Chimp Spanner – By: Gordy Flannigan

196764_10151026488107852_1326985140_n
Gordy – Greetings Jim, I wanted to start off by saying that I’m a huge Chimp Spanner fan and would like to thank you for agreeing to take the time out of your busy schedule to conduct this interview with me.
Jim – No worries, Gordy,  happy to do it!
G –  For those who have never heard Chimp Spanner’s music, how would you describe it and what have been your main influences as a guitarist; both in the beginning of your development on the instrument and your influences currently?
J – I’d describe Chimp Spanner as eclectic, but tastefully done. There’s tons of influences swimming about, from almost unidentifiable, subtle jazzy licks to big, aggressive polyrhythms with time signatures that can sometimes seem like they have been picked out of a hat at random! Before Chimp Spanner was even on my radar I was big into tech metal and prog – stuff like The Human Abstract and Protest The Hero to stuff I picked up from my Dad – Pink Floyd, Roger Waters etc, so I feel like I was of the right mind to tackle this kind of music!
G – How long has the band been around  and how did you come to be a member? Pretty good gig I would imagine!
J – Chimp Spanner as an entity has been around since about 2004 when the first album, Imperium Vorago was self released by Paul [Ortiz, writer and founder of Chimp Spanner]. Paul and I actually started working together on a project named Blessed Inertia, with the idea that we’d be able to take it live, as back then Chimp Spanner was just a guy writing albums in his home studio. Little did we know how the band would evolve!
G –  I just became aware of your endorsement with Strictly 7 Guitars and saw that they have designed and created ( with your input ) the JMH7 Signature Series, made with your exact specifications! How did that opportunity come about and what was the process like? And are you pleased with the finished product?
J – The deal with Strictly 7 Guitars came about through my good friend Ola Englund.  He put my name forward to Paul De Maio over at S7G and made him aware that I was shopping around for a new company to work with. De Maio saw working with me as a great opportunity for both Chimp Spanner and S7G, and I definitely agree! The design, or should I say, spec-building process consisted of tons of emails spanning a few months between me and Paul De Maio. To be honest I knew what I wanted in a guitar before I realized that what I wanted just so happened to be pretty much what everyone else wanted too! As of writing this, I actually don’t have MY guitar with me yet, but it’s well underway at the moment and I plan to have it from 2013 onward.
G – A lot of bands are playing 7 string, even 8 string guitars these days and I was wondering what your thoughts are on the advantages of going with a 7 string guitar verses a 6 string and was there a learning curve there in making that transition?
J – There was definitely a learning curve – anyone will tell you the same thing. And then even more so, I’d say, from 7 to 8 strings. 8 string guitars are different, as I think that’s where you’ve really got to start thinking about the rest of your rig above and beyond just longer scales, wider necks and thicker strings. You need to be aiming for as much definition and clarity as possible in your tone – that kind of comes naturally when you’re playing ‘ordinary’ guitars, so people don’t give much thought to why their 8 string guitars sound like mush with their old settings (or in our case, patches). It really takes a lot of consideration to get everything right.

G –  How is life on the road and what do you do on your downtime and for entertainment when you are touring?
J – Touring is fantastic, I love it. I basically quit life as I knew it (steady job, comfortable income) to tour last December with Cynic, and I don’t regret it at all. Prior to that tour I’d gotten used to van tours – sleeping wherever I could physically fit my body, being thankful whenever we hit a venue with a shower and taking on a strict diet of ‘drive-thru’ cheeseburgers – but it was still my favorite thing to do. Downtime on tour is a LOT of waiting around! But it gives us a good chance to hang out with the bands we tour with. As a band we still have got a lot to learn, so hanging out is very important!

G –  I understand you are currently busy writing and rehearsing the material for the new album! How is that progressing along and what can fans expect to hear from the band this time around?
J – The new album’s going great! Over the past 6 months we have revisited a lot of material that’s been put aside from previous recording sessions, picked the strongest stuff and blended it as much as possible with new stuff. Not to say the older stuff is not strong material, but we don’t want to be released 3-disc, 4 hour albums! We feel blending the old with the new gives the sound a nice anchor point – it almost gives things a ‘vintage Chimp’ vibe, you could say!
G –  Are you involved in the writing process or is that primarily Paul Ortiz’s responsibility?
J – The writing process is entirely Paul, but the material is constantly being run past us so when songs are finalized,we can simply piece together the bits we already know. That saved a lot of time during the rehearsing of the recent EP All Roads Lead Here, which we now routinely play live in it’s entirety. The idea to have us involved in the writing process was floated when we first formed as a live band, but I am such a big fan of what Paul does and he’s tons better at writing music than I am, so I personally really didn’t want that to change. I’m involved in my own ways – I’ve been booking us a few shows here and there and I’m currently transitioning to being in control of the social networking side of the band, so, I’m sorry to say, you guys on Facebook are normally talking to me these days!

chimp-spanner-full-band

G – When can we expect to see the completion of the album and when and where will it be available?
J – The album’s release is aimed at the first quarter of 2013, and it will be available EVERYWHERE! Online on iTunes and Amazon, physical copies also from Amazon, and it will be distributed in the United States by our label Prosthetic and the rest of the world by Basick Records. Keep your eyes locked on the Basick Records Facebook page as I’m sure there’ll be some songs streaming for free.
G – How was the name Chimp Spanner chosen and does it have anything to do with the movie the Lawn Mower Man?
J – Lawn Mower Man? That’s the first I’ve ever heard of that being a reference! I believe the band name came from Paul needing a name in double quick time for either a college project or something similar, and just chucked a few words together after listening to some Foo Fighters.
G – Have you ever watched the movie the Lawn Mower Man?  If not, you should as it is awesome!
J – I’ll add that to the list!

G – Do you have any immediate plans for touring once the album is released? If so, where do you plan to tour and who with?
J – We have plans, options, details of people to get in touch with – all sorts. We’re intending to hit Europe, for sure, and the response from the recent Intrinsic 2012 tour with The Contortionist was so incredible that we feel we need to hit North America again as soon as we can. We really need a nice, long tour, as we have done a fair few one-off shows this year, and I miss being able to get into that pocket of being 3 or 4 shows into a tour.
 G –  You guys are very heavy, very technical, yet you have a beautiful melodic sound to your music that puts you head and shoulders above anyone else out there on the scene today! What are some of the metal bands that you enjoy listening to and if you could put your dream list together of bands you would like to tour with, who would be on your list?
J – I absolutely fell in love with Cynic when we toured with them last year – we all get post-tour blues, that’s usual, but I massively miss listening to that band being absolutely incredible every single night, non-stop for 3 weeks. As I mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of tech metal music, so THA and PTH will make an appearance again on this list alongside my good friends in No Consequence, who are without a doubt one hell of a monstrous group of musicians. I grew up listening to the likes of Metallica, Fear Factory, Chimaira, Strapping Young Lad, Machine Head.. all that good stuff that pretty much defines the foundation of Heavy Metal music. Ideal bands to tour with? It’d have to be Devin Townsend for me. That man is undoubtedly a genius. Then, of course, there’s Meshuggah. They’re just so tight live that I can’t even begin to imagine the things they could teach us about being a live band and putting on a hell of a show.
G –  Given the degree of technical proficiency that are present in your songs, are there any songs that are so difficult to play that you almost dread performing them, due to the degree of skill and concentration it takes in pulling it off live?
J – There’s actually two songs off the second album, At The Dream’s Edge that we don’t yet perform live: ” Terminus” and “Far From Home”. “Terminus” has recently been reworked and tweaked a little bit, so we’re really hoping that will happen at some point soon. One of the hardest songs we play live used to be “Under One Sky”, but now that’s a song that doesn’t even  phase us. The groove in “Dark Age of Technology” means that you’ve really got to stay on top of it, as soon as you lose it there’s no coming back! Then there’s ‘that’ middle section in “Cloud City”.  I’ve never learnt anything like that before, so I’m not ashamed to say that it took me an age to get it tight!

G – Paul is one of the best guitar soloists on the planet! How does it feel to be part of a band with such skilled musicians and how the hell did Paul get that good? It almost seems to be beyond human ability, the level of playing that is present in your music! And you are pretty damn accomplished yourself Jim!
J – Paul’s definitely next level. Working with him in the past was always a completely different experience.  I’d occasionally jam with people and come to see that they’re just not getting up to speed with what I’m trying to accomplish. In my first writing experience with Paul, we wrote a pretty fast, technical metal song. I’d come up with most of the riffs in my own time, and seemingly played them to Paul once before he’d began double-tracking guitars into Cubase. That level of complete understanding of what’s going on, and that ability to absorb what someone else is telling him is what sets him apart. Then he wrote a mean shred solo off the cuff.. And double tracked that, too. I think Paul started at an early age as a pianist, and took up guitar later. All I can think of is that he maybe had a head-start in the dexterity department.. But there’s no denying he’s an amazing musician and instrumentalist. Being a pianist is where his natural ability to trigger a full drum set from a keyboard comes from. What will really make you sick is that he can play actual drums, too. In fact, he plans on tracking the drums himself on the next album! The trickiest part of joining the band for me was learning Paul’s nuances as a composer. 50% of ‘doing it right’ was getting my head around how he does things. I’ve always had a natural head for timing and groove, so that helps a lot with all this complex music!
G –  Do you listen to artists such as Greg Howe, Guthrie Govan, Frederik Thordendale, Frank Gambale, Shawn Lane, etc…? If so what is your feelings on these types of artists, as they are similar to what you guys are doing in Chimp Spanner?
J – Guthrie Govan is actually from the same town I am. Before he joined Dizzee Rascal’s touring band, he performed every Thursday night at a small bar in Chelmsford, Essex. Of course, my luck being as it is, I found out he’d done that AFTER he joined Dizzee! So I never saw him, unfortunately. It’s hard to say that guys like Greg Howe and Shawn Lane are doing similar to what we’re doing as we hold those guys in such high regard that we’re too humble to even mention them in the same sentence as us. If our fans want to make that connection then that’s great.

G –  Any chance you guys may team up with Jeff Loomis or Intervals and come to Ohio (my home state) for a show sometime in the near future?
J – We’d love to! I’ve only recently discovered Intervals, as Aaron Marshall and I are both endorsing Strictly 7 Guitars. Those guys are fantastic! I also finally met Jeff Loomis in person at this year’s Euroblast Festival in Cologne, Germany (this past October). He’s an amazing guy, we bonded over German Burger King breakfast! I’d been a fan for years, so it’s great that meeting him wasn’t disappointing!
G – And this question is a little off topic ( ok… alot off topic ) but what are your thoughts on the current state of affairs and world events, both in your own country which is the U.K and here in the U.S.A?
J – If I’m completely honest, I stopped taking an active interest in current affairs a few years back. It’s not that I avoid major tabloid news (I actually treat it more like a soap opera), but I see no point in using up any more of my precious time on this planet to pay any attention to an institution that I believe to be inherently corrupt and biased. But we’ll save that for another interview, maybe!
G – Any final thoughts or anything you would like to say to your fans or to anyone who has not heard your music who are metal fans and fans of shred instrumental music? I feel they would love it and for the record, you guys are currently my favorite band on the planet! And that is saying something as I have over 2,000 CD’s in my personal collection ranging from Jazz, Funk, Fusion, metal and 70’s era top 40!
J – That’s very humbling to hear, man! I’d just like to ask people who haven’t heard us yet to check the band out! It’s fairly different from most other bands that we’re associated with – maybe you’ll like us more!
G – Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule and making yourself available for this interview, Jim! Best of luck to you and I can’t wait to hear the new album!
J – Thanks a lot, Gordy!

www.chimpspanner.com/
http://www.facebook.com/chimpspanner

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz53Y0LaNus

Leaves’ Eyes (By: Lisa R. Rosner)

 

Hi Liv! I want to tell you that I am really looking forward to hearing the new album! Also, a couple friends of mine had a few questions they wanted me to ask you, so I will start off with those. (These are from my friend, Chad Boyd) :
1.) When will the U.S. tour start? Will you be headlining?
Liv: I hope this Autumn. Check out our homepage for news concerning shows in your near surroundings! A North-American, a South-American and an Asian tour are being planned right now.

2.)  Are you looking forward to touring with your sister’s band, Midnattsol? Any chance of the two bands bringing that tour to the U.S.?
Liv: I just arrived from our European tour, and I am now looking forward to further shows and tours. In April we toured with my sister Carmen’s band Midnattsol, and then in May we joined Tarja Turunen. Wow! Both tours were full of magic moments when “the ladies” get together! I am so proud, having my sister next to me on stage. I really wish we could do so in the U.S. as well!

3.) Does your son always come with you and Alexander on tours?
Liv: Sometimes my family joins me on tour.

4.) What was it like to duet with Dani Filth of Cradle of Filth on their album Nymphetamine? Would you do it again?
Liv: Of course! We were even nominated for the Grammy. Dani and I get along very well. I just knew what he was searching for in my voice instantly. I really love our duet.

5.) Are you planning on any other duets with anyone in the near future? Who would you most like to sing a duet with, if you could?
Liv:  I would like to sing with Tarja Turunen, with my sister Carmen/Midnattsol, and with Maite/Elfenthal! I am still dreaming about singing with Ozzy some day; my hero!

6.) (These next two are from my friend, Catherine Swanson) Are you really into Asatru as your music suggests, or do you sing it out of a cultural drive?
Liv: Hi Catherine! I just let the music itself inspire me. I’ve been interested in Nordic and Celtic history and mythology since I boarded school. You’ll find Froeya, three-headed trolls, vampires, ghosts, witches, Viking traveling on sea, Viking ladies mourning, and of course many images from the Norwegian harsh weather and wild nature landscapes. I guess there is some homesickness towards Norway in my lyrics. Actually, it’s more than obvious that I miss my home country.

7.) Who makes all of your amazing dresses?
Liv: I had different designers, however, I always have a clear mind about what I would like to wear. I pick up different influences or pieces of clothes on the internet as well, like the woman’s armor I am wearing on my Celtic dress on this tour. If I have the time, I sit down and sew myself.

8.) (The rest of the questions now are mine.) What are some of your expectations with the new album and what was the most challenging part of putting together Meredead?

Liv: For the production of  Meredead it was highly important to us that each song had its own ‘face’, individuality and perfect, crystal clear sound to strengthen the emotional effect. We just let the music inspire us to add new and interesting ‘spices’ to our music, like pipes, nyckelharpa (Swedish folk instrument), the fiddle, cello, classical orchestra or the flute. That’s what makes the album that diverse and exciting as you discover a different story, different instrumental combinations, different ways of singing even in various languages in each song. The critics have been absolutely amazing so far. The live appearances we just did were very energetic with a fantastic audience! It feels like something wonderful is happening. If I am able to touch the hearts of my fans and friends with our art, I am incredibly happy!

9.) There is a bonus track on Meredead entitled “Sorhleod”, which version(s) of the CD will that be available on?
Liv: That’s for the special edition. That track is actually one of my favorites.  It’s really worth listening to.

10.) The topics of Viking and Norwegian history/literature has been a mainstay with Leaves’ Eyes. But what inspired the Irish songs on the new album? And what about the ones that will be written in the Old English style?

Liv: Concerning my lyrics, if I chose a theme from Nordic mythology, I would include Norwegian lyrics. It was very intimate to sing in my mother tongue Norwegian, it makes the lyrics even more emotional and personal. Singing in Old-English meant digging my nose in my Old-English grammar books once again. However, I am very interested in historical languages,which I also studied. I think that Old-English has a very special ‘sound’ phonetically. However, the Irish-inspired songs on the album are also sung in modern English, so the Old-English style is ‘independent’from the theme(s) in my lyrics, actually.

11.) Tell about the DVD that comes along with the limited edition CD. And what was it like being a part of  The Metal Female Voices Fest?
Liv: MFVF is always something special for us, as we’ve been present almost every year. We are the headliners this year as well, and I am really looking forward to it!

12.) Any particular song(s) that stand out as having any extra special meaning to you personally? What are they and why do they stand out?
Liv: I’d rather pick some from each production: I would suggest “Norwegian Lovesong” and “For Amelie” from the Lovelorn album, the ballad “Leaves’ Eyes” from Vinland Saga, the epic track “Fröya’s Theme” from the Njord album, “Meredead”, “Sigrlinn”, “Sorhleod”, “Empty Horizon”  and “Tell-Tale Eyes” from Meredead. It’s just a feeling I have which I cannot explain.

13.) Lyrically, you seem to be a very adept story teller. Have you ever considered writing any novels and/or short-stories on the side?
Liv: Well, I actually did this already in secondary school. Some were printed in the local paper. I’ve kept some of them, though not everything. I would love to write and publish a book of stories and poems for children. Some day I will have the time. My son gives me the biggest inspiration! Being a mum is the greatest gift in my life and the best thing that happened to me.

14.) You said you created the word. “Meredead” and that it means something on the order of  ‘dead by/in the sea,’ or ‘the mortal or killing sea.’ The CD cover depicts a beguiling woman rising from the water. Is the theme behind all that akin to or inspired by the Sirens of Greek mythology?
Liv: We are very pleased with the cover and the booklet’s artwork! Many people already asked me why I’m not on the album cover of Meredead. I think  I look too ‘sweet’ and ‘angel-like’ for the album. The title means ‘dead by the sea’, or ‘the deadly sea’, as you pointed out. She represents both the beauty of the sea and at the same time the dangerous ocean! I think the girl on the cover is really beautiful, and I absolutely love the artwork of Stefan Heilemann! I am going to ask Stefan if I can meet her some day, hehe! To be honest, I did not have Greek mythology in my mind, however, it could make sense, you are right!

15.) What can you tell fans about your album, Melusine? (What does the title mean and what are some of the songs about, etc?)
Liv: Melusine  is an EP of Leaves’ Eyes following Meredead. You will find the title track “Melusine”, “Battle of Maldon” from the Njord-Era, “Legend Land” in acoustic version, all fresh recorded, and another version of “Tell-Tale Eyes”, featuring my friend Anette Gulbrandsen. “Melusine”, the brand new track, has more of the dialogue of the beauty and the beast, and it is incredibly heavy and straight into your face! “Melusine” is based on a female character found  in Celtic mythology. The theme is a mermaid’s passions for the sea, although being married to a “normal” human being. One day a week she takes a bath, secretly; the other six days a week she his wife. One day he discovers her secret,  that she is a mermaid, and bans her forever.

16.) Do you do anything special to take care of your voice, especially while you are on the road? (You sing so beautifully.)
Liv: Aw, thank you very much. I have been singing since I was a little girl, even before I was able to talk. It just comes natural to me, moreover, I have gathered a lot of experience during my 17 years of recording albums and singing on different stages all over the world. What I do before a show is simple: Put on lipstick, put on my dress, sing a few tones for two minutes, do 25 push-ups, drink some ginger tea. That’s all. It takes about 12 minutes.

17.) I know this is kind of old, but you were a part of Daniele Liverani’s Genius Rock Opera: Episode 2 album. Did you get to meet and personally work with Liverani or any of the other guest musicians on that CD? Also, what did you think of the storyline and of your character role on that CD? Did you have fun doing that? How did your invitation for participating on that come to be?
Liv: We didn’t meet for that project, unfortunately, but I really love the result and I appreciate him asking me to sing on that album! It was a great experience!

18.) I understand that you are a vegetarian. I have recently become one myself,  after all the research I have done on  factory farming. I was wondering if you always have been a vegetarian and what are your reasons for being so? Are they for health reasons or for animal rights reasons?
Liv: That just came naturally. When I was little I even avoided meat. I just don’t feel comfortable eating meat. My whole digestive system goes on strike and I feel very tired and mentally ‘weak’. I can’t explain it, though. However, you should do what your inner voice tells you. I even avoid dairy products because I get terribly sick from milk. Believe me, you don’t miss anything if you stay away from meat or dairy products. I run marathons and push more iron at the gym than many guys.

19.) You seem like you are very busy and continuously involved with music.  During your rare free moments, what do you like to do for fun and to relax?

Liv: True, I guess I was born with a hyper-active artistic mind. I can’t stop thinking music. However, I always dreamed of having my own family, moreover, becoming a singer. Both dreams have come true! I consider myself to be very lucky. I have a very strict plan: When I work: I work very, very hard and non stop! When it is family time, I am ONLY there for my family. In between I do a lot of sports, especially running, yoga and fitness. Sometimes, on stage, I keep singing my lyrics at the same time as I am thinking about my dear ones at home. That’s multi-tasking!

20.) What would you like people to know the most about Leaves’ Eyes and the new CD, Meredead? Any other closing comments about anything you would like to add? (Thank you so much, Liv! I saw you when Leaves’ Eyes opened for Blind Guardian quite awhile back in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a great show. I definitely hope to see you again on your next tour. Best wishes to you!)
Liv: All the best for you, your family and your friends! I hope to see you all in the autumn in the US! Thank you for always being there for me and my band!

MANOWAR – THE LORD OF STEEL

Manowar: The Lord of Steel
(2012, Magic Circle)

  Hail Metal Warriors! The Kibitzer is back again and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a brand new Manowar CD (and I’ve been a big fan for a very long time too!)
  Manowar’s latest release, The Lord of Steel is a different breed of animal compared to the rest of the other releases within their catalog. Truthfully, I haven’t been this excited since Louder Than Hell! This new CD proves that Manowar can still bring it and have also proven that their sound has  evolved without straying away from the Manowar brand!
  The production is impeccable and robust, as the material on the CD is also light years away from Warriors of The World and Gods Of War. No slow starts here, folks, no sir! It’s full throttle with tracks like “Expendable”, “The Lord Of Steel”, “Manowarriors”,  “Annihilation”, “Hail, Kill and Die”, and “El Gringo” (which is also the first track that Manowar has ever written specifically for a major motion picture).
  The Lord of Steel also marks the debut of new drummer, Donnie Hamzik. With no disrespect intended to previous drummer, Scott Columbus (R.I.P.), Hamzik is a breath of fresh air to Manowar and is definitely what the band needed to progress to the next phase of their existence. Eric Adams’ voice is amazing as it hasn’t changed over the years and has been consistent with delivery and quality. Karl Logan and Joey DeMaio’s guitar and bass sound is thicker and fuller this time around with more distortion and mid range added to DeMaio’s bass that just makes all of the new songs roar with thunder (no pun intended!).
  I can go on and on, but this is their best work to date! I give The Lord of Steel 5 out of 5 stars! All of the haters can say what they want about Manowar, but they’ve outlasted a lot of trends and a lot of other bands that have since been long gone and in the history books. Get this CD when you can! Until next time my Metal brothers and sisters……. RAGE!!!
– THE KIBITZER
@XKIBITZERX on Twitter
Track Listing
Annihilation
Black List
Born In A Grave
El Gringo
Expendable
Hail, Kill and Die
Manowarriors
Righteous Glory
The Lord Of Steel
Touch The Sky

FEAR FACTORY – THE INDUSTRIALIST

FEAR FACTORY:
THE INDUSTRIALIST
(2012, CANDLELIGHT USA)
 

      Hail and Kill Metal Warriors!
  Truthfully, I haven’t followed (nor am I faithful follower) of the band Fear Factory since 1995’s Demanufacture. Since then, I’ve only listened to some of Fear Factory’s songs here and there. When I first discovered the band in 1995, it was during a time when Heavy Metal was in it’s all time low with Metal bands being dropped from their labels and everybody was flocking to follow the trend of the Grunge scene (Man, I really hated that era!!!). Albeit that Fear Factory was a breath of fresh air for me and they were like no other band out there at the time, the fusion of Metal and Industrial Music was the culmination and trademark of that era. However, for me personally, it was lacking something -lead solos! Sure, there are Metal bands out there that have written and released songs without lead guitar solos, however, they are the main staples within our art and culture of Heavy Metal. That’s just my preference. With Fear Factory, they were the game changers in the Metal scene in 1995. Being a band that is mostly based on rhythmic patterns, odd time signatures and sound samples, that was cool, but to me, it got old fast.
  Fast forward to 2012, the band hasn’t evolved much since the last time I listened to them, but they still retain their signature sound. Although there have been numerous roster changes within the band over the years, the masterminds behind Fear Factory have always been Burton C. Bell (vocals) and Dino Cazares (Guitars). Now that Cazares is back in the band, they have regained full strength and can now go full speed ahead!
  Their latest CD, The Industrialist, marks the band’s return to the concept album. A concept based on an age where all industries are in the form of an automaton and where machines start to think independently for themselves. In the story, the automaton becomes aware of its existence and evolution in which will lead to mankind’s demise. A very cool concept (although not original), so I decided to snag a copy for myself just to see what’s new within the Fear Factory camp.
  Well, from what I can tell you, they got my attention and this is the album that got me interested in Fear Factory once again. I wouldn’t say that this CD is ground breaking, but it’s definitely a must have for those of you that are die hard fans of the band. Bell and Cazares handled all of the instruments and the production for The Industrialist with no additional band members available during the recording sessions of the CD. They even used a drum machine as a proxy instead of recruiting a live drummer. The reason being that Bell wanted to go back to that type of sound that they had on some of the earlier CD’s. (Personally, I couldn’t tell the difference nor did I even miss the presence of a real drummer for this CD. It may be a big deal to you musicians out there, but I don’t think anybody really cares to be honest with you. So I’m not going to be picky about that.)
  Nonetheless, this is a good CD and I like it. As for the core band members themselves, Bell is a very good vocalist and I’ve always liked his style. Cazares, on the other hand, is a one dimensional guitarist in my opinion. He only focuses on riffs, yet he manages to pull it off all the time and has been successful at it. That being said, kudos to Dino Cazares.
  As for the new release, tracks like ”Recharger”, “Virus of Faith”, and “Depraved Mind Murder”, serve as the mainstay and platform from which the CD is based on.
  Overall, “The Industrialist”, is definitely a return to the feel and sound of old, just with updated technology. To me, it’s been done before with the new material sounding rather hackneyed in theory and design. I’m not trying to dispel or besmirch the band’s name or legacy that it has made for itself within this business, but the The Industrialist is nothing new (other than being another new release from them).
   I give The Industrialist a 3.75 out of 5. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the new CD but it’s not one to stay in my CD player for days at a time. If you’re a die hard fan, go out and get it. For those of you that aren’t, it still could be something new for you to explore. So until next time…… RAGE!!!
 
Tracks
The Industrialist
Recharger
New Messiah
God Eater
Depraved Mind Murder
Virus of Faith
Difference Engine
Disassemble: Religion is Flawed because Man is Flawed
Human Augmentation
–        THE KIBITZER
@XKIBITZERX on Twitter
 

EPICA – Requiem for the Indifferent

EPICA:
 REQUIEM FOR THE INDIFFERENT
(2012, NUCLEAR BLAST)
            Hail Metal Warriors!! THE KIBITZER here once again to bring the music to the masses and spread the word about Metal as much as I can! This time I’m reviewing Epica’s latest release, Requiem for The Indifferent. I’ve been meaning to review this new opus of theirs, so here it is! This is a concept album about how mankind is facing the challenges in today’s society with the constant tension and turmoil between different religions, cultures, wars, natural disasters and a huge global economic crisis just looming over our heads. It’s also about the unification of the earth’s population and how we will all need each other to overcome these problems. All I can say is that it is an elegant piece of tapestry. Labeling this band as a “Goth Metal” band would be unfair. They are just so much more than that. I mean, they really got my attention with this new release! Epica has proven that not only can they bust out the heavy artillery, but their music can be elegant and beautiful too. Simone Simons’ voice solidifies the band roster and takes them to different places in the universe time and time again with every one of their releases.
  The second track, “Karma” is a real heavy hitter but it also exhibits their other strengths. There were some blast beats that caught me by surprise too, but they didn’t stray too far from the main focus of the song. A great display of form and functionality. Another track that I really like a lot is “Serenade of Self-Destruction”. It has the feel of a musical score for a motion picture and that’s great!
  Epica is a multifaceted unit and is well versed in the symphonic and operatic arts. The bonus track, “Twin Flames” at the end of the CD is really poignant and tugs at the strings of the heart. I don’t really say something like that very often, but that song is really special to me.
               Well, I can go on and on about how much I love this CD, but to sum it up, this is really a must have CD! You won’t be disappointed. I give this “Requiem for The Indifferent” 5 out of 5 stars.
  Wow, so far, there has been some really great material from a lot of cool releases this year that I’ve been giving perfect ratings on! The most that I’ve ever given at one time if I may add! Then again, that’s just my opinion. Regardless, don’t let the theatrics of Epica fool you. They can play! This is THE KIBITZER signing off and until next time……. RAGE!!!
       Tracks
Karma
Monopoly on Truth
Storm The Sorrow
Delirium
Internal Warfare
Requiem For The Indifferent
Anima
Guilty Demeanor
Deep Water Horizon
Stay The Course
Deter The Tyrant
Avalanche
Serenade Of Self-Destruction
        Bonus Track: Twin Flames
–        THE KIBITZER
@XKIBITZERX on Twitter

Wykked Wytch – By: The Kibitzer

Interview with The Ultimate Wytch Ipek

By The Kibitzer

1.     Thank you, Ipek, for joining us and giving us some of your time to talk about Wykked Wytch and your latest release The Ultimate Deception! You have a lot of things going on,    especially with the new CD and Wykked Wytch will be supporting the Soulfly 15th Anniversary Tour: MAXIMUM CAVALERA with SOULFLY, INCITE, LODY KONG. How’s everything going with both the new release and the tour?

Ipek – Yes, we have so many things going on, right after our new album was released 2 months ago, we landed a month long tour with Soulfly. As you are reading this, we just completed the tour. It was awesome! We had a great time and made many new fans and met up with the old loyal fans around the country.

2.     Wykked Wytch has been around for a long time now and you’ve come a long way since your first release, Something Wykked This Way Comes. In the beginning, how did you envision Wykked Wytch?

Ipek – I always had a vision where we would be real extreme and theatrical. Not just a band that play great heavy music but the same time visually very exciting and interesting to watch, almost like a heavier version of Rammstein. We never had a budget for a show, but always imagined that.

3.     What do you think is the secret to your longevity?

Ipek – Determination, passion, & love of music.

4.     I know that you don’t want to be tied down to being labeled as Black Metal and that you consider yourselves more Extreme Metal than anything, but was this exactly where you wanted to be now with your musical direction with Wykked Wytch?

Ipek – We never labeled ourselves as this and that’s because we are not a one dimensional band. We possess many different talents and styles in our music, which is hard to describe our music. The reason we say extreme metal is because all the stuff like black, death, thrash metal elements can be found in our music. We also have catchy riffs, solos, & melodies.

5.     Would you say that Wykked Wytch definitely has a signature sound or would you rather say that you develop a new sound with every CD that you release?

Ipek – When I originally started the band I just wanted to play hard and heavy music with no limitations or boundaries. Where we can demonstrate classical, opera,thrash, death and black metal influences. I would say the same idea is there from the beginning but music and sound evolves with the musicians I’m working with at the time and how I’m feeling as well. On several of the early albums we did some experimenting and in time you feel what works or not. Every CD has it’s own sound but you can still identify it as Wykked Wytch. I would say with our last album Memories of a Dying Whore we finally developed our own sound and with the new album The Ultimate Deception is a big step up from Memories of a Dying Whore album. I’m really confident where Wykked Wytch is today, still evolving but have our own sound.

6.     Since I am still new to Wykked Wytch’s music, The first CD that I had purchased from your catalog was Angelic Vengeance. With each release that you have made, you’ve actually turned it up a notch. Where does most of your inspiration come from when it comes to constructing the music and lyrics of Wykked Wytch?

Ipek – Well you need to hear our very first album Something Wykked This Way Comes to appreciate the progress in the band. Every album, I work with the current guitarist on composing the music. The sound of the music will be influenced by the guitarist’s writing style, but at the same time I make sure that whatever is written goes with the WW style. If I don’t think a song or riffs fit then it won’t make the album. Also I always maintained my vocals in extreme harsh and melodic way, which is WW trademark.  As far as lyrics go many things inspire me to write lyrics: child abuse, war against women and children, lies and deception I received from friends and family and the tragedies I have lived through in my life. In the past some fantasy style lyrics, but the last couple of albums’ lyrics were more true crime based and personal.

7.     Let’s talk about your current release, The Ultimate Deception. When did you start writing for the new CD?

Ipek – The writing began after I found our new lead guitarist/songwriter Nate Poulson, which was Spring of 2010. It was a couple of months after we came home from our European headlining tour.

8.     How did you approach the making of the new CD?

Ipek – I had some  song ideas previously and after our last guitar player quit, but I buried those songs with him. When I met Nate I knew what the subjects and concepts were going to be for the new album, which was anger and rage. So everything came together easily. Nate would email me over song ideas and riffs and we would go from there back and forth until a song was done.

9.     On The Ultimate Deception, how different is the new release from the previous releases?

Ipek – The Ultimate Deception is modern, new, and a breath of fresh air. Our guitarist Nate was not opposed to new modern melodic, yet very heavy ideas, so he kind of took me out of my comfort zone and we crossed our boundaries to create a very mixed metal style album. We didn’t want to lose the sound from previous albums, but at the same time wanted to create a whole new beast. So this album works great as a follow-up to Memories of a Dying Whore but is just 10 times better and with much more shit going on.

10.  What kind of influence lead to the inception of  The Ultimate Deception?

Ipek – There wasn’t one direct influence. As from a musical standpoint, you have our new guitarist Nate, who is bringing his influences, but at the same time is respecting what was created before with WW. So we want to create something off the wall but still what WW fans will recognize and love. Vocally and lyrically this was going to be a very angry album because of the subjects covered.

11.  Do you think that you’ve stretched out the limitations on your vocal capabilities or do you think that you have a lot more ground that you would like to cover?

Ipek – There are no limitations when it comes to my vocal ability. I’m sure there will be some songs I may be doing some cock rock vocals if the song or the riff calls for it.

12.  In regards to the music on The Ultimate Deception, I can also hear elements of other styles of not just Metal but other forms of music, if I’m not mistaken. Was that something that was planned or was that something that progressed during the making of the CD?

Ipek – Everything that appeared on the album was planned and rehearsed. The only element on the album that was completely came up in the studio was the Metallica “Fade To Black” song. That was a last minute addition.

13.  You also did a cover of Metallica’s “Fade to Black” on the new CD. What made you want to cover that song and how does it tie in with the other new songs on the CD?

Ipek – On the last album we included a cover song and everyone loved it. So we thought why not butcher another classic song on this album. We just couldn’t agree on what song. We decided in the studio that we would do a Metallica song. Then we finally agreed on “Fade To Black”. We thought that it tied in well with the whole theme of the album and was a great song and of course we had to make our own version.

14.  The last track on the CD, “Eyes of A Vulture”, is one of my favorite tracks off the new CD. Can you tell me what that is about?

Ipek – It is one of my favorite tracks as well, a very technical and direct heavy song. It is about how people are like vultures, waiting for you to go down or die so they can rape you and kick you some more or they can’t wait to get a piece of you…everyone is all about money and that’s all they care ..

15.  The production for The Ultimate Deception is very strong and compelling. Who helped you produce the new CD this time around and is this the first time you’ve worked with them?

Ipek – We recorded at the Lambesis Studios (San Diego,CA) owned by singer Tim Lambesis from As I Lay Dying and engineered by Daniel Castelman, whom we enjoyed working with very much for the very first time. The album was mastered in New York by Alan Douches who we used on our last album.

16.  Given that you have worked with many musicians both in the studio and live up on stage, who will be up on stage with you this time around?

Ipek – New lead guitarist: Nate Poulson, Pat O’Malley (Rhythm Guitar), Matt Florio (bass), Weston Stone on drums , Salvatore on keys , again same line up I had since 2009 with exception of new guitarist Nate.

17.  Like your music, you have an extreme live show as well. How do you prepare for something like that and keep things strong up on stage every time you go up there?

Ipek – We did not have enough time to prepare for this tour at all. It was a last minute notice, so Nate flew down to Ft Lauderdale from Illinois and we rehearsed like a week before our first show. But everyone was so pumped and extremely happy to be on the tour, it was a natural everyone gave their 100% live and the result was obvious everyone loved us. At each venue we gained many new fans. Especially when all of us got sick with a cold and did not even care once we were on stage. Towards the end of the tour, I got really sick with coughs and I had a  hard time breathing between songs. But luckily the cold did not effect my singing.

18.  I know that you have your own opinion about women who front other Metal bands and you’ve stayed true to those words. Do you think that the Metal scene today has changed a little and has learned to accept female vocalists more for their talents rather than their looks? Do you still think that a woman, especially yourself, has to work twice as hard for men to accept you as a musician and not just for your looks?

Ipek – As you may know, metal is a very much male dominated music scene where close minded, sexist pigs still would not want to credit females for their hard work. It’s  a turn off for them thinking ooh.. another tits and ass type. This attitude will never go away and because some of the females are exposing them selves showing off their breasts and  causing the male audience to disrespect female musicians. Yes, in that aspect we, as honest talented females have to work harder for the opposite gender to accept us. There are still many of them that claim females can not deliver brutal music or can sing as males, which is  bullshit because your vocal ability has nothing to do with your gender but more with skills and training.  Just like any other musicians,  you have to know your instrument well to deliver the goods.

19.  You also have a radio show called Ipek’s Wytching Hour that you host weekly. How did you get started in the radio industry and how long has the show been running now?

Ipek – I was a guest one time on Metal Messiah Radio and was offered a spot hosting my own show. I guess they felt I was being interesting and knowledgeable about the metal. It’s been almost 2 years now and has gained some respect from musicians around the world. I don’t consider myself as a pro DJ, more like a radio personality as a Ms. Howard Stern. I like to mix metal with humor.

20.  You’ve had a lot of guests on the show. Who would you say would be your favorite guest on the show if you have any?

Ipek – Phil Anselmo was definitely my favorite guest. He is a legend and also very funny.  I usually like the artists that don’t take themselves too seriously and are having fun. Some other favorite guests that were colorful and fun with plenty of humor were: Geoff Tate (Queensryche), Johnny Plague (Winds of Plague), & Mike S. (Darkest Hour).

21.  You’ve got a lot of things going on right now and you even have your own hot sauce! Can you tell us all about that, please?

Ipek – I love hot  and spicy food. What I mean by that is, I literally eat fresh jalapenos like peanuts, so I decided to come up with my own hot sauce with my secret ingredients. Everyone can visit wykkedwytch.com and order themselves a bottle.

22.  Well Ipek, I want to thank you again for giving us this opportunity to talk to you. Do you have any parting words that you want to say to the fans out there?

Ipek – Thank you for the great questions. (It’s not very often I get asked intelligent ones; rather all generic questions. I enjoyed answering them.) For fans: please buy music  rather than free downloading. Help the scene to survive especially non mainstream ones. Go to shows when you can, to support your favorite bands! Until then, metal UP yours!

CROWN OF MALICE – Demo

CROWN OF MALICE – DEMO
  Hail Metal Warriors! THE KIBITZER here to bring you some fresh new talent! I’ve heard of these guys for a couple of months now and I finally had an opportunity to sit down and listen to the five tracks that they have out on their Reverbnation page.
  From Plymouth, Massachusetts,  let’s give it up for Crown of Malice: Mikey Currier-Bass, Joshua Whiting-vocals, Adam Baran-guitar, and Thomas Wittig on drums. Given that these songs were written and recorded before they had settled on a drummer, they did one hell of a job with just a drum machine. Armed with the tools and the right attitude that they set forth in producing this demo, Crown of Malice has the makings of something fresh and something that I haven’t heard in a while. They are definitely what their bio describes them as.
  Crown Of Malice is an amalgamation of Thrash, Black, Death, and Progressive Metal with some Crossover Hardcore thrown in for some color. This is the first time that I never had to guess what they are. They are truly the product of their creation. I’m not going to hone in on the production aspect of their songs. Instead, their musicianship caught my ear. The opener, “Behold The Crown”, has that Thrash vibe of old that I like. The next song, “Forsaken” starts off with some Black Metal type synthesizers and launches off with a nice Death/Progressive blend of styles. To close it out, you have the instrumental “Execution Day”. The great thing that I like is that they switch off between Black and Death Metal vocals for variation and to break the monotony of things. A very good combination. I have no doubt about their musicianship.
  They have some loose ends to tighten up when it comes to their sound. More definition and a cleaner tone would help out the rhythm guitar. They’re right there with the vocals. They just need to concentrate on pitch, tone and switching between the two styles. Overall, Crown of Malice has something really good here and I’d like to hear more from them if and when they re-record the current tracks or when they release some new tunes. Only time will tell.
  I give the demo a 3.25 out of 5 stars. I think you’ll be hearing more from these guys in the future. Take my word for it! This is THE KIBITZER signing off and until next time…RAGE!!!
1.     Behold The Crown
2.     Forsaken
3.     Ending
4.     Grinder
5.     Execution Day
XKIBITZERX on Twitter