National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2018 Show Report

Greetings from the 2018 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Convention AKA the NAMM Show, where things have been changed up a bit from years past. For starters, all the booths were in different locations, including some booths that were outside the normal convention center area. While there was still an insane amount of people, it felt a bit less crowded due to the new format and wider areas between booths. Let’s not delay any further and get to some of the products we particularly enjoyed!

Sonor displayed the beast of a kit, the SQ2 “The Book of Souls,” made specifically for Nicko McBrain (IRON MAIDEN). Witnessing it up close and personal was truly astonishing. Crafted in Germany, the shells were made to Nicko’s specific specifications, complete with Eddie inlays. Beautiful stuff.

Paiste had a 90” giant gong on display. Yes, a 90” gong. Not sure how practical that would be, but that’s a whole lot of gong going on.

While not exactly metal related, some of you may remember the old Roland TR-808 or TR-909 drum machines, and now they have been officially reintroduced as virtual plug-ins. Note that you’ll have to use the Roland cloud, however, this is extremely cool and a great throwback for those nostalgic drum sounds.
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Devastating News: JUDAS PRIEST’s Glenn Tipton Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease

In absolutely shocking news, JUDAS PRIEST have just announced that guitarist Glenn Tipton has battling Parkinson’s Disease for the past decade.  All seemed normal in the world with the band’s new album, Firepower, set for a March 9, 2018 release date via Epic Records.

For the time being, Glenn Tipton will step aside from the stage and renowned producer/SABBAT guitarist Andy Sneap will perform live with the band.  Here is their official announcement:

“Ten years ago Glenn was diagnosed to have the onset of the early stages of Parkinson’s – from then until recently Glenn has lived his life as the great heavy metal guitar player he has always been, maintaining by his own definition a standard of quality and performance that is incredibly important.

“Right now Glenn is able to play and perform some of the Priest songs that are less challenging but due to the nature of Parkinson’s progression he wants to let you all know that he won’t be be touring as such –

“True to the metal spirit of ‘the show must go on’ Glenn has requested Andy Sneap to fly the flag on stage for him

‘“I want everyone to know that it’s vital that the Judas Priest tour go ahead and that I am not leaving the band – it’s simply that my role has changed.
“I don’t rule out the chance to go on stage as and when I feel able to blast out some Priest! So at some point in the not too distant future I’m really looking forward to seeing all of our wonderful metal maniacs once again’

Rob, Richie, Ian and Scott have this to say:

“‘We have been privileged to witness Glenn’s determination and steadfast commitment over the years, showing his passion and self belief through the writing, recording and performing sessions with Priest – he is a true metal hero!
“We are not surprised by Glenn’s insistence that we complete the Firepower tour and thank Andy for joining us to make Glenn’s wishes become real –
“As Glenn has said we also can’t wait to have him with us at any time any place on the road…..
We love you Glenn!'”

Video of the Day: A Hilarious Compilation of Axl Rose On-Stage Meltdowns

There are few, if any, frontman quite like our friend, Axl Rose.  Here is a monumental 28+ minute compilation of his on stage meltdowns in response to rowdy fans throwing objects at or spitting on the band.  This is pure unintentional comedy.  What frontman routinely brings songs to a sudden halt during a show?

It’s cute when he asks for an interpreter but they do not end up translating the English cuss words.  Also, check out Axl‘s highly entertaining rant about James Hetfield not being a fan of black people and Lars being Lars at the 15:00 mark.

TRIBULATION – Down Below

Sweden’s TRIBULATION took a big step with 2015’s Children of the Night.  Their new one, Down Below, continues where its predecessor left off with a sound focused on incorporating traditional heavy metal, gothic rock/metal, and bigger riffs onto their Swedish death metal foundation.  The band continue to capitalize on the fundamentals that “feel” and atmosphere resonate deeper with fans.

TRIBULATION have improved in key areas.  First, they improved at creating spacing within each song for each instrument to have its own distinctive voice.  For much of  Down Below, each member is playing different parts coupled with plenty of twists and turns in each song, which creates the air of musicality.  Throw in pianos and synth effects (i.e. tolling bells) and you’ve got plenty of ear candy through out Down Below.   Please note that Johannes Andersson (vocals/bass) is an excellent bassist that makes a significant contribution with his playing.  Rarely is he simply playing the same riffs as rhythm guitars.

Speaking of dynamics and song structure, TRIBULATION aim higher to make each song an experience.  A song like “Lacrimosa” has a great bridge that feels like a haunted graveyard during the witching hour, which then takes off into a great guitar solo and eventually ends with quiet pianos.

Unfortunately, just like Children of the Night, Down Below loses momentum after the first few songs.  Both albums are sequenced in a similar fashion with the “big” songs at the top and the more subdued, melancholic songs thereafter.  While none of the latter on Down Below are necessarily bad, they simply aren’t as exciting as the former.  Thus, the album just kind of ends on a quiet note.

Overall, TRIBULATION are on the upswing and will undoubtedly only get bigger from here.  And in doing so, they are keeping the flame of Swedish death metal alive.  (Century Media Records)

SATYRICON Announce Final U.S. Tour

While Oslo, Norway’s SATYRICON are not calling it quits, they have announced that they will tour the U.S. for the final time in support of their latest album, Deep calleth upon Deep.  The band have not had the easiest time bringing over their regular live band with drummer Frost missing tours.

“As our U.S fans will have noticed, we haven’t toured there in nine years. There are many reasons for that. I like America and I like Americans, but unfortunately touring there has been a difficult chapter in the history of SATYRICON. I can’t guarantee what the future holds, but we did not go on the last record, so I am hoping that one final headlining tour can be a good way of sharing some electric musical moments with our U.S fans, whom we love just as much as all our other fans across the world”, states main man Satyr.

The tour starts May 13th in Los Angeles, CA and runs through May 30th in Austin, TX with two stops in Canada. INQUISITION will provide support on the tour.  Click here for dates.  Needless to say, this tour is not to be missed.

The End: SLAYER Announces Final World Tour

If you’ve been following SLAYER closely in recent years, it may not come as a shock but the band have announced a final world tour.  The band made the announcement via Youtube:

The North American leg of the tour will include LAMB OF GOD, BEHEMOTH, ANTHRAX, and TESTAMENT.  Tour dates to be announced in the coming days.

On a related note, Kerry King‘s wife, Ayesha King, announced via Instagram that we have not heard the last from Kerry King:

APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2017

Dependability is crucial to any band’s fanbase and 2017 did not disappoint.  All of the bands that we’ve come to depend on for great music more or less delivered the goods.  One band stood out to us all were the death metal gods from Yonkers, New York, IMMOLATION.  They continue to stand as a pillar for metal with their unending well of creativity and longevity.  Atonement blew us away with its complexity, ominous atmosphere, and inventive brutality.

Enjoy our lists of our favorite albums of 2017. And remember: Buy or die!

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LOCK UP – Demonization

In grindcore, there is a holy triumvirate: NAPALM DEATH, TERRORIZER, and LOCK UP.  It’s no coincidence that all three bands are related in history and members.  LOCK UP does the most in terms of honoring the legacy of the other two bands while sounding, arguably, the most fresh overall.

So should you care about the fourth album from a band, one that is essentially a side project, in their 18th year of existence?  The answer is a definitive “yes.” Demonization is all about godly riffs, intensity, and most important, excitement.  The feeling of a speeding training flying off the rails is invigorating.  Right from the start, the album starts rolling and never stops until the final note.  It’s unfair to single out songs to be highlighted as they are all of equal quality.  Just listen to the whole thing.

While underground metal super groups have become so common and often fail to live up to their hype, the gang of Shane Embury, Kevin Sharp, Nick Barker, and Anton Reisenegger are unequivocally delivering the goods.  Without a doubt, Demonization is one of 2017’s best releases.

Bow down to LOCK UP or be damned to a life of subpar grindcore.  (Listenable Records)

MORBID ANGEL – Kingdoms Disdained

Six years ago MORBID ANGEL released their most anticipated and ultimately most disappointing album, Illud Divinum Insanus.  Instead of the album being a return to the Domination-era sound or a continuation of the very obscure, Heretic, the band experimented with industrial, hardcore, and even rock influences.  Well, fans should be happy, and perhaps relieved, to know that Kingdoms Disdained is a return to pure death metal.

With the perpetually underrated Steve Tucker back in the fold, MORBID ANGEL have their best album since Formulas Fatal to the Flesh and Gateways to Annihilation.  Former guitarist Erik Rutan handled the production.  New drummer Scott Fuller does a solid job.

With full mastery and power, the band goes into full attack mode from the first note on “Piles of Little Arms.”  The riff that kicks in late at the 2:50 mark is godly.  “D.E.A.D.” is intentionally discordant, schizophrenic and suffocating.

The momentum of Kingdoms Disdained  then falls too much into a plodding pace and tone.  The riffing is overly busy without strong hooks.  There are dynamics but they don’t possess enough charisma and power to excite.  “Garden of Disdain” is essentially a little brother to “Where the Slime Live.”  Things continue to lose a bit of momentum with “The Righteous Voice” as the fast song sections are the only parts that keep it afloat.  Stand out riffs shake the plodding such as the song section that kicks in at the 3:37 mark of “The Pillars Crumbling.”  “Declaring New Law” is essentially a war chant.  It is the simplest and most straight forward track.

The action picks back up with “From the Hand of Kings” as the band focuses on what works well on the album, speed and brutality, as shallow as that may sound.  Closing track, “The Fall of Idols,” is gloriously intense and momentous.  Trey Azagtoth‘s guitar solo at the end is the sound of a behemoth falling to earth.

At the end of the day, Kingdoms Disdained is a good but not great album.  The magic moments are too few and far between for a band of MORBID ANGEL‘s legendary status.  (Silver Lining)

ABYSMAL DAWN Sign to Season of Mist

LA extreme metallers, ABYSMAL DAWN, have signed up with France-based, Season of Mist.  The follow up to the excellent Obsolescence should be another great step forward for the band.

ABYSMAL DAWN comment: “We’re very happy to be signed to such an awesome and respected label like Season of Mist. The people there are all die-hard metalheads and we’re glad to be a part of such an enthusiastic and strong team. We also have a long-standing friendship with US label manager Gordon Conrad, who originally signed us. Working with Gordon, Michael, and the other amazing people at the label was just a no-brainer. We’re very excited about the future of ABYSMAL DAWN these days, and judging by the new material that we’ve been working on, some great things are to come soon enough.”