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Metal Monday: Q&A With Jordan Rudess Of Dream Theater

Metal is one of those genres that sends only a few bands to towering fame and worldwide notoriety. Dream Theater is one of them. While the band occupies more of the progressive side of the genre, they do so with energy and originality. Two existing members attended Berklee College of Music and one went to Julliard. Needless to say, these guys have chops. The Julliard alum is none other than versatile keyboard player Jordan Rudess. His intricate, tasteful and passionate performances not only add to Dream Theater’s arrangements, but he also pursues his own solo endeavors. He’s a prominate solo keyboard player who has been featured in Keyboard magazine, he’s developed a relationship with numerous tech companies (even designing some gear) and is also a strong advocate of music education. Check out our Q&A with Rudess to hear his take on all of his projects.

OS: You played Summer Sonic this year. How long had it been since you played a major festival and what are you looking forward to most about this one?

JR: We’d never played Summer Sonic. I get the feeling that it’s very different than anything else. We played at a lot of festivals this summer. We did some very big ones with Iron Maiden which were very fun. We played a festival in Ottowa for like 70,000 people. It was ridiculous. We played something in Montreal and Toronto. We had some great big festival shows.

OS: Dream Theater songs are usually quite complex and technical. What is the rehearsal/arrangement  process like?

JR: When Dream Theater gets ready to record an album, we record in a studio where we’re able to set up all of our gear in a comfortable amount of space. It’s usually pretty big because there are a lot of drums and a lot of gear. We just like to be in the room and hash things out all together.We’ll bring in like seeds of ideas. There are three composers in the group: Myself, Petrucci and Portnoy. Together, we just make it happen. A lot of the notes and harmony are things that John and I will “throw into the soup”. Mike’s talent is in the architectural realm. He’s able to see how all these wild and crazy ideas can go together in an ingenious kind of way. It’s a really cool system.

I’ll throw in an idea, maybe 4 or 8 measures or something, and then we’ll start playing it. Generally it’ll lead to the next idea. Mike will say “What if we put this riff behind it and play for another 8 bars while I turn around the rhythm”. Rarely does anybody come up with something that’s a full song.

OS: Being such a technically driven band, your songs are a great fit for their Rock Band/Guitar Hero placements. How do you feel about their translation into the games?

JR: I’m not a big game player, but I think it’s really cool that the game thing is what it is in today’s world. First of all, it’s a great avenue for a band like Dream Theater to get out there. When commercial radio has changed so much, we’re looking for new opportunities to get our music heard and enjoyed. From that point of view, it’s really cool. In the old days, you could rely on people buying things just to listen to. Now, they have this way to play along and become the guitarist, drummer or even keyboardist.

It’s not something we think about when writing music at all. Maybe we’re old school, but we just want to make good music. I do think it’s pretty cool though. I know we all enjoy the idea that our songs are being used in those games.

OS:Dream Theater toured with Iron Maiden earlier this year. What was it like being on the road with these guys?

JR: Well it was a really great tour, and great for Dream Theater to be on that tour. Although we’re popular in North America, it’s not our strongest market. This was an opportunity to go and play for really huge crowds. Iron Maiden still sells tons of tickets. In the summer when the touring business was down altogether, Dream Theater did amazingly well with Iron Maiden on the road. Every night was pretty much sold out.

OS: Yeah you guys are definitely a notable metal band too, but a different branch than Iron Maiden. Did you have a similar response?

JR: The response was really great. At times, you wouldn’t even know that it was necessarily an  “Iron Maiden” crowd. It’s not a typical “opening act” scenario.  It was cool. I think at times, we just had a lot of fans in the audience, but even if they were mostly Iron Maiden fans, it seemed they really liked Dream Theater. We played some of our most intense music, and were trying to “deliver the goods” in a small amount of time. So that’s what we did. It went well, and the reaction was strong.

OS: Can you speak a little bit about the MorphWiz app that you developed for iPad and iPhone?

JR: My new app is called MorphWiz. It’s an app for the “i-OS”- iPhone, iPad, iPod touch. My whole concept in creating it was to try and coordinate the worlds of audio and visual as one. It’s based on the foundation of what I call a “vertical grid”, kind of like what I do with the continuum. You can play any scale, any amount of octaves on the screen, and each note is represented by a vertical line. So, you can get a lot of expression. For instance, you can start at the bottom of the line with virtually no volume, you can increase the amplitude by moving up the line. In that same way, you can control other parameters as well. Pitch is most often left to right. So you can have this really expressive interface.

The other thing that makes it cool is that it uses a kind of “pitch intelligence” that I’ve kind of developed over the years (starting by working with Liphol hawkin), which is a pitch-rounding system. Let’s say you have a screen with a couple of different octaves, and you slide your finger on the screen, you get a smooth slide of notes. This system enables you to correct the pitch when you first touch the screen to the right note even if you’re left or right of it. This can even happen once you stop your finger after the slide. This makes some very expressive styles of playing.

People think of the iPad or iPod as  a “fun toy”, or a cheaper type of instrument. MorphWiz, I feel, is setting the foundation for the future of what we think of as electronic instruments. This whole idea of a touch screen as a means for new types of expression is really

OS: You often release educational DVDs and books. Does these teaching goals stem from your early, classical origins?

JR: Yeah I think that’s definitely part of it. I come from a pretty formal education. I went to Julliard, I was there from the age of 9 until 19. It was a very unusual path. I was going to be a classical pianist. Then when I was 16-17, I started to really discover other choices. The classical thing wasn’t really my interest. I was starting to get into synthesizers, but I didn’t know how to apply my interests other than having fun. At some point I was like “Well, this has been an unusual path, so I should let people see where I’m coming from”. There’s a bit of responsibility to share, because I wasn’t very guided in my transition from classical to the more synthesizer stuff. There wasn’t like a Berklee program like there is now. I feel like if there’s some way I can share what I learned with other people then I’ll do that.

OS: You have a huge presence in the gear community. Did this just occur naturally from all of your projects, or were these partnerships always important for you to include?

JR: I’m really interested in technology. When I left Julliard and I got involved with the Moog synth, it all started there. Now I’m constantly looking for ways to push the boundaries with music and visuals. Some people were like “well why are you playing the iPhone, it can’t possibly be ‘real’”. I knew the second I saw the iPhone, there were going to be some really groundbreaking ideas to be fleshed out on the iPhone. I’m interested and I think there are some important things going on in that world. So, it leads me to a lot of gadgets, and things that make sounds.

The Microboards thing is an extension of what’s going on with me. I have a G3 Disc Publisher at home. I can burn like 50 CD’s at a time and they’re all really well-printed. Just like I have a keyboard now that can make any sound you can imagine. I’m working on a concerto now and I’m trying to finish that. The relationship started a long time ago  In this case, we needed a solution when Dream Theater was in the studio to make CD’s for everyone during rehearsal. Recently, I got in touch with Aaron Pratt, and asked what they had to help me get the job done. So that’s when the G3 came into play.

OS: Cool. So you’re working on a concerto right now?

JR: Yeah, in November I’m heading off to Venezuela to premier my new concerto. It’s not done yet, but it will be for keyboard and orchestra. That’s like the “main thing” on my plate right now. My general plan is to make a piece of substantial length, and it should be interesting.

If you missed the Iron Maiden tour or Dream Theaters’ Japanese dates, stay tuned for Rudess’ keyboard concerto as well as an announcement for some 2011 Dream Theater dates.

Metal Monday: Q&A with Cephalic Carnage

Self-described “rocky mountain hydro grind” veterans Cephalic Carnage are fresh off a spot on this year’s Summer Slaughter Tour, about to release their sixth studio album, Misled By Certainty and head overseas for another European tour.  It doesn’t sound like they’ve got time to catch their breath really, but we still managed to talk with guitarist Steve Goldberg to see how things were going between tours and to ask about the new album:

MtD: First off, how was Summer Slaughter this year?

CC: Pretty awesome man, the shows have been really good.   The downsides are the long days and long drives.  You don’t get much personal time, but the shows have been awesome.

MtD: Your stage antics are a lot different than the other bands on the Summer Slaughter, do you think the crowds receive them well?

cephalic carnageCC: Yeah, I think they do. We have a bit more of a comedy factor in the live setting, like funny samples and stuff like that going on. So yeah, we think it’s received pretty well.

MtD: So, how are the crowds receiving the new songs from Misled By Certainty?

CC: It’s going over good too.  Not really getting the same pits as we did with the old stuff, but everyone’s really pumped about it and absorbing it and we’ve been getting really positive reactions—you know, loud cheers and everything.

MtD: Can you give us a little insight to Misled By Certainty, and how you got the name for it?

CC: Oh, the title can pretty much relate to anything.  Like, an example would be that we put about $2,000 into our van and were certain things would be good and we were set— but sure enough we blew a transmission first week into it. So it’s just kinda scenarios like that, never count your chickens before they hatch.

MtD: So, how about the first single, “Abraxas of Filth,” what exactly is an Abraxas?

CC: [Talking to someone else in the band] “What does Abraxas mean?”

It’s like an ancient God, and apparently he hasn’t bathed in a while, so he’s pretty filthy.

Misled By CertaintyMtD: Now, with the new album there was a preorder contest where the grand prize is a vaporizer, how did this idea come about?

CC: There’s this place called Silver Surfer out in Colorado who kinda sponsored us as a band, and we just wanted to have some kinda cool promotion for a grand prize and they were kind enough to donate to the cause.  Whomever wins that should be pretty happy because those things rule.

MtD: So, it’s no secret that you guys are pro-marijuana; do you ever catch any grief about it on tour?

CC: Nah, no issues.  Maybe some like, podunk country cop you know, but we never really get any flack about it.  People these days tend to be pretty pro-pot.

MtD: Now that you’re done with Summer Slaughter, you’re off to Europe to headline a tourwhat are you most excited about being back in Europe for?

CC: Oh man, just the good times over there.  Europe’s the best place to tour.  Get back over there with our buddies Psycroptic and just looking forward to hanging out, playing some shows, and having fun.

MtD: You’re also on that tour in Europe with Ion Dissonance—is it your first full tour with them?

CC: Nah, the first summer slaughter tour four years ago actually.  There’s also this band called Our Penance, and I’ve heard their songs on the Internet actually, and they’re pretty ridiculously brutal so I’m excited to check them out.  The other band’s Discarnate, whom I haven’t heard yet.

Misled By Certainty drops on August 31th on Relapse Records— and you’d be a fool not to buy it (get it here).   The tracks posted to the band’s MySpace page promise more of the same great Cephalic Carnage from Xenosapien and Anomalies—so, we’re all in for a treat.  If you happen to be located in Europe, you’d also do well by your ears to check out their tour with Psycroptic, Ion Dissonance and more.

Metal Monday: Antagonist’s World In Decline Review

Two years after their debut release on Prosthetic Records, OurStage band Antagonist have released their sophomore album, World In Decline—a very good follow-up to 2008′s Exist.

World In Decline starts off with power, picking up right where Exist left off—and that means there’s no sophomore slump for the Antagonist camp. As soon as the first verse hits you in “The Bane of Existence” you get a really good feel for what kind of album you’re in for—riffs, riffs and more riffs. Antagonist took all the parts from Exist that featured big, melodic vocals and replaced those with stronger riffs. They took out the few generic breakdowns that you may have found on Exist and replaced them with more solos. While the solos may not be the most groundbreaking, the fastest, or the most extreme, they’re always good and fit incredibly well into the songs they’re in. Better yet, the guitar tones for the lead solos are really crisp and clean (it’s no secret that a good guitar tone can make or break a solo).

The textures throughout the album, as well as the production/mixing/mastering, are where World In Decline really excels. There’s a great natural sound to Carlos Garcia’s vocals, a sound unlike most metal bands around today. The drums have a lot of room to breathe, the cymbals especially. It’s refreshing to hear cymbals that aren’t always compressed to the high heavens.

World In Decline features zero filler material, and zero fluff. From start to finish, it is ten great metal songs filled with raw vocals, powerfully delivered riffs and tastefully shredded solos. Antagonist have truly found the perfect balance between two of metal’s most divided genres: thrash and metalcore. An unbridled sense of emotion can be found in all areas of this album, something not to be taken for granted in metal today. World in Decline is recommended for anyone who wants to get a good feel for a modern,  no nonsense  metal sound.

Track picks: “Wake Up And Smell the Lies” and “God of Fire”

Download the album from iTunes here (like a good person).

If you’re old school and prefer the hardcopy, you can get the album from the Prosthetic Records store.

To check out some of Antagonist’s older tunes, have a listen to the player below:

Metal Monday: Nu Metal Lives On!

Rewind ten years to the mainstream metal scene at the dawn of the new millennium. No kids with flippy hair, just baggy Dickies and backwards baseball caps. Back when nu metal reigned supreme in the mainstream metal world. The year 2000 marked the release of Mudvayne‘s L.D. 50 as well as Deftones‘s White Pony—easily two of the most highly regarded nu metal albums ever released.

mudvayneToday in 2010, many bands that led the original nu metal charge are still very much alive and kicking. On May 4th, Deftones released their seventh studio album, Diamond Eyes to critical acclaim. Nu metal legends Sevendust released their eighth studio album, Cold Day Memory to a lot of good press as well. But not all nu metal bands have had such lasting power. Bands such as Limp Bizkit fell off the map completely, and are now trying to hop back on the nu metal train and ride it to more riches with their fall 2010 release Cold Cobra. Other nu metal bands with 2010 releases: Korn, Mushroomhead,  Linkin Park, Nonpoint, Stone Sour, Ill Niño, Disturbed, 36 Crazyfists and Mnemic. Sounds like the year 2000, right?

This begs the question, why now? And who is still listening to this stuff? Try to remember who listened to nu metal back in 2000? It was mostly angsty teenagers who are now in their mid twenties, perhaps clinging on to the (not so) fond memories of their rebellious youth. Regardless, which would you prefer—hilarious “over-the-hill” nu metal bands or whiny young kids with flippy hair? At least we can get a laugh along the way while we get a good album or two from the whole movement.

Metal Monday: A Vision Grotesque

Not many bands on OurStage have had continual success for as long as A Vision Grotesque has. Having won the Death Metal/Grindcore channel in September 2008, and then the Metal channel in May 2010, with numerous top 10 finishes over the last few years and a five-week stint in the Best of the Best Rock top 100 — A Vision Grotesque are truly a force to be reckoned with.

A Vision Grotesque is a band that has had no shortages of bumps in the road over their six years as a band, having shifted the members often from release to release and show to show. In the last three years AVG has released two full-length albums and an EP, with different lineups throughout and as a result, each with a distinct sound. The most-constant member of the band is the vocalist, Joe Grotesque. Determined to keep making great metal and getting it out into the world, after their first full-length, the band self-released their next EP and full-length (Waking up to Hell and Metaphysical Hypnosis, respectively).

Since the release of Metaphysical Hypnosis, the band has been looking to further solidify their lineup with permanent members and write more material for their next release. As of May 15th, the band had two songs nearly completed, songs that have been reported to be of a direction more progressive than ever before. The band’s guitarist, Charles J.A.L. (Jerk at Large), claims that “The new stuff is without a doubt going to be above and beyond anything we’ve ever attempted before. It’s the logical evolution of where things have been going for the past five years.” Which means that listeners are really in for a treat if his claim holds true.

So now that you know who A Vision Grotesque is,  you can hear what they’re all about.

Metal Monday: Summer Slaughter Tour in Worcester, MA Review

Worcester, Massachusetts, July 31st, 4:00 p.m. The weather outside The Palladium was perfect as I stood in line amongst dozens of other metalheads in anticipation of seven straight hours of metal assaulting my ears. Originally, the bands playing were thought to be only the Summer Slaughter lineup (or, as Cephalic Carnage put it, the Summer’s Laughter tour), but there was a bonus! For the same ticket, show-goers got to wander upstairs to see the bands on the Over the Limit tour, which is headlined by As Blood Runs Black and Oceano.

As I entered the establishment, the first band on the downstairs (main) stage, Vital Remains, was starting. A thoroughly unimpressive set — the band was pretty lifeless on stage, and the sound was absolutely atrocious. Thankfully, this would not be a recurring theme for the night. Very shortly after Vital Remains closed their set, the shredmasters Animals As Leaders took the stage and put on a performance that absolutely had the best sound of the night, bar none. It was so well mixed that there was no need for plugs (granted, the band has only three members).

Afer checking out the first two bands on the main stage, I wandered upstairs and caught the last of Blind Witness‘s performance — one that the crowd seemed really into. The next band on the upstairs stage was Thick as Blood. Promptly after Blind Witness’s set finished, the crowd shuffled out and left a mostly empty space for Thick as Blood. There were about four kids in the room that seemed to really enjoy them; everyone else around had a passing interest at best.

The Tony Danza Tapdance ExtravaganzaImmediately following Thick as Blood on the upstairs stage was The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza. The crowd flooded back into the room, and you could sense a strong sense of anticipation in the air for Danza’s set. The set unfortunately started off with Josh Travis experiencing some minor technical difficulties; not to worry, though, Jessie Freeland’s ferocious, roaring vocals more than carried the first song. Once the tech was all sorted out, Danza picked it up again and the entire crowd went ballistic. There was more crowd surfing and moshing during this one short set than during all of the previous bands combined. Throughout all of Danza’s performance, the upstairs was a pure madhouse, even when the band wasn’t playing.

Next up was Cephalic Carnage on the downstairs stage – a hilarious band with pretty terrible sound but a really tight performance. Between songs, they discussed smoking weed, chronic masturbation, drinking booze, watching Star Trek, and other such occupationss. They even opened with the beginning of Boston’s “Foreplay/Long Time” and a chunk of the Super Mario Brothers theme. A bit of a hokey performance; Veil of Maya would flip that around mighty quickly, storming the stage with an extra tight and crisp set, one that had extremely good sound.

Hard to imagine that the performances could get any better, but The Red Chord were next up and delivered another incredibly tight set to their hometown crowd. Following The Red Chord was All Shall Perish, featuring two new members (on drums and lead guitar). Although an extremely lively set, it was also somewhat hit-or-miss. The new guitarist failed in comparison to Chris Storey, and Eddie Hermida was a bit rough on the vocals during the first song or two, but by the end, they had the machine firing on all cylinders and they finished with a bang.

The next-to-last band of the night was The Faceless, who were unquestionably the best-sounding act of the night. While it’s awfully tough to put a lot of movement and emotion into playing such technical guitar parts, The Faceless always find a way to have great stage presence. It could all stem from Derek “Demon Carcass” Rydquist’s vocals and confidence.

To cap off the night was the legendary Decapitated, who are playing their first US tour since the tragic loss of their former drummer, Vitek, truly one of the world’s greatest metal drummers. Thankfully, Decapitated’s new drummer has enough chops to handle the job. In addition to a new drummer, Decapitated also have a new bassist and vocalist — they are really a different band but still unbelievable live. Every song the band played was fast, tight, loud, and awesome. Two short songs into the set, Decapitated saw a guest vocalist share the stage with Rafał Piotrowski — Jason Keyser of Skinless fame. There’s not much more that needs to be said about Decapitated’s set other than it was the most brutal, heavy, and energetic performance of the entire night — a truly perfect headlining act.

Metal Monday: Art of the Label Sampler

If you have ordered a metal CD online within the last couple years, there’s a fair chance it came with a bonus CD that you did not ask for. More times than not, the distributor or label sends out sampler albums, which often feature musical gems that you would have otherwise been unaware of.

The sampler CD can be hit-or-miss, however. Labels such as Listenable Records (based in France) have a stable full of artists from all different extreme metal styles, so there’s a good chance that if you knew who Gojira were you still wouldn’t have a clue about some of their other label mates, such as Ultra Vomit. In the summer of 2008, Listenable sent out a sampler CD crammed with 19 great songs from their highest profile artists such as Immolation, Gojira, Hacride, Aborted, and more—that’s 19 great free metal songs. How can you not like that?

Victory Metal Memorial Day SamplerThere’s also the perennial Victory Metal Memorial Day Sampler—usually around 10 songs from Victory Records metal bands released every Memorial Day consisting of the 10 most popular and recent metal singles from various Victory Metal bands. Because Victory Records has a much smaller stable of metal acts than Listenable does, the scope and size of their sampler isn’t as large—but it’s still free!

For some labels, such as Sumerian Records, a label sampler doesn’t really offer them a whole lot of benefit. Sumerian Records is known for a very distinct sound that lumps all their bands into a metalcore niche known as “Sumeriancore.” Combine this with a less-than-full (but quality) roster and you’ve pretty much eliminated the need for a label sampler.

The next time you find yourself staring into the face of a CD full of songs you don’t know by artists you’ve never heard of, check it out! You never know what you’ll find on a sampler CD—it might be your new favorite band.

Metal Monday: Summer Tour Rundown

It’s summertime—the weather is hot, the sun is shining and bands are out on tour. Summer 2010 is an especially good season for metal tours since there’s a little something for everyone. The perennial names such as Summer Slaughter and Ozzfest are as to be expected, but newcomers The Cool Tour, Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR and Over The Limit Tour have come out with some pretty big lineups this summer. I’m here to give you the 411 on these tours, and let you know which bands to keep your eye on.

Summer Slaughter
Bands: Decapitated, The Faceless, All Shall Perish, The Red Chord, Veil of Maya, Cephalic Carnage, Decrepit Birth, Carnifex, Animals As Leaders, Vital Remains
summer slaughter 2010What to look for: All Shall Perish (new lineup), Animals As Leaders (new material very soon), Decapitated (first US tour since death of drummer and incapacitation of their vocalist)
Start date: July 17th  in San Diego, CA
What to expect: Summer Slaughter is definitely the heaviest of the big summer tours. Headlined by Polish technical death metal masters Decapitated, the rest of the lineup is just as solid, and features super heavy and technical bands throughout the lineup. A bit out of place, but still very great, are Animals As Leaders—AAL are more of a progressive/jazz metal band than they are super heavy like all the other bands on the tour. Also, this is definitely the best value out of any of these tours, with most shows being in the $15 to $20 range (that’s like a dollar a band!) so there aren’t really many excuses to not get out to see this tour.

The Cool Tour
Bands: As I Lay Dying, Underoath, BTBAM, Blessthefall, The Acacia Strain, Architects, Cancer Bats, War of Ages
TheCool TourWhat to look for: The Acacia Strain (new album dropping as tour starts), BTBAM (always great live)
First date: July 12th in Orlando, FL
What to expect: As a whole, this tour is less heavy than Summer Slaughter, but what it might lack in heaviness is made up for by the variance in styles of metalcore. While The Acacia Strain bring the super heavy style, Underoath bring a bit of a more post-hardcore flavor and Between the Buried and Me bring a very heavy and progressive style. An eclectic bill that’s sure to quench the thirst of any metalcore fan.

Ozzfest
Bands: Ozzy, Mötley Crüe, Halford, DevilDriver, Nonpoint, Black Label Society, Drowning Pool, Kingdom of Sorrow, Goatwhore, Skeletonwitch, Saviours, Kataklysm, Exodus, California Wildbeast
Ozzfest 2010What to look for: Nonpoint (die hard touring band who put on energetic live shows), Exodus (old school masters of thrash)
First date: August 14th in Devore, CA
What to expect: Skeletonwitch, Goatwhore, Saviours, Kataklysm, Exodus, and California Wildbeast are only playing a few dates each (it’s a rotating slot)—depending on which bands are playing your area, your Ozzfest experience could be much better or worse than others. Those who get Skeletonwitch and Goatwhore are in for a treat. Regardless, every date could vary pretty heavily with older bands such as Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe and Halford headlining.

Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR
Bands: Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Sour, Halestorm, Hellyeah, Airbourne, Hail the Villain, New Medicine
Rockstar Uproar 2010What to look for: Avengend Sevenfold (Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater stepping in on drums since the passing of The Rev), Airbourne (music made for large venues a lot like AC/DC, and they’re from Melbourne, Australia)
First date: Aug 17th in Minneapolis, MN
What to look for: Headlined by metal that most “kvlt” meatheads would frown upon nowadays, the Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR tour is always the go-to for the mainstream metal acts on one huge tour. Any person attending one of these dates can reasonably expect a solid and tight set by all the bands on the tour, since most of the bands on the tour are used to touring on the same scale as the UPROAR dates.

Over The Limit Tour
Bands: As Blood Runs Black, Oceano, Arsonists Get All The Girls, Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza, Thick As Blood, Burning The Masses, Circle Of Contempt, Blind Witness, and This Or The Apocalypse.
Over the Limit TourWhat to look for: The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza (touring with a new lineup and a new album), A Blood Runs Black (new vocalist, have been in the studio working on a new album for a while)
First date: July 23rd in Lake Station, IN
What to expect: More kids in bright colors and flat-brimmed hats than you can shake a stick at, most of which will be flailing their arms in the mosh pit for a vast majority of the show— that’s right, this tour is filled with slam-filled deathcore. Bands such The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza and Arsonists Get All The Girls will switch things up a bit with their off-the-wall brands of deathcore, but you won’t find much more variation in this lineup.

Metal Monday: The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza – Danza III: A Series of Unfortunate Events [Review]

It’s hard to imagine a band that goes by the name of The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza would make ordinary music. Luckily, TDTDE push the envelope. Straight out of the heart of Tennessee, the band has created a unique signature sound using grindcore grooves, deathcore breakdowns, face grinding guitar riffs and hokey song topics—all of which are in full force on Danza III: A Series of Unfortunate Events.

If you’ve heard any Danza songs from their last album, Danza II: Electric Boogaloo, you will experience a similarly visceral assault with Danza III. In addition to the chaotic writing on the album, the production and soundscape really brings the beast to life. Every single bass drum hit done by Mike Bradley feels like a kick to the chest, every snare shot sounds like a rifle, it’s tough to keep your heart rate low. Combine that with the shrill, angular guitar parts played by Josh Travis and the raucous bellows of Jessie Freeland, and you’ve captured the essence of rage and adrenaline in audio form.

Danza III A Series of Unfortunate EventsThe lyrics on the album are based on unfortunate events (whether political, social, personal or otherwise) and the musical mood of the album appropriately corresponds. TDTDE do not plead their case with Danza III, there is no pussy-footing about. Instead, they impose their will with such vehemence and force even the most iron-willed of people have no choice but to succumb. From song to song, the listener experiences an aural bludgeoning until finally, when the album has come to a close, the listener feels like they have truly been victim of some sort of unfortunate event. The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza have truly transcended any box they could have been placed in, and created what will surely be one of the most chaotic and interesting listening experiences of 2010.

Track picks: “12.21.12″ and “A Trail of Tears” (though truthfully, every track on this album is single-worthy)

If you’re looking to be a responsible music consumer and purchase the album, check it out at the Black Market Activities webstore or on iTunes.

Metal Monday: The “Big Four” Concert

Chances are  if you’re a metal fan then you’ve probably heard that the “big four” of thrash (Megadeth, Slayer, Metallica and Anthrax) played some shows together (Poland and Switzerland among them) for the first time ever during this summer’s Sonisphere fest.

I don’t see what the big deal is, honestly. Sonisphere isn’t exactly the smallest metal festival in the world, there were at least six or seven globally recognized metal bands (e.g Stone Sour, Bullet For My Valentine and  Motörhead among others) playing at each date. If the “big four” were playing a smaller and more extensive tour around Europe or the United States, then it would be more noteworthy.

big four photo

Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth: Friends at last!

Perhaps more notable than the concert itself is the fact that the Poland date was aired in movie theaters around the United States (such as your local AMC Loews). This is really cool option for fans who admire any of these bands and would love to see them play a live set, but it’s not like there isn’t footage of all of these bands playing live sets from the last thirty years. From what I’ve seen of the concert footage, it appears that Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield can barely even sing their classic songs anymore (butchering performances of “Hangar 18″ and “Master of Puppets” respectively). It’s hard to imagine that there won’t be a forthcoming DVD of one of the shows, which might actually be worth purchasing (or borrowing from a friend who feels the need to buy it).

If you paid to see the concert in your local movie theater, was it worth it? Which band played the best set? How about those of you who didn’t go see it? Why didn’t you go? Let us know in the comments below.

 


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