pays homage to the legacy rock acts of the Pacific Northwest and paves the way for AVOID to take their place in the new wave of great heavy young acts.
CURRENTS is the new standard for death-infused metalcore. This is emotionally fraught and impossibly
angry music soaked in cold, depressive atmosphere. CURRENTS explore the forbidden realms of a
tortured psyche, searching for meaning amidst uncertain chaos and venom.
Heartache, physical abuse, abandonment, trauma – no dark emotion is spared examination. CURRENTS
also turn their gaze outward, offering no mercy to man-made catastrophes like climate change and animal
abuse. An exploitative system that inflicts such harm upon humanity and the entire world will not be
spared the wrath within this explosive, weaponized bombast.
The Way It Ends, the second full-length from the Connecticut bruisers, is a thematic and spiritual
successor to their dense, bludgeoning, and smartly constructed full-length debut, The Place I Feel Safest
(2017), and a direct follow-up to the blistering and diverse EP, I Let The Devil In (2018).
Those well-versed in Meshuggah, Humanity’s Last Breath, Vildhjarta, and Architects have embraced
CURRENTS with full-throated passion. A combination of their contemporaries and influences, channeled
through unique perspective and personal experience, resulted in something revolutionary. It’s why they
were handpicked for tours with August Burns Red, As I Lay Dying, We Came As Romans, Fit For A
King, Born Of Osiris, and the Impericon Never Say Die! Tour.
As New Noise declared: “CURRENTS is a band not to be ignored.”
Dead Poet Society
Blame My Youth
Blame My Youth is Sean Van Vleet – a name you might not be aware of, but unknowingly
heard in your headphones, in a store or on a television. As a former principal songwriter in
Chicago indie faves Empires, Van Vleet expanded into the world of songwriting and syncs,
providing music for major artists, ads worldwide. Blame My Youth is Van Vleet’s return to the
band format, bringing all of the earworm-y grandiosity that permeated his quietly complicated
Blame My Youth debuted with “Right Where You Belong” which was written and recorded
exclusively for the soundtrack to Bill And Ted Face The Music. The track plays during the
film’s closing credits as well. “Fantastic” marked the first proper single – a song that arrives
with a bang and drips with positivity– discussing daybreak and reemergence from the night
with a blazing sun peeking over the horizon. It’s emotional, muscular, triumphant and – much
like the artist’s Chicago upbringing – showcases Van Vleet’s perseverance as a singular,
compelling voice amongst a sea of mediocrity. With “Fantastic,” Blame My Youth have
created a perfectly-crafted modern rock banger– smart enough for the indie set but with the
brawn, sheer audacity and pop hooks found amongst the arena rock greats of yesterday.
With a raspy and muscular vocal that teeters on the precipice of breaking, Van Vleet’s
dramatic and soaring centerpieces range from whisper to full on scream. The lyrics and the
band name itself provide a glimpse into his past battles with alcohol and substance abuse
while detailing a positive and confident march toward a better future – the emergence from
darkness into the blinding sunlight with a hopeful hangover. It’s this positive outlook that
permeates through Van Vleet’s timeless, pure pop– devoid of gimmicks and bursting at the
seams with hummable and utterly inescapable hooks. It’s the sort of songwriting that works
just as well whistled as it does blasting out of a pair of earphones. Produced by the
esteemed Joey Moi (Morgan Wallen, HARDY, etc) and arranged on an amalgam of
traditional instrumentation ranging from synths to guitars and on, it all adds up to an
overwhelmingly feelgood approach that nods to Andrew WK’s brazenly positive big bang and
Post Malone’s inescapable pop sensibility, all with touches of darkness and vulnerability
throughout. It’s music meant for maximum volume while recovering from a life on maximum
volume, yet so earnest, singular and inescapable that it relates to anyone who has fought
through any sort of adversity.
Sean Van Vleet came up in Empires, a Chicago based indie band formed in 2008, releasing
two LPs and three EPs during a successful seven year run. The band had incredible
success amongst the indie set, playing Late Night and massive fests like Austin City Limits,
Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and more during tours with Death Cab for Cutie, Deerhunter,
Alkaline Trio and others. And while the middle 10s were seemingly their moment, internal
differences led to the band eventually calling it quits in 2015.
Soon thereafter, Van Vleet joined Josh Ocean (NVDES) for a period of spiritual and artistic
awakening across Europe in cafes, bars and amongst the nightlife, reinvigorating his inner
Hemingway and sparking inspiration in the meantime. This period not only led to an
impenetrable bond between the pair but a similarly strong musical partnership, one that has
seen their bombastic and dramatic “laptop punk” find its way into placements amongst the
likes of Samsung, Google and Apple iPhone advertisements.
“Spending the last few years writing and traveling around Europe with Josh was absolute
magic,” smiles Sean Van Vleet, pensively. “We both got out of long term projects at the same
time and found a real chemistry for stumbling upon crazy experiences together as well as a
special creative flow in Paris/Berlin. NVDES was always Josh’s project, but he brought me
along as a collaborator/friend and together we entered in what felt like a honeymoon period
of our careers in music, despite the fact that we had both been at this for a minute. This
freedom we found is what propelled me into the early ideas of Blame My Youth.”
And while Van Vleet’s new team ventures were thriving, he never forgot about his time in
Empires and some of the people that he worked with along the way – linking with a crew of
folks mostly renowned for their time in Nashville to help with his rock-focused venture. “I met
[the rest of the] Big Loud Rock crew Seth England, Craig Wiseman and Joey Moi, 10 years
ago,” recalls Van Vleet. “Seth and I stayed really close all this time. Not only are we really
good friends, but I think we all knew that we would eventually work on something awesome
together. It’s just about the right timing.”
A gritty howl opens Joyous Wolf’s upcoming debut LP, Enigma, and it’s the perfect introduction since the band plays rock & roll at its most primal and passionate. Guitarist Blake Allard’s bluesy riffs harken back to the classic hard rock of AC/DC, Cream and Deep Purple while still packing a thoroughly modern wallop, while front man Nick Reese’s voice seems to come from deep in his gut as he sings about everything from warring kingdoms to a tribute to a fallen friend. Together, with bassist Greg Braccio and drummer Robert Sodaro, Joyous Wolf’s members work together to create some of the most exciting, promising and unwieldy back-to-basics rock to come out of Southern California in recent years.
. Whether nimbly navigating the swaggering, powerful groove of their go-to concert opener, “Mountain Man,” or digging into their instruments for a jammy, funky guitar solo “Major Headthrob,” the group has an unpredictable quality – a sort of unique freedom within rock & roll – that makes Enigma compelling. Part of the credit for this goes to producer Val Garay (Santana, Neil Diamond, Reel Big Fish) who came aboard at the last minute to help them achieve the record’s raw sound, whi
aptures how Joyous Wolf sound live. But mostly, the electric feeling that defines Enigma is just something in the band’s DNA.
“When I’m playing rock & roll, it’s the only time where I feel indestructible,” Reese says. “When I heard Elvis sing ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ for the first time, I knew exactly what my heart wanted and what I wanted.”
“I think people are starting to realize the overproduction and fakeness of pop music, which is why rock is coming back,” Allard says. “We love being a rock band.” Joyous Wolf formed in November 2014, but their roots stretch back to sixth grade when Reese first crossed paths with Sodaro by fate – they had to assemble next to each other because their names were alphabetically side-by-side. Reese recalls a middle-school battle of the bands where neither he nor Sodaro were playing, but Reese declared that one day he was going to be “the best singer ever” and that Sodaro would play drums. It would take a few years, but after stints where both musicians duked it out playing in punk and alternative bands (“all of that crap,” Reese adds) they fulfilled Reese’s prophecy. The singer drafted Allard, whom he’d met randomly in the acoustic room at a Guitar Center when the two jammed on CCR’s “Born on the Bayou,” and Sodaro brought in his high-school friend Braccio to play bass.
Before long, the quartet was jamming in Sodaro’s folks’ garage, annoying the neighbors and entertaining the local authorities. “Once on Halloween, we were rehearsing at 11 p.m. writing songs, and we faced Nick’s monitors out the window toward a canyon full of houses,” Allard recalls. “Then we saw this car at the front gate, and it’s the sheriff. He comes into the practice room and goes, ‘Hey guys, I hate to shut you down because it sounds really good, but we got a complaint from across the canyon that it was too loud.’ We still practice but not like that anymore.”
One of the first songs they played together was “Sleep Weep Stomp,” Enigma’s slow-burning, sludgy blues burner. It’s the style of music that Reese feels closest to. “I’m a blues singer, 100 percent,” he says. “That’s my everything.” The singer grew up on blues, jazz and Fifties rock & roll. “When my dad showed me Elvis, that was the end of it,” he says. “I needed to hear every artist that inspired Elvis and then the people who inspired them. Suddenly I had a record collection. It all felt natural: B.B. King made me want to scream my pains away. You hear all these people and you want to express all the things you love. I don’t care if people think it’s old or not current. It doesn’t matter to me.” By his own estimation, he didn’t hear anything “current” until he was 13 and borrowed his sister’s Discman only to hear the Strokes’ “Is This It”. Similarly, Allard was raised on classic rock. “My dad taught me my first song ever, ‘Sunshine of Your Love,’ by Cream,” he says. “I always went back to that kind of old blues-rock music. Even if I was into metal or hard rock, I always went back to the classics like B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.”
These influences shine through on Enigma. “Killing the Messenger” begins with some crushing classic heavy-metal riffs before giving way to a boogieing verse riff where Sodaro and Braccio can bash out their rhythms freely while Reese yowls a tale about two warring kingdoms, and how an evil monarch tricks one of his most popular subjects into delivering a nasty message to the other kingdom only so he would be executed. Reese says the moral Is “life isn’t fair and it isn’t always a happy ending.” The beat-heavy “Mountain Man,” whose lyrics lambaste one of Reese’s former less-than-refined coworkers at a coffee shop, whom the singer says claimed he could “carve a knife out of the tree,” began with a guitar riff that was so forceful that the band couldn’t deny its power. “He had this little riff and we were laughing because it was so stupid-simple,” Reese says. “And it is. It’s our quote-unquote ‘dumbest song,’ but when we used it to open at the Viper Room, the audience response became one of our staple songs.”
The band is also able to channel more somber tones. The acoustic “Remember By” showcases thoughtful performances by both Allard and Reese, who wrote the song in tribute to a friend of his who had taken his own life. It came from a moment of pure inspiration. “I recorded us when we were fooling around, and it was perfect,” Reese says. “I pushed for us to record that song so hard. I said, ‘Please do it exactly like you did it. Please.’ That was me saying goodbye.”After they put out their Daisy EP in late 2015, it took the band about two years total to fine-tune and perfect Enigma. And while songwriting was a big chunk of that (the ominous riff for “Turning Blue” took them six months to perfect), they went through several passes of mixing and mastering it to get it to sound like it does. When Garay finally came aboard, they were able to establish the right mixture of nuance and directness. “It’s so much more animal,” Reese says, using the perfect adjective, to describe the way Enigma turned out. That “animal” sound has earned Joyous Wolf some notable gigs, including performances at L.A.’s famed Whisky a Go Go, the Viper Room and the Regent Theater, where they recently opened for Eagles of Death Metal. Now they’re ready to move on to even bigger stages. “When we play a show, we go out and we kick ass,” Reese says, sounding confident. “We’re headhunters”. Head hunting on the road will now be even easier, with their upcoming record Enigma, an album that demonstrates what Reese calls Joyous Wolf’s “mojo.” – Kory Grow
This is the story of The Violent.
As 2019 came to a close, rock band Red Sun Rising announced an indefinite hiatus as its members pursued other opportunities.
Soon after, the world as we knew it sunk into the deep hole of the pandemic. The time in lockdown helped to fuel to the creative process for singer and songwriter Mike Protich, who was in search of a new creative release and to stretch his musical muscles.
He recruited two members from his former band — Patrick Gerasia on drums and David McGarry on guitar. The threesome began to work remotely during the initial lockdown and quarantine. They embarked on virtual sessions using home studio setups and collaborating with producer Albert DiFiore in Nashville Tennessee.
With roots in rock music, the three began to find fresh and invigorating ways to utilize their musicianship beyond the standard iteration of rock bands. They embraced experimentation by blending the familiar elements of rock music with a newfound appreciation for electronic and digital sounds. This process was elevated due to the fact that the members were unable to physically be in a room together to play.
Out of this process, The Violent was born.
It is truly a child of this chaotic pandemic — both sonically and lyrically.
Another Day Dawns
Formed in 2010 the Lehighton, PA based band Another Day Dawns continues to be
the most talked about up and coming rock act in the Northeast to Mid-Atlantic region
of the U.S. Led by Lead Singer and front man Dakota Sean, Guitarist Tyler Ritter,
and Drummer Nick McGeehan the band released their EP “A Different Life” in February 2018
which landed them a charting spot on Billboard which solidified their foundation in the active rock market.
Hitting the road with bands such as Hinder, Issues, Cold and Buckcherry the band
has created an established following in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.
Throughout the last two years the band has performed in multiple venues with 400-1200
capacity, filling hundreds of seats, and grossing over 15K in followers on their social media accounts.
Unity TX is a punk / rap / hardcore band out of Texas who is quickly making a name for themselves. With the release of their EP “Madboy” and their signing to Pure Noise Records, the band will tour throughout 2020 in support of the new EP. With a unique blend of hip hop and hardcore, Unity TX stands out as a band who is bound to make noise in the near future.
In its purest form, rock ‘n’ roll causes us to move and to think. No matter how much the world changes,
it remains the loudest way to get a point across. Distorted guitar, thick bass, powerful drums, and wild
howls always cut right through the noise of the world. Like Machines plug into a timeless groove, while
transmitting a modern message. The Atlanta, GA trio—Andrew Evans [vocals, guitar], Tanner Hendon
[bass], and Cheney Brannon [drums]—double down on rip-roaring riffs, reckless snarls, and hard-hitting
hooks as they simultaneously serve up understated and unassuming 21st century social commentary.
Their narration smacks just as sharply as the sound does.
“As writers and artists, it’s important for us to bring light to what’s going on in the world,” says Andrew.
It’s not necessarily about having an outright opinion, but rather speaking on what is happening, so
listeners can form their own opinions.”
Andrew and Tanner first forged a friendship way back in elementary school. Diving headfirst into music,
Andrew picked up a guitar at 10-years-old and cut his teeth by woodshedding. Years later, he tried
college but dropped out to get serious about a music career. Tanner picked up a bass and joined him.
When they connected with Cheney through the Atlanta music scene, Like Machines was born. Within a
year, they crisscrossed the country alongside the likes of Fozzy, Avatar, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown,
Clutch, and Collective Soul and appeared on the Chris Jericho Cruise. Racking up nearly a million
streams, their signature sound crystallized releasing a series of singles – “Kaiser,” “Destitute,” “Run,
Hide,” and their latest self-titled track, “Like Machines.” As a band name, Like Machines holds a deep
significance for the musicians.
“Humans try to be similar to machines,” Tanner observes. “We try to ‘go, go, go’ all the time, and we
don’t take care of ourselves the way we should. On the flipside, we also make the machines we’ve
created—whether they be smartphones or smart-home devices—very human. It’s a strange contrast
where things like cell phone towers look like trees. The name refers to this contrast.”
In the end, Like Machines thrive on their own contrast of classic energy and forward-thinking vision.
“There’s a lot you can hopefully absorb from this music,” Cheney leaves off. “On one level, you can
enjoy it for being badass rock ‘n’ roll. On another, you might remember the songs for what they’re
“This band knows what we’re building towards, and we feel like we’ve only just raised the curtain,”
Andrew concludes. “We think you’ll enjoy the ride and the next act in 2020.”
The Messenger Birds
The Messenger Birds is not a rock band. It’s just two guys. But there is more to this two-piece than meets the eye and a lot of noise to back it up. The Messenger Birds have quickly gained a reputation for putting on an intensely loud and energetic live show, and if you weren’t paying attention, you’d think there were five people on stage. With catchy hooks, monster riffs, and unapologetic lyrics, their Detroit brand of alt-rock is often reminiscent of bands like Queens of the Stone Age, The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, and even Nirvana. Everything Has to Fall Apart Eventually, the debut LP from The Messenger Birds, is out now, featuring singles like the widely popular “Phantom Limb,” which has accumulated over 5 million streams on Spotify since hitting the platform, and the intense and apocalyptic “Play Dead (Just for Tonight).