In this report: (Click on a picture to go straight to news about that band)
It's time for another installment of "As The Head Bangs!" This time, we look at Norway's Dimmu Borgir who recently announced the dismissal of bassist/vocalist Simen "I.C.S. Vortex" Hestnaes and keyboardist Oyvind "Mustis" Mustaparta (hehe, say it fast and it sounds like "must depart-a.") Sorting through a bloated, over-worded press release reveals that this is a result of both men's lack of work ethic, poor stage performance, greed, and personal differences.
In his own release, Hestnaes says it was "a hell of a ride," to which the band fired back that it was a free ride for him. Mustaparta took it a lot harder, expressing that he felt "betrayed" and was considering legal action for his past contributions. I'm still waiting to find the third side of this story - the truth, but I doubt that will ever come.
What we do know is coming is a new Dimmu Borgir record, already half written and work continuing with remaining members Stian "Shagrath" Thoreson (vocals), Sven Atle "Silenoz" Kopperud (guitar), and Thomas Rune "Galder" Andersen (guitar). I suppose the final product will be a good indicator of who the true creative force in the band is/was.
Expect Mustaparta to do some kind of solo work, while Hestnaes will get together with his Lamented Souls bandmates to plan a new release and a few gigs in Norway. He is also planning to get together with the rest of Arcturus to discuss the group's future and a possible reunion. That's cool - many would take Arcturus over Dimmu any day. That's all for now - stay tuned for future editions of "As The Head Bangs!"
As long as we're on the subject of Dimmu Borgir, I might as well tell you that Shagrath's hellraising rock n' roll side project Chrome Division (in which he plays guitar) has announced that Shady Blue (a.k.a. Athera of Susperia) is their new vocalist. He first appeared with the band in February, filling in for Guz at a gig in Germany. Now that Guz has been ousted for "lack of dedication and commitment" - do you sense a pattern here? - Blue has been tapped to fill the position on a permanent basis.
There have already been a couple of gigs scheduled and the majority of album #3 written. Sounds like good rockin' times are in the future. If you're into bands like Motorhead, Speedealer, and Turbonegro, make sure you're tuned in to Chrome Division.
Earlier this year, Karma to Burn - yet another band whose demise I mourned - decided to get together for some US and European touring. I mourned again when there was no show in my area. But I shall mourn no more, as the instrumental heavy rockers are officially "back" and signed to Napalm Records for the release of a new album, their first since 2001's Almost Heathen. No release date has been set so we'll just have to be patient... damnit, I don't want to be patient! Well, I may not have a choice. With two weeks of US touring at the end of October followed by a full month in Europe, who knows when they'll have time to finish. The anticipation is going to kill me.
Barely a year has passed since The Scarecrow was released, and Tobias Sammet (Edguy) is already working on the latest entry in the Avantasia catalog. The epic, operatic metal project has always employed a number of guest vocalists to play the various parts of the story being told and the lineup this time around is shaping up to be one of the strongest yet, with usual suspects Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween), Bob Catley (Magnum), Eric Singer (KISS), and Jorn Lande (Masterplan) being joined by Klaus Meine (Scorpions), Tim "Ripper" Owens (ex-Judas Priest/Iced Earth), and returning drummer Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire). On the matter of a release date, Sammet has said, "We got a lot of songs and as long as they are great, we will keep producing, people should expect a 10-Disc collection in 2017, haha." As you can see, this man is serious about his art, but not much else. Well, maybe with the exception of "Lavatory Love Machine."
Even though "Dimmu Borgir: Dark Fortress" (you just can't escape them this time!) has yet to be released, Terminal Press and Nuclear Blast Records are going ahead with another comics/metal crossover, this time featuring the mighty Exodus. Entitled "Death Begets Death," the story will utilize their lyrical, artistic and musical concepts to bring the world of Exodus alive in a post-apocalyptic world.
"Set in a ruined America of the near future, the story follows two war generals who rule over military fiefdoms the size of time zones. General Scraw controls the west coast, while his twin brother General Scraggg reigns from a seat in Las Vegas. The twins amuse themselves by sending the military's toughest war toys, the Shovel Headed Kill Machines, into the deserts of the MidWaste to exterminate the human rabble that scrabbles for survival there. But when General Scraw learns that his military has been wiped out by a supernatural being calling herself the Earth Mother, he sends five crazed men who may or may not be the members of Exodus from the bowels of his own prison to stop her. But many more people will die before the strange woman gets what she wants, and the twin generals will learn the price of their own misdeeds."
Expect an abundance of over-the-top violence and dark humor, with themes and imagery pulled from their entire body of work, but focused on Bonded By Blood, Tempo Of The Damned, Shovel Headed Kill Machine, and The Atrocity Exhibition - Exhibit A. I'm also hoping for a cameo from Paul Baloff as some sort of otherworldly poser crusher. What will happen when comic book nerds collide with metal nerds in shops on release day (said to be in early 2010)? Bring a camera.
Metal Blade Records has announced plans to reissue a couple of King Diamond albums - The Spider's Lullabye and The Graveyard - next month. Both albums have been remastered by King Diamond and guitarist Andy LaRocque and will include bonus material where purchasers will be able to obtain digitally, live versions with video footage of "The Spider's Lullabye" (for the album of the same name) and "Trick or Treat" and "Up From The Grave" (for The Graveyard). I have to say that these two albums are not oft mentioned when I've discussed King Diamond with other metal folks, so maybe this is a good opportunity to pick up some overlooked gems.
If you just can't get enough of the King, October will also bring the first in a line of King Diamond/Mercyful Fate-inspired shoes from C1rca, and the long-awaited Brutal Legend video game, which features a couple of his songs on the soundtrack. Oh, a DVD is in the works, too.
Sweden's Miseration, featuring former Scar Symmetry vocalist Christian Älvestam, have finished work on their sophomore album The Mirroring Shadow and have set a release date for January 19th, 2010 in North America (November 16th, 2009 in Europe) through Lifeforce Records. That's one point against my cynical view that Lifeforce bands only get one album out of the chute before fading into obscurity. In all seriousness, I thoroughly enjoyed 2008's Your Demons - Their Angels and thought it was a criminally overlooked release of melodic Swedish death. I expect this one will follow suit on the latter note and hope that it will bring them the recognition they deserve.
Hellbastard formed in the UK in 1984, playing an early form of crossover that mixed the ferocity of punk with the chops of metal (just in case you didn't know what 'crossover' meant in musical terms). They broke up in 1993 after releasing one album and several demos. After reforming in 2008, the band is gearing up to release their new full-length The Need to Kill (10 new tracks plus six re-recorded) as well as the Eco-War EP (one re-recorded track, four new ones, and a cover of Slayer's "Die By the Sword"), both through Poland's Selfmadegod Records. I'm pretty sure I hadn't heard of these guys until now, and one of the perks of doing this job is discovering great stuff from the past and present. The new material sounds killer, with more of a straight thrash vibe than crossover. They're currently touring with Resistant Culture, wrapping things up with an appearance at the Chicago Apocalyptic Crust Fest III on October 3rd.
Portland, OR traditional metalists Dark Black have signed with California-based StormSpell Records. The label recently issued the band's debut full-length Sellsword in both parties' ongoing battle to bring true metal to the masses and eliminate the false. Everything about this band just screams metal, from the album artwork to song titles to the music. A few years ago I reviewed their EP The Barbarian's Hammer (how fuckin' metal is that?) and found it to be a solid release that "is everything I like about traditional metal." I did have a slight problem with the vocals but they sound better this time out.
Chicago noisemongers Raise The Red Lantern will release their new, self-titled album on At A Loss Recordings on October 27th. Just to make a slightly different comparison, they sound like old-school Dark Tranquility mixed with modern-day High on Fire, and the results are pretty infectious. Even now I'm having trouble removing my headphones so that I can move on to the next story. Oh wait - there is no next story. Awesome.
Samael has been forced to drop out of their previously announced fall North American tour with Moonspell for financial reasons. Every time this happens I wonder why the hell all of that business wasn't resolved BEFORE the tour was announced. Just seems like a better way to conduct business. More bad news for Moonspell fans is that Samael's replacement will be Divine Heresy. Nothing against DH, but that's not an equal trade-off, like when Candlebox replaced Alice In Chains on Metallica's 1994 Shit in the Sheds Tour. Samael hopes to be able to make it over in early 2010. If we're lucky, they'll bring Cathedral again.
U.K. rockers Gypsy Pistoleros have inked a deal with U.S.-based Chavis Records for the release of Hotel de la Muerte. Tentatively slated for a November 30th release, the album will feature five new songs plus the tracks from their 2008 album Para Siempre - including a questionable cover of "Livin La Vida Loca" - remixed and remastered. They call themselves 'Renegade Flamenco Glam Punk Rock n Roll Kings,' but I'm not hearing a whole lot of flamenco or even punk, but they've got the glam and rock n roll parts down pat. You gamers will get a chance to hear them in the game "WET" which includes four of their songs on the soundtrack. I have a feeling they'll remain well-liked overseas, but fall flat here. I'm not saying... I'm just saying.
The Company Band, featuring vocalist Neil Fallon (Clutch), drummer Jess Margera (CKY), guitarists Jim Rota (Fireball/Ministry) and Dave Bone, and bassist Brad Davis (Fu Manchu), have set November 10th as the release date for their full-length, self-titled debut. The release will be preceded in early October by a special digital-only single for “It’s A Confusing World” with an exclusive cover of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Not Fragile.” The band's debut EP Sign Here, Here, and Here sold out on it's limited CD print run, but remains a popular digital seller. That EP has now been made available as a limited-edition 10" for the true enthusiasts. Good jammin' rock music - but what else did you expect from this caliber of a collective?
The latest, unexpected, and perhaps uncalled for reunion is Swedish death metal act Desultory. I don't know much about them, but may have seen a patch on a denim vest or two. They were also one of the bands I sort of discovered in my early days of radio when I was going through the deepest part of the archive trying to be "cool." The as-yet-untitled album will be their first full-length in nearly 14 years. Pulverised Records is encouraging them by signing them for the album's release.Buy me a shot! [CLICK HERE]