Saturday, April 9, 2011

MIKE PORTNOY Talks About His New Projects

Former DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy recently spoke to AOL's Noisecreep about new projects, including new band with SYMPHONY X's Russell Allen on vocals, Mike Orlando on guitar, and Paul DiLeo on bass; his work with Steve Morse, Neal Morse, Casey McPherson and Dave LaRue; and his involvement with Neal Morse's latest solo album, "Testimony 2". "[This] has been an unbelievably productive year for me so far," Portnoy told Noisecreep. "It's only April and I've already recorded three different albums with three different projects and artists, as well as having done a string of U.S. shows with my BEATLES tribute band with Paul Gilbert. I'm enjoying spreading my musical wings and collaborating with so many talented friends and musicians that I admire. My musical taste has always been so broad, and I'm loving tapping into so many different areas and styles." On his new band with SYMPHONY X's Russell Allen on vocals, Mike Orlando on guitar, and Paul DiLeo on bass: "[It's] something I'm very excited about. It's super hard-hitting, with strong, slamming tunes, with riffs as big as Zakk [Wylde] and Dime, and vocals as big as Dio. I think this album can make a huge splash in the hard rock and metal scene! I can't wait to hit the road with this baby!" On his work with Steve Morse, Neal Morse, Casey McPherson and Dave LaRue: "[It] is filled with some great pop/alternative/singer-songwriter influences, but, of course, rounded out with great playing and musicianship." On other projects he has planned for the rest of the year: "I also have a few other exciting things in the works for the summer and beyond. I will continue to plant all of these musical seeds and watch them all grow like a proud farmer."

REDEMPTION: European Mini-Tour Announced

REDEMPTION, the U.S. progressive metal band featuring in its ranks legendary FATES WARNING vocalist Ray Alder and guitarist/songwriter Nick van Dyk, will headline this year's edition of the ProgPower Europe festival and embark on a European mini-tour. "We are extremely excited for the opportunity to come to Europe and play for our fans" said Nick van Dyk. "We are hard at work in pre-production on our upcoming release, 'This Mortal Coil', and we look forward to performing new music from it at these European shows." The twelfth installment of the ProgPower Europe festival will take place in Baarlo, Holland, October 1-2. REDEMPTION will play the last show on this visit at the inaugural edition of the Denmark Rock Festival on October 8 in Copenhagen, Denmark at the venue The Rock. The mini-tour will see REDEMPTION play a selected number of concerts across Europe, giving European fans a chance to finally see the band live (their only European show so far was five years ago at the Headway festival in Amsterdam, Holland) and, of course, to witness a live rendition of material from their acclaimed current studio album release "Snowfall On Judgment Day". REDEMPTION's mini-tour is shaping up as follows: Oct. 01 - London, UK, The Underworld Oct. 02 - Baarlo, The Netherlands, Progpower Europe Oct. 04 - Pratteln, Switzerland, Galery Music Bar/Z-7 Oct. 07 - Essen, Germany, Turock Oct. 08 - Copenhagen, Denmark, Denmark Rock Festival Direct support act on these shows will come from the Italian proggers KINGCROW, who released their fourth album, "Phlegethon", through Scarlet Records last year. "This Mortal Coil" is being produced by Neil Kernon, who has previously worked with such acts as NEVERMORE, NILE, QUEENSRŸCHE and DEICIDE. The CD will feature the following working songtitles, among others: "Noonday Devil", "No Tickets To The Funeral", "Rain In My Soul", "Focus", "Dreams From The Pit", "Path Of The Tornado", "Blink Of An Eye", "Perfect" and "Departure Of The Pale Horse".

TESTAMENT's ALEX SKOLNICK: 'There's A Parallel Between The Jazz Fans And Metal Fans'

Tad Hendrickson of recently conducted an interview with TESTAMENT/ex-SAVATAGE guitarist and leader of ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO, Alex Skolnick. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. On ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO's 2002 album "Goodbye To Romance: Standards For A New Generation", which caused a stir in several jazz and rock publications because it prominently featured classic tunes by KISS, THE WHO, JUDAS PRIEST and others rearranged as if they were jazz classics: "When we did the first album, we were very determined to do a traditional guitar trio album and keep it within the generally accepted ideas of what that is as far as tones, dynamics and arrangements. The only thing that was different was that we were doing SCORPIONS and KISS jams. There were a few moments of distorted guitar that were unexpected, but it was done in a way that we felt was interesting. We put some confines on it because that was part of the challenge." On ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO being stuck paying some dues that you'd expect to see in a "Spinal Tap" sequel: "We started getting booked on the wrong types of shows. The trio would be on this bill where all the opening bands were shred-prog-metal bands. I would ask the promoters why they would even think to put us on these kinds of bills and they would say things like, 'You played in TESTAMENT.' I would say to them: 'Did you listen to the music? Because we play acoustic jazz. I'm playing through this little amp and I'm supposed to follow guys with arena rock setups?' Most of the time they'd admit that they didn't even listen to our music before they booked us. It's been challenging." On the self-appointed jazz police, who cry foul whenever they perceive a transgression from the true path of jazz: "There's a parallel between the jazz fans and metal fans. It's the whole 'Is it jazz or isn't it jazz?' thing. It's the same with metal — 'Is it metal or isn't it?' It's the same thing with a different look. Then there is the fact that both jazz and metal are constantly written off by the mainstream media, but then every once in a while there is an album that comes out that goes mainstream. These genres keep going no matter how much they are written off and I find that fascinating." On the early success of the new ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO album, "Veritas": "No matter what, that kind of success is something that not a lot of people get to experience. I know musicians who have only played jazz their whole lives who have not been able to experience that. If something like this success would have happened instantly I might have been uncomfortable with it, but it's been so many years. I've paid my dues, and some weird dues too. Yet the music always feels so real and so great."

NIGHTWISH Mainman Says Singer ANETTE OLZON 'Has Never Sounded Better'

The vocal recording sessions for the new NIGHTWISH album, "Imaginarium", finally began on April 4 after being postponed for a few weeks in order to allow the band's singer, Anette Olzon, a longer recovery period after she suffered broken ribs in a fall. According to the band's keyboardist and main composer Tuomas Holopainen, "seven songs [are] done so far. [Anette] hasn't quite cured from her broken ribs yet, but fortunately it doesn't affect her singing at all. She's never sounded better." NIGHTWISH is not only putting finishing touches to its new album, "Imaginarium", but also planning a movie of the same name. If all goes well, the CD will be released in early 2012, to be followed by the movie at some point further down the line. The first single off the album as well as the trailer for the film should arrive well before the end of 2011. For the movie, NIGHTWISH has teamed up with director Stober Harju's production team and Solar Films. NIGHTWISH will kick off the "Imaginarium" world tour in Los Angeles. The very first show of the trek will take place at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, California on Saturday, January 21. This will be the biggest NIGHTWISH show production ever on North American soil and strictly a one-off — there will be no U.S. tour until later in 2012.

Source: RNR

Thursday, April 7, 2011

OPETH Parts Ways With Keyboardist

Keyboardist Per Wiberg has been relieved of his duties as a member of Swedish progressive metallers OPETH as part of a mutual decision with the band. Keyboard duties on upcoming tours will be handled by a musician who is already rehearsing with the band. Said musician’s identity will be released at a later date. OPETH vocalist/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt released the following statement on the matter: "Well, it's been somewhat of a revolving door of members during the last couple of years, and now Per is no longer a member. [Martin] Mendez [bass], Axe [Martin Axenrot, drums] and Fredrik [Åkesson, guitar] and I came to the decision that we should find a replacement for Per right after the recordings of the new album, and this came as no surprise to Per. He had, in turn, been thinking about leaving, so you could say it was a mutual decision. There's no bad blood, just a relationship that came to an end, and that's that. We wish Per the best, and he did a splendid job recording keyboards for the last record, which stands as his final recording with OPETH." OPETH entered Atlantis studios (formerly Metronome studios) in Stockholm on January 31 to begin recording its tenth album for a fall 2011 release via Roadrunner Records. Jens Bogren (SOILWORK, KATATONIA, PARADISE LOST, BLOODBATH) engineered the effort while mixing duties ere handled by Steven Wilson (PORCUPINE TREE). The new material has been described by the band as "good." OPETH's last album, "Watershed" (2008), sold more than 19,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to land at position No. 23 on The Billboard 200 chart. Its predecessor, "Ghost Reveries", debuted at No. 64 on the Billboard chart back in September 2005 with first-week sales of just under 15,000. OPETH's 2003 album, "Damnation", opened with a little over 5,000 copies. As part of the ongoing celebration of their 20th anniversary, OPETH released live footage and audio from the band's performance at London's famed Royal Albert Hall. The concert (recorded on April 5, 2010) included two sets, the first consisting of the band performing 2000's now-classic, breakthrough epic "Blackwater Park" in its entirety, and the second, a chronologically arranged selection of material from the rest of OPETH's extensive catalogue, totaling almost three hours of music. "In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall" is, like the rest of OPETH's greatest work, "purposefully warped in all the right places" (Decibel). The front cover artwork concept pays tribute to DEEP PURPLE's "Concerto for Group and Orchestra", underlining the band's longstanding love for their prog-rock roots.

WITHIN TEMPTATION's 'The Unforgiving' Cracks U.S. Top 50

"The Unforgiving", the fifth studio album from Dutch female-fronted symphonic metallers WITHIN TEMPTATION, sold around 12,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 50 on The Billboard 200 chart. Released on March 29, "The Unforgiving" was produced by Daniel Gibson and is based on a comic book story written by script writer Steven O'Connell (BloodRayne, Dark 48). The band asked comic artist Romano Molenaar (Witchblade, Darkness, X-Men) to draw the characters and scenery of "The Unforgiving", which was made available via Sony Music in Continental Europe and Roadrunner Records in the U.S., U.K. and Ireland, Japan and Australia. WITHIN TEMPTATION singer Sharon den Adel gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on March 30. Logan Arwin Westerholt, who weighed in at five pounds, 8.7 ounces and measured 47 centimeters long, came into the world a little over five weeks early but both mother and son are doing fine. Logan is the third child of Sharon den Adel and WITHIN TEMPTATION guitarist Robert Westerholt. The couple has a one-year-old son, Robin Aiden Westerholt, and a five-year old daughter named Eva Luna den Adel. WITHIN TEMPTATION North American tour dates: Sep. 07 - Sound Academy - Toronto, ON Sep. 08 - Metropolis - Montreal, PQ Sep. 09 - Palladium - Worcester, MA Sep. 10 - Terminal 5 - New York, NY Sep. 12 - Ram's Head Live - Baltimore, MD Sep. 13 - Electric Factory - Philadelphia, PA

MASTODON Announce European Tour Dates

MASTODON has announced they will be heading across the European continent and more this summer playing festivals from June 4th through July 16th. All Mastodon tour dates are as follows: June 4 - Rock Im Park - Nurnberg, Germany 5 - Rock Am Ring - Nuremburgring, Germany 6 – Gruensoan - Hamburg, Germany 7 - FZM - Dortmund, Germany 8 - Die Rohre - Stuttgart, Germany 10 - Sonisphere Festival - Warsaw, Poland 11 - Sonisphere Festival - Prague, Czech Republic 12 - Norweigan Wood - Oslo, Norway 13 - Plenen - Bergen, Norway 17 - Sonisphere Festival - Athens, Greece 19 - Sonisphere Festival - Istanbul, Turkey 21 - Sonisphere Festival - Sofia, Bulgaria 22 - INmusic Festival - Zagreb, Croatia 24 - Sonisphere Festival - Basel, Switzerland 25 - Sonisphere Festival - - San Marino, Italy 26 – Graspop - Dessel, Belgium 28 – Patronaat - Haarlem, Holand 29 – Metropol - Hengelo, Holand July 1 - Roskilde Festival - Rosklide, Denmark 2 - Sonisphere Festival - Helsinki, Finland 3 - Glav Club - St. Petersburg, Russia 4 - Arena Moscow - Moscow, Russia 6 - Colos-Saal - Aschanffenburg, Germany 8 - Sonisphere Festival - Amneville, France 9 - Sonisphere Festival - Stockholm, Sweden 10 - Sonisphere Festival - Knebworth, UK 12 - C-Club - Berlin, Germany 13 - Metalcamp Festival - Tolmin, Slovakia 14 - Hegyalja Festival - Tokaj, Hungary 16 - Sonisphere Festival - Madrid, Spain As previously reported, Mastodon: Live At The Aragon hit store shelves March 15th via Reprise Records. It contains a CD and DVD which captures the band’s sonic assault recorded and filmed live October 19th, 2009, at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, IL while touring in support of its critically-applauded album, Crack The Skye. Mastodon is currently writing new material for their next album, with a view to record later this year.