Rock News

Upheaval Festival, a two-day rock music festival, is launching in Grand Rapids, Michigan July 17-18, 2020. The inaugural festival will feature some of the biggest names in rock music and brings a new event to Belknap Park, notably the home of the annual Breakaway Music Festival. The 2020 festival will be headlined by multiplatinum Chicago hard rock group DISTURBED, the only hard rock group aside from METALLICA to achieve five consecutive number one debuts on the Billboard Top 200. Also headlining Upheaval is STAIND, the recently reunited American rock band with 15 million records sold worldwide. Other notable acts on the bill for the two-day festival include CHEVELLE, SKILLET, AVATAR, HELLYEAH, LIKE A STORM, and a variety of regional bands. Belknap Park is the largest seasonal outdoor concert venue in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Located within walking distance of the city center, the multi-purpose park transforms into a temporary amphitheater with 360-degree views of downtown Grand Rapids and the riverfront. Belknap Park has been home to the annual Breakaway Music Festival since 2017, and provides for a convenient and exciting outdoor entertainment option in West Michigan. Upheaval is brought to you by MiEntertainment Group, the co-producers of the Breakaway Music Festival, and WGA Entertainment, the promoter behind Rock Fest and Country Fest in Cadott, Wisconsin. The partnership between these two independent promoters brings a high level of expertise to the festival setting, and fans can expect a top-notch experience at Upheaval. "Grand Rapids is one of the fastest growing cities in the Midwest and we are thrilled to be expanding the music scene in West Michigan," said Jenna Meyer, co-founder of MiEntertainment Group. "As a resident of west Michigan, it is exciting to expand our business in my hometown and take the next steps in our vision of producing more events at Belknap Park." Early bird tickets are on sale now at www.upheavalfest.com.

Former QUEENSRŸCHE singer Geoff Tate discussed his songwriting process during an appearance at the Metal Hall Of Fame event on January 15 at the Marriott Delta Garden Grove in Anaheim, California. Asked by Alex Haber of Heavy New York if he writes the music first or he comes up with a lyrical concept before beginning to work on the rest of the song, Tate said (see video below): "There's no one way to do it. It's happened a number of different ways for me. Sometimes it's a word. Sometimes it's a phrase. Sometimes it's a melody. Sometimes it's a rhythm. Sometimes it's a conversation with friends that just clicks with you. Sometimes it's a visual — something you see and it sets you off." Tate was also questioned about his mindframe when writing music for his various projects and whether there is a "usual method behind the madness" with everything that gets involved in. He responded: "Well, I like to think there's a method. [Laughs] Some people probably wouldn't see that. Yeah, I typically always have sort of a direction that I'm going or a goal that I'm trying to get to. So, yeah, I have an idea." Geoff has spent the last couple of years celebrating the 30th anniversary of QUEENSRŸCHE's "Operation: Mindcrime" album by performing the LP in its entirety on European and U.S. tours. Tate has been replaced in QUEENSRŸCHE by former CRIMSON GLORY singer Todd La Torre. QUEENSRŸCHE has released three albums thus far with La Torre — 2013's "Queensrÿche", 2015's "Condition Hüman" and 2019's "The Verdict". Tate will perform the QUEENSRŸCHE albums "Rage For Order" and "Empire" in their entirety on the "Empire 30th Anniversary Tour" in 2020. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNFnHrOGspc&w=638&h=359]

BRITISH LION kicked off its first U.S. tour on January 18 at Ace Café in Orlando, Florida. The trek will hit a number of cities, including San Antonio, Dallas, Memphis, Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale, before concluding on February 20 in New York. Several behind-the-scenes clips from the first few days of the tour can be seen below. BRITISH LION is the side project of Steve Harris, bassist and co-founder of metal icons IRON MAIDEN. BRITISH LION's second album, "The Burning", was released on January 17 in digipack CD, double gatefold vinyl and digital download formats via Explorer1 Music (E1). BRITISH LION comprises vocalist Richard Taylor, guitarists David Hawkins and Grahame Leslie, Steve Harris on bass and keyboards and drummer Simon Dawson. Recorded, engineered and mixed at Barnyard Studios by Tony Newton and produced by Steve Harris, "The Burning" is crammed with powerful hard rock melodies. Asked by the Tampa Bay Times what the itch is that BRITISH LION scratches that he doesn't get in his job with MAIDEN, Harris said: "I suppose playing small clubs and being close and personal with the audience. I love playing big places as well. I enjoy them all, and I'm very lucky that I can do them all. But also, it's clubs that I never played with MAIDEN, even in Europe. There's a famous club called the Milky Way in Amsterdam, which I managed to play with BRITISH LION, but I never did that with MAIDEN. There's places now that I'm going to be playing on this tour that I've never played before. So it's all new ground. It's a challenge. It's nice. I like a challenge." Regarding what his hopes are for what he can accomplish on this tour, Harris said: "There's not enough years left in me to try and do some long-term project, to try to make sure something can be successful. That's not what we're doing it for. We're just going out and having fun. It's a good live band. People should come and check it out, and have a good night out." [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLMp4I8Y1V0&w=638&h=359] [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxUE319m9XI&w=638&h=359] [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34bnuyIBBK0&w=638&h=359] [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtIFcCrQ3jE&w=638&h=359]

Jeff Waters of Canadian thrash metal veterans ANNIHILATOR has commented on the passing of Neil Peart, who died on January 7 in Santa Monica, California after a three-year battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. The iconic RUSH drummer was 67 years old. Speaking to The Metal Voice, Waters said (hear audio below): "Everybody knows inside and outside of Canada what Neil Peart has done as a drummer to our hearts and souls, but to drummers — the influence that he's had on almost every drummer since he started… Everybody knows RUSH's music and the trio are probably the three most talented people in music that got together ever… RUSH, to me, is just part of Canada. That is Canada; they're almost not even people. "My favorite [RUSH] songs were 'Spirit Of Radio', 'Limelight' — it has the best chorus ever — and 'Tom Sawyer'. Those are my top three songs. And he was, and RUSH is, and he is, part of Canada. So when he died, I think a little piece of Canada died." ANNIHILATOR's new album, "Ballistic, Sadistic", is due on January 24 via Silver Lining Music. Peart joined RUSH in 1974. He was considered one of the best rock drummers of all time, alongside John Bonham of LED ZEPPELIN; Keith Moon of THE WHO; and Ginger Baker of CREAM. Peart was also RUSH's primary lyricist, drawing inspiration from everything from sci-fi to Ayn Rand. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1ERf9KEN4Q&w=638&h=359]

QUEEN singer Adam Lambert has announced the launch of the Feel Something Foundation, his new LGBTQ advocacy group aimed at supporting "LGBTQ+ organizations that are moving the needle for communities of all ages and backgrounds," as he wrote on his Instagram. Another stated goal of the Feel Something Foundation is to "abolish 'coming out' as a term used to define someone simply being themselves." Adam told Attitude magazine: "I've worked with amazing LGBTQ+ organizations and charities over the years. The foundation will shine a light and support existing charities, whose work is pivotal in empowering the community." According to Rolling Stone, the foundation shares its name with the first solo track Lambert had released in 2019, "Feel Something". "This was written about me climbing out of the low period, defying my disillusionment, owning my needs and opening my heart," he wrote of the song at the time. Founded by Lambert in 2019, the Feel Something Foundation is the result of a career traveling the world, meeting global members of the community, hearing their stories and witnessing first-hand the difficulties LGBTQ+ people continue to face in all areas of life. Having spent time throughout his career engaging in LGBTQ+ activism and as a member of the community himself, the foundation sees his philanthropy institutionalized into an organization with the aim to truly make a difference. With the vision to see LGBTQ+ communities of all ages and backgrounds enjoy full human rights within a fully-inclusive society, Feel Something Foundation first aims to ensure support is given to the myriad of issues that continue to disproportionately affect them. This will be achieved through working with charities that have a mission or project directly focused on impacting the LGBTQ+ community in areas of Education & the Arts; Homelessness; Suicide Prevention & Mental Health. Feel Something Foundation will build its revenue through the personal charitable contributions of its founder, directors and with public funds raised through fundraising and awareness campaigns, events and initiatives. The first fundraiser will be initiated in the coming weeks with an online clothing auction of some of Lambert's best looks. Initial charities will be chosen based on those Lambert has worked with previously and that stand for the positive, progressive messages of the Feel Something Foundation in supporting and empowering LGBTQ+ communities. View this post on Instagram

FEEL SOMETHING FOUNDATION! Mission: to support LGBTQ+ organisations that are moving the needle for communities of all ages and backgrounds.

A post shared by ADAM LAMBERT (@adamlambert) on Jan 22, 2020 at 3:52am PST

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NIGHTWISH singer Floor Jansen says that we are at the edge of ruining the planet for future generations. The Dutch vocalist spoke about the environmental crisis three months ahead of the release of NIGHTWISH's ninth studio album, "Human. :II: Nature.". She told U.K.'s Kerrang! magazine: "One good thing about social media is that it has made us more aware. It takes a global effort to make real change, and countries you might not at first think of are actually very active in trying to turn things around. "As a child, I was shocked at the idea of animals being killed for sport. I became a member of an organization that campaigned against it, but today they're still fighting exactly the same battles. Shooting animals for pleasure is disgusting, and it's more organised now than before, with people paying a lot of money. They claim it's raising funds to help conserve animals — that's sad and weird, but at least it's not as bad as it was 20 years ago. The way we then treat the planet to get those luxuries is a problem. We're ruining the planet for future generations. "As a musician looking out of my window and seeing nothing but nature, I'm aware these problems aren't at my doorstep, and sometimes even reading about it doesn't get you nearer the truth because everything is colored by someone's agenda," she continued. "For example, we've heard a lot about the problem of plastic being dumped in the ocean, and while that's terrible we don't hear so much about all the other places plastic is being dumped. Getting to the truth about global warming, equally, isn't easy. As long as people's power and money are more important than their consideration of our planet, nothing will change. Using compostable supermarket bags is a start, but big corporations need to start changing their ways, too. "I don't think we're doomed yet, but we really need to smarten up. If you look at how long humans have been around, the threat seems less immediate because the planet is much older than we are. A lot of shit came along as we industrialized, but also a lot of new knowledge and exciting possibilities arose. If we explore those details, and show that we care about them, we can turn our polluting effect into a much more planet-friendly outcome." "Human. :II: Nature." will be released on April 10 via Nuclear Blast. The long-awaited follow-up to 2015's "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" will be a double album containing nine tracks on the main CD and one long track, divided into eight chapters on CD 2. "Human. :II: Nature." was recorded from August to October 2019 at Röskö campsite, Petrax Studios and Troykington castle, as well as Finnvox Studios, by Tero Kinnunen, Mikko Karmila and Troy Donockley. The mixing was done by Mikko Karmila at Finnvox, with Tuomas Holopainen and Tero Kinnunen. Mastering was done by Mika Jussila at Finnvox. NIGHTWISH's new album will mark the band's second full-length effort with Floor, who has been touring with the group since 2012.

Gibson has announced that guitarist Phil X — an integral full-time member of BON JOVI since 2016 — has joined as brand ambassador. Phil X and his band, PHIL X & THE DRILLS will release their fifth studio album, "Stupid Good Lookings Vol. 2", in early 2020 on Golden Robot Records. The new album features a different drummer on each song, including Tommy Lee, Taylor Hawkins, Liberty Devitto, Kenny Aronoff and Ray Luzier. PHIL X & THE DRILLS have been enjoying a rapidly growing international fan base supported by the release of four solid albums: "Kick Your Ass In 17 Minutes" (2009), "We Bring The Rock N Roll" (2011), "We Play Instruments N Sh!t" (2012) and "Stupid Good Lookings Vol. 1" (2019). "Phil is one of the most versatile guitar players today and has an unparalleled ability to cover a wide range of music genres," says Cesar Gueikian, chief merchant officer of Gibson. "Phil is one of my favorite songwriters and entertainers and every day he inspires fans of all generations to pick up a guitar and play. Above all, Phil is a wonderful person, a friend and I see him joining our Gibson family as coming home." Gibson's question-and-answer session with Phil X follows below. Q: Welcome to Gibson. How do you like your new Explorer/SG/Les Paul? Phil: "Thank you. I'm very partial to the SG style, but I love the neck of the '58 Les Paul and a thicker body, so my hope is to marry the two into a balanced dream guitar. Plus, I love Les Pauls, Explorers and Flying Vs, so I feel fortunate to finally be with Gibson." Q: What is your personal history with Gibson guitars? Phil: "I've owned and played many over the years. It's funny, when I was a budding session guitar player in L.A., I had to borrow a Les Paul from a friend to go record Alice Cooper's 'Brutal Planet' record. Now I have a few. [Laughs] Most of the guitars recorded on Daughtry's first record were a '59 double-cutaway Jr and a mid '60s Trini Lopez. On the 2017 BON JOVI 'This House Is Not For Sale' tour, I tried my Explorer for 'Lay Your Hands On Me' one night and BAM!, it had to be that guitar every night." Q: What Gibson artists inspired you to play and who might still inspire you today? Phil: "Of course, it was Jimmy Page and the Les Paul. The KISS perfect lineup was a Gibson bass, Ace's LP and Paul's Flying V. Man… I REALLY wanted a V after that. Now, what I love seeing is super-old pictures of Eddie Van Halen rockin' a Les Paul. Just completely on fire and blowing minds without a whammy bar." Q: You teased a new Gibson SG on Instagram. Tell us about this guitar. What is it? Phil: "That is actually a 1964 Custom Shop SG I saw at the showroom in Nashville in August. It didn't catch my eye. It PUNCHED it. That finish looks like a delicious apple. The neck is fatter than usual too. I played it with JOVI in South America last September, but as I'm getting ready to really dig into the company as well as do a DRILLS tour in March, I had to personalize it. I put an Arcane PX100 (a P90 style pickup in a humbucker housing) in the bridge position, pulled the neck pickup out (and replaced it with a DC action figure) and just ran one volume and one tone. This is my "pre sitting down with the Luthier at Gibson and throwing around ideas for a signature" PHIL X MACHINE and it KICKS ASS!" Q: How do you go about choosing a guitar that will be appropriate for the demands of playing in BON JOVI? Phil: "Of course, each guitar has to suit each song. For most of the catalogue, anything that simply produces a great ROCK tone works. It'll be harder to pick what NOT to play. i.e.: 'Bed Of Roses'... do I want to play a 57 Custom Shop Gold Top or a natural ES355? It'll be a blast putting guitars to songs. I'm actually excited to dig into that process." Q: If you only had one instrument to play for the entire gig, what would it be and why? Phil: "If it's a DRILLS gig, the 1964 Custom Shop personalized SG mentioned above because of its simplicity and all the tones at my fingertips with just one volume dialing in the ANGER of the PX100 that rolls back to a chime. For Jovi, there's a little more demand covering a 30-year career. Probably an ES335 with Filtertrons and coil tapping options. You can get pretty much anything out of a workhorse like that."

Zakk Wylde has sent a message of support to Ozzy Osbourne after the legendary heavy metal vocalist went public with his Parkinson's disease battle. Ozzy revealed on Tuesday (January 21) in an interview on "Good Morning America" that he was diagnosed with the progressive neurological condition. The singer received the diagnosis last February after several health issues, including a near-deadly staph infection and a fall that damaged his nervous system. He's treating the disease with medication. On Wednesday (January 22), Wylde — who has played guitar in Ozzy's band on and off for more than 30 years — tweeted: "BIG BL LOVE & THANKS To EVERYBODY Out There Sending The BOSS Your POSITIVE ENERGY & PRAYERS OF STRENGTH!!! OZ – YOU'RE THE GREATEST!!! YOU ARE LOVED MORE THAN YOU WILL EVER KNOW!!! XO tBLSt SDMF @OzzyOsbourne" The BLACK SABBATH frontman's wife Sharon explained that Ozzy has "PRKN 2, which is a form of Parkinson's. There's so many different types of Parkinson's. It's not a death sentence by any stretch of the imagination, but it does affect certain nerves in your body. It's like you have a good day, a good day and then a really bad day." Osbourne added he has been experiencing other symptoms that may or may not stem from Parkinson's, saying: "I got a numbness down this arm for the surgery; my legs keep going cold. I don't know if that's the Parkinson's or what, you know, but that's — see, that's the problem. Because they cut nerves when they did the surgery. I'd never heard of nerve pain, and it's a weird feeling." Sharon said that Ozzy will head to Switzerland in April to see a professor who specializes in helping people with their immune systems, in order to distinguish between her husband's symptoms. Sharon remarked: "We're going to go wherever we can go to seek answers," to which Ozzy added, "We're lucky enough to be able to afford to do that." Ozzy said that he feels "better now" that he's come clean about his illness, and expressed hope that his fans are "there for me because I need them." Ozzy is scheduled to return to North American arenas for another leg of his "No More Tours 2" tour this spring, while his first new solo album in 10 years, "Ordinary Man", is due for release on February 21. Photo credit: Mark Weiss Photography

BIG BL LOVE & THANKS To EVERYBODY Out There Sending The BOSS Your POSITIVE ENERGY & PRAYERS OF STRENGTH!!! OZ - YOU’RE THE GREATEST!!! YOU ARE LOVED MORE THAN YOU WILL EVER KNOW!!! XO tBLSt SDMF @OzzyOsbourne • vid: Miriam Turq pic.twitter.com/YOiCEXJYtB

— Zakk Wylde (@ZakkWyldeBLS) January 23, 2020 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

One can't talk about genre-defining acts in the metal scene without mentioning one man: Ross "The Boss" Friedman has written music history as a founding member of MANOWAR and THE DICTATORS. His influence in heavy metal and also punk is noticeable to this day. Since 2006, Ross has been releasing traditional and raw epic metal which calls up memories of the MANOWAR masterpieces from the 1980s with its very own style. Due on March 6 via AFM Records, "Born Of Fire" is the fourth album of Friedman and his band, ROSS THE BOSS, which arrives not even two years after 2018's "By Blood Sworn". Ross was one of the pioneers of both punk rock and heavy metal. First crashing on the scene with THE DICTATORS and with such classic albums as 1975's "Go Girl Crazy!", 1977's "Manifest Destiny" and 1978's "Bloodbrothers", Ross helped trailblaze punk rock (just to put it all in perspective, "Go Girl Crazy!" arrived a full year before the RAMONES' debut, and two years before THE CLASH's and SEX PISTOLS' debuts). After exiting the band, Ross then co-formed one of heavy metal's all-time great bands, MANOWAR, which showcased exceptional six-string work on such classic albums as 1982's "Battle Hymns", 1983's "Into Glory Ride" and 1984's "Hail To England", among countless other titles. By the end of the '80s, Ross had reconnected with his DICTATORS bandmates in MANITOBA'S WILD KINGDOM, which served as a bridge between his love of punk and metal, as heard on the group's popular 1990 debut, "…And You?" Throughout the remainder of the decade, Ross also played with such groups as THE HELLACOPTERS and THE SPINATRAS, before THE DICTATORS reunited, which resulted in several new releases starting from the late '90s all the way through the early 21st century. Also around this time, Ross joined forces with former of BLUE ÖYSTER CULT drummer Albert Bouchard in the band BRAIN SURGEONS. With Ross's main focus turning to metal music at this time, two additional projects were launched — DEATH DEALER and his solo outfit, ROSS THE BOSS. Thus far, DEATH DEALER (which is comprised of vocalist Sean Peck, guitarists Stu Marshall, bassist Mike Davis and drummer Steve Bolognese, in addition to Ross) has issued a pair of releases, "Warmaster" and "Hallowed Ground".

FAITH NO MORE has added a second Manchester performance, on June 9 at O2 Apollo, with both the band and Live Nation donating all proceeds from the outing to the Australian fire relief funds established by Wires and the CFS Foundation. "Australia is a country that we connected with early on in our career," explained Roddy Bottum. "We spent time not only with the people in their cities but also at its beaches and driving through its vast terrains." "Reading the news about what's been happening in Australia has been heartbreaking," adds Bill Gould. "It's hard to even comprehend the scale of damage; hopefully this small contribution on our part can make a difference somewhere." Tickets for the newly announced date will be available tomorrow, January 24 at 10 a.m. GMT. The two charities selected by the band are Wires, whose mission is to actively rehabilitate and preserve Australian wildlife, and the CFS Foundation, who provide financial assistance and care to CFS volunteer firefighters and their families. FAITH NO MORE last played in Europe in June of 2015, following the May release of "Sol Invictus" (Ipecac/Reclamation Recordings). FAITH NO MORE is Mike Bordin (drums), Roddy Bottum (keyboards), Bill Gould (bass), Jon Hudson (guitar) and Mike Patton (vocals).

German thrash metal veterans SODOM have recruited Toni Merkel as their new drummer. He joins the band as the replacement for Stefan "Husky" Hüskens, who announced his departure from SODOM earlier in the month. Says the group: "Flying under the radar for a long time, it's a dream coming true for [Toni]. Brace yourself to get your face smashed by his awesome drumming!" Added Toni: "I am very proud to anounce that I am the new SODOM drummer and really looking forward to work and rehearse with these awesome guys for the next album and live shows. See you soon!!!" In a statement explaining his exit from SODOM, Hüskens said that "some changes" at his full-time job, "as well as a few other matters," were to blame for his decision to leave. This past November, SODOM released a new EP, "Out Of The Frontline Trench", via SPV/Steamhammer. The effort contained three brand new tracks as well as new recordings (studio and live) of two SODOM classics. Joining frontman Thomas "Angelripper" Such on the EP were guitarists Frank "Blackfire" Gosdzik (also formerly of KREATOR, ASSASSIN) and Yorck Segatz (BEYONDITION) plus Hüskens. Blackfire previously played with SODOM on the seminal albums "Persecution Mania", "Mortal Way Of Live" and "Agent Orange". Former SODOM guitarist Bernd "Bernemann" Kost and drummer Markus "Makka" Freiwald released a joint statement in January 2018 claiming that they were fired from the band by Tom via messaging platform WhatsApp even before Tom had a chance to hear any of the material the duo had been working on for the group's next album. Photo by Moritz "Mumpi" Künster

Call it djent, call it tech-metal, call it whatever the hell you want at this point: there's still a huge amount of this stuff around, isn't there? And whether you can't get enough of it or feel that this proudly state-of-the-art subgenre has long since run out of gas, NOVELISTS FR seem to have found one highly credible way to outlast their aspiring post-PERIPHERY peers. It might seem like stating the obvious, but NOVELISTS FR have focused almost entirely on crafting great songs for their second full-length album. If 2015's "Souvenirs" debut seemed a little perfunctory and cookie cutter in part, it did at least showcase a gift for non-standard melodic hooks. "Noir", 2017, was far better and contained a handful of thrilling, tech-friendly moments. But on "C'est La Vie", the French band go for broke, eschewing the elaborate complexities of djent's cerebral contingent in favor of a bright, shiny and endlessly accessible strain of subtly prog-tinged metalcore. In contrast to the hordes of bands still peddling distinctly unimaginative variations on metalcore's early-'00s blueprint, NOVELISTS FR sound liberated by their resistance to the utterly fucking obvious. "C'est La Vie" stands or falls on how much impact these tunes have first time around. There are plenty of bendy riffs and flashes of electronic trickery to keep the djent purists happy (if, indeed, such people exist), but songs like "Somebody Else" and "Kings of Ignorance" are proudly straightforward rock songs at heart: it's just that they arrive wrapped in the textures and tones of more left-field fare, resulting in an often invigorating and indecently perky new hybrid. Getting to the point quickly suits NOVELISTS FR well, and frontman Matteo Gelsomino has one of those gently distinctive voices that rescues more generic moments from sounding too, well, generic. At its best, as on the uplifting sugar rush of "Deep Blue", "C'est La Vie" sounds like an album with huge mainstream potential, give or take a polyrhythmic tic or two.

You know exactly where you stand with the music of MIDNIGHT. Since giving the whole notion of old-school metal a resounding kick up the backside with their early demos and 2006's "Complete and Total Fucking Midnight" comp, Athenar's one-man mission to make metal filthy and hard as nails again has been an absolute joy to witness, particularly if you have excellent taste in all things heavy. In a sense, MIDNIGHT have never told us anything that we didn't already instinctively feel: the best underground metal has always had a certain ragged, anarchic and violent quality that sets it apart from the polished precision of the mainstream. But by constantly reaffirming the ageless power and influence of MOTÖRHEAD, DISCHARGE, VENOM and POSSESSED, albums like 2011's "Satanic Royalty" and 2017's "Sweet Death and Ecstasy" seem to have lit a fire underneath the whole diehard metal scene. As a result, there will be a vast number of people for whom "Rebirth by Blasphemy" is an absolute no-brainer must-have and, as expected, it delivers on all filthy fronts. The first track is called "Fucking Speed and Darkness", for Satan's sake. What else could you possibly need? If you're looking for progress from previous records, MIDNIGHT will not be playing your simpleton's game. This is true blue, red-blooded and riotous heavy fucking metal, delivered from the heart and spiritually connected to the genre's unmovable essence. Or, to be slightly less pretentious about the whole thing, "Rebirth by Blasphemy" rages, rocks and rampages like a maniac for 34 blissfully brutal minutes. It's unapologetically raw and rough around the edges, but songs like "Escape the Grave" and the truly exhilarating "Rising Scum" pack such an almighty, infernal wallop that this fourth full-length feels like a rather haughty reminder of MIDNIGHT's utter superiority over their peers. Quite how or why Athenar is able to churn this stuff out with such consistency is anyone's guess, but whether through devilry or design, "Rebirth by Blasphemy" is joyously black as fuck and 100% unmissable for those in league with Satan. All hail!

Joey Kramer says that he is "extremely disappointed" by a judge's refusal to reinstate his membership in AEROSMITH. The Superior Court judge in Plymouth County, Massachusetts decided the drummer can't force his bandmates to let him perform with them at Sunday's Grammy Awards, even after he flew to Los Angeles and was turned away from a practice on over the weekend. Earlier today, Kramer issued the following statement: "Although I'm extremely disappointed by the Judge's ruling today, I respect it. I knew filing a lawsuit was a bit of an uphill battle considering that the corporate documents don't reference any process for a band member returning from an injury or illness. However, the band waited until January 15th to tell me that they weren't letting me play at the awards ceremonies this week. I can hold my head high knowing that I did the right thing — to fight for my right to celebrate the band's success that I have dedicated the better part of my life to helping build. "The truth speaks for itself. Ever since I injured my foot last August and went through many hours of physical therapy to heal, not once did the band in its entirety offer to rehearse with me. That is a fact. I was also sent the full rehearsal schedule on January 18th and flew to LA the next day to rehearse and have many texts and emails stating the band can't wait for my return. That's also a fact. When I showed up to rehearse, I was greeted by two security guards who prohibited me from entering. "The band's offer to allow me to participate in this week's MusiCares and Grammy celebrations for red carpet photo ops only, is appreciated; however, with a fill-in drummer playing on stage at two events honoring our collective musical contributions, it is extremely hurtful to me. I am a professional musician who is eager to return to my rightful place with AEROSMITH. "I want to thank my fans for the incredible outpouring of support and for sharing my goal of taking my place on stage as one of the five founding members of AEROSMITH and continuing to play the music I love." The 69-year-old drummer sought court intervention in the battle with an emergency legal filing on Friday. But Judge Mark Gildea ruled against him, writing: "Given that Kramer has not played with the band in six months and the dearth of available rehearsal time before the upcoming (Grammy) performances, Kramer has not shown a realistic alternative course of action sufficient to protect the band’s business interests. It is hereby ordered that the plaintiff's request for injunctive relief be denied." TMZ has obtained video (see below) from over the weekend showing Joey arrive at an AEROSMITH Grammy rehearsal in Los Angeles, only to be turned away by two security guards. The guards make it clear to Joey that they were given the orders to refuse his entry by the other four members of the band. An original member of the legendary rock group, Kramer last performed with AEROSMITH in April 2019 before suffering what was described at the time as a "shoulder injury." Other reports have indicated that he also injured an ankle. For the past eight months, AEROSMITH has been performing with a stand-in drummer, Kramer's drum tech John Douglas. In his 16-page complaint filed in Massachusetts state court, Kramer said the disability he suffered last year was minor, and insisted he was ready to return to the group's "lucrative" Las Vegas residency at the MGM Resorts a few months later, as well as its slate of "50th anniversary activities." "As it stands, the attempted freeze-out of Mr. Kramer is almost complete, and will result in irreparable harm to him if not remedied by this court," the complaint said. AEROSMITH members Steven Tyler (vocals), Joe Perry (guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass) and Brad Whitford (guitar) later responded to Kramer's suit in a statement to People, saying Joey "has not been emotionally and physically able to perform with the band, by his own admission, for the last 6 months. We have missed him and have encouraged him to rejoin us to play many times but apparently he has not felt ready to do so. Joey has now waited until the last moment to accept our invitation, when we unfortunately have no time for necessary rehearsals during Grammys week. We would be doing a disservice to him, to ourselves and to our fans to have him play without adequate time to prepare and rehearse." A source close to the band confirmed to People that Kramer had to "test" for AEROSMITH's performances this week, but says it was a result of the drummer failing to attend multiple planned rehearsals. "They had been inviting him to come back for the last six months since he's been away for whatever medical situation he's been dealing with," the source says. "He said, 'Yes, I'll come and rehearse' and kept not showing up. On the eve of the Grammys and MusiCares, he wanted to be back." According to the source, the band felt Kramer "wasn't capable" of performing at a level their fans were used to after listening to his demo.

Jessica Miller, wife of METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich, has paid tribute to Ray Burton, father of the late METALLICA bassist Cliff Burton, who passed away on January 15 at the age of 94. Earlier today (Wednesday, January 22), Miller has posted a photo of Ray on Instagram Stories, and she included the following message: "Ray Burton used to always call me 'Jennifer,' and I never had the heart to correct him. Such a sweet being with an immense love for life. I'll miss running into his smile across the country at random shows or events. My heart is with his beautiful family." Ray died just 15 days shy of his 95th birthday. Cliff joined METALLICA in 1982 and performed on the band's first three studio albums: "Kill 'Em All", "Ride The Lightning" and "Master Of Puppets". He also received a posthumous writing credit for the song "To Live Is to Die" from the band's fourth studio album, "...And Justice For All" and was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as a member of METALLICA on April 4, 2009. His life was tragically cut short at the age of 24 in a tour bus crash on September 27, 1986 in Sweden. Burton's initial replacement in the group was Jason Newsted, who stayed in the lineup until 2001. Robert Trujillo joined in 2003 and remains in the band to this day. February 10, 2018 was proclaimed "Cliff Burton Day" by Alameda County supervisors. The late METALLICA bassist would have turned 56 years old on that date had he lived.

In a brand new interview with Dave Hanratty of Ireland's Joe, SLIPKNOT guitarist Jim Root reflected on his 2016 disc replacement surgery which he underwent just as the band was closing out its world tour in support of the ".5: The Gray Chapter" album. He said (see video below): "I had two crushed discs that was causing my left arm to go numb. I didn't know what was wrong. I was getting really weak on my left side and I couldn't lift my backpack off my shoulder. I didn't know what was going on. It didn't occur to me that it was connected to my neck. But I went and saw a doctor and he was, like, 'Yeah, you've got a fractured verterbrae in your neck and two crushed discs, and it's causing nerve damage.' So I had two discs replaced in my neck and then I had one replaced in my lower back. Twenty years of touring and headbanging and doing what we do on stage, after a while, it kind of wears you down. But I'm trying to do better. I'm trying to exercise more and change my diet." Root also spoke about the difficulties of spending so much time on the road, especially when he is trying to take the necessary steps to improve his health. "Touring is hard, man," he said. "It's hard to find good food to eat. It's hard to get out and actually do stuff and be active. 'Cause you're so worn out from all the traveling, it's, like, 'Do I really wanna try to go jogging today?' 'No.' 'I can just flip on my Xbox and play 'Call Of Duty' instead.' "It's a lot of work," he admitted. "It's a lot of sacrifice. And recently, I've had to try to explain that to some people. It's, like, the real work starts when you get a record deal and you get out there and you start doing things and you start putting records out. You have to be thinking about your next record while you're working on the record you're working on. You always have to be a step ahead of yourself. And there's always something happening. And there's travel. It's hard on relationships — not just personal relationships, but with family, friends. Missing your home. It's almost like you have two alternate realities that you live in — you have your home world and then your touring world. "I've put off having a family, 'cause I knew that I was gonna be gone on the road all the time, so when I go home, it's just, like, me. You know what I mean?" he added. "So that's a hard thing for me to wrap my brain around, and it's a little bit difficult sometimes. Some of the other guys — Clown [Shawn Crahan, percussion] and Corey [Taylor, vocals] — they have children and wives and things like that. And I'm sure for them, it's a weird transition to make. 'Cause when we tour, we don't just tour for a month or two and then we're done for the year. We tour six, eight, maybe sometimes nine or ten months a year, and that's a lot of time being away from home. And over twenty years, I'm starting to realize, at the age that I'm at now, that it's, like, wow, I kind of have given my entire life to this band — willingly. I don't regret it. And I wouldn't change a second of it. I've learned so much." SLIPKNOT is continuing to tour in support of its latest album, "We Are Not Your Kind", which came out last August. The disc sold 118,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. in its first week of release to land at position No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4DZWjumUNM&w=638&h=359]

During a recent appearance on the "PodKats!" podcast hosted by John "Kats" Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, VAN HALEN frontman David Lee Roth — who kicked off a nine-show residency in Las Vegas earlier this month — discussed his ill-fated 1995 residency in Sin City. "Las Vegas was nowhere near as colorful and modern, sexy, young [then]," Roth said. "It was family-oriented and [a] circus-kind of an approach. Not adult at all. I think I was ahead of myself a little bit of time. In fact, I got fired for making the joke that my girls dancing — I had a couple of Mambo girls, and a couple of the Mambo girls were dancing, and I said, 'Look at them, ladies and gentlemen — so hot, Michael Jackson would quit the Boy Scouts.' They literally fired me for that one. I was out in front with a guitar case in one hand and a shopping cart with my costumes and a top hat in the other. I would get memos about the F-bomb or the F-word on stage — material that today gets you hired for 'Saturday Night Live' in terms of content. It's smart smut. What I deal with is sometimes blue, but it's smart blue. Sexy smart, scary smart." Roth also revealed the origin of his "Diamond Dave" moniker. "Everything I heard at the Youth Club dance was Motown, which I can still sing every single syllable of," he said. "If you ask me, 'Who is your voice closest to?', I'll tell you right off, without the blink of an eye, Wilson Pickett. [sings 'Mustang Sally'] I sounded like that when I was 12 years old, much to the rabbi's shagrin. I practiced that assidiously when I was 12, and I danced — oh yeah, you bet I danced, because dancing's what you can do when you have no money and no room to spend it in. You've got no backyard; you've got no patio; so you set up speakers [and] you push the furniture to the side of the wall. Singing and dancing are the first instruments you reach for when you are broke, or as a state of mind. Broke is what most of Altadena was at my age, so we sung and danced like crazy... If all you can afford is a pair of jeans, you learn how to empty a full can of spray starch, get that razor crease, drop 'em low — I'm doing a Lil Wayne here — but you can customize 'em, even if you're in lockdown at Folsom. Get 'em four sizes too big; tighten 'em up with a three-size-small belt; just button the top of you razor-creazed, prison-issue blue denims at the top; [and] leave the rest unbuttoned. That is kind of how I was dressing when I would go over to the VAN HALEN side of high school. Pasadena High School looked like 'Ridgemont High'. Think of Jeff Spicoli, and everybody from 'Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure'. I say [that] with respect — Pendletons tied around the waist; hair parted in the middle; boxer shorts; desert boots; every sentence starts with 'Dude,' 'Bro,' 'Whoa.' I would show up at the Pasadena High School dance wearing suspenders, two-tone Cuban heels... I would show up, and the Van Halens would look and say, 'Look, he sparkles like a diamond. It's Diamond Dave.'" On a more serious note, Roth shared a memory of getting a phone call from the late David Bowie, which he used as an analogy to explain how he's by and large the same "Diamond Dave" he's always been. "I knew David Bowie," Roth said. "We shared strong drink on more than several occasions. [In the] early '90s — '91 maybe — I was in a studio in New York. [A] phone call came through... 'David, I'm kind of in a quandry, and I'm being serious. I'm going to tell you something, and tell me what you think... I bought furniture.' His life in music was never the same from that point. It changed his life. It was significant. If you ask me why that was such a quandry for him, because he was very serious [and] concerned — he was cutting the anchor chain. I have yet to buy furniture. I'm not being funny — it's symbolic. He had never put down an anchor — not romantically, not spiritually, not morally or musically, anywhere. Very few people can live like that. There are only three kinds of people — those who stay home; those who leave home; and those who go to sea. David had put out to sea as a very young man. When he finally came to shore in New York City and got married, everything he knew ended. I never bought furniture. That's what you see on stage. I'm not looking for a place to park. I'm [still] driving around." Listen to the entire interview at this location. Roth's Las Vegas residency kicked off on January 8 with a 15-song set that included 10 VAN HALEN classics and five songs from his solo career. Backing the 65-year-old singer at the House Of Blues at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino were lead guitarist Al Estrada from the VAN HALEN tribute band ERUPTION, rhythm guitarist Frankie Lindri, bassist Ryan Wheeler, keyboardist Danny Wagner and drummer Mike Mussleman. Roth will play six more Vegas shows in March, in addition to performing as the opening act for the upcoming North American legs of KISS's "End Of The Road" farewell tour starting on February 1 in Manchester, New Hampshire.

According to TMZ, a judge has ruled against Joey Kramer rejoining AEROSMITH for its upcoming Grammy Awards performance. The Massachusetts judge said the drummer didn't make a convincing enough case for playing with his bandmates when they take the stage for Sunday's award show, as well as for Friday night's MusiCares gala. In his ruling, the judge said: "Given that Kramer has not played with the band in 6 months and the dearth of available rehearsal time before the upcoming performances, Kramer has not shown a realistic alternative course of action sufficient to protect the band's business interests." Earlier this week, Kramer sued his bandmates, claiming he is being blocked from playing at the Grammys. An original member of the legendary rock group, Kramer last performed with AEROSMITH in April 2019 before suffering what was described at the time as a "shoulder injury." Other reports have indicated that he also injured an ankle. For the past eight months, AEROSMITH has been performing with a stand-in drummer, Kramer's drum tech John Douglas. In his 16-page complaint filed in Massachusetts state court, Kramer said the disability he suffered last year was minor, and insisted he was ready to return to the group's "lucrative" Las Vegas residency at the MGM Resorts a few months later, as well as its slate of "50th anniversary activities." Kramer asked for an injunction to reinstate his membership in the band immediately. "As it stands, the attempted freeze-out of Mr. Kramer is almost complete, and will result in irreparable harm to him if not remedied by this court," the complaint said. After TMZ reported on Tuesday that Kramer had filed a lawsuit against his bandmates, the drummer issued a statement, saying that being "removed" from his "rightful place on stage to celebrate" AEROSMITH's success "is just plain wrong." AEROSMITH members Steven Tyler (vocals), Joe Perry (guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass) and Brad Whitford (guitar) later responded to Kramer's suit in a statement to People, saying Joey "has not been emotionally and physically able to perform with the band, by his own admission, for the last 6 months. We have missed him and have encouraged him to rejoin us to play many times but apparently he has not felt ready to do so. Joey has now waited until the last moment to accept our invitation, when we unfortunately have no time for necessary rehearsals during Grammys week. We would be doing a disservice to him, to ourselves and to our fans to have him play without adequate time to prepare and rehearse." A source close to the band confirmed to People that Kramer had to "test" for AEROSMITH's performances this week, but says it was a result of the drummer failing to attend multiple planned rehearsals. "They had been inviting him to come back for the last six months since he's been away for whatever medical situation he's been dealing with," the source says. "He said, 'Yes, I'll come and rehearse' and kept not showing up. On the eve of the Grammys and MusiCares, he wanted to be back." According to the source, the band felt Kramer "wasn't capable" of performing at a level their fans were used to after listening to his demo.

METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett has expressed his disappointment over the fact that MOTÖRHEAD has yet to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Eligible since 2002, the Lemmy-fronted outfit was on the ballot for the class of 2020 but failed to receive enough votes. During a career-spanning interview on Dean Delray's "Let There Be Talk" podcast, Hammett stated about MOTÖRHEAD's exclusion from the Rock Hall (hear audio below): "I really think that when things like that happen, it might be a generational thing where maybe some of the older people just don't get it — they just don't fucking get it. They don't see the range of influence and the impact and the inspiration that certain bands have. They don't hear it, because maybe they're part of a different generation and were told that vocals sung like that are bad. But they're not — they're fucking just another type of vocal. And [those people believe that] recordings like that have no merit. [I've] gotta admit, some of those MOTÖRHEAD recordings are fucking so beautifully raw." Kirk continued: "For those kind of people, MOTÖRHEAD is a little bit of a bitter pill. And the comprehension of it is kind of — it could be a little better comprehended. And I think that's the problem — it's merely a generational thing. As much as I don't like saying that, because I think if it's good music, it's gonna transcend generations. But then, at certain times, people are just closed off from it from the get-go, for whatever reason. It's just one of those things that just happens." When Delray opined that NINE INCH NAILS should not be inducted into the Rock Hall before acts like KRAFTWERK, Gary Numan and DEVO, all of whom were an influence on Trent Reznor, Hammett said: "If it weren't for those bands, where would NINE INCH NAILS be? It's so that way with so many other bands too. I mean, THIN LIZZY — fucking hell. I mean, Jesus Christ, they were such a huge influence with me and all my friends and all the bands that were coming up at the same time we were, and they're still not in the fucking Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Again, maybe it's generational. I don't know. Maybe they just didn't sell enough fucking albums. Sometimes it feels like you have to sell a certain amount of albums before they would even consider you, which is, I think, a big piece of shit, too." Even though artists are eligible for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 25 years after the release of their first album or single, iconic hard rock and metal bands like JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN and SCORPIONS have yet to be recognized by the institution, which inducted METALLICA and GUNS N' ROSES in those groups' first year of eligibility. Rock Hall rules state that artists become eligible a quarter century after their first records were released, but the Hall also claims that other "criteria include the influence and significance of the artists' contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock 'n' roll," which is, of course, open to interpretation. Eligible for induction since 1999, KISS didn't get its first nomination until 2009, and was finally inducted in 2014. DEEP PURPLE was eligible for the Rock Hall since 1993 but didn't get inducted until 2016. [soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/746293162" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]

QUEENSRŸCHE kicked off the 2020 leg of its "The Verdict" headline tour last Friday night (January 17) at Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Video footage of the concert can be seen below (courtesy of Sonic Perspectives). The band's setlist was as follows: 01. Prophecy 02. Operation: Mindcrime 03. Walk In The Shadows 04. Bent 05. Breaking The Silence 06. I Don't Believe In Love 07. Dark Reverie 08. Take Hold Of The Flame 09. Blood Of The Levant 10. Light-Years 11. No Sanctuary 12. Jet City Woman 13. Screaming In Digital 14. Silent Lucidity 15. Queen Of The Reich Encore: 16. Resistance 17. Empire 18. Eyes Of A Stranger QUEENSRŸCHE's current tour will end on February 27 with a show in Orlando, Florida. After playing a couple of dates in May, the group will support the SCORPIONS on the German hard rock legends' Las Vegas residency in July. QUEENSRŸCHE's latest album, "The Verdict", was released in March 2019 via Century Media Records. The disc was produced, mixed, and mastered by Chris "Zeuss" Harris (ROB ZOMBIE, ICED EARTH, HATEBREED) at Uberbeatz in Lynwood, Washington; Planet-Z in Wilbraham, Massachusetts; and Watershed Studio in Seattle, Washington. The current QUEENSRŸCHE lineup features two original members, bassist Eddie Jackson and guitarist Michael Wilton, along with singer Todd La Torre and guitarist Parker Lundgren. "The Verdict" marks QUEENSRŸCHE's third full-length release with La Torre, following the departure of original singer Geoff Tate in 2012. For the past three years, drummer Scott Rockenfield has been taking time off from QUEENSRŸCHE's touring activities to spend time with his young son, who was born in early 2017. Filling in for him is former KAMELOT drummer Casey Grillo. La Torre, who has played drums since the age of 13, laid down the drum tracks on "The Verdict". [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBik7YKngrY&w=638&h=359] [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7kZt-C4GOI&w=638&h=359]

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